ZTE’s latest research centre a Tokyo story

For the top vendors, you’re nothing if you haven’t got a string of research centres bearing your name, ringing the world like a bracelet engraved with its owner’s name.

The latest research centre to open is ZTE’s 4G/5G research centre in Tokyo – bringing the vendor’s research lab portfolio to a hefty 20 across the world.

Although the centre does not bear SoftBank’s name, clearly ZTE felt the need to have some research capability close to its important Japanese customer. In July ZTE announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with SoftBank to collaborate on R&D of what ZTE calls “Pre5G” mobile communications network technology.

Pre5G is ZTE’s label for essentially proprietary and pre-standards (R16 and forwards) solutions that build on LTE features to date. It’s akin to Huawei’s 4.5G term, in that it signifies some already neasr-standardised features and a few new things on top. This laboratory will mirror that – in that it will research more near-term technologies and those that will be developed in 5G time frames.

As an example,  ZTE and SoftBank agreed to cooperate on massive MIMO as one area of research. Larger order MIMO will no doubt form part of 5G networks, but of course we should expect to see higher orders of MIMO progressively introduced in 3GPP’s LTE-Advanced Pro specifications.