ZTE Unveils “Pre-5G” Wireless Technology

by Matt Klassen on July 14, 2015

With 5G wireless network technology slated for commercial deployment sometime around 2020,  Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE Corp has announced this week that it has struck a deal with Japanese mobile titan Softbank to deploy its unique “pre-5G” network inJapan, with trials to begin in early 2016.

Much like HSPA 3G+ of a few years ago, ZTE’s pre-5G network is simply a stopgap measure, an improvement on current 4G network speeds but technology that admittedly is a far cry from what true 5G network advances promise. The goal for ZTE—soon to be copied by every network operator—is to begin the process of creating 5G infrastructure, and giving customers the chance to experience a “5G-like experience” ahead of an actual comprehensive rollout.

In fact, ZTE researchers are confident that despite being an intermediate advance in network technology, pre-5G will give users many of the same advances, such as higher speed connections and low latency, on existing 4G equipment that 5G will ultimately deliver once it becomes the market standard.

While addressing the International Workshop of 5G technologies, ZTE’s CTO of Wireless Products Dr. Xiang Jiying said that his company’s pre5G will be available much sooner than true 5G, but yet still be able to deliver an experience comparable to what 5G will ultimately provide without needing all the rest of the 5G equipment and infrastructure (such as 5G capable smartphones).

“Being a pre5G technology, ZTE’s Massive MIMO [(multiple input multiple output] solution is delivering exponential advances to 4G networks without modifying existing air interfaces, making it possible for carriers to provide a 5G-like user experience on existing 4G handsets in an accelerated timeframe,” said Dr. Xiang in a press release. “ZTE successfully overcame the challenge of doing multi-user and multi-stream spatial multiplexing in a scattered-signal environment, clearing the main hurdle in the development of Massive MIMO technology.”

Simply put, the company’s goal is to introduce as many core 5G technologies as possible on existing 4G networks, understanding of course that the pre5G experience will only give users a comparable glimpse of what true 5G will bring.

“Even though the industry is still working on 5G standardization, we already have a lot of clarity on 5G user experience and the 5G candidate technologies,” Dr. Xiang said. “Therefore, pre5G can be defined and implemented even before 5G becomes standardized.

While ZTE claims credit for being the first to start testing this pre5G technology, don’t think it will be the last, as undoubtedly this will spark the next big network battle, as carriers race to bring pre5G to market, even as they prepare for the costly rollout of 5G itself. In fact, Chinese rival Huawei has already made significant advances in 5G technology as well, labelling its own network efforts 4.5G, all the while American carriers remain silent about the next generation of wireless advances.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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