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ZTE R&D push reaps industry recognition


China-based equipment and device maker ZTE’s technical innovation was recognised at the 2021 Network Transformation Awards, with the company winning three awards out of a total of 11 presented at the annual event highlighting new technologies and applications for SDN and NFV.

ZTE took home: Next-Generation Communication Product for a next-generation interactive and immersive voice solution; Emerging Product for its Native Enhanced-cloud Orchestration (NEO) card; and Best Application of AI/IA for a camera powered by device-cloud collaboration.

The overall winners were selected by an independent panel of judges, with the awards presented at the Layer123 World Congress, held virtually in November.

ZTE Vice President Wang Quan (pictured) noted basic voice services have been the most reliable and secure way to communicate, especially in emergency situations for decades. While keeping these advantages, the telecom industry will implement multimedia to achieve a next-generation interactive and immersive communication.

“Over the years, there has been little change in the form of mobile calls. Compared with internet applications, the legacy call between handsets is relatively monotonous, and lacks more interactive features. As mobile internet services have developed, with voice traffic continuing to decline, the impact of voice service substitution by internet applications has deepened.”

Better voice experience
Wang believes the next-generation interactive and immersive voice product has the potential to change the future of mobile communications, as it redefines how we call. Instead of putting a handset on the ear, users can touch the screen and interact with pictures, videos, texts, files, expressions, locations, AR, VR and any multimedia information during a call.

The voice solution features an IMS data channel (DC), which is an innovative media channel that co-exists with traditional audio and video channels. Multimedia information such as pictures, video and menus are transmitted through the DC to implement interactive and immersive call experience with dedicated QoS levels.

In February 2021, ZTE launched a pilot of the next-generation voice communication solution with the IMS DC architecture, and completed on-site demonstration of multiple innovative services, such as calling party card for individual and industry, screen sharing, remote guidance, smart customer service hotline, video replacement and simultaneous translation.

In June it released the IMS DC-based New 5G Voice Network Architecture at its 5G Innovative Solution Conference in Beijing, enabling calling to become “more interesting, easier to use and more efficient”.

Wang said ZTE is working with China Mobile and other partners to promote the next-gen voice network architecture, which can help foster a whole new ecosystem.

“For operators, the solution provides various innovative call services, exposes network capabilities and reshapes network values. For individual users, it can meet the call requirements of personalisation, customisation and entertainment. For enterprise and industry users, the solution can promote publicity, establish a brand image, integrate business processes, improve work efficiency and promote the development of related industries,” he noted.

Cloud enhancement
ZTE unveiled the NEO cloud card at MWC21 Shanghai in February. Wang explained that based on the integrated software and hardware system architecture, the computing, network and storage modules are offloaded from the server to the card, simplifying cloud platform deployment. “This improves security and reduces server CPU consumption.”

The cloud-based product is designed to improve server resource utilisation and performance. The plug-and-play card can be directly inserted on a customer’s original server to deploy that system to the edge. The cloud platform is more secure and can be deployed in any zero-trust environment.

The card can be widely deployed in public and private clouds. With the cloud acceleration card deployed, a new server can quickly access the cloud, the company said.

The key benefits are enhanced security, high performance and ease of use by uploading the Hypervisor virtualisation layer from the server to the NEO cloud card, Wang said. The Hypervisor virtualisation layer is pre-integrated through a cloud-based board to enable on-site deployment in minutes and reduce operation and maintenance overhead.

He said the NEO card improves cost control and server performance, with server resource utilisation improved without increasing the overall cost for the customer. Equipment room occupancy also can be reduced, lowering the total cost.

A single server can eliminate the need for six CPUs and three network interface cards. At the same time, the utilisation rate of single server resources can be increased by 15 per cent and the number of servers in a single data centre equipment room can be cut by 15 per cent.

ZTE’s third award was for its AI camera which applies device-cloud collaboration technology to improve home security by reducing monitoring blind spots. An AI algorithm repository is deployed in the cloud, and cloud resources can be configured on demand.

The company’s R&D spending in the first nine months of 2021 increased 31.3 per cent year-on-year to CNY14.2 billion ($2.2 billion), accounting for 16.9 per cent of total revenue. Meanwhile, net profit in Q3 jumped 125.4 per cent to CNY1.2 billion, with operating revenue rising 14.2 per cent to CNY30.8 billion.

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