ZTE has confirmed it now has 46 commercial 5G contracts in place and hopes a refreshed range of 5G networking products will help it compete with larger rivals and overcome any political challenges.
The Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer has been subject to the same national security concerns and hostilities from some governments as its compatriot Huawei – most notably the US.
Although largely excluded from the US market, some smaller, rural mobile operators rely on low-cost ZTE equipment to power their networks.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is providing government funding for these carriers to strip out and replace Huawei and ZTE kit with alternatives. Meanwhile, the UK has placed restrictions on the use of ‘High Risk Vendors’.
ZTE’s lower market share and limited presence in certain markets mean it is slightly more insulated from the ongoing pressure and the company is pressing ahead with its 5G roadmap, working with operators in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In total, ZTE has 70 collaboration agreements in place.
The ‘new 5G series’ of radio equipment promises to make it easier and cost-effective to build out 5G infrastructure, with lightweight antennas that support multiple spectrum bands and spectrum sharing and small cells for indoor scenarios.
A particular focus has been on reducing power consumption and complexity for operators tasked with supporting different frequencies and generations of mobile technology.
There is also a significant emphasis on transportation for ZTE, which has deployed the world’s first 5G maglev network with China Telecom and is offering a 5G broadband system for airlines. Operators can sue the same spectrum as their ground networks, offer 100 times the throughput of conventional satellite broadband networks, and cover a radius of 300km with a single base station.
ZTE will hope its portfolio will allow it to secure more contracts in a market dominated by Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.