ZTE gains confidence on the back of solid earnings growth

Perhaps ZTE has just been enjoying an uncomfortable silence and an expensive milkshake in recent months, but its financials for the first half of 2019 are screaming for attention.

It is quite difficult to measure the performance of the business looking at the financials alone, ZTE found itself in the Trump crosshairs in H1 2018, though the team is hyping itself up now, seemingly to gain attention in a very noisy segment. ZTE is often overlooked when considering the major network infrastructure vendors, but it certainly does warrant mention.

Revenues for the first half of 2019 stood at roughly $6.23 billion, up 13.1% year-on-year, profits increased a massive 118% to $210 million. The team is now forecasting profits between $530-640 million for the first nine months of the year.

These numbers might sound very impressive, but it was at this point last year when President Trump and his administration targeted ZTE. In May 2018, ZTE announced its major operating activities had ceased after the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) placed an export ban on the vendor. Without the US complement in the ZTE supply chain, the firm was almost extinct, though concessions were made and now it appears it is business as usual.

This is why the year-on-year gains are largely irrelevant. ZTE was a shell of a company at this point last year, fighting for its very survival.

That said, the company is surging towards the 5G finish line just like its rivals, and now it needs to convince potential customers it is a stable, reliable and innovative partner. Being selected to supply equipment to any telco will be after intense scrutiny, and thus the charm offensive has begun.

First of all, lets start with the R&D spend. ZTE has suggested it has spent roughly $900 million on R&D for the first six months of 2019, a 14.5% ratio of the total revenues for the period. This is an increase from the 12.8% share of the same period of 2018, with the new figure just ahead of the 13.8% share of revenues (estimate) Huawei allocated to R&D last year. The domestic rival has promised to increase this figure by 15-20% for 2019, though the overall percentage will not be known until the full year financial figures are known.

In comparison, Ericsson said it attributed 18.5% of net sales revenue to R&D over the course of 2018, a figure which increased to 18.7% by the end of the first six months of 2019. At Nokia, 18.4% of net sales revenues were directed towards the R&D department for the first six months of this year.

This part of the business has largely been focusing on the development of basic operating systems, distributed databases and core chipsets most recently. The company has completed the design and mass production of the 7nm chipsets, while it is currently undergoing the R&D phase for 5nm chipsets.

All this work has resulted in 3,700 5G patents being granted to the firm, though this number might notably increase in the near future. ZTE has also said it is partnering with various Chinese universities to source 5,000 new employees to bolster the R&D ranks. Once again, these are numbers which are being cast into the public domain to enhance the reputation of the business at a time where vendors are facing scrutiny at an unprecedented level.

Of course, when we are talking about creating a perception of stability and reliability, as well as increased scrutiny, you have to discuss security.

ZTE might have managed to avoid US aggression over the last couple of months, Huawei has been the primary target, but as a partly state-owned entity, such questions will never be that far away. This is where the cybersecurity centres will play an important role.

Opened in Nanjing, Rome and Brussels, the cybersecurity centres will allow potential customers to test and validate the security credentials of the firm prior to installing any equipment or software in the network. Some will not be convinced this is a fool-proof way to ensure resilience, though it is an act of transparency which the industry and governments have been crying out for.

The result of this work is 60 memorandums of understanding (MoU) with telcos around the world, 50 5G demonstrations in 20 industry verticals, 300 strategic collaborations and 200 5G products to date.

It is often easy to overlook ZTE and designate the firm as a poor man’s version of 5G network infrastructure, but the numbers justify inclusion at the top table. The challenge which ZTE now faces it making prominent strides into Western markets, the very ones which are getting twitchy over security and price today.

The barren years are forecast to end as 5G profits close in

Research from Gartner suggest the 5G spending boom is almost within the grasp of the beaten and battered vendors, with 5G infrastructure spend set to increase by 89% over the next 12 months.

The last three to four years have been a frustrating time for most of the network infrastructure vendors. Those selfish telcos halted the lavish spending on 4G infrastructure, choosing to try and muscle some ROI to keep investors happy, while 5G has seemingly been hovering on the horizon for an age and a day.

“5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will nearly double between 2019 and 2020,” said Gartner’s Sylvain Fabre. “For 5G deployments in 2019, CSPs are using non-stand-alone technology. This enables them to introduce 5G services that run more quickly, as 5G New Radio (NR) equipment can be rolled out alongside existing 4G core network infrastructure.”

