Superior SA Network

Today in many countries, SA network has shown its value in both enhancing user experience and enabling digital transformation of various industries. In China, other parts of Asia and Europe, ZTE has partnered with local operators exploring full 5G potential with 5G SA network.

5G SA ecosystem is mature for scale deployment. As a pioneer in SA, ZTE can help operators build cutting-edge SA networks in three critical aspects: fast launch; superior experience; and vertical capabilities.

Firstly, ZTE’s mature end-to-end solutions enable fast SA launch with great cost efficiency.

  • Until March 2021, ZTE has delivered 5GCs of 120M user capacity, 300K+ 5G sites and 100K+ BN nodes in China. Massive scale deployments of our products help more customers achieve more cost-efficient network roll out.
  • With high power output (max. 320W), large bandwidth (max. 400MHz) AAU, Ultra Broadband RRU (UBR), outdoor BBU, ZTE Simplified site solution reduce the requirements of site room or site cabinet.
  • AI based Automatic deployment tools, such as AIC (Automatic Integration Center) for 5GC and RNIA (RAN Network Intelligence & Automation) for radio side, dramatically lower the need of manpower.

One great example is, in Y2020 for China’s 5G Phase II projects, ZTE completed 200K+ sites delivery within only six months.

Secondly, ZTE innovative solutions and full portfolio products enable superior user experience under diversified scenarios:

  • In dense urban area, ZTE SSB 1+X solution provides one power boosted horizontal beam plus X optional vertical beam, which can greatly enhance high-rise building coverage, achieving remarkable increase in both the number of camping users and cell throughput.
  • For indoor environment, ZTE SuperMIMO technology combines distributed MIMO and Supercell, dramatically boosting cell capacity by 2-4 times.
  • In rural area, with low band and middle band aggregation (such as FDD 2.1GHz plus TDD 3.5GHz), FAST with TDM CA, as defined in 3GPP Release 16, can greatly enhance uplink cell edge user experience.

Further to all these innovative solutions, ZTE introduces Radio Composer, which leverages an innovative intelligent orchestration engine to tackle the challenge of 5G users’ rapid development and 5G services’ enrichment, enabling both users and operators to achieve maximum value from 5G networks.

Thirdly, ZTE has developed capabilities critical for vertical applications. These features include:

  • PRB reservation-based slicing, which can provide 100% resource guarantee for critical applications such as differential protection in power grid.
  • FAST technology, which has another feature that is to provide provide gigabit per second upload speed to meet requirements on large uplink bandwidth, such as machine vision.
  • NodeEngine, which is industry’s first base station with built-in computing engine, provides an ideal solution for latency sensitive applications such as remote control.
  • All-in-one private network, which enables fast and cost-effective deployment of dedicated 5G network.

With all these capabilities, ZTE has cooperated with more than 500 vertical industry partners covering manufacturing, logistics, health-care, mining, and other industries.

We believe SA will be the cornerstone of the operators’ sustainable growth. It’s now prime time to go SA, and recently Mr. Shen Jianda, Vice President of ZTE Corporation, Vice General Manager of RAN Products provided additional insights about why.

Q: Why are SA networks more important now than ever in current ecosystem?

A: Since 5G commercial launch in Y2019, it was found that 5G has no big impact on uplifting traditional subscriber’s ARPU. Expanding 5G applications to new vertical industry market has become the focus of more operators. To support a wide variety of verticals, 5G network needs to provide low latency with high reliability, uplink bandwidth, flexible edge computing, flexible isolation and security, and all these capabilities can only be available under SA architecture. So SA network is the cornerstone of operator’s vertical initiative.

The second reason is that, after several years development, SA ecosystem is mature enough for scale deployment. All chipset vendor have released SA capable modem, nearly all smart phones released after 2020 is NSA/SA dual mode, more and more SA networks have been commercially launched. In China, there are more than 800K 5G sites on air until May 2021, most of them are configured for SA or NSA/SA dual mode. So we believe it is time for operators to consider evolution to 5G SA.    


Q: In 2020 ZTE deployed 200,000+ SA sites, what makes these sites faster and unique compared to others?

A: For B2C, since ZTE has developed a series of features further enhancing network performance, they can enjoy higher data rate and lower latency. These innovative features include SSB 1+X vertical coverage enhancement, SuperMIMO indoor capacity boosting, FAST uplink enhancement technology, and etc. And SA network delivers enhanced user experience, and operator can have better network efficiency. Per statistics in China, for SA users 70% traffic volume is carried by NR, but for NSA users only 20% is carried by NR, so SA network can let operators move more 5G users from overloaded 4G to 5G.

For B2B, SA network provides a basic platform to enable diversify industrial applications, and ZTE has developed some critical features to better support B2B applications. For example, on top of ordinary network slicing, ZTE developed PRB reservation based on hard slicing, which can provide 100% resource guarantee for some critical applications. On top of ordinary traffic offloading with edge UPF, ZTE developed NodeEngine solution, which can offload local traffic at site level and further reduce latency. Uplink capacity enhancement technology (FAST) enable uplink intensive use cases such as machine vision. All-in-one private network solution makes enterprise network deployment easier and quicker. 


Q: Looking to 2022 and beyond how will SA impact growth, revenue, and customer experience?

A: For ordinary customers, with expanding 5G coverage and richer spectrum, they can enjoy better data rate and more service (such as 5G message, VoNR, VR/AR, etc.). For B2B application, it is still in the early stage, a lot of issues still remain ahead, such as sustainable business model. But it is the future and no one is willing to miss this opportunity. We expect SA adoption will start accelerating from 2021.  


Don't miss 5G SA Prime, ZTE 5G Online Forum at MWC Barcelona.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.