ZTE targets new 5G sites, smart compute and energy savings

ZTE takes advantage of MWC Shanghai to lay down a host of releases. TMN unpacks them.

With MWC Shanghai being something of a “home town” show for the Chinese vendors, it is ZTE who has taken the opportunity to  produce a slew of press releases this week.

As ever it is useful to track the direction of travel when you get a clutch of vendor releases like this, so let’s see what ZTE was looking to highlight this week.


First off was mention of a specific 5G network function, the User Plane Function (UPF), used in conjunction with the Network Data Analytic Function (NWDAF). ZTE and Anhui Mobile, a branch of China Mobile, have been experimenting with an R17-compliant UPF that takes advantage of the analytics function of the NWDAF to operate sites more efficiently. One feature of the 5G Core is that the UPF can be decoupled from the control plane functions, and can be sited separately from other elements nearer the edge of the network to handle user traffic. The NWDAF in ZTE and Anhui’s trials time series algorithms for model training to predict service flows and resource requirements.

ZTE said, “When the system anticipates a forthcoming low-traffic period, it automatically implements service migration, intelligent CPU frequency reduction, and core sleep without any experience impact.

“Moreover, in scenarios with sudden bursts of service traffic, the UPF supports millisecond-level self-wake-up, enabling rapid handling of burst services with no data loss and ensuring dependable energy savings.”

ZTE said this has been modeled to show a 25% reduction in energy usage by the UPF. So that’s quite a technical release – the R17 UPF and the NWDAF – but to a business aim.


A second release from ZTE addressed another strategic telco requirement – how to hit industry verticals with private network solutions. The vendor launched its 5G UniEngine V1100A, which it billed as” a comprehensive one-stop solution tailored for industrial 5G private networks, seamlessly integrating the full functionalities of 5G core, 5G RAN, and simplified O&M”. The solution supports features such as URLLC, TSN, and FRER, giving it the ability to provide “deterministic assurance for critical services in core production areas” according to ZTE.

It also announced the SmartEdge 6100 – a gateway for time-sensitive network (TSN) protocols.  The gateway offers hardware-based packet forwarding, native 5G LAN, and deterministic capabilities, making it an all-in-one node for accessing and managing diverse on-site industrial equipment.

Finally, ZTE introduced a portable test instrument designed for industry service simulation and verification.


Going back to the core network, ZTE introduced is Steady Core solution, which is designed to increase the resilience of networks to avoid signalling storms.

This solution includes three functions: 3-Level adaptive storm control, 3-Layer data/network/service guarantee, and 3D link reliability enhancement. Its protection measures – “Automatic scaling & balancing/E2E traffic control/Automatic storm source fusing,”  – are designed to mitigate the impact of signaling storms.

With the implementation of “Native FRER/UPF 1+1 hot standby/UPF+,” the solution provides dual-protection across three levels: link, equipment, and control plane. This is designed to guarantee uninterrupted connections, with an interruption time of less than 1 second.


To anticipate demand for higher power computing, the vendor also announced a new range of servers – th R6500G5 GPU servers – which can accommodate up to twenty GPUs. Additionally, ZTE plans to unveil a higher-performance R6900G5 GPU training server by the end of this year.

For storage, ZTE offers high-bandwidth multi-converged storage solutions – a combination of distributed disk arrays and high-end all-flash disk arrays. And its NEO intelligent cloud card facilitates the offloading of the high-performance storage transmission protocol NVMe, enabling storage performance of up to 3 million IOPS.

For compte networking, ZTE employs a “lossless” network architecture, using RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) networks and lossless switches to build computing power clusters built around DPUs (Data Processing Units). The introduction of the NEO intelligent cloud card enhances the server’s capabilities, enabling single-node forwarding performance of up to 800Gbps, reducing bottlenecks between nodes.


Then there was a customer release, with AIS in Thailiand, showcasing work the vendor has been doing on mmWave at 26 GHz. Here ZTE, AIS, and Qualcomm trialled a mmWave 5G SA Standalone Architecture, achieving downlink speeds of 7.04Gbps under a DDDSU frame structure,and uplink speeds of 2.12Gbps with a DSUUU frame structure, and end-to-end latency of less than 4ms.

The mmWave SA network was implemented using four 200MHz carriers in the downlink and two 200MHz carriers in the uplink all operating solely at 26GHz.

6. 128T128R on a sub 6GHz cell in China

A further customer release, this time with Guangdong and Guangzhou Branch of China Mobile, brought news of a commercial trial of a 5G cell in Guangzhou. The trial was conducted using ZTE’s new generation 128T/R AAU (Active Antenna Unit), harnessing 100 MHz of spectrum on a single carrier in the 4.9GHz band.

The cell achieved a downlink peak rate of 10.3Gbps, which is double the maximum spectrum efficiency of the existing 5G network. The uplink peak rate reached 2.8Gbps, which is 2.4 times higher than the maximum spectrum efficiency of the current 5G network.

The new AAU, equipped with double the number of transceivers and antenna elements of the highest order massive MIMO antennas deployed to date, enhances its beamforming capabilities, resulting in improved cell capacity and coverage. Moreover, it ensures vertical coverage for high-rise buildings in densely populated urban areas. The 128TR AAU, combined with enhanced software algorithms, supports up to 32 streams for downlink space division and up to 24 streams for uplink space division. It achieves a maximum beamforming gain of 3 dB, thereby enhancing deep coverage in urban areas.