“Our focus in now on advanced technologies like 5G in India. We are the only company that is doing Pre5G trials with Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio. We are also providing 5G-ready massive mimo technology to Bharti Airtel,” Peng Aiguang, chief executive officer at ZTE India, told ET, in an exclusive interaction.
The pre-5G trials are being conducted for Enhanced Mobile Broadband or EMM and test cell throughput. ZTE’s Pre5G massive mimo has been widely deployed with China Mobile, Softbank (in Japan) and in other global high-end markets.
India plans to roll out 5G services for consumers by 2020 and to achieve that objective, the government has on Tuesday set up a high-level forum that will evaluate and approve roadmaps and action plans to bring in the latest technology in the country.
Aiguang however said that 5G may come even early to India, as Indian telecom operators aim to get first mover advantage. “4G radio and transmission are fast growing area for us in India,” he said, adding that the company will have end-to-end full 5G portfolio for India comprising products for core network virtualisation, wireless network.
The executive said that the company is currently in talks with Indian telecom operators on 5G backhaul, which will lay a solid foundation for future 5G networks in India. “Indian telecom operators must have a 5G roadmap. They need to be ready. We expect to have new partnerships around 5G backhaul soon in India,” he added.
On the 4G front, ZTE is working with Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular for three telecom circles each. The executive said that both telecom operators are expanding their respective networks in these circles.
ZTE competes with the likes of Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia in India. Sweden-based Ericsson is already in talks with Indian telecom operators for 5G plug-ins that will enable existing 4G networks to support the 5G technology. It is planning to start lab trials for 5G this year in India, and expects to see 5G products contributing to its revenue from India by year-end.