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ZTE CEO Xu Ziyang: Fuel The Digitalization, Endow With Intelligence

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XU ZIYANG says ZTE is willing to open its  underlying capabilities to all industry and ecosystem partners, to embrace a win-win future.

It’s my great honor to be participating in MWC Barcelona 2021 virtually, which is very different from the way we used to be. What I’m going to share with you is “Fuel the Digitalization, Endow with Intelligence”, which bears the hope, together with our partners in the ecosystem, to find the way for the digital and intelligent transformation of human society by continuously strengthening the digital foundation.

As many of you have known, it’s been two years since the first launch of 5G. To date, over 1.1 million 5G base stations are in operation around the globe. 5G not only brings an improved user experience, but drives digital and intelligent transformation of verticals. What we are seeing is ZTE’s 5G Intelligent Manufacturing Base in Nanjing. Five 5G base stations are produced here every minute, which are shipped all over the world. It is also an excellent example of our practice in “Intelligent Manufacturing Powered by 5G”. Here, with the full coverage of 5G networks and implementation of MEC, we deployed 10 typical 5G applications which are essential to the realization of intelligent manufacturing, including cloud-based AGV, 8K machine vision, cloud-based PLC, smart storage, industrial wearables, digital twins, and onsite inspection. You can see the quite encouraging figures, the manpower was reduced by 40 per cent, the defect rate went down by 20 per cent, and the production cycle was declined by 30 per cent, while the production efficiency was increased by 40 per cent.

Moreover, we, together with over 90 operators and 500 partners in globe, have been exploring innovative 5G applications on a wide scope, and massive use cases in more than 15 industry sectors were developed with positive outcomes. We are pleased to see that the changes brought by 5G and many other new information technologies are taking place in Thailand’s factories, Belgium’s ports, Austria’s farms, and manufacturing, transportation, power grid, and environmental protection in China.

Though 5G applications are still in the earlier stage, we can now clearly identify a few directions. The first one came into my mind is to expand the boundaries of senses and create infinite possibilities for individuals. You know, the boundary between the digital world and the physical world is gradually getting blurred, thanks to the introduction of new networks and cloud services. Smart home makes our life easier. Wearing an AR/VR headset, we can enjoy immersive experience of traveling, gaming, sports events, and concerts from the comfort of our own homes. By operating drones, we are able to extend our vision. With such applications as autonomous driving, machine vision, unmanned mining, and rescue robots, our property and lives are becoming even better protected.

Secondly, it is to bridge the digital gap, aiming for sustainable development goals in globe. For example, Telemedicine over 5G allows doctors and specialists to diagnose patients remotely, putting high-quality medical resources within immediate reach. Reporters can communicate with customers face to face using the holographic technology. Distance learning provides equal educational opportunities for regions at different development stages. 5G FWA enables rapid provision of broadband services in some areas with limited infrastructure. People can freely work from home as effectively as in the office. With the 5G Air-To-Ground technology, passengers can enjoy in-flight services just as smooth as when they are on the ground. As we can see, 5G narrows the distance between the people and brings hearts closer, leading to a more harmonious society.

Furthermore, in line with the modern industrial revolution, we develop information technology to accelerate social development. For instance, smart factories represent a leap from the traditional manufacturing, lowering costs while improving efficiency and quality. Intelligent traffic infrastructure facilitates low-carbon emission and more effective transportation. 5G helps construct reliable, safe, economical, efficient, and environment-friendly smart grids by implementing extensive connectivity with low latency and low cost, which eventually is to reduce carbon emissions. With 5G, intelligent management becomes a reality in agriculture. 5G also improves our living environment with higher water and air quality, thus promoting sustainable development.

The innovative applications we have today certainly need to be further developed by diving in economies of scale and business models. However, one common requirement should and must be identified, which is the digital enablement platform.

As many of you have already been aware, “data driven” is no doubt the key to digital transformation of hundreds of thousands of verticals. Consequently, computing-centric evolved into data-centric. With this understanding, the Digital Foundation, which plays the important role, shall be improved continuously in terms of “ubiquitous broadband”, “pervasive computing”, and “multi-dimensional convergence”. On top of it, new markets will be expanded and business sustainability will be secured.

