ZTE pioneers the 5G era with FDD Massive MIMO

GTB Editor
Published on:

The technology can help the industry fulfil its lofty 5G ambitions


Zhang Jianguo 500x300
Zhang Jianguo: vice president and president of wireless product operation division, ZTE Corporation

On December 30, 2016, ZTE officially released the world’s first FDD-based Massive MIMO solution and partnered with China Unicom to complete a field test. Just as expected, the test showed the average gain will be more than tripled for total cell throughput after the application of FDD Massive MIMO.

This is another important technical breakthrough after ZTE released the world’s first TDD-based Massive MIMO solution. This ground-breaking innovation launched less than one year after ZTE’s TDD Massive MIMO solution won the “Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough” and “Outstanding Overall Mobile Technology” awards at MWC 2016.


Massive MIMO is one of the 5G key technologies. It is also the core technology of the Pre5G solution that ZTE presents to operators. The main technological principle of Massive MIMO is that large-scale antenna arrays are used to process and transmit data at the same time to realize Spatial Division Multiple Access (SDMA), so Massive MIMO can improve spectