In November 2020, U Mobile and ZTE signed an enhanced network transformation agreement in preparation for 5G deployment which will see U Mobile’s network to be future proof and 5G-ready.
ZTE is a major international provider of telecommunications, enterprise and consumer technology solutions while U Mobile has been known to disrupt the mobile Telecommunication industry in Malaysia by offering super affordable mobile prepaid and postpaid plans to consumers.
As part of the agreement, U Mobile’s enhanced network transformation by ZTE will include:
- Existing Spectrum Re-farming – Existing 3G/4G spectrum supports smooth re-farming for 5G through industry lead LTE/New Radio (NR) Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) solution.
- Existing Equipment Re-farming – With existing radio equipment already 5G-ready, ZTE will support smooth evolution to 5G by software upgrade. This helps U Mobile to protect existing investment and save on 5G investment.
- 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) Core Network Ready – NSA Core Network to be upgraded with Network functions virtualization (NFV) platform.
ZTE will supply end to end 5G oriented equipment to help U Mobile expand and upgrade its 4G LTE network as well as prepare itself for 5G.
According to Steven Ge, Managing Director of ZTE Malaysia in an email interview with MalaysianWireless, ZTE Malaysia is committed to providing support for optimal network performance, long term trusted partnership and mutual growth with U Mobile.
“To roll out the 5G network, that is not difficult. The main challenge comes from marketing the service and driving demand from consumers, develop the 5G vertical industry – these will be the main challenges of rolling out the 5G network,”
Steven shared that there are other challenges to deploying 5G including spectrum availability, “Killer” uses cases, transmission cost and facilities.
U Mobile’s Core network is 100% powered by ZTE and its already 5G ready for consumers, Steven added.
Late last year, U Mobile and ZTE partnered for a 5G proof of concept (POC) network in Langkawi. During a speedtest, the ZTE-powered U Mobile 5G network was able to deliver a single user peak throughput speeds of more than 1 Gbps, which is said to be more than 10 times of 4G LTE speeds.
In September 2020, U Mobile deployed a live 5G trial network in Berjaya Times Square mall in Kuala Lumpur, powered by ZTE. The limited-time 5G trial network was made available automatically to all U Mobile prepaid and postpaid customers with compatible 5G smartphones.
Steven said from these partnerships, both U Mobile and ZTE have been able to better understand the 5G network capabilities, device behaviours and the various verticals. “This enables us to move forward and better prepare for the next generation network”.
Apart from these, U Mobile is also actively exploring other 5G use cases, including vertical applications such as remote healthcare, medical, tourism, gaming etc.
ZTE said among the new technology being considered in 4G and 5G include:
- 4T6S – 4T6S means 6 Sectors with 4T4R Radios per site, while normal site is only 3 sectors with 2T2R/4T4R Radios per site. With 4T6S solution, the spectrum & physical resource block (PRB) resource will be double, and the capacity & user experience can be improved by maximum 2.5 times.
- Massive MIMO technology to further improve the capacity of network as well as user experience. FDD Massive MIMO capacity is 3 times compared with macro and the user throughput is up to 8 times.
- High transmitting power in newly released Radios to improve coverage. This will result in 15-20% coverage improvement nationwide.
- MEC (Multi-Access Edge Computing) can also reduce latency from 30~50ms to 1~10ms – MEC integrates traditional cellular telecom networks with Internet services to reduce the backhaul transmission latency, facilitate low latency required services, such as online games, etc.
- AI based big data platform, help to analyse complaints & experience, and output customized solution for customer – further improve the customer experience and reduce complaints.
With the national Jalinan Digital Negara Plan (JENDELA) in place, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), U Mobile and ZTE Malaysia are working closely to improve 4G coverage across the country. In Phase 1 of JENDELA, U Mobile is targeting to deploy 432 new 4G sites and further upgrade the capacity of more than 4,222 4G LTE sites nationwide.
Over the past two years, U Mobile has increased its 4G sites by more than 2400 to more than 7400. Its human population coverage also increased by over 20% to 82 % nationwide and in West Malaysia, U Mobile’s population coverage stands at 96% today.
5G roll out under JENDELA is expected post 2022.
This article is brought to you by ZTE Malaysia.
ZTE Corporation is a global leader in telecommunications and information technology. Founded in 1985 and listed on both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges, the company has been committed to providing integrated end-to-end innovations to deliver excellence and value to consumers, carriers, businesses and government and enterprise network customers from over 160 countries around the world to enable increased connectivity and productivity.
ZTE believes in technology innovation as a core value of the company, continuously enhancing its core competitive advantages in the 5G era. For the first nine months, the company’s R&D expense reached RMB 10.79 billion, making up 14.6% of 9-month revenue, a year-on-year increase of 15.3 %. ZTE has filed applications for more than 74,000 patents, with over 34,000 granted. Since 2010, ZTE has been ranked among the world’s Top-5 for patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) each year, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. As a major contributor and participant in the research of global 5G technologies and standards, ZTE has declared 2,561 families of 5G Standard-Essential Patents(SEP) to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), thereby being included among global top 3, according to IPlytics’ report on February 2020.