SoftBank starts 5G investment drive with ZTE

Softbank 4G
Telecom network and software company ZTE has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SoftBank to collaborate on research and development on pre-5G mobile communications networks technology.

Softbank and Wireless City Planning are currently working towards the introduction of the 5G project. The project, on roll from 16 September, 2016, aims to become the first commercial service offering 5G Massive MIMO offers.

ZTE and Softbank will co-operate on R&D, evaluation and verification of mobile communications solutions based on ZTE Pre5G technology.

The MoU will include Massive MIMO and will consist of building the existing cooperation between SoftBank and ZTE on technologies including Massive MIMO, ultra-dense networks (UDN) and multi-user shared access (MUSA).

The Massive MIMO base stations have the capability to support more than 100 antenna elements to provide higher space division multiplexing gains than traditional 8-antenna base stations without changing existing terminals or air interfaces, greatly enhancing spectrum utilization.

With the Massive MIMO base station from ZTE, up to eight users can transfer data simultaneously.

“The technology being developed under this agreement will help define future Mobile Internet communications. In our plans to develop next-generation mobile networks, SoftBank will derive large benefits from the Pre5G collaboration with ZTE,” said Keiichi Makizono, senior vice president of SoftBank.

Japan, leading in communications technologies, is expected to be the industry leader in 5G network, paving the way for it as a global standard.

The 5G Project sums up offers of new technologies like Massive MIMO related to 5G for the users. As the first series, the project is the initial step in the globally-first, commercial service of the spatial multiplexing technology.

The technology implements large amounts of antenna and beam forming, with the sequential expansion plans from the National Urban section being about 100 stations while the target area after launch of broadcasting to be announced at the company website.

Massive MIMO technology offers efficient coverage compared to traditional LTE technologies and saves on base station energy consumption, to fulfill the vision of green communications. The performance of existing AXGP networks is hence enhanced and in the practical prototype demonstration, the Pre5G Massive MIMO base station saw results with multi-user 3D coverage far beyond expectations.

“The agreement with SoftBank will add enormous value to ZTE’s technology alliances with our partners around the world on 5G research, as we are committed to building an industry ecosystem based on open collaboration,” said Zhang Renjun, senior vice president of ZTE.

Pre5G Massive MIMO products received numerous global awards like the Innovative Solution and Fastest Market Development Award 2014 at the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI) awards in March, in Barcelona.

Also in May, ZTE and China Telecom won the Wireless Network Infrastructure Innovation award for Pre5G products at the Global Telecom Business (GTB) Innovation Awards and in June, ZTE was awarded the 2015 Global Technology Innovation Award in 5G Networks by Frost & Sullivan for outstanding performance and achievements in 5G technology innovations, and leading position in the industry.

Globally, ZTE had earlier revealed plans to invest 200 million euros, or $220 million, in 5G and mobile communication technologies from 2015 to 2018.

ZTE is currently demonstrating, testing and sharing the use of the innovative functionality with telecom service providers on Massive MIMO and cloud radio, with the company observing market growth in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, apart from China.

Rival group Huawei had previously introduced plans for 4.5G, as a step towards 5G, working on the same principle of Massive MIMO, which witnessed its commercial network launch in 2016.

Overall, 4.5G, with 20 commercial or trial 4.5G networks on air by April, sees expectations of more than 60 such networks around the globe, by the year end. 4.5G claims to feature latency rates of around 10 milliseconds, peak downlink speeds of around 6 Gbps and the ability to support 100,000 connections within a single square kilometer.

Vina Krishnan
[email protected]