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China Mobile and ZTE launch ‘world’s largest’ NFV network

Location China. Green pin on the map.

ZTE has announced China Mobile has officially initiated the commercialisation of its rich communication services (RCS) network, which it claims is currently the largest NFV IMS network in the world.

As a strategic partner, ZTE working alongside the team at China Mobile to develop virtual IP multimedia subsystem (vIMS) based RCS project. The project was initially reported last year as China Mobile seemingly searched for opportunities to combat the rising OTT threat, notably the increasing popularity of WeChat.

“ZTE’s RCS converged communication system re-defines basic communication services allowing China Mobile to build new calling, messaging and contact services,” said Gong Dehua, VP of ZTE’s core network product line. “It also allows the upgrading of traditional voice and messaging service experiences, realising new information service platforms with open capabilities and channels.”

Having run various trials amongst its 550,000 employees, China Mobile claims the initial capacity planned to be 100 million subscribers, and supports RCS including multimedia messaging, network voice calling, video calling and address book capabilities. By way of comparison, WeChat is estimated to have almost 700 million users (as of Q4 2015), driving revenues through Moments advertising, location based advertising and brand partnerships. WeChat owner Tencent recently reported annual revenues of $15.8 billion, an increase of 30% from the previous period.

China Mobile has long been making efforts to compete against the OTT’s, having been one of the first to utilize such platforms with its internet-based Fetion texting service. While the service was initially popular, smaller and more nimble platforms such as WeChat and Youku were able to create more flexible offerings for content providers and more relevant platforms for users. Fetion was ultimately retired after facing declining users on June 30.

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