Gartner is forecasting 5G spend from the CSPs will increase to $2.2 billion over the course of 2019, up from $612 million last year. In 2020, this number will jump 89% to $4.1 billion and then up-to $6.8 billion in 2021. There will of course be a significant spend on maintaining and improving 4G networks, though the vendors will want to gain returns on 5G R&D sooner rather than later.

The next two years are expected to be an increasingly aggressive scrap between the network vendors to secure valuable 5G contracts. With early launches of 5G networks in the UK, US, South Korea, Italy and Switzerland (amongst others) taking place this year, there will be a horde of fast followers over the next 12-18 months, before everyone else starts to catch-up.

These deployments will of course be focused on the larger cities to start with, though it won’t be long before some telcos start scaling. However, what is worth noting is the nationwide deployment of 5G will not be as fast as previous ‘Gs’.

“To maintain average performance standards as 5G is built out, CSPs will need to undertake targeted strategic improvements to their 4G legacy layer, by upgrading 4G infrastructure around 5G areas of coverage,” said Fabre. “A less robust 4G legacy layer adjoining 5G cells could lead to real or perceived performance issues as users move from 5G to 4G/LTE Advanced Pro.”

Although 4G spend will also increase to prepare the underlying networks for 5G, few of the vendors will complain as long as the dollars start flowing into their banks accounts not out of them. It does appear the barren years might be coming to a close.

And for the network vendors, the moment of 5G euphoria will bring with it a sense of relief, as you can see from the financial figures below.

2015 2016 2017 2018
Huawei Revenue 55.736 73.594 85.171 105.191
Net income 5.208 5.228 6.695 8.656
Ericsson Revenue 25.56 23.04 21.26 21.82
Net income 1.42 0.2 (0.65) (3.35)
Nokia Revenue 29.537 26.583 25.697 25.049
Net income 3.205 2.411 0.017 (0.065)
Cisco Revenue 12.8 12.6 12.7 12.8
Net income 2.3 2.8 2.4 3.8
ZTE Revenue 14.136 14.284 15.353 12.066
Net income 0. 527 (0.198) 759 (0.98)
Juniper Revenue 4.857 4.990 5.027 4.647
Net income 0.633 0.601 0.306 0.566

Figures in US Dollars (Billions), taken from Annual Reports

It is also worth noting that some of the numbers in this table are slightly misleading. For example, during the period above Huawei’s smartphone business surged, while Nokia’s numbers also include fixed line revenues. We’re not exactly comparing apples with apples; however, you can see there is a general slow-down across the vendor community.

Aside from a few exceptions, many of the figures above are not the end of the world. Executives will point to over-arching trends and suggest that while there is no growth, maintenance of revenues (or managing a slight decrease) is an acceptable performance. However, this cannot go on forever.

The likes of Rajeev Suri at Nokia or Chuck Robbins at Cisco have been keeping themselves employed by pointing towards the 5G bonanza. The telcos are sweating 4G assets for ROI while making preparations for the world of 5G; profits are on the horizon for many of these firms, they just need to hang-on a little bit longer.

You do get the impression some investors are starting to get a bit frustrated with the continued quest through the barren connectivity desert, though if Gartner is to be believed, there is an Oasis forming on the horizon. Let’s hope

ZTE claims first 5G smartphone in China

ZTE seems to have beaten its many Chinese smartphone competitors to the first domestic 5G commercial launch.

The announcement was only made in Chinese, but that was no problem for us as we’re able to call upon the translation services of Telecoms.com Intelligence Manager Wei Shi. It looks like ZTE has simply whacked a 5G modem into its Axon 10 flagship smartphone – specifically the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50M – which makes you wonder why the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo haven’t done the same.

The phone supports all three of the big Chinese MNOs and its microSD slot doubles as a second SIM slot, which might help ZTE shift a few more units. ZTE has picked an interesting time to make an aggressive move on its domestic market, with Huawei apparently doing the same in response to all the grief its getting elsewhere in the world.

While it’s fair to assume mot other Chinese vendors will perform this same Snapdragon X50M move soon, Huawei seems to prefer its own silicon in China, so that could present a competitive challenge as 5G ramps up. We’ll leave you with some of ZTE’s marketing.

ZTE 5G phone 2

ZTE gets ahead of the game with cybersecurity centre launch

With Huawei facing scrutiny over its alleged ties to the Chinese Government, it will only be a matter of time before ZTE faces the same questions considering its own, complex ownership structure.

Taking a page from the Huawei playbook, ZTE has officially opened its European Cybersecurity Centre in Brussels, Belgium. The lab will open its doors to current and potential customers, as well as national regulators, to access the external security verification of ZTE’s products, services and processes.

As with the Huawei Cybersecurity Centre, this is a transparency mission to improve the perception of the vendor at a time where Chinese firms are facing increasing scrutiny in the international arena.

“ZTE’s original intention of the Cybersecurity Lab Europe is to provide global customers, regulators and other stakeholders with great transparency by means of verification and communication,” said Zhong Hong, ZTE’s Chief Security Officer.

“The security for the ICT industry cannot be guarded by one sole vendor, or by one sole telecoms operator. ZTE is willing to play an important role in contributing to the industry’s security along with its customers and all other stakeholders.”

Although ZTE has largely managed to avoid criticism from the US in recent months, which has predominately been centred around collusion with the Chinese Government, it is surely only a matter of time. The complex ownership structure of ZTE has direct ties back to the Government, much more noticeable than the tenuous link at Huawei which has been presented countless times.

ZTE is owned by Xi’an Microelectronics (34%), Aerospace Guangyu (14.5%), Zhongxing WXT (49%) and Guoxing Ruike (2.5%). Xi’an Microelectronics a subsidiary of China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology, while Aerospace Guangyu is a subsidiary of CASIC Shenzhen Group; both groups are state-owned enterprise and responsible for nominating 5 of the 9 Directors of ZTE.

ZTE clearly has more of a direct link to the Chinese Government, though it has seemingly avoided the spotlight thus far as it does not have the same market share in the network infrastructure market as Huawei.

According to the Dell’Oro Group, ZTE featured in the top seven network infrastructure equipment vendors worldwide, alongside Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco, Ciena and Samsung, with the group accounting for roughly 80% of global market share. Huawei is leading the rankings by some margin, though over the course of 2018, ZTE’s share dropped by two percentage points to 8% global market share.

That said, it does have some significant customers in Europe. Wind Tre in Italy is supposedly one of the biggest customers of the firm, perhaps explaining its 5G research centre being located in L’Aquila, about 100km north of Rome. Elsewhere, ZTE has signed MOUs with Hutchison Drei Austria, Portugal Telecom and Telefonica in recent years. ZTE might not attract the headlines Huawei does, but it has an established presence in 15 countries throughout Europe.

Perhaps the saving grace for ZTE in recent months has been it operates in markets the US isn’t that bothered about. The Trump administration seems to be very selective when it levels its national security concerns at allies, focusing primarily on the more prosperous economies.

ZTE has already been the focal point of a number of different scandals including bribery and violation of US trade sanctions, and it seems it will only be a matter of time before government collusion is thrown on the table again, especially if it starts making progress in the market share league. It seems this cybersecurity centre focused on transparency is an effort to get ahead of the game.

Exciting Time for 5G Has Only Just Started

To say that the buzz about 5G has created excitement in the telecoms world would be an understatement. After the first commercial networks switched on in North America and Asia, Europe is also caching up quickly. More recently, four 5G licences were awarded in China, the world’s largest mobile market, well ahead of the schedule that has been broadly anticipated. But the world has only seen the beginning of the true 5G, with much more excitement to come in the next few years. I used my recent interview by Telecoms.com to explain why.

Telecoms.com: There is no doubt that 5G rollout is accelerating. However, the commercial networks switched on so far have only offered enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services and used data speed as the key selling point. Isn’t that a disappointment? How do you see the industry move from here?

Wang: No, it’s by no means a disappointment. As a matter of fact, I see in the 5G services being offered now the beginning of a long exciting time for the telecom industry. We all know 5G can offer much more than broadband access, but to start with broadband access has its advantages.

To start with, in addition to the fact that broadband access is easier for consumers to understand, it is also a good way for the telecom industry to gain experience. 5G is a watershed opportunity for the telecom industry to directly participate in the digitalisation of other industries. Telecom operators will find in offering high-speed internet access a valuable and reassuring starting point to deepen their understanding of other vertical industries.

Another advantage of starting with enhanced broadband access is that the eMBB scenarios for all Option modes has been frozen in the R19 Late Drop version of Q1 in 2019. Therefore, with a more mature technology, despite its being new too, the success rate will be higher. In comparison, although the technologies are ready for other 5G use case implementations, including low latency and massive IoT, the standardisation for Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) will only be finalised in March 2020 with Release 16, and the standards of Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) for NR won’t be frozen until Release 17. 3GPP schedule for Release 17 is still open though we expect it to be completed in the first half of 2021.

