ZTE and Intel Collaborate to Produce World's First SDN/NFV 5G RAN Solution

By: Consuelo Azuaje

Last week, ZTE and Intel announced the launch of the latest product of their collaborative efforts—the world’s first SDN/NFV virtualization-based 5G RAN solution. For years, 5G’s imminent deployment data (2020) and only ever-soaring network demands have been making it increasingly expedient that MNOs branch away from their traditional approach to scaling up networks. MNOs’ traditional approach to expanding scale has been to increase hardware. The problem with that, however, is that increasing hardware comes at the price of increased energy consumption and increased hardware and maintenance complexity.

The SDN and NFV virtualization technologies designed into ZTE’s and Intel’s 5G RAN solution make it compatible with 2G, 3G, 4G, and pre-5G systems and enables it to support cloud-RAN (C-RAN), distributed-RAN (D-RAN), and 5G central and distributed units (CU/DU). This kind of versatility makes for a large amount developmental potential, as well as, potential to for broader application, ergo, saved resources. The solution is based off of Intel architecture (a new generation of Modular Baseband Processing Platform, in fact) which possesses large data capacity, high-integration, multi-mode flexible networking features, and the potential to reduce energy consumption via sophisticated algorithms. The solution would support vertical businesses, multi-scene flexible deployment, and 4G/5G hybrid networks to effectively protect operator investment.

Both ZTE and Intel have expressed a large amount of optimism in their solution. According to Jianguo Zhang, senior VP of ZTE: “cooperation…will deliver a simpler, more flexible, open network to telcom operators and bring bigger value to users.”

Intel’s corporate VP, Sandra Rivera, also said: “we see Communications Service Providers quickly adopting SDN/NFV technologies as the foundation for 5G networks…our goal with ZTE is to accelerate commercial cloud-ready 5G network solutions. By using the latest Intel architecture processors.” “[At] the intelligent edge,” Rivera continued, “ZTE has demonstrated that this network transformation can be realized for 5 network requirements, including ultra-low latency, very high bandwidth, and expanded capacity.”

ZTE and Intel’s collaboration is just one of many recent examples of coopetition acting as the most effective vehicle to progress.

The future of IoT will be realized by much more than a massive number of connected machines. It will also be realized by the rich creative power of collaboration and sharing of ideas. Not any single one of us can fully predict what the future of IoT will be. But there is one thing that we can know, and that is that when the dust finally settles and IoT achieves greater maturity, the state of IoT will be one we co-created.