ZTE may remain a small player in the U.S. telecommunications equipment space, but the Chinese vendor continues to garner business overseas.
The company this week reported a deal with Italian mobile operator Wind Tre and wholesale fiber network operator Open Fiber to build a “pre-commercial” 5G network. It uses the term “pre” because final 5G specifications are not expected to be fully fleshed out until next year.
The network deployment will use wireless spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz bands, which is well below the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum typically being linked to 5G network deployments. The network trials are scheduled for the Italian provinces of L’Aquila and Prato, with ZTE building a 5G research center in the former.
The vendor has signed 5G deals with a number of international operators, including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, SoftBank, Telefónica, and Korea Telecom.
Orange into the Mix
The vendor this week also added France’s Orange Group into the mix with a deal that includes 5G network testing and network slicing. Orange Group oversees operations across parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Trial work is scheduled to begin at multiple sites around Europe beginning in the second half of next year. This will also include work on new 5G network technology compatible with cloud-native architectures.
Network slicing takes advantage of greater software control to partition network capacity toward specific use cases or industries. A recent study by Ericsson Research found that by introducing new services on network slices, operators can generate up to 35 percent more in revenue.
ZTE earlier this year was hit with a record $1.2 billion fine from the U.S. government for breaking sanctions and selling equipment made with U.S. components to Iran and North Korea. The U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement that ZTE “conspired to evade” the embargo. Plus, it said that ZTE officials repeatedly lied and misled federal investigators.
ZTE said it was overhauling its compliance procedures to make sure this doesn’t happen again. “ZTE acknowledges the mistakes it made, takes responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company,” said Zhao Xianming, chairman and CEO of ZTE, in a statement.
ZTE’s latest quarterly results showed robust equipment sales growth across its international operations, though it was limited on its U.S. performance.