Telecoms.com: That explains why some operators choose to launch 5G early by adopting the NSA mode, some would rather wait till the technologies are more mature and go directly to SA mode. What would be your advice to the operators on their options?

Wang: Technologically, the 5G base stations can handle both NSA and SA modes, but the key difference is in the core. NSA Option3 is built on LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC), but SA Option2 is built on the new 5G core that is organised around services, i.e. using Service-Based Architecture (SBA). Therefore, to unleash the full potential of 5G, especially the B2B potential, going for NSA mode will make more sense. This is also meaningful in a business sense for the telecom operators who would expect to generate more value from 5G service offerings to business customers.

A fundamental difference between serving consumers and serving business customers is that, consumers are generally more price sensitive, and tend to treat personalised offers as a bonus, while business customers are much more demanding in time to market (TTM) and customisation capabilities. Some current hotspot technologies, including network slicing and virtualization, integration with the cloud, edge computing, and full adoption of AI, machine learning and automation, can be better implemented in a 5G environment.

However, this doesn’t have to be an “either-or” choice. Operators may choose to adopt the NSA mode now, so that they don’t have to wait till all the standards are frozen or SA mode devices are broadly available. They can then transit to the SA mode at their choice of time. Technologies from companies like ZTE are making the transition straightforward and cost-efficient, because we are facilitating the convergence of different technologies and business operations.

Telecoms.com: This leads me to the next question. We have heard industry professionals talk about convergence for many years. What is so unique about the convergence in 5G era? And what is ZTE’s answer to it?

Wang: One of our technology answers to the convergence demand is the industry’s first Common Core. This architecture level innovation serves networks from 2G to 5G and, in the case of 5G, it is equipped with NSA and SA dual-stack capability. Therefore, operators using the Common Core can choose to deploy SA, or NSA, or even SA/NSA dual-mode networks based on their own business needs. The architecture is modular, so it does not only save resources and cost, but also vastly simplifies the network architecture, and fully supports the strong demand for edge computing and low latency in an end-to-end 5G environment.

What we offer are clearly welcomed by our customers. That’s why, so far, ZTE has cooperated with more than 40 operators worldwide in the 5G field. As we speak, we are testing and demonstrating end-to-end 5G services, including automatic cars, real-time robotics, and hologram video calls, in partnership with Telefonica and Orange in Spain. These use cases are driving more excitement for 5G, which has just started by the live 5G networks switched on.

ZTE moves to prove its own security credentials

Taking a page from the Huawei playbook, ZTE is opening its own European cybersecurity lab to demonstrate its own security credentials and appeal to customers.

Although Huawei is taking a battering on the US side of the Atlantic, European nations have stubbornly stood by the side of reason and reasonable behaviour, asking for evidence before signing an execution order. One of the reasons for this will be the apparent transparency to security through its cybersecurity centres in the UK and Belgium, and it seems ZTE is following suit.

“The security lab is an open and cooperative platform for the industry,” said Zhong Hong, ZTE Chief Security Officer.

“ZTE plans to gradually achieve the cybersecurity goals through three steps: first, meeting the requirements of cybersecurity laws, regulations and industry standards as well as certification schemes; second, conducting an open dialogue to enhance transparency and establishing cooperation with customers as well as regulatory agencies; and third, sustaining the open cooperation mechanism to contribute to cybersecurity standardization.”

Opening in Rome, the cybersecurity lab will enable telcos to contribute ideas to improve the security credentials of ZTE products, while customers will also be able to conduct audits of all products and services in the labs. This approach is seemingly working for Huawei, and ZTE is recognising the opportunity to get in on the action as 5G ramps up across the continent.

For ZTE this is a perfectly sensible move to mitigate against future risks. As Huawei is largely a proxy for Chinese aggression, it would be reasonable to assume any action taken against Huawei would be replicated against ZTE. Anything which can be done to get into the good graces of potential European customers should be seen as a priority.

Although it is for selfish reasons, the cybersecurity centre also adds more credibility to the standardisation approach which seems to be forming across the European continent. The more vendors who agree to the higher barriers to entry, the closer the continent comes to standardising security credentials. This approach to risk mitigation, an acceptance that 100% secure is an impossible objective, manages threats while also preserving competition.

