For ZTE, 5G future is now, starts trials with top telcos

Chinese telecom gear maker ZTE said it has started conducting pre-5G trials with India’s top telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Reliance Jio, and plans to design and develop future technologies, including 5G, in the market that is among the world’s largest by user base.
Fan Xiaobing, president of global marketing and solutions, told ET that the opportunity will be much bigger for ZTE in India around 5G technology.
“India is a very important market for us. Telecom industry is all about scale, and India offers scale. Indian telecom market will grow very fast…We are increasing our investments in India to support growth,” he said, adding that the current data growth driven by 4G LTE networks is significant, and the vendor is tapping the opportunity by working with telcos.
The executive said the company will bring telecom products designed and customised for local needs.
“We will develop future technology products around 5G technology in India,” he said. ZTE, which competes with the likes of Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia in India, said the competition is very intense. However, it expects its India business to grow faster than its other global markets.
ZTE recently won a contract from state-run BSNL for network expansion in the north and the east. It recently agreed to match L1 bidder (Nokia), which is putting network for BSNL in southern and western regions.
The vendor has also inked a pact with BSNL to provide network support and 5G gear for future network needs.
ZTE is already conducting pre-5G trials with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, and Mukesh Ambaniled 4G telco Reliance Jio.
“Our focus in now on advanced technologies like 5G in India.
We are the only company that is doing pre-5G trials with Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio. We are also providing 5Gready massive mimo technology to Bharti Airtel,” Peng Aiguang, chief executive officer at ZTE India, said.
The company is also testing its 5G-ready products with Airtel and BSNL.
India plans to roll out 5G services for consumers by 2020 and to achieve that objective, the government had last week set up a high-level forum that will evaluate and approve road maps and action plans to bring in the latest technology. The government is also looking to auction spectrum supporting 5G for the first time, with the regulator starting a consultation process around timing and pricing.
Peng Aiguang said 5G may come even earlier to India, as the Indian telecom operators aim to get first mover advantage.
ZTE is currently in talks with the Indian telecom operators on 5G backhaul, which will lay a solid foundation for future 5G networks in India. “We expect to have new partnerships around 5G backhaul soon in India,” he said.
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