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ZTE ups 5G investment

800 engineers needed to get ready for 2020 rollout

Chinese mobe-maker ZTE is ramping up its R&D by ¥400 million RMB*, and wants 800 new engineers in China, Europe and the US – all to help it keep pace with 5G development.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal the company's chief scientist, Dr Xiang Jiying said that the company sees the technology's touted 1,000-times 4G's capacity and Internet of Things support as the attractions (as well, presumably, as another chance to get consumers refreshing their mobiles).

While ZTE doesn't expect 5G to start rolling until 2020, standardisation rather than technology is the roadblock, he said.

“Most of the 5G technology is already technically feasible today”, he said, with players like Huawei, Ericsson and ZTE continuing discussions over the standards.

With vendors trying to impress their own likeness onto 5G standards – a kind of Veronica's Veil of technology – it's no wonder that the carriers they're talking to are confused about what might be in or out of the standards.

Once the documents are set, he noted, chipset design only takes a year, but there's also a lag in carriers upgrading their base stations.

Dr Xiang told the WSJ that 4G was already running out of puff. As an example, “you really can't stream games in real time on your handsets”, he said, adding that 4G isn't “optimised for the Internet of Things”.

Even 5G speeds are seen as a distraction by some, however. Last year, Alcatel-Lucent's wireless CTO Michael Peeters said the real 5G revolution wouldn't be speed, but instead making the infrastructure more open and more federated. ®

Bootnote: The investment was originally given as US$400 million as per the WSJ story, but ZTE has contacted Vulture South to correct the currency. The investment will be about US$65 million. ®

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