Until there is concrete proof of collusion with the Chinese government for nefarious aims, this is the most sensible approach, taking the argument out of the political arena.

ZTE & China Mobile Jointly Realizing Industry’s First Typical-service-based NB-IoT High-capacity Evaluation with NMVP

Typical services such as smart meter, smart smoke detector, smart park, and electric bicycle have been widely applied in China Mobile’s NB-IoT live network. To evaluate the high-capacity performance of the NB-IoT network, China Mobile proposed a high-capacity evaluation solution and an end-to-end performance optimization solution based on typical NB-IoT service models. At the end of 2018, ZTE and China Mobile carried out the high-capacity evaluation in Tianjin for the first time based on the typical service models with the help of ZTE’s solution named NB-IoT Massive-connection & multi-service Virtual-verification Platform (NMVP). By evaluating the impact of different service models, subscriber distribution, and parameter configuration on capacity, the field test provides support and basis for network deployment and optimization.

Based on the real service model and service performance requirements of China Mobile’s NB-IoT live network, ZTE and China Mobile mainly evaluated the high-capacity, delay, and access performance of typical NB-IoT services such as electricity meter call test, water meter reading report, smoke alarm, and parking information report. Meanwhile, NB-IoT wireless network congestion control feature was also tested. The evaluation in Tianjin provides important reference to the business deployment of China Mobile’s network, high-capacity performance optimization and capacity expansion.

The high-capacity evaluation in NB-IoT live network scenario needs a large number of real terminals. However, except the obvious inconvenience problem in carrying so many terminals, there are also other bottlenecks limiting the field test, such as computer operation, operation space, power supply, and fault tracing. ZTE solves all the issues by simulating a large number of terminal’s access and service interaction processes with NMVP. NMVP not only supports high-capacity and multi-service evaluation for field test, but also supports precise simulation of live network firstly by mirroring technology in the industry, which achieves network optimization remotely. Besides, NMVP can provide capacity evaluation for a variety of different NB-IoT service models and their hybrid service models, and guide network deployment and expansion. Moreover, through NMVP, signaling tracing is also available to improve troubleshooting efficiency.

ZTE and China Mobile are now in the second phase of service plan with NMVP solution. The network optimization will be implemented remotely to ease the network capacity pressure caused by a large-scale smoke-sensing service of Beijing Mobile. ZTE, with its strong R&D and innovative capabilities, can offer the operators around the world with cutting-edge IoT solutions like NMVP, and is committed to helping the operators build high-quality and competitive NB-IoT networks, thus accelerating the evolution of Internet of Things with much improved efficiency.

ZTE CUDR, A 5G-oriented “Safe Box” for User Data

Main risks faced by user data

User data is the most important asset in communication network. Its security and reliability are the basis for ensuring the normal operation of the network. If user data is unreliable, it may cause some users’ services to be abnormal, and the serious result is that the entire network service can break down, causing huge losses to operators and users. In recent years, incidents in the communication system have taken place due to the loss of key user data at both home and abroad, so the security and reliability of user data cannot be neglected.

At present, the security and reliability of user data mainly faces the following risks:

  • Data reliability is insufficient: It can cause risks, for example, user data is easily to lose, data between nodes is easily inconsistent, and user data is difficult to recover in the event of a failure.
  • Data security is not high: It can cause illegal users to access, eavesdrop and tamper with user data, and there is a risk that personal data will be easily leaked.

In order to resolve various risks of user data and ensure the security and reliability of user data, ZTE has launched the Cloud Unified Data Repository (CUDR) solution.

ZTE CUDR is the solution to ensure data security and reliability

CUDR, which is located in the common data layer in communication network, provides common data storage services for various NFs (Network Functions) and applications in communication network. It is a public data layer based on requirements of 5G/cloud/3GPP data services, which realizes the convergence and unified storage of 2G/3G/4G/5G and IMS network user data, and can flexibly meet different deployment requirements of operators.

zxun cudr

Figure1 ZXUN CUDR Solution Architecture

CUDR includes UDR (Unified Data Repository) and UDSF (Unstructured data storage function). UDR is responsible for storing and processing the structured data, and UDSF is responsible for storing and processing the unstructured data. Based on CUDR, the communication network separates computing from storage, and the application focuses on the processing of business logic. CUDR focuses on the processing and reliability of user data, providing high-performance data access interfaces for applications. The applications and data can be flexibly and independently scaled in/out to achieve full load sharing, greatly enhancing network reliability.

