In a recent interview with Mobile World Live, ZTE CEO Ziyang Xu outlined the company's progress on the 5G front so far, and discussed ZTE's future plans for the emerging 5G era, as well as the areas in which network operators should improve. In short, ZTE's strategy moving forward into the 5G space will be to focus on providing simplified end-to-end 5G network solutions to operators.
The company also acknowledges that the 5G era will require more partners working together for the same goals, and as such, ZTE will open up to other ecosystems. The interview also touched on whether 5G networking can benefit vertical applications, but the CEO concluded that more trials in vertical industries will be required before the benefits of 5G technologies can be fully exploited in these areas.
ZTE has had a difficult time over the past few years after the company was found guilty of breaking trade embargoes set in place by the U.S. Commerce Department, but last year the denial order preventing ZTE from purchasing and licensing technologies manufactured in the United States has been lifted by the Commerce Department in exchange of various other penalties and a restructuring of ZTE's management. Following the ban lift, ZTE's efforts in developing 5G solutions resumed, and the company remains one of the leading entities in the 5G space.
There still are various challenges that need to be tackled moving forward into the 5G era, particularly by operators. According to the CEO, finding an appropriate business model for 5G technologies remains a problem, and in turn, this becomes an issue for investors. However, the CEO claims that ZTE continues to work closely with its partners and network operators in order to find the best solution.
Likewise, company structures should be revamped to a degree because the current traditional methods employed by operators make it difficult for different departments to cooperate. The CEO believes that the answer may lie in the DevOps methodology which is designed to shorten system development cycles, and claims that both operators and vendors should be able to cooperate more easily in order to find the right business models for 5G.
Furthermore, global operators need to fully understand the network and equipment components in order to determine what the most appropriate 5G solution will be for them. The CEO claims that there is no "best 5G solution" but only the most fitting on a case-by-case scenario. ZTE reckons that field tests in complex scenarios should be accelerated, all the while the company itself should "keep an open mind" and aim to achieve win-win scenarios with its partners.
As for ZTE's recent advancements in 5G, the company has been the first to complete field verification of end-to-end 5G services for mobile phones and the CEO claims that ZTE remains the leading company in terms of both 5G standalone and 5G non-standalone testing. The expertise acquired over the past few years in regards to pre-5G equipment and Massive MIMO is being applied to 5G solutions including the company's in-house 5G chips.
ZTE will attend Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month and is expected to discuss more on its future 5G plans at the event. Its first 5G-enabled smartphone is expected to be unveiled later this year.