Many countries are seeking to develop homegrown 5G technologies and platforms, to increase their influence in the global industry, to reduce their reliance on foreign (and often Chinese or US) technology, or to stimulate local companies and manufacturing. Such efforts by India, Japan, Turkey, the European Union and others are well-known, but Vietnam’s project has been less frequently discussed.
In fact, Viettel – the country’s largest mobile operator – has been working with vendors on “indigeneous 5G” for some years and last week, the company’s High Tech division completed a field trial of the technology, with radio units powered by system-on-chip designs from AMD’s Xilinx FPGA unit.
AMD acquired Xilinx last year and greatly increased its presence in the telecoms space as a result. It is now the exclusive radio unit silicon supplier for Viettel’s 5G RAN development, which uses the Xilinx Zynq mobile processor SoC (MPSoC). This architecture will now be extended to an additional 300 macro base stations supporting 8T8R MIMO, and to 900 8T8R macro radio units.
The Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC was also chosen by Viettel for its first-generation 64T64R Massive MIMO radio which is currently being optimized for field trials. Viettel will also use the Zynq UltraScale+ RF SoC devices for the base stations’ RF front ends.
Nguyen Vu Ha, general director of Viettel High Tech, said in a statement: “Going from VHT’s history of making 4G BTS, this decision to scale for the growing demands of 5G was based on evaluating various factors including flexibility, simplification, design stability and the experience of engineers.”
Viettel, as a state-owned telco with access to national manufacturing and R&D resources, has economic advantages in pushing its own platforms, and in doing so, supporting homegrown partners – Vietnam, like India, is seeking to foster its own hi-tech industry and reduce reliance on foreign suppliers.
Viettel has already developed its own billing software, which it sells to other service providers, and at 2019’s Mobile World Congress, it demonstrated an internally developed 4G packet core. In 2020, it set a target of producing 80% of its core network infrastructure itself.