In many emerging markets, operators are hoping for a leapfrog effect in some urban areas where 4G has not been deployed to the full extent. In Uganda, MTN is claiming the first demonstration of 5G Standalone in a commercial network, working with ZTE.
The demo was run in conjunction with Experience the Future Together event in capital Kampala, and achieved speeds of almost 1.5Gbps for several applications, including real time communication to an onsite bionic robot over fixed wireless connections, and a cloud VR (virtual reality) use case.
The test network ran on ZTE 5G RAN and core, with a full 5G core network that featured total control/user plane separation (CUPS). Other ZTE technologies on show in the demo were its Beyond 100G Transmission, 5G Flexhaul and Big Video families, plus smartphones and routers.
The two companies have worked together since 2009 in many aspects of 4G and now 5G, as well as energy infrastructure, terminals and O&M services. The Chinese vendor now works with 11 subsidiaries of the pan-African MTN Group. Africa is a strong market for ZTE, and even more important given the restrictions on its equipment being used in the USA, and potentially in some European and other markets.
ZTE’s 5G technology also came into play this month in its home market, where it worked with China Telecom to deploy a 5G-based remote diagnosis platform for the coronavirus pneumonia, which is initially being used by West China Hospital and Chengdu Public Health Clinic Center of Sichuan University.