ZTE signs China Unicom deal for SDN, NFV, VoLTE development

Chinese kit vendor ZTE says it has signed an extensive agreement with China Unicom to develop working SDN and NFV practices, while trialling a new VoLTE solution.

The agreement will see both parties push SDN and NFV progress, new applications and begin the construct of a virtualized network infrastructure. ZTE says this will enable China Unicom to meet growing customer demand, promote network transformation, business innovation and upgrade services faster.

The agreement, signed by each party, essentially confirms cooperative practices – focussing on collaborative open-source tools, application scenarios, the technical requirements for products, service apps and the general market progression of SDN and NFV technologies. Chi Yongsheng, deputy director of China Unicom’s Network Technology Research Institute, said the agreement has the potential to help both technologies flourish in the market.

“By building nationwide, world-connecting, advanced, and powerful modern telecom networks, China Unicom is committed to providing users with comprehensive and high quality ICT services,” he said. “The partnership with ZTE should focus on China Unicom’s marketing and business development needs, and start from service innovation and technological innovation to establish a market-oriented innovation mechanism, and adopt open-source, iterative, and other new R&D models.”

ZTE and China Unicom have already been working on a virtualized instance of VoLTE based on core LTE network services such as vIMS and vEPC. The two collaborated on a proof of concept for virtualized VoLTE services within the ETSI NFV framework, which was completed in October last year. ZTE reckons the project totally verified the end-to-end success of SDN and NFV as an enabler of VoLTE services.

The service is now in commercial trials in the Henan province of China, and 4G subscribers are actively using the VoLTE solution to get HD voice quality as well as VoWiFi, HD video and RCS (rich communication services), according to ZTE.

Amid a trade row with the US, ZTE seems to have been playing to its domestic strengths by also announcing a partnership with China Telecom, one of the country’s largest operators. The partnership also relates to SDN and NFV, but also encompasses 4G+, 5G and IoT technologies. Zhang Chengliang, VP of China Telecom’s Beijing Research Institute, said with AI technologies being developed and looming large in the not-too-distant future, telcos need to work on cloud, IoT and data analysis tools on sophisticated cellular networks.

“As we enter the artificial intelligence era, operators are expected to provide a full range of network solutions,” he said. “Through this partnership, we will be able to significantly advance SDN/NFV, 4G+/5G, cloud computing and big data technologies in the coming years. I believe the new technologies will become a reality through pilot deployments. I look forward to deepening our collaboration from a pure network aspect, to information and communication technology developments such as ZTE’s Yinchuan smart city project.”

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