We believe that the enhanced network capability moves its way up in three aspects: bandwidth, agility, and scheduling.

In terms of widening the bandwidth, what is worth mentioning is the 5G uplink enhancement and gigabit optical access for wired broadband.

As for network agility, the SRv6 makes IP networks more flexible and programmable. FlexE-based VPN capability and hard slicing satisfy the demands for low latency, low jittering, ultra-reliability, and secure isolation. Optical networks took mesh the next stage of evolution, which improves capacity, lowers latency, and increases redundancy. Cloud-native core supports deployments and operations in a more flexible, agile, and elastic manner.

We can use resource scheduling, control/forwarding separation, automated end-to-end slicing orchestration, automated provisioning within minutes, and flexible slicing operations to improve the efficiency of operation.

Data is soaring in both volume and variety in the AIoT era. Meanwhile, data processing becomes more complicated with the introduction of AI, for instance, deep learning algorithms. The centralized computing capacities no longer excel in terms of security and efficiency. On the contrary, cloud-edge-terminal synergy has been considered the cure-all for this headache. With the capacity difference recognized among cloud, edge and terminal, and advanced optimization on software, hardware, and chipsets, load-sensitive hyper-convergence becomes the key to the infrastructure which guarantees scalability, agility, and fast iteration.

This actually brings me to a few big words: cloud-network convergence, software-hardware convergence, AI convergence, and also intrinsic security.

First of all, we do need clouds on demand and cloud-network synergy to fit the diversities. The practice we implemented last year, say “Precise Cloud and Network Solution”, really showcased the power of a good example for serving vertical enterprises and accelerating the digital transformation.

In addition, software-hardware convergence enriches our skill sets to pursue the nature of business and cost efficiency. Software goes for cloud-native, micro services, and components; in parallel, hardware is looking for ultimate performance. We can break the hard boundaries of them by conducting joint and global optimization dedicated for specific scenarios. For instance, we will see more universal accelerator options, and more chiplet innovations.

Speaking of AI, it is to make the most of data value. Big data and training model-based AI convergence supports cross-domain coordination of systems and nodes, facilitates orchestration from data center down to radio interface, and enables more efficient operation and maintenance.

Last but not the least, intrinsic security acts as a self-sensing, self-adaptive, and self-evolving immune system for networks. Built during network construction, it offers multiple security functions, and can evolve automatically during network operation, thus constantly guaranteeing the security, services, and data.

According to GSMA, the mobile communications industry is currently responsible for around 0.4 per cent of carbon emissions globally. It is the common goal of the industry to reduce carbon emissions. To build green networks with lower power consumption, ZTE advocates taking proper measures in the whole network life cycle.

Specially, more efficient and intelligent production and manufacturing can be realized with lower power consumption through 5G Industrial Internet, MEC, and AI. As for innovations in base stations, we can improve the design of chipsets, power amplifiers, and system integration for higher power efficiency. During network construction, carbon emissions can be reduced by using clean energy and highly efficient backup power supply for base stations, and heat dissipation technologies for data centers, such as preset modular design and liquid cooling technology. In network operation, solutions such as PowerPilot can be used for intelligent algorithm-based traffic scheduling, thus lowering power consumption while ensuring good user experience.

With such measures in the whole network life cycle, we can assist operators in building green networks more effectively.

Although 5G has been put into commercial use for over two years, it is still in the earlier stage. To secure its commercial success, we should also work together to innovate in ecosystem development and business models. Committed to the development of the industry and ecosystem, ZTE has gained rich experience in core technologies, E2E DICT products and solutions, cloud components, and 5G innovations. We are willing to open these underlying capabilities to all industry and ecosystem partners. I am excited to see where this trend will lead us. Let’s work together to embrace a win-win future.

Thank you.

*Being a keynote speech delivered at Mobile World Congress 2021, June 28, 2021 By  ZTE CEO Xu Ziyang.

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