ZTE lobbying for 5G architecture based on mesh networks, cloud radio

ZTE has a quite specific vision for the 5G radio access network (RAN), which the Chinese vendor says should entail a dynamic mesh network based on IP backhaul. The company contends the 5G landscape will rely upon vast meshes of interconnections, as well as service ubiquity and energy efficiency.

In line with the company's vision of the 5G future, networks could encompass base stations making up a user densification network (UDN), massive MIMO, traditional macrocells and device-to-device (D2D) connections. "These various base stations will coordinate with each other horizontally more often than they do in 4G networks, and so will require a dynamic and adaptive wireless mesh network," ZTE said.

ZTE's detailed description of 5G networks is one of many that will likely be proposed privately and/or publicly over the coming months and years by industry vendors as they jockey for position in the next generation of wireless and seek to secure strong 5G-related intellectual property rights. Though it might appear premature for companies to offer up technology roadmaps, given that 5G has not yet been defined, a land grab of sorts is beginning as players seek to establish 5G beachheads and convince the rest of the industry to rally around their own technological prowess.

That's why South Korea's government and the European Commission have entered a 5G development pact, while Japan's NTT DoCoMo said it will conduct "experimental trials" of emerging 5G technologies together with six infrastructure vendors.

According to a recent article in India's Business Standard, ZTE aims to introduce some kind of 5G prototype by 2015. Xu Juijun, senior vice president of ZTE's wireless business, said the vendor has some 1,000 engineers working on 5G.

ZTE, a member of China's IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group, also made a pitch for researchers to focus on implementing space-division multiple access (SCDMA) as a basis for 5G networks. And the vendor noted that last year it debuted what it calls its 5G software-defined air interface (SDA) technology, which ZTE claims would enable a flexible 5G access network by allowing "self-adaptation of the air interfaces."

"The SDA can allow multiple wireless access technologies for optimal adaptation, maximizing air interfaces' efficiency," said ZTE's Xiang Jiying, adding that SDA technology "is a key research area for 5G."

The vendor also claims its existing cloud radio solution for LTE networks lays a foundation for "partially dynamic" 5G mesh networks.

In a recent white paper, ZTE said 5G networks will be heterogeneous. "A cloud architecture will coordinate the disparate types of network resources, managing inter-RAT, inter-frequency and inter-site radio access and interference cancellation to deliver improved network performance at the cell edge. Cloud coordination and control enable operators to manage their existing networks and 5G in an integrated way, helping to realize savings in capital expenditure and operating expenses," the company explained.

(Image Source: ZTE white paper)

For more:
- see this ZTE release and white paper (PDF)

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