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Continuous Innovation advances 5G Value Growing

Recently, at ZTE 5G Summit, Dr. Bai Gang, VP of ZTE, presented the topic of “Continuous Innovation advances 5G Value Growing”. In his speech, he mentioned several ZTE innovative solutions which can bring significant values to 5G advancement and industrial partners. Based on key points of the speech, RCR Wireless interviewed Dr. Bai Gang.

Q1: In your presentation, you mentioned that ZTE is the first in the industry to launch AI-based Intelligent Orchestration Solution. Can you share some more information on what is the target and how it works?

This year, ZTE launched the industry’s first intelligent orchestration solution – Radio Composer. With AI-based engine, To provide multi-dimensional network perceptions through the BBU’s built-in intelligence and multi-layer computing power in the radio network, the target is to optimize user experience and network efficiency. The Radio Composer enriches a reliable and resilient 5G network by adaptively managing its resource to track and match the service requirement with AI.

Inside the solution, user orchestration takes users as orchestration objects to achieve intelligent user steering and scheduling. From field application statistic, the cell-edge user average throughput can be improved by more than 300%, the handover delay can be reduced by more than 50%. And network orchestration takes network resources as orchestration objects to achieve orchestration for spectrum, frame structure and beam. By activating network orchestration function, the spectrum payload and the spectrum utilization rate is improved significantly, facilitating network payload by 30% and saving O&M cost by 50%. It is a powerful tool for operators to develop and operate 5G networks in the post-5G era. ZTE has verified the solution together with several operators and achieved excellent results.

Moreover, Intelligent orchestration is a continuously evolving solution. Currently it supports user orchestration and network orchestration. In the future, we will explore more features, for example, joint orchestration and intent-driven orchestration to achieve comprehensive network utilization efficiency and user experience optimization.

Q2: You talk about NodeEngine solution which is unique to industry. Can you tell us more about its applications and benefits?

ZTE’s unique NodeEngine is industry’s first and only solution with a base station built-in edge computing engine. With just one card easily pluggable into the existing 5G BBU, it enables the highest possible utilization of existing 5G network resources to provide private network capabilities to enterprises. Fast deployment with one hour configuration and activation is no longer a dream. Though the solution is based on only one board, the capacity is relatively large. It supports 10Gbps traffic offloading. Also, it supports edge QoS functions that guarantees service SLA, and the self-service portal of NodeEngine can be provided to enterprise to manage the 5G private network and service performance in real-time after the authorization from operator.

One typical example of NodeEngine is at SANY Changshu 5G smart factory in China. In this case 5G enabled machine vision helps the factory to implement such functions as intelligent material cutting, multi-system collaborative operation, unmanned dangerous production, automatic assembly and intelligent quality inspection. This reduces labor cost by 64%, and the product defect rate by 14%. The 5G intelligent storage improves the connection quality of unmanned AGV trolleys, and ensures a latency of no more than 10 ms. It achieves high-speed and stable operation of AGV transportation operation and scheduling control, increases the storage management efficiency by 50%, and reduces the overall cost by 20%-30%. The success of projects such as Changshu Factory has made SANY really feel the benefits of digital transformation. It is estimated that after the digital upgrade, the equipment downtime will be reduced by 50% and the equipment utilization rate will be increased from 35% to 75%.

These kinds of efficiency improvements happened quite often in 5G industrial applications using ZTE NodeEngine solution, since ZTE has opened wide cooperation with over ten industries and over 70 commercial projects.

Q3: AIVO solution from ZTE is very interesting. Can you elaborate a bit more on this solution?

With the development of 5G , operators are facing three main challenges for operations: difficult to troubleshoot in complex networks, hard to define problems among diverse services, and difficult to satisfy personalized demand.

Big data and AI based AIVO digital operation solution enables data-driven operation innovation, which offers more than 150 AI algorithms, and identifies more than 15,000 types of services, thus achieving real insights about service and user. Based on intelligent digital platform, AIVO can help operators in the following areas: Precise Planning, Intelligent Operation and Market Development. Take Intelligent Operation as an example, AIVO supports visualized AI model training to actively predict and prevent network interruption, and enables automatic diagnosis and recovery through intelligent fault management, therefore improving O&M efficiency by 20%.

So far, AIVO has been applied in more than 70 networks around the world and won the customers’ trust.

Q4: Previously you talked about a few innovative solutions, they are readily available for current 5G network. Then how about future? What is your vision on some future solutions for, say, 5G-Advanced?

One thing that quickly popped up in my mind is ZTE MetaRadio, using the Reconfigurable Intelligent MetaSurface to improve 5G network performance in a cost-efficient way. It is kind of 6G technology brought forward to 5G Advanced era. Just as ZTE did to Pre5G Massive MIMO, a 5G technology brought forward into 4G era. Normally, with the electromagnetic signal reflection from ordinary material, the wireless channel is considered as Passive or Fixed. However, with ZTE MetaRadio, the wireless channel can be considered as Active or Re-configurable. Thus, it is possible to tremendously improve the overall wireless system performance. For example, if we put MetaRadio in 5G network, the potential benefits include the reduction of the number of sites and power consumption by improved site coverage especially for mmWave, and the improved user experience due to better coverage.

Another important area is AI (Artificial Intelligence). AI, definitely, is not new to us. But what is new and interesting to know is that AI is expected to be the core functionality in 5G Advanced network. AI and Wireless technology will develop and evolve hand-in-hand with each other. 5G advanced network will be evolved to better support AI. And AI will be designed to further enhance 5G advanced network as well. And the places of AI can be diverse, on the radio network, on the core network, on the edge and in the terminals. And the joint processing of them can potentially improve the system performance and user experience and bring more services.

These are just two interesting areas. We are working on 5G Advanced from many areas, such as architecture-level, equipment-level and solution-level.

Q5: You summarized in your speech with 3-E concept and 5G bringing value for customers. Can you shine more light on this concept?

First, B2C market is the fundamental foundation for wireless and 5G. However, B2C market for wireless is quite mature. The key mission for operators is to maximize the value of the network. Second, B2B market will bring new revenue streams for 5G with huge potential. Thus, the key mission of 5G here is to create new value for B2B market, in order to monetize from the new business streams. Finally, wireless communication has always been a continuing effort of innovation, so 5G will definitely further evolve to 5G Advanced and 6G. But we do not innovate for the sake of innovation, our innovation aims to maximizing and creating new value for our customers.

Thus, we came up with 3-E’s. Extension, Enhancement, Efficiency.

  • Extended Capabilities, for example higher capacity, optimized coverage, and massive connections. This aims to help customers to build a solid foundation of network as to maximize 5G network value.
  • Enhanced Performance, for example large bandwidth, ultra reliability and low latency. This aims to help operators to build new features for new services especially on the expansion of industry cooperation.
  • Efficiency Improvement, for example, energy efficiency, spectral efficiency, and operations efficiency. This aims to make the network and operation more efficient, from the angle of total cost of ownership. Thus, our customer can operate the network with the best price-performance-ratio and be competitive in the market.

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