ZTE CUDR supports the storage of massive user data and provides millisecond-level user data access services. It is a fully distributed, big-capacity, high-performance, and highly reliable shared data layer solution.

The storage of massive data raises a higher requirement for data reliability. The reliability of ZTE is mainly displayed as follows:

  • Reliable geographical disaster recovery: ZTE CUDR supports flexible N+K geographic disaster recovery. The data of each site remains strictly consistent. When one site breaks down, services and data can be smoothly taken over by other sites. The disaster recovery switching process does not require manual intervention or does not need to send Reset. The solution is controlled automatically, and the network services are recovered immediately.
  • SON (Self-Organizing Network) with perfect fault monitoring and self-healing capabilities: It can automatically monitor the status of the system, VMs and service components. In the event of an abnormal situation, the system is automatically recovered by automatically isolating the breakdown node, automatically restoring the node, and making self-healing of VMs, without manual intervention and for the convenience of system maintenance.
  • Perfect overload control mechanism: Firstly, the system resources are increased by making automatic scaling-out to automatically improve the system’s capability to handle enormous traffic. When the system resources are fully utilized and cannot meet the current high traffic processing requirement, the system automatically starts load control, and enables different levels of service control according to different load levels, ensuring that high-priority services are prioritized and the user’s service experience is as good as possible.
  • Multi-level data backup and recovery mechanism: The self-developed high-performance memory database and file storage system are used to process user data. To ensure data reliability, memory database nodes are divided into primary nodes and secondary nodes. The data between the primary nodes and the secondary nodes is fully synchronized. In addition, in order to ensure that user data is not lost when the system is powered off, the storage system persists user data to the local hard disks, cloud storage and external backup servers in real time or quasi real time as required, so that the same data is backed up in multiple-copy mode. When the data node is recovered, multiple data backups are available to ensure that data is not lost.

zxun cudr2

Figure 2 ZXUN CUDR Multi-level Data Backup Solution

 

  • Multi-layer data verification mechanism

1) When reading and writing data, you can verify data integrity based on the schema in real time.

2) You can make strict verification of data replication and recovery between the primary node and the standby node to ensure data consistency between the primary node and the standby node.

3) The data in the memory database is strictly checked with the data persisted to the disk. If the data is inconsistent, it is automatically restored by rebuilding the standby node.

The data security of ZTE CUDR is mainly displayed as follows:

  1. Multi-dimensional data organization security:
    1) Tenant isolation: Data organization and access are made by tenants, and data storage and access are strictly isolated. Operation and maintenance are isolated from each other, and data upgrades do not affect each other. Each tenant implements life cycle management separately, and the scaling-in and scaling-out do not affect each other.

2) Access security: The strict ACL (Access Control List) data access control and strict authorization control are made to provide different data views based on permissions. Access control and view control restrict authorized applications from accessing authorized user data only, and limit access operation types such as add, read, update, and delete at the same time.

3) Sensitive data and backup data are encrypted and stored, and the hardware and software security encryption mechanism is provided for sensitive data (such as terminal authentication parameter Ki) to protect user data.

  • Strict personal data protection:

1) Strict access control: Ordinary operators can only view the anonymous operation interface, and only authorized operators can use the plain text operation interface.

2) Only authorized operators are allowed to export user data and can export the plaintext or decrypted user data based on the rights.

3) Only authorized operators can export plaintext or desensitization logs based on permissions.

  • Strict security audit:

1) ZTE CUDR provides system class logs, operation class logs and call class logs to comprehensively record the system running status.

2) It provides storage management of online logs, dump logs, and backup logs.

3) It sets the audit policy according to the log level, keyword, log type, and specific log field.

4) It provides a way to query logs according to various conditions.

Conclusion

The ZTE CUDR solution is born for 5G, providing unified data storage and processing for all NFs in the network. It can ensure the integrity, reliability and consistency of user data, and calmly deal with the impact of natural disasters and heavy traffic to ensure service continuity. In addition, it ensures that user data is safe, users are not easily illegally accessed or tampered with to strictly protect individual data, and user information is not leaked. It is a “safe box” for user data, ensuring that the network services can run safely and stably all the times.

Huawei forecast to have narrow advantage in 5G RAN race

Analyst firm Strategy Analytics has taken a look at the runners and riders in the global 5G race and has Huawei ahead of its rivals by a nose.

