Recommeded prelimary reading:
– Mobile Internet (Aug’11) [Aug 26, 2011] with a lot of additions to the original July 19, 2010 content on the following subjects:
– LTE and LTE Advanced — HSPA Evolved (parallel to LTE and LTE Advanced) — Heterogeneous networks or HetNets — Femtocells and Picocells — Qualcomm innovations in all that — Ericsson’s LTE Advanced demo — Current roadmaps on evolutions of current 3G+ broadband mobile networks
Updates: – China Mobile reportedly to obtain 4G license in December 2012 [Feb 10, 2012]
The China government reportedly will issue 4G licenses earlier than originally expected in December 2012 and China Mobile may be the first to obtain a license and adopt TD-LTE (Time Division-Long Term Evolution) as a 4G standard with commercial operation to begin in 2014, according to China-based media.
While China Mobile has been actively promoting TD-LTE, the China government is not expected to issue a TD-LTE operating license to China Mobile for the time being, according to industry sources.
China Mobile finished initial TD-LTE trials in seven selected cities in China around the end of 2011 and has proposed a second-round of trials, but the China government has not yet approved the plans, signaling the government’s attitude to slow down promotion of TD-LTE in China, the sources indicated.
This is because 3G mobile communication services are taking off in the China market and therefore the government does not want to issue a TD-LTE operating license out of consideration for China Telecom and China Unicom, the sources said.
End of updates
Mr. Shi Lirong, 46, is an Executive Director and the President of ZTE Corporation since April, 2010. He served as an Executive Vice President of ZTE Corporation from 1999 to March 2010 responsible for managing the Company’s sales and business development operations. Mr. Shi held the post of Vice President at Zhongxingxin Telecommunications Equipment Company, Limited (the “Zhongxingxin”), during 1993 – 1997. Zhongxingxin is controlling shareholder of ZTE. In Feb 2001, he was appointed as Executive Director of ZTE Corporation. Combined with more than 19 years of management skills, Mr. Shi has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the telecommunications industry. Mr. Shi holds 200,283 A shares of ZTE. Mr. Shi holds a Master’s degree in Telecommunication and Electronic System Engineering from Tsinghua University, and a Master’s degree in Engineering, specializing in Telecommunications and Electronic Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). FROM: http://wwwen.zte.com.cn/en/press_center/news/201004/t20100408_181868.html
Hi3G and ZTE Jointly Announce the Availability of World’s First LTE FDD/TDD Dual-mode Commercial Network [ZTE press release, Dec 15, 2011]
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, in collaboration with Swedish carrier Hi3G, has announced that the world’s first commercial LTE FDD/TDD dual-mode network has gone live in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo.
Hi3G is committed to upgrading its network to enhance the subscriber experience with significantly faster radio access speeds and a much more extensive range of data services. Hi3G signed this LTE network contract with ZTE, in March 2011, to cover the whole of Sweden.
Jörgen Askeroth, CTO of Hi3G, commented: “This network fully indicates the practical use of the mature LTE multi-mode convergent solution. It allows us to extend the partnership with ZTE.”
Mr. Wang Shouchen, VP of ZTE said: “With the advent of the NMT in 1981, the people in the Nordic region were the first to benefit from genuine cellular coverage. Thirty years on, they will be the first users to benefit from the services delivered by the world’s first dual-mode 4G network. And they can roam to other LTE networks all over the world. It is not only high speed wireless services that new technology brings, for Hi3G this is also an opportunity to evolve the network.”
This commercial dual-mode network will greatly enhance the network performance of Hi3G and provide better service experience to local users. The network roll out enables Hi3G to significantly reduce its total cost of ownership by adopting a whole new generation of green energy-saving base stations. As Hi3G improves its competitiveness, more and more “affordable and easy advanced services” will be available to Hi3G subscribers.
ZTE Roadshow Germany [Sept 18, 2011]
ZTE, E-Plus and China Mobile Reveal Industry’s First TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna [ZTE press release, Dec 19, 2011]
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, German carrier E-Plus and China Mobile, all members of the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance (NGMN), have publicly demonstrated the industry’s first TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna which is approximately half the size of traditional TD-LTE solutionson the market.
Mr. Wang Shouchen, VP of ZTE says: “At present, spectral resources are very scarce all over the world. More and more European operators are showing interest in TD-LTE. However, the size of traditional TDD smart antennas can make installation a real challenge and push CAPEX up significantly. The TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna is half the size of traditional TD-LTE antenna and reduces the cost and time taken for installation.”
The TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna was showcased at NGMN’s Multi-Antenna Technology Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany. The demo showed a peak rate of 8Mbps at the cell edge with beam forming technology on 10MHz bandwidth.
The TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna showcase follows successful field trials between ZTE, E-Plus and China Mobile, in 2011, that consisted of several streams investigating the capabilities of ZTE’s commercial SDR equipment and best use of the spectrum holdings of E-Plus in 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.6 GHz, both TD-LTE and LTE FDD.
Zhu Xiao Dong, CTO of European Marketing at ZTE discusses his thoughts at 2011’s LTE World Summit in Amsterdam (May 17 – 18).
ZTE Wins Informa LTE Award for Best Enabling Technology [ZTE press release, Nov 21, 2011]
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, today announced its ZXSDR BS8920 micro base station won the 2011 Informa LTE Award for Best Enabling Technologyat the LTE North America conference in Dallas, Texas.
The ZXSDR BS8920 was developed based on ZTE’s Uni-RAN platform, and is the world’s first commercial LTE micro base station. The product’s hardware cost is 50 per cent less than traditional distributed base stations, and its auxiliary facility costs are 30 per cent less in comparison. It is compact and lightweight and supports all-standard LTE bands. Its low power consumption helps operators reduce total cost of ownership.
The Informa award solidifies ZTE’s leading position as a provider of commercial LTE products, all-network solutions, and enhanced small cell coverage technology that can be used in airports, shopping centers, subways and other indoor hotspots. Awards at Informa-sponsored LTE North America are considered highly competitive in the telecommunications industry. The selection committee comprises delegates of global leading operators, industry analysts and media.
In first half 2011, ZTE won more LTE commercial-use contracts than it had in all of 2010 through leveraging its leading Uni-RAN technology. Further, the company has built a considerable business presence in Europe, the United States and Japan.
To date, ZTE has secured 28 LTE commercial use contracts and has teamed up with more than 90 operators to deploy LTE test networks worldwide. In Hong Kong, ZTE built the world’s first dual-band LTE commercial network; in Sweden, it built the world’s first large-scale LTE FDD/TDD dual-mode commercial network together with Hutchison 3G.
ZTE Unveils World’s First Commercial LTE Micro Base Station [ZTE press release, July 4, 2011]
ZTE’s new LTE BS8920 Micro Base Station is a technological revolution in hotspot coverage and product footprint
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, has launched the ZXSDR BS8920, the world’s smallest commercially available LTE base station. The BS8920 also has the largest capacity of any LTE micro base station at 150Mbps, with 2X10W transmit power and 2T4R modulation for a large footprint, and offers significantly lower TCO due to reduced hardware, power consumption and deployment costs.
The ZXSDR BS8920 micro base station is targeted at the rapidly growing market for urban and indoor hotspot coverage, and can reduce hardware costs by up to 50 percent of distributed base stations. The design of the BS8920 encompasses key features to reduce power consumption to as low as 100W average, with up to 30 percent lower deployment costs in terms of deployment compared to other distributed base stations.
Ms. Li Jian, General Manager of ZTE’s CDMA and LTE Product Line, said, “ZTE invests heavily in research and development for environmentally friendly, low-power solutions that are versatile for operators. We are pleased to debut the BS8920 which we are already demonstrating to customers. This development will allow both end-users and operators to experience excellent coverage and meet demand with ease.”
The BS8920 base station meets industry requirements for an Omni sector eNodeB product, with less than half of the size and weight of a standard remote radio unit (RRU). It also supports all-standard LTE frequency band spectrums, and AC/DC power supply.
The newly released base-station can be widely applied in various complex environments, such as LTE hotspots, blind spots or indoor/outdoor areas, playing an important role in LTE networks and hybrid networks.
As of April 2011, ZTE has signed 18 LTE commercial contracts with operators from around the world, and has deployed 70 trial networks jointly with its partners.
ZTE releases ‘world’s smallest’ LTE base station [TechEye, July 4, 2011]
According to Gartner analyst Sylvain Fabreit is important for ZTE to look towards competing with the likes of the “more aggressive” Huawei.
“ZTE is gradually getting more of the LTE market as legacy technologies such as GSM shrink, and could be well placed to perform well.”
“Though it is a smaller chunk of business for ZTE, LTE is clearly the next step, and companies know that they have to be in the LTE game, as for example the 3G market slows down growth.”
“All the players in the market are now positioning themselves.”
While Fabre believes that ZTE could be well equipped to capitalise as the technology slowly gains ground, with Gartner forecast estimating it will account for 3.1 percent of all mobile connection by 2015, the mobile firm will have plenty to do to stay ahead of the competition.
“All of the major companies have been making noise about smaller base station over the past year and a half, as the distinction is increasingly blurring with femtocellsas base stations get smaller.” Fabre explains.
“But we can be sure that ZTE rivals have developments in their own labs already.”
At the Mobile Asia Congress 2011 [Nov 16-17, 2011], we interviewed with Richard Ye Lihe, ZTE’s Senior Director of Wireless Product Operation, Product R&D System. Please also visit our twitter and Facebook for more information of ZTE at MACHK. http://www.twitter.com/ZTEPress http://www.facebook.com/ZTECorp
More information on this blog:
– China Mobile repositioning for TD-LTE with full content and application aggregation services, 3G [HSPA level] is to create momentum for that [June 18, 2011] which also includes information about Global TD-LTE Initiative started by China Mobile and other industry heavyweights and now already with 36 member companies
– Good TD-LTE potential for target commercialisation by China Mobile in 2012 [July 13, 2011]: most importantly the TD-LTE trials by China Mobile and details of the offerings from the participant leading infrastructure vendors: Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson (detailed desciption of their strategy + acquisition of divested Nortel assets strategic for Ericsson), Nokia Siemens Networks, and Alcatel-Lucent (with special emphasis on extremely attractive lightRadio and related QorIQ Qonverge SoCs from Freescale quite essential for that)
– China becoming the lead market for mobile Internet in 2012/13 [Dec 1, 2011] which also includes vital information about close TD-LTE cooperation between China Mobile and ClearWire in US, and which will significantly determine the future of TD-LTE not only in North America but elsewhere. Its goal is to “cultivate a robust device ecosystem that supports multi-mode, multi-band devices with minimum component complexity and cost”, and will significantly strengthen the current direction of dual-mode LTE devices. “For Long Term Evolution (LTE) to succeed, it’s ‘absolutely critical” that devices be able to support both the TDD and FDD versions of the next-generation mobile technology, according to GSM Association (GSMA) Director General Anne Bouverot.”
But keep in mind:
ZTE places strong emphasis on the Chinese and Asia/Pacific markets, but is making steady progress toward becoming a bigger international player with some recent international LTE wins.
ZTE experienced continued maintained strong financial performance in 2010. It was the only vendor in this space besides Huawei to achieve double-digit revenue growth, it had the best margins in the group and also had a strong cash-flow generation. This all provide evidence of long-term sustainability.
ZTE has several form factors planned for its eNodeB product, including distributed, compact, femtocell and picocell, as well as unified core.
As a stepping stone to gain mind share and market share in North America, ZTE opened an LTE lab in the U.S. to demonstrate, test and interoperate with CSPs in 2009. It has also been working toward becoming more visible in the Middle East and Africa.
While the company is working toward emerging from China to gain more contracts and a bigger footprint in international markets, it still lacks significant presence and mind share outside its home country. But it may have difficulty competing against stronger players in the market.
ZTE’s activity remains heavily weighted toward legacy technologies such as GSM and CDMA.
From: Magic Quadrant for LTE Network Infrastructure [Gartner, May 26, 2011]
As of May 2011, Huawei has deployed over 100 SingleRAN commercial networks, which are capable of evolving into LTE, and of those that have deployed SingleRAN networks, more than 40 operators have announced the launch or the imminent launch of distinct LTE services. Huawei won the “Significant Progress for a Commercial Launch of LTE by a Vendor” award at the LTE Summit 2011, which recognized Huawei’s endeavors and achievements in the commercial rollout of LTE.
Huawei’s SingleRAN 5-Band 3-Mode 1-Cabinet solution (BTS 3900L), which won the “Best LTE Network Elements” award, leverages a sole cabinet to support up to three technologies across five frequency bands, allowing for the coexistence and interoperability of GSM/UMTS/LTE networks to make true convergence a reality and to minimize costs for operators. This solution has been selected by leading operators worldwide, including Vodafone Germany and TeliaSonera Norway, to replace their outdated legacy base stations while simultaneously initiating their LTE network deployment.
From: Huawei Wins Two Awards at LTE World Summit 2011 [Huawei press release, May 17, 2011]
Since 2010, Huawei continues to rank No. 1 for contributions to LTE standards according to ABI Research. According to the latest Evolution to LTE Report released in September 2011 by GSA (the Global mobile Supplier Association), there are 35 commercial LTE networks launched globally and 18 of them are using Huawei’s SingleRANLTE solution.
From: Huawei Wins Two Awards for Contribution to LTE R&D and Standards [Huawei press release, Nov 17, 2011]
Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) provider, today announced its Small Cell solution recently won the award for “Best new network infrastructure solution” at 4G World 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The win affirms Huawei’s Small Cell solution has become the market leader, and has gained high recognition by the industry in the wireless broadband area.
… Based on a deep analysis of wireless networks, Huawei launched its innovative Small Cell solution which can deploy a precise layered network based on actual traffic distribution, offering seamless coverage in hot and blind spots to improve network capacity. This enables operators to protect network investment and decrease total cost of ownership through easy site acquisition, fast deployment, green design, multi-mode convergence and smooth evolution to LTE-Advanced.
… As of Q3 2011, there are 31 Small Cell commercial networks worldwide, and 14 of them are deployed by Huawei. Huawei ranks No.1 in market share.
From: Huawei’s Small Cell Solution Wins Award for “Best New Network Infrastructure Solution” at 4G World [Huawei press release, Nov 7, 2011]
More information on this blog:
– ICT Top-100 in Mainland China and the #1 Huawei [June 4, 2011]
Important Basic Concepts needed for understanding any further information:
ZTE SDR [ZTE video, Jan 1, 2009]
Software Defined Radio (SDR)
Software Defined Radio (SDR) is a term adopted by the international Software Defined Radio Forum (SDRF) to describe radios that provides software control of a variety of modulation techniques, wide-band or narrow-band operation, communications security functions (such as hopping), and waveform requirements of current and evolving standards over a broad frequency range. This technology uses a generic hardware platform to accommodate different communications standards, frequencies and modulation schemes via software modules. A wide range of radio applications like Bluetooth, WLAN, CDMA, GMS, WCDMA and WiMAX can be implemented using SDR technology.
SDR is a cost-effective and perfect solution for 2G/3G network integration and future HSPA+ and LTE evolvement. Using SDR, hardware resources can be shared and base stations need only a software adjustment to handle a new standard, saving considerable expense.
Excerpt from: SDR Creates Possibility of Smooth Upgrade [ZTE article, March 24, 2008]
Radio Access Network (RAN)
In September 2008, ZTE a global leader in end-to-end telecommunications solutions won the InfoVision award in the New Product Innovation category during the Broadband World Forum (BBWF) Europe 2008 in Brussels, Belgium, for developing and pioneering SDR solution in the global telecom industry (see Figure 1).
SDR is an innovation that seeks to unify the Radio Access Network (RAN), allowing simultaneous multimode operation on the same base station. Conventionally each technology standard has its own radio access network, which means that operators who are changing their networks to new technology standards have to deploy different RANs for each technology platform, as shown in Figure 2.
With SDR mobile operators can use both 2G and 3G networks simultaneously or seamless evolve their networks from 2G to 3G without the need of deploying a separate RAN for each service. By means of simple software configuration, operators can choose which mode or mix of modes amongst GSM, UMTS, WIMAX, CDMA2000 and TD-SCDMA to run in a base station. Figure 3 illustrates the concept of SDR with both GSM and UMTS services unified into a single RAN.
This concept has many practical applications, for example, considering that nearly all GSM operators adopt UMTS as their 3G choice, SDR offers the best solution for this upgrade without any swapping of hardware. Its compatibility with migration to technologies beyond 3G or IMT-Advanced technologies like Long Term Evolution (LTE) again ensures smooth upgrade without any network replanning.
As a state-of-the-art technology platform, SDR brings to the operators the benefit of All IP orientation. Its interfaces support packet based transmission like Fast Ethernet (FE) and Gigabit Ethernet (GE) as well as the legacy Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) like STM-1, E1, and ATM virtual circuits to ensure forward and backward compatibility in transport.
The architecture of base station is also distributed into Base Band Unit (BBU) and Remote Radio Unit (RRU) to ensure extended coverage with enhanced throughput, small size to facilitate easier and flexible roll out of networks and greater cost efficiencies in power consumption and transmission. SDR thus provides the best opportunity ever for operators to wholly evolve their networks smoothly with full investment protection and lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and it also enables deployment of green networks especially in these days of greater environmental concerns.
Together with IP technology SDR will define the world’s truly unified future proof networks. This technology innovation brings immense opportunities to the mobile industry, and like in the 1980s when forward looking operators leapfrogged their pessimistic counterparts through quick adoption of digital systems, SDR technologies will have their advantage too, and those operators who will harvest from its R&D will obviously have an advantage over the rest in the market.
Excerpt from: SDR: Building Future Proof Unified Networks [ZTE article, March 12, 2009]
ZTE first proposed the distributed BTS [Base Transceiver Station] solution in the telecom industry. Unlike the traditional centralized BTS, the distributed BTS physically separates its baseband unit and radio frequency (RF) unit and connects them via the standard baseband/RF interface (e.g., Common Public Radio Interface/Open Base Station Architecture Initiative, or CPRI/OBSAI). As shown in Figure 1, the baseband unit and the RF unit of the traditional BTS are separated into two independent function modules in the distributed BTS: Base Band Unit (BBU) and Remote RF Unit (RRU).
The RRU of distributed BTS integrates three RF units of traditional BTS: Transceiver and Receiver (TRX), Power Amplifier (PA) and RF Front End (RFE). With a protective enclosure that meets the IP55 standard, the RRU can be directly installed in an outdoor environment and in several modes: on a pole, on a wall, on a tower or in an integrated cabinet. Therefore, no equipment room space is required.
Being highly integrated, the BBU supports the same capacity as the baseband unit of traditional BTS but is much smaller. In an indoor environment, it can be installed on a wall or on an existing rack; thus, no extra indoor space is occupied. In an outdoor environment, it can be easily placed into the power supply cabinet or transmission cabinet of the BTS.
The distributed BTS is suitable for various installation scenarios as shown in Figure 2. If the equipment room has space constraints, the BBU can be installed in the equipment room, while the RRU is installed outdoors together with the antenna. In case the indoor installation space is not available, the BBU can be installed in the outdoor accessory cabinet, where the accessory equipment such as power supply, battery and transmission are placed, and the RRU can be directly installed outdoors, either with the antenna or in an integrated BBU & RRU cabinet. This integrated cabinet and the accessory cabinet can be installed on the ground or on top of the building; consequently, no indoor space is required. In the case of indoor coverage, the BBU can be installed in the basement or corridor, while the RRU can be mounted on the wall of the storey to be covered.
To support a smooth evolution in the future, ZTE adopts the Soft Defined Radio (SDR) technology in its distributed BTS, called distributed soft BTS. With this technology, the BTS can be applied in a 4G network by only upgrading the software or replacing some baseband boards. ZTE’s distributed soft BTS has the following attractions:
- Real SDR technology supports hardware of different standards, maximally protecting operators’ investment.
The BBU can support different standards such as CDMA, WCDMA, GSM, WiMAX, UMB and LTE by installing the related software. But the Channel Processing Module (CHM) board has to be replaced for other standards only when special chips are used on the board (at present, only the CDMA system uses special chips, i.e., Application-specific Integrated Circuit, or ASIC). As to the RRU, if the frequency band remains unchanged, it is only necessary to install the related software when supporting a different standard.
- A variety of BBU/RRU products deliver full coverage solutions, meeting operators’ various requirements for network construction.
The RRU products with different power specifications, such as 60 W, 40 W and 5 W, are available, and they can meet the coverage needs in urban dense areas, suburbs and countryside. Moreover, the 200 mW pico RRU can be applied for indoor coverage.
- BBU/RRU products feature high integration, large capacity, small size and light weight, making easy installation and maintenance while reducing operators’ CAPEX.
With the standard 2U height design, the BBU can support a capacity of 36 carrier-sectors for the CDMA2000 1X or EV-DO system. The RRU, which is 16.5 kg in weight and has a dimension of 380 × 330.2 × 152.4 mm (H × W × D), can support a maximum capacity of 6 CDMA2000 1X or EV-DO carriers and a maximum transmit power of 60 W at the cabinet top. Both the BBU and RRU provide the highest integration among the like products in the industry.
Excerpt from: ZTE’s Distributed Soft BTS Solution [ZTE article, March 24, 2008]
[Jan 9, 2009] With many years of experiences in wireless technologies, ZTE launches OneNetwork solution including unified RAN based on SDR technology, unified all-IP core network and unified OMC [Operation & Maintenance Center] platform.
… The unified all-IP core network based on the ATCA architecture separates transmission from services and enables large-capacity transmission for mobile networks. …
[Oct 10, 2009] ZTE Opens LTE Laboratory in North America … This CDMA/LTE dual-mode laboratory is based on the Uni-RAN solution on ZTE unified Software Defined Radio (SDR) platform …
The reason for dropping the OneNetwork brand and starting to use the new Uni-RAN for a subsystem of OneNetwork is quite probably because the OneNetwork trademark had already been registered by an Australian SME company now belonging to a somewhat larger group with ~200 employees: Anittel Group Ltd.
For us this whole affair is just important for the reason that ZTE decided to use a brandname just for its RAN solution and did not try to introduce another name for the whole. This shows that the Uni-RAN solution is indeed a strategic differentiator for ZTE.
The Details of the Approach Taken by ZTE:
Abundant Spectrum Resources
Growth in mobile data traffic has brought new profit to mobile operators across the world. Statistics show that data revenue of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone and other mainstream operators has increased by an average of 30%. Therefore, much attention is now being focused on data and broadband services. Obtaining more spectrum resources and increasing spectrum efficiency has become of great importance.
Spectrum resources for Time Division Duplex (TDD) are abundant. 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz are the most common TD spectrum bands for TD-LTE, but most of these bands are not being used. TDD spectrum resources are available in many countries and available for many operators. Of the 300 operators who have TDD spectrum resources, 66% own 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz bands.
Promising Market Opportunities
TD-LTE is attracting leading operators around the world. Many of the top 500 telecom operators own a chunk of TDD spectrum and are vigorously pushing forward TD-LTE development.
China Mobile owns 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz TDD bands and is leading in the promotion of TD-LTE. After completing the fourth phase of its TD-SCDMA network construction, China Mobile will boast the world’s largest 3G network with 220,000 TD base stations by Q1 2011. The operator will call for bids on the evolution of its TD-SCDMA networks in the first half of 2011. Its commercial TD-LTE network is expected to be deployed in one to two years.
Mainstream European operators Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, and O2 have all acquired TDD spectrum and are actively researching TD-LTE technologies and application models. Deutsche Telekom completed its trial TD-LTE network in the second half of 2010 and has started testing the network.
In June 2010, Qualcomm won India’s 2.3GHz Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auction for TDD development in four regions of the country. Qualcomm has promised to set up a joint venture to build an LTE network. This demonstrates that Qualcomm has TD-LTE in its strategic plan.
Mobile operators in the U.S. including AT&T, Verizon, and America Mobil have promised to support TD-LTE. Leading operators in Japan and Korea have also played an active role in promoting TD-LTE. Other operators with WiMAX, PHS (1900-1920MHz), and TD-SCDMA will also choose TD-LTE as their migration path.
TDD spectrum is easy to acquire, and there is less competitive pressure in acquiring it. The price of TDD spectrum in each country is much lower than that of FDD spectrum. Because FDD spectrum is very limited and expensive, more and more operators are considering TDD for feature-rich data services and hotspot area coverage.
Using time division technique, TD-LTE allows flexible timeslot allocation in the downlink and uplink. This meets both voice and asymmetric data needs and greatly increases spectrum efficiency. TD-LTE can share the same core network with an FDD system and can support flexible networking. It can serve as an independent network for hotspots and blind area coverage or as a supplement to the FDD system for data services. LD-LTE has promising and widespread applications.
Fast-Growing TD-LTE Industry
Driven by operators, standardization organizations, equipment vendors, and chipset makers around the world, the TD-LTE industry is growing rapidly. Members of the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance include China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone Orange, T-Mobile, AT&T, as well as 29 mobile network and terminal suppliers including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and ZTE. Together these companies are actively promoting standardization of TD-LTE. So far, 3GPP R9 specifications have been completed, and the standardization progress of TD-LTE has kept pace with that of LTE FDD. Testing of TD-LTE technology and networking organized by the LTE/SAE Trial Initiatives (LSTI) was first conducted by China Mobile and has produced favorable results.
The TD-LTE industry chain has been established and is growing fast. It comprises chipset providers, terminal providers, infrastructure equipment manufacturers, and testing instrument providers.
All chipset providers plan to launch 3G/LTE multimode chipsets in early 2011. The development of LTE chipsets drives the development of terminal products. Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, ZTE, and Shanghai Bell will unveil a number of LTE terminals in 2011. LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode terminals will be the mainstream offerings, and this will further promote the flexible deployment of TD-LTE.
Equipment manufacturers Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, ZTE, and Huawei have all developed TD-LTE series equipment that can be applied in different scenarios. These products have been tested in the TD-LTE trial networks of China Mobile and overseas operators. Presently, they support 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz bands and will support 1.9GHz and 2.1GHz bands in the future.
Test instrument manufacturer Anritsu has announced its MT8820C will support TD-LTE radio testing. Rohde & Schwarz and Anite also provide many types of testing and measuring equipment.
As the industry chain matures, commercial TD-LTE is just around the corner.
ZTE Leads the TD-LTE Industry
ZTE provides a Uni-RAN solution based on an innovative SDR [Software Defined Radio] hardware platform. The Remote Radio Unit (RRU) supports 700MHz, DD spectrum, 900MHz, 1800MHz, AWS, 2.1GHz, and 2.6GHz bands. The Base Band Unit (BBU) supports GSM, UMTS, and LTE radio modes, which allows for fast network deployment. The Uni-RAN solution enables smooth network evolution while protecting investment to the greatest possible extent. This helps operators significantly reduce their TCO.
Large-capacity base stations
ZTE’s single BBU supports up to 18 TD-LTE cells, each having a bandwidth of 20MHz. The maximum throughput per cell is 100Mbps in the downlink and 50Mbps in the uplink, and the RRU provides power output of up to 2×20W. The RRU also supports multiple modes for different coverage scenarios. Both IP over E1 and IP over PE/GE are supported. Flexible networking and good scalability helps operators cut their network construction costs.
Compact and eco-friendly design
ZTE’s distributed BBU+RRUenables simple and flexible zero-footprint deployment. The BBU is the smallest in the industry and can be mounted on the wall or embedded in a 19-inch rack to save space. The RRU is small and lightweight. It is naturally cooled, silent, and saves power.
End-to-end full-service solution
ZTE is dedicated to offering TD-LTE products that meet various deployment scenarios. Its end-to-end, customized, full-service solution encompasses services, core networks, radio systems, and terminals.
With fast growth of the industry chain, TD-LTE trial networks have been deployed in China, Japan, India, Russia, Germany, Ireland, and the U.S. As of October 2010, ZTE has signed agreements with ten leading operators to build TD LTE trial networks. ZTE is leading the industry in TD-LTE deployment worldwide.
- China Mobile started TD-LTE tests involving an indoor system, terminal chipset, and large-scale outdoor network at the end of 2008. It plans to initiate TD-LTE trials in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Xiamen in early 2011. A total of 3000 TD-LTE base stations will be deployed, and ZTE will be one of the main vendors for the network deployment.
- ZTE was chosen by Europe’s largest mobile operator to supply TDD equipment for TD-LTE field testing in February 2010. Phase I of testing was completed in July and produced good results. Phase II and III are expected to be completed in the first half of 2011.
- India issued two BWA licenses in August 2010, and ZTE entered into an agreement with major local operators to help them build several TD-LTE trial networks across the country.
- In September 2010, ZTE cooperated with Russia’s largest integrated network operator to deploy a 2.3GHz TD-LTE trial network in Sochi. ZTE demonstrated a peak data rate of 130Mbps and won high praise from Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The abundant spectrum resources, technical advantages, and flexible networking features of TD-LTE may translate into great market opportunities. As the industry chain matures, TD-LTE has promising commercial prospects. ZTE was one of the earliest players in the TD-LTE field and has an industry-leading outlook. With its visionary outlook and years of TDD experience, ZTE is developing excellent TD-LTE concepts and solutions. The company is working together with operators worldwide to create higher value and to seize upon new market opportunities.
Hi3G Is Poised to Lead the LTE TDD/FDD Convergent Era [ZTE use case, May 20, 2011] —ZTE helps Hi3G to build the world’s first LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode commercial network
The world has witnessed the remarkable achievements made by the European telecommunications industry. Up to now, the European operators have won half the seats among global high-end operators. Europe is usually the pioneer in adopting new technologies and businesses.
Hi3G is ranked the fourth in the market share in Sweden and Denmark. At present, its competitors have deployed LTE networks in the Nordic market, which cause great impact on the 3G development of Hi3G. Therefore, it is very imperative for Hi3G to launch LTE.
While manyhigh-endoperators adopt the traditionalFDD mode, Hi3G believes that after FDD and TDD standards converge, TDD will not only help build a network with the same quality as FDD, but also have cost advantages, for example in spectral resource. Therefore, building TDD/FDD LTE dual-mode networks is the best choice for operators. In addition, with only 2 x 10MHz in 2.6GHz band awarded for FDD in both Sweden and Denmark, Hi3G will not be able to provide competitive data throughput in hotspots. Fortunately, the use of TDD/FDD LTE hybrid networking can provide high-rate services and take advantage of the existing spectral resource according to the service type.
In Sep 2010, Hi3G issued tender documents, requiring all vendors to provide an LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode networking solution. In this solution, interoperability between TDD/FDD LTE and Hi3G’s existing UMTS should be implemented. Moreover, the FDD LTE network should provide wide coverage, both TDD and FDD should be applied in the same hotspots, and later, the TDD LTE network should be further expanded in hotspots. Last, the entire convergent network must be completed within three months from equipment delivery to installation and commissioning.
Figure 1 Application Scenario of TDD/FDD Multi-Mode, Multi-Frequency Networking
At the early stage of bidding, Hi3G selected two suppliers to roll out LTE in Sweden and Denmark. As the project proceeded, ZTE finally stood out in the competition by virtue of its advanced LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode solution, multi-mode SDR platform, diversified BS forms, customized transmission solutions, leading multi-mode terminals, powerful delivery and logistics. In March 2011, Hi3G selected ZTE as the exclusive vendor to deploy LTE.
While meeting the requirements for interoperability and load balancing between hi3G’s existing 3G network and LTE network, the TDD LTE/FDD LTE/UMTS multi-mode convergent networking solution provided by ZTE effectively improved system security and stability, and hence ensured the network throughput in hotspots. By sharing the existing resources including BBU, antenna, GPS, transmission, OMC and EPC, the LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode convergent network not only helped Hi3G to reduce site investment and network maintenance cost, but also accelerated the network construct speed.
Figure 2 Topology of LTE TDD/FDD Dual-mode Networking
Specific to the system interference concern caused by co-site of TDD LTE, FDD LTE and UMTS networks, ZTE offered a co-antenna solution, which won high recognition from Hi3G. In this solution, ZTE adopted 2-path broadband antennas to effectively relieve interference of TDD LTE to FDD LTE through antenna isolation and customized combiners.
Figure 3 ZTE’s Co-Antenna Solution (Applied in Sweden)
It is known that hotspots have high requirements for network throughput. Besides, Hi3G has limited site resource and hoped to make use of the existing UMTS network site. Moreover, the winter temperature is very low in Sweden and Denmark. Therefore, very high requirements are put on the base stations in terms of capacity, size, installation flexibility and performance. In response to that, ZTE provided diversified LTE base stationsto completely satisfy the customer’s site requirements with good performance even at the temperature of 40° below 0. In this project, by adopting different combinations of ZTE’s FDD/TDD dual-mode SDR base stations, small-capacity outdoor BBU cabinet, large-scale outdoor cabinet and outdoor distributed base stations, the eNodeB system can be conveniently installed indoors, outdoors, mounted on a tower, under a tower or even installed with no equipment room. As a result, the eNodeB removed the need for extra civil engineering expenditure, decreased the engineering installation difficulty, and hence accelerated network construction for Hi3G.
As a global pioneer in 3G, Hi3G is of course unwilling to lag behind in the field of 4G network operation. For operators, failure to put a network into commercial use on time not only leads to a tremendous loss of revenue, but also runs the risk of lagging behind the competitors. By providing diversified terminals and rapid network construction, ZTE can help Hi3G to achieve fast commercialization of LTE.
On the terminal side, ZTE launched the world’s first Qualcomm chipset based data cards. By supporting 3G, TDD LTE and FDD LTE systems simultaneously, these data cards will help Hi3G to commercialize its LTE network rapidly in terms of business model.
On the engineering delivery side, aimed at “global leader in delivery”, ZTE has set up professional project management processes and teams from site acquisition to civil engineering, equipment installation and equipment room maintenance. Hi3G was very satisfied with ZTE’s standardized project operation and high-quality delivery.
Peder Ramel, CEO at Hi3G, said, “We have chosen ZTE for additional 3G 900/2100 rollout and for LTE mobile broadband networks in Sweden and Denmark because of the possibility to house three different mobile standards in the same physical infrastructure and the low cost of ownership. Furthermore, ZTE advanced LTE dual-mode solutions and quick consignment responses really meet our requirements.”
[The company was founded in 2001 and is based in Stockholm, Sweden. Hi3G Access AB operates as a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. of Hong Kong. The HWL as an international corporation reported turnover of approximately HKD326 billion (USD42 billion) and HKD187 billion (USD24 billion) for the year ended 31 December 2010 and for the six months ended 30 June 2011. HWL is the world’s leading port investor, developer and operator, the world’s leading health and beauty retailer, one of Asia’s largest retailers, and a pioneer of mobile multimedia communications with the launch of third-generation (3G) mobile phones and networks under the “3” brand meaning 3G service.
From wikipedia: In Sweden the mobile network is shared with Telenor, except for cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, Lund and Karlskrona where they handles their own 3G networks, but this practise is not allowed in Denmark. In the spring 2011 3 started, without Telenor, to build their own 3G Network on the UMTS 900-band which will give a bigger coverage. 3Sweden is the only operator in Sweden that have the licence to build 3G at the UMTS900 band. Today 3 Sweden covers about 98.5% of the swedish population. … 3Sweden is for the fifth year in a row the best operator for Mobile Broadband and has the best 3G-coverage in Sweden.
3 in Sweden is 60% owned by Hutchison Whampoa and 40% by Swedish Investor AB, founded and still controlled by the Wallenberg family and having SEK 181 billion (US$ 26.3 billion at current rate) investment in the end of 2010. 3 in Sweden is not even the core investment of Investor AB for which such names as Atlas Copco (16.7%), SEB (20.8%), ABB (7.3%, AstraZeneca (3.7%), ERicsson (5%), Electrolux (13.6%), Husquarna (15.7%) and Saab (30%) were the core ones.]
E-Plus and ZTE Strengthen Partnership [ZTE press release, Sept 13, 2011]
Senior executives meet in Berlin to confirm expansion of mobile devices portfolio in the German market
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, will today meet with senior executives from the E-Plus Group, at the BASE media meeting in Berlin, to confirm the expansion of its mobile devices’ portfolio in the German market.
Since 2010, ZTE and E-Plus, one of the largest operators on the German mobile telecommunications market, have been collaborating on the expansion of E-Plus’ broadband network. Following the successful launch of the ‘BASE Lutea’ smartphone and the ‘BASE Tab’ in the German market, E-Plus will introduce mobile devices designed by ZTEto enable subscribers to take advantage of the data services offered by its advanced mobile data network.
“Our partnership with ZTE has seen an impressive level of commitment from the entire team, helping us to push our services forward and expand our data network,” said Thorsten Dirks, CEO of E-Plus Group. “Due to the rapid implementation of ZTE’s 3G network technology, E-Plus and KPN have been able to offer broadband network services to more than 500,000 subscribers each week. The basic service provision required for each subscriber is constantly evolving in response to the mobile data services offered over the HSPA+ network. By expanding our partnership, E-Plus customers will enjoy further benefits from the advanced devices and network services offered.”
“ZTE continuously strives to provide high quality products and excellent services, and aims to become E-Plus’ most reliable and long-term partner,” said Shi Lirong, President and CEO of ZTE Corporation. “Through our focus on convergence, innovation and green technology, we aim to provide E-Plus and KPN with the most technologically advanced and economically valuable solutions. We are proud and honoured to be chosen as a strategic partner by E-Plus and KPN.”
The BASE media meeting will see over 500 top decision-makers from media, economics, politics as well as personalities from the worlds of sport, art and culture come together to celebrate the successful partnership between the two companies.
About the E-Plus Group
The E-Plus Group is the challenger on the German mobile communications market. Simple services tailored to customer needs and a major reduction in call and data charges can be traced back to the initiative of the third-largest mobile network operator in Germany. Having revolutionised the voice market for larger user groups, the company is now opening the mobile data market to the masses by means of its massive network roll-out and highly attractive low-priced data tariff schemes. As a result of innovative business models, modern structures and strong partnerships, the E-Plus Group was able to significantly strengthen its market position and develop more dynamically and profitably than the market. Since 2005, E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH und Co. KG has developed into a family of brands offering target-group-specific services and is thus breaking new ground in mobile communications in Germany. The flat-rate brand BASE and the mobile discounters simyo and blau are market leaders in their segments, while the original E-Plus brand offers a range of services to its existing customers. The brand AY YILDIZ is aimed at the Turkish community in Germany. Vybemobile is intended to appeal to young music lovers. The partners of the E-Plus Group include many other brands, such as MEDIONmobile (ALDI TALK) and music TV station MTV. More than 21.5 million customers are using the network of the E-Plus Group to make calls and send text messages or data. The Group generates an annual revenue of €3.2 billion (2010) and employs more than 2,650 people (FTE) in Germany.
Partners ZTE and KPN Mobile International announce LTE Trials [ZTE press release, Feb 17, 2011]
ZTE and KPN today announced a joint development programme focussed on the application of LTE technology in Germany and Belgium. KPN Mobile International and ZTE have scheduled a field trial program for 2011 to investigate the capabilities of ZTE’s commercial equipment. The co-operation gives KPN the flexibility to speedily upgrade its network equipment to LTE in the future, if demand is there.
The 2010 spectrum auction in Germany put LTE network technology firmly on the agenda and gave KPN the opportunityto further enhance its competitiveness in the market.
“ZTE is a telecommunications equipment market challenger in Europe, very much in line with E-Plus’ and KPN Group Belgium’s development strategy,” said KPN Mobile International CTO Erik Hoving. “This agreement further strengthens our cooperation in the telecommunications market. It has strategic significance for both KPN and ZTE in Europe, and also in terms of each company’s international market position.”
“We appreciate that KPN selected ZTE as a strategic partner and we are strongly focussed on the long-term partnership between our companies,” said Shi Lirong, President and CEO of ZTE Corporation. “We support KPN with world-class telecom technologies and effective solutions with the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry to build high-speed networks. ZTE’s advanced and future-proof SDR technologyhelps KPN optimise its operation efficiency to meet increasing demands and develop value-added services for their customers.”
In December 2009, ZTE and KPN announced plans to conduct a comprehensive expansion of HSPA networks in Germany and Belgium starting in 2010. The programme was designed to establish a strategic partnership between the two companies for the development of future-proof networks in Belgium and Germany.
Under the agreement, ZTE has started a program to help transform KPN networks in Germany and Belgiumover a three year period using ZTE’s SDR (Software Defined Radio) technology to provide users with HSPA + high-speed data services which enable cost-effective mobile broadband communications.
As a result of the seamless transformation from the existing network to the new one, KPN will be able to offer its customers in Belgium and Germany faster high-speed data services of upto 21.6 Mbps, enabling the operator to offer new mobile broadband services.
The initial agreement between ZTE and KPN involved the provision of access network technology, but has extended to cover end-to-end solutions including core network and wireless access technologies and Android handsets. The packet-based core network equipment deployed in Germany is now in commercial use, and can be easily upgraded to future technologies. More recently ZTE delivered the co-branded Lutea smartphoneto KPN’s E-Plus in Germany and KPN Group Belgium in December 2010.
During the year 2010, ZTE established a new company in Belgium, and opened a new office in Düsseldorf dedicated to the KPN transformation project as well as several new regional offices in Germany. In addition, ZTE also set up a customer Training Center in Germany and a 24/7 help deskto provide local support to KPN. By consistently delivering on its commitments, the company has proved its ability to deliver at the high level expected by European operators. To better support KPN, ZTE has created a diverse team consisting of technical experts from China and Europe.
KPN is the leading telecommunications and ICT service provider in the Netherlands, offering wireline and wireless telephony, internet and TV to consumers and end-to-end telecom and ICT services to business customers. KPN’s subsidiary Getronics operates a global ICT services company with a market leading position in the Benelux, offering end-to-end solutions in infrastructure and network-related IT. Getronics manages 2.2 million workspaces. In Germany and Belgium, KPN pursues a Challenger strategy in its wireless operations and holds number three market positions through E-Plus and BASE. In Spain and France, KPN offers wireless services as an MVNO [mobile virtual network operator] through its own brands and through partner brands. KPN provides wholesale network services to third parties and operates an efficient IP-based infrastructure with global scale in international wholesale through iBasis.
The E-Plus Group, China Mobile and ZTE collaborate for TD-LTE field trial in Germany [partner news on NGMN site, Feb 11, 2011]
The E-Plus Group will launch a TD-LTE field trial in Germany in Q1 2011. The trial is based on 2.6 GHz spectrum that E-Plus acquired in the German spectrum auction. China Mobile, with its leading position and rich experience in the operation and maintenance of TDD networks, will provide technical support to this trial. ZTE will provide base stations developed on the advanced SDR platform and co-siting solution of LTE FDD/TD-LTE, which is a breakthrough in the industry.
The E-Plus Group is the third largest mobile network operator in Germany. The E-Plus Group has been one of the most innovative mobile operators during years. After revolutionizing the mobile voice market for larger user groups E-Plus is now opening the mobile data market for the masses with low-priced data tariff schemes and the roll-out of a HSPA+ network with speeds up to 21.6 Mbps. On top of the high speed mobile data network roll out, E-Plus will now test TD-LTE in the field. The E-Plus Group is one of the founding members of the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance.
The E-Plus Group and ZTE agreed and scheduled a field trial program for 2011 consisting of several streams to investigate the capabilities of ZTE’s commercial SDR equipment and best utilisation of the spectrum holdings of E-Plus in 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.6 GHz, both TD-LTE and LTE FDD.
China Mobile claims the largest number of mobile subscribers in the world. From TD-SCDMA to TD-LTE, China Mobile is devoted to promoting TDD industry being equipped with rich experience in TDD network deployment. Furthermore, China Mobile is pro-active in TDD technology globalization and convergence of TD-LTE and LTE FDD industry by seeking cooperation with overseas operators in Europe, Asia, America and Australia.
With joint effort of the E-Plus Group, China Mobile and ZTE, this trial will not only demonstrate the latest progress of TD-LTE/LTE FDD convergence in standards and industry development, but also lay an excellent ground for the full commercialization of TD-LTE.
ZTE Technologies magazine, Oct 2011 issue [PDF, Sept 9, 2011]:
Special topic “Mobile Network Modernization”
3G LTE – Bringing you closer: Now working seamlessly together
Taking a large step forward can be daunting. This is why we have based our LTE solutions on mature hardware designs for SDR centralized platforms – a field in which we already leading global suppliers – and created systems that allow fro truely seamless upgrades and, above all, super smoth performance. We also customize everything down to the last detail and proviode superior after-sales service so that you can be sure of receiving and replying on a solution that is perfect fit for your unique needs. This way, a huge step doesn’t have to feel quite so big.
Begin at www.zte.com.cn
Why would a South African company choose a Chinese company to teach it how to fight and ascend to the top?
ZTE was the first promoter of SDR technology in the telecommunications industry, and in recent years, it has achieved global success with its Uni-RAN solution based on SDR. Its SDR series base stations can be smoothly evolved from GSM to UMTS and even to LTE. Only software upgrades and minimal hardware changes are necessary, and this is very appealing to operators all over the world. It is especially appealing to operators like Cell C who face the challenges of shrinking capital investment and slow-growing revenue. Since ZTE sold its first SDR base stations in 2008, more than 500,000 units have been deployed worldwide and serve more than 120 operators. These numbers prove that ZTE is the partner of choice.
ZTE’s very substantial global experience and advanced SDR technology are the reasons why the Chinese vendor was chosen to teach Cell C how to fight.
Also, by brokering a deal with the China Development Bank, ZTE has secured funding of more than 2 billion rand and has helped Cell C reduce its considerable debt. Two billion rand is so powerful that Cell C now has enough firepower to clear its path to the top of the South African telecom market.
In 2010, the Cell C network was baptized by the World Cup. A huge number of subscribers joined the Cell C network. Almost everyone in the stadium wanted to send messages to their friends and share the electric atmosphere of live football. The Cell C network had to deal with a huge influx of traffic. Supported by ZTE engineers, the Cell C network performed well and more than passed the test.
ZTE Technologies magazine, Oct 2011 issue [PDF, Sept 9, 2011]
“Success Story”: E-Plus Group Focuses on Future Technologies Made by ZTE [Sept 19, 2011]
ZTE has signed partnership agreement with E-Plus Group and KPN Belgium. Under this agreement, ZTE will help E-Plus expand its mobile network to 4G HSPA+. ZTE is also supporting E-Plus Group to implement the LTE standard.
“The coming years will bring massive changes in the use of mobile devices. Besides voice and SMS, more and more people will make use of the Internet. Mobile browsing with a smartphone has developed dynamically into a mass market.”
Gerhard Lüdtke, access network director at E-Plus Group, believes there is good reason to invest heavily in the development of data networks. “We expect a massive increase in data volume on the networks. To absorb this, we need competent partners who can assist us to expand our networks with mature technology. ZTE is one of those partners.” KPN, the Dutch parent company of E-Plus, has been in contact with ZTE since 2005—when ZTE was its supplier of UMTS data cards.
In December 2009, E-Plus and KPN Belgium agreed to take advantage of ZTE’s HSPA+ technology to extensively expand their data network. “In the largest network expansion initiative in our history, we are making big steps every month on the road to becoming a 4G mobile operator,” said Luedtke. “This will benefit our customers who use the Internet via their mobile phones. User experience is critical; our customers demand smooth and reliable surfing.” In the second step, the new LTE standard will be introduced. Since March 2011, ZTE and E-Plus have been conducting tests on three frequency bands.
“The priority for us is the expansion of the data network with HSPA+. HSPA+ devices are available in sufficient quantities and at good prices. This is not the case with LTE,” said Matthew Geller, procurement manager at E-Plus.
In December 2009, the contract for the expansion of the E-Plus data networks had barely been signed when ZTE began work on the project. First, ZTE installed the entire project infrastructure, setting up a team of technicians and engineers (local and Chinese) as well as a training center. ZTE trainers taught service companies, contractors, and employees working with E-Plus how to deal with the new systems. In mid March 2010, initial tests were carried out on the new system, and the results were successful.
Then there was a flurry of events. At the end of April, ZTE handed the network operator the first node B site ready for use. In June 2010, a customer help desk was set up. The help desk provides 24/7 service and guarantees short response times. That same month, interoperability tests were completed. ZTE equipment was installed on existing stations and had to be compatible with existing material. At the end of June, ZTE, Alcatel Lucent, and E-Plus signed service contracts for maintenance of the networks.
Always Close to the Customer
At the same time, ZTE set up a new project office next to the E-Plus headquarters in Düsseldorf. ZTE established regional offices to coordinate on-site activities and to support E-Plus project managers all over Germany. Regional offices are located in Munich, Berlin, Hanover and Frankfurt. This shows how important the business customer focus is. Short distance from customers means quick response times. In the first half of July, a large number of site installations were completed. In August, the last two radio network controllers of the initial phase were installed and connected to the E-Plus network. In November, ZTE completed testing on the operations support system. Thousands more sites in Germany will be upgraded or swapped with ZTE technology in the future.
ZTE’s engineering has brought several advantages to E-Plus. Data throughput has been significantly improved, and ZTE modules use less energy, generate less heat, and are compact. They can be transported easily so that installation and maintenance are simplified. ZTE also used SDR base stations for network expansion. SDR technology allows multiple wireless standards to be applied to a base station, and the change from HSPA to LTE can be done via software upgrades. This makes the E-Plus system futureproof. With the new network, the cost of logistics is reduced, support is considerable, and new services can be easily created. New revenue opportunities can be exploited in the shortest possible time.
The agreement with E-Plus is not limited to the provision of access technology. It includes the delivery of core network technology and terminals, which provides E-Plus with end-to-end solutions—from the core network via access technology to handsets. In December 2010, E-Plus launched the first ZTE smartphoneunder the name “Base lutea” (ZTE Blade).
When asked whether E-Plus fears becoming too dependent on ZTE, Matthew Geller replied, “Europe is a very attractive destination for Asian companies. If we become disappointed with ZTE or any other Chinese company, this would jeopardize their reputation in Europe. And nobody wants that. Besides, ZTE is totally transparent. We always know who is responsible for what and what the balance sheets say. This promotes confidence.” The German Federal Network Agency, a state regulatory body, sees no problem in the close cooperation between KPN and ZTE.
E-Plus has the next wireless standard in its focus, namely, LTE. Even here, E-Plus has been working closely with ZTE. Since February 2011, E-Plus has been conducting LTE field tests on ZTE technology using three frequency bands. The technology is being prepared for deployment of LTE in the E-Plus data network.
Learning from China Mobile
In Germany, the 2.6 GHz band is being used for TDD-LTE trials for the first time. TDD-LTE has mainly been used commercially in Asia, but E-Plus is pioneering a quasi-Asian standard in Europe. E-Plus is working together with the world’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, and drawing on their rich experience in operating TDD technology. China Mobile brings expertise in operating and maintaining TDD networks and has supported the tests done by E-Plus.
However, conditions in China differ to those in Germany, particularly in relation to customer behavior and acceptance. TDD-LTE services large populations in China and throughout Asia, and it is the only way to offer fast Internet access in Germany without the using expensive fiber optics. Therefore, the standard has been well received to date. Gerhard Lüdkte of E-Plus is confident that Germany will accept the new technology.
Double Challenger Strategy
“We are a challenger in the German mobile market, and ZTE is also a challenger in their field. The chemistry between the two companies is just right,” said Gerhard Lüdtke. “We had ZTE on our screen since our first contact in Shenzhen in 2005. In Asia, ZTE is already an established supplier of sustainable technology and communication. They have a remarkable track record of projects in various states, not only in China. As for the technology, ZTE can compete with other suppliers and is even superior to them.” Geller added, “We need a strong partner, because we are exposed to fierce competition. ZTE provides us with solutions that simply work well.”
“With our power to innovate, we push E-Plus to the forefront. E-Plus can absolutely rely on us as a partner,” says Li Jun, CEO of ZTE Holland and head of the network expansion project at E-Plus and KPN Belgium. “For us, the network expansion for KPN International is a milestone on the way into the European market.”
ZTE Technologies magazine, Oct 2011 issue [PDF, Sept 9, 2011]
“Solutions”: Uni-RAN – A Perfect Way to Modernize Mobile Networks [Sept 19, 2011]
Demand for Network Modernization
Mobile broadband continues to develop and succeed at a phenomenal pace. The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) confirms that as of May 2011, more than 99.5% of the world’s WCDMA operators have deployed HSPA on their networks, and over 30% of them have evolved to HSPA+. The GSA also anticipates that 81 LTE networks will be in commercial service by the end of 2012 in addition to the existing 20 that have been launched commercially. The rapid growth of mobile broadband has placed high requirements on architecture and management of mobile bearer networks.
GSM/EDGE has by far the largest subscriber base, accounting for more than 88% of global mobile subscribers. Yet most GSM operators are now facing pressure from the growing demand for data services and declining ARPU. Legacy network devices and architecture are barely able to meet the requirements. It is therefore imperative to modernize legacy mobile networks for high profitability and sustainable development.
ZTE’s Uni-RAN Solution
To modernize networks, ZTE has developed an innovative Uni-RAN solution that ensures smooth evolution and easy O&M without affecting existing services.
Uni-RAN adopts a unified SDR platform that supports multiband and multimode radio configurations. The CN and OMM parts of multiple radio systems are converged in Uni-RAN. This simplifies network architecture and makes network O&M easier and more reliable. By updating software and minimizing changes to hardware, Uni-RAN allows for smooth evolution from GSM/EDGE to WCDMA and then to LTE. In network modernization, it is quite important to balance investment in equipment, network O&M, and network profitability. Because it allows for smooth evolution, Uni-RAN can extend the lifecycle of a network for longer time.
ZTE’s SDR base stations come in various types, ranging from indoor macro base stations for dense, high-traffic urban areas to outdoor micro base stations for remote coverage in suburban areas. The advanced BBU+RRU structure is suitable for almost all application scenarios, and installation is also easy and efficient. Compared with legacy indoor macro base stations, the BBU+RRU design saves more than 75% of equipment room. With diverse base stations and flexible networking mode, Uni-RAN helps operators economize on manpower and material resources.
Uni-RAN has performance advantages that help operators reduce OPEX, especially transmission and energy costs. The all-IP platform used for SDR base stations greatly enhances communication efficiency and saves on rental fees for E1 transmission. BBUs and RRUs are specially designed to suit different application scenarios. They are small, silent, energy efficient, and naturally cooled. Uni-RAN adjusts transmitting power of RF units according to real-time traffic load. These adjustments are made using software so that power consumption throughout the network is completely optimized.
Speed Up Network Modernization
By the end of 2010, ZTE had deployed GSM/UMTS networks for 120 operators in more than 100 countries. ZTE’s SDR equipment―the c o r e o f U n i – R A N ― has been recognized by operators worldwide since it was first launched in 2007. ZTE has achieved large-scale breakthroughs in the global high-end telecom market with the SDR base-station platform. Companies in Europe, such as KPN, Telenor, Telefonica, Optimus and H3G, are using SDR base stations deployed by ZTE. In 2010, the total shipment of ZTE’s SDR base stations exceeded 700,000 units.
Driven by an upsurge in mobile network modernization around the world, ZTE has seized the opportunity to focus on network swapping projects. The company has helped 67 operators in 29 countries modernize their networks, swapping more than 200,000 base station sites. In the first half of 2011, 160,000 GSM/UMTS carriers were successfully swapped by ZTE. Through cooperation with leading operators, ZTE has gained rich experience in network swapping and enhanced capabilities in logistic, engineering, and network optimization.
CSL: create a simple network
CSL is the largest mobile operator in Hong Kongwith more than 3 million subscribers. CSL had four original mobile networks: a 900MHz GSM network, two 1800MHz GSM networks, and a 2.1GHz UMTS network. The maximum download rate supported by the UMTS network was only 2.1Mbps, which was insufficient for meeting the requirements of 3G subscribers. Various NMS interfaces were being used to accommodate multiple modes and frequency bands. So CSL had difficulty managing and maintaining individual networks. The complicated network architecture also made it difficult to evolve networks and ensure QoS.
In 2008, CSL chose ZTE as a partner in its network reconstruction. Using Uni-RAN, CSL completely converged its GSM 900/1800M, UMTS 900M, UMTS 2.1G and LTE 1.8G/2.6G networks within two years. Unified network management was also implemented. 2500 base station sites were swapped. The restructured HSPA+ (or Next G) network is capable of downloading data at up to 21Mbps. According to internal research conducted by CSL in 2010, data traffic has increased by more than 65 times since the Next G network was launched in early 2009.
During the network swapover, CSL cut down the total number of base stations from 5050 to 2050, replaced original E1 transmission with FE transmission, and saved 20% transmission resources. CSL reduced network OPEX by 35.7% and greatly improved its profitability.
Ncell: make a miracle on the Top of Mt. Everest
Ncell is a wholly owned subsidiary of TeliaSonera and is the second largest mobile operator in Nepal. Its network covers 42% of mobile subscribers in the country. Ncell aims to capture the largest market share.
Nepal contains part of the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world. Eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mt. Everest, are located in the country. Deploying base stations on the world’s highest mountain presented big challenges to Ncell.
For fast deployment and smooth evolution, Ncell adopted ZTE’s Uni-RAN solution in its network reconstruction project. Micro base stations using the SDR platform consume less power, have a small footprint, and are easy to install. A one-piece mast and insulated shelter are used for the stations, and this allows the base stations to be installed quickly without the need to move earth or construct foundations. Solar panels are incorporated into the design to ensure that base stations have power supply throughout the year and are environmentally friendly. These features allow each base station to operate at optimal levels with minimal power usage even in temperatures as low as [minus] 30˚C to 40˚C. Overcoming altitude sickness and harsh natural environment, ZTE engineers deployed eight 3G base stations on Mt. Everestone month ahead of schedule.
After 500 base station sites were swapped in the initial phase, Ncell reduced energy consumption by over 45% and saw a rapid rise in their subscriber base and data traffic.