Following the announcement of its strategy to tap into the projected US$1.29trillion IOT industry and its focus on 5G network infrastructure development, ZTE Corporation South Africa has confirmed pre-5G deployments with China Mobile and SoftBank; as well as increased investment in the Internet of Everything.
This week the company announced its partnership with Intel to jointly establish an innovation lab to facilitate IoT-related R&D, including experimental verification, evaluation and development of related technologies.
Julian Ramnarain, Vice Managing Director at ZTE Corporation South Africa, confirmed the focus is specifically on 5G networks as a key enabling technology in mainstreaming IoT.
This was echoed by the company's Chief Technology Officer, Fu Zhen. "5G will provide the technology platform for the Internet of Everything, and ZTE is pouring money and effort into ensuring it has the technological leadership and intellectual capital needed to partner with those companies that are leading this revolution. The fact that we have been chosen to work with these companies on projects that are defining the Internet of Everything shows that we are succeeding."
Zhen says the Internet of Everything is the next progression from the Internet of Things. Whereas the Internet of Things refers to the linking of physical objects to the global network, the Internet of Everything envisages bringing people, processes, data and things onto a common, global platform.
"The Internet of Everything will greatly enhance our ability to create new capabilities and explore new markets. It represents a new frontier of opportunity for individuals, businesses and even nations," he says. "It is no surprise that Gartner listed it as one of the top trends as far back as 2015."
ZTE Corporation South Africa's track record includes a partnership in July 2015 with Softbank, a Japanese telecommunications company, to collaborate on research and development based on ZTE's pre-5G technology, including the use of massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO).
MIMO is considered to be critical to commercialising 5G, the company explains.
In 2016, SoftBank launched Massive MIMO in Japan. "Deploying Massive MIMO in the 2.5 GHz frequency band was a global breakthrough in 5G," says Hideyuki Tsukuda, SVP (senior vice president) of SoftBank.
ZTE was also involved in Europe's first test of Massive MIMO, via a partnership with Hutchison Drei Austria, a mobile operator, to build the first pre5-G trial site on that continent.
"ZTE is a partner we found flexible, very supportive and always looking for a solution," commented Matthias Baldermann, CTO of Hutchison Drei Austria GmbH.
Other notable deals include a June 2016 memorandum of understanding with Telefonica to develop 5G technologies, strengthening ZTE's position as one of Telefonica's strategic technology partners. In the following December, ZTE announced a contract to help Telefonica build a large-scale virtual IP multimedia subsystem (vIMS) network in Latin America.
Enrique Blanco, Global CTO of Telefonica, says that ZTE was the natural choice because it not only had proficiency in the multiple technologies required for 5G now, but the capability to keep up with future developments.
August 2016 saw the signing of a major network modernisation deal with Telenet, the largest provider of cable broadband services in Belgium.