In a report titled ‘Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia’, SA took a look at the relative competitiveness of the big three kit vendors when it comes to 5G radio access network kit and made some market share forecasts accordingly.

The long and short of it, as you can see in the first table below, is that SA reckons by 2023 Huawei will account for around a quarter of the 5G RAN market, while Ericsson and Nokia will have closer to 23%. On top of that the ‘others’, largely Samsung and ZTE, will account for almost 30% between them, which is a decent effort. Samsung seems to be doing especially well in South Korea, funnily enough.

SA 5G RAN chart

“By 2023 5G looks to be a very competitive global market as this premium technology finally achieves economies of scale that will drive down the costs per Gigabyte of throughput to make 5G an affordable technology on a global basis,” said Phil Kendall of SA. “The neck and neck battle between Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia for share of 2023’s 5G radio access should lower costs for all segments of mobile, IoT and fixed 5G applications, even as smaller new vendors find specific niches below these three.”

The report also digs down into the strengths and weaknesses of the big three vendors. Specifically it looks at five broad categories: R&D, patents, product portfolio, product performance and deployment support. The bad news for the Nordic vendors is that Huawei comes top in all five categories, only having to share that spot with the other in the case of product portfolio. It looks like Ericsson needs to start putting its hand in its pocket and Nokia wants to take on a few more engineers.

SA 5G RAN comparison

“R&D investment backed by market scale is the most crucial factor for the long term competitiveness of 5G infrastructure vendors,” said SA’s Guang Yang. “Huawei has maintained steady growth in its 5G R&D investment, which bodes well for long term advances in energy efficient, cost effective 5G technology.”

With all that in mind it’s kind of surprising SA doesn’t anticipate a bigger lead for Huawei in four years’ time. The reason, presumably, is that Huawei will be excluded from a bunch of markets thanks to all the US aggro it faces. Opinion seems to be divided about how much slack will be picked up by Chinese sales, with Huawei revealing it has yet to do any 5G deals in mainland China, but the analyst in the video below still seeing that country as a big competitive advantage for them.

 

All four operators are awarded 5G licences in Japan, with security conditions attached

NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, Softbank, and Rakuten have all received the 5G licences they applied for, but they come with coverage obligations and security commitment.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced on 10 April (in Japanese) that all the four applicants have been awarded radio frequencies and licences to rollout 5G services. Each licensee is awarded 400MHz spectrum on the 28GHz frequency, while three of them are awarded 200MHz on 3.7GHz except Rakuten, which has requested 100MHz.

All the operators are going to roll out 5G services starting in 2020. NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank will launch the service in spring time, with Rakuten planning to open its service in June. The total investment planned by the operators to the end of 2024 amounted to Yen 1.6 trillion ($14.4 billion).

While both NTT DoCoMo and KDDI have pledged to cover over 90% of the country within five years, Softbank only plans to cover 64% of the country and Rakuten 56%. The minimum requirement from the government is serving every prefecture within two years, and at least 50% of the whole country within five years, calculated by the number of geographical blocks the networks will cover out of the total 4,500 blocks the Ministry divides the country into.

In addition to coverage requirement, the Ministry has also attached a dozen granting conditions (pp.16-17 of the summary, in Japanese), including commitments to expand optical fibre networks (#2), to improve safety measures to minimise outage during natural disasters (#3), to prevent interference of existing radio licensees (#7) etc.

The item that may raise eyebrows is Item 4 on the list, which requires the operators to “take appropriate cyber security measures including measures to respond to supply chain risks” (unofficial translation). It refers to earlier regulations including the “”Information and telecommunications network safety and reliability standards” published by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications in 1987, “Common Standards Group for Information Security Measures for Government Agencies and Related Agencies” issued by the National Information Security Center (NISC) in 2018, and the cross-departmental “Agreement on IT procurement policy and procedures for goods and services” published on 10 December 2018.

The last two documents, though neither of them names any particular countries or brands to be excluded, have been broadly recognised as the Japanese government’s decision to ban companies like Huawei and ZTE from public sector procurements. By invoking these regulations, it may not be too much of a stretch to read it as a message to the operators to stop using equipment supplied by the Chinese vendors. This may not cause serious disruptions to the operators’ business though, as Softbank, the only operator that has Huawei equipment on its network, is already planning to swap for Ericsson and Nokia, Nikkei reported earlier.

Japanese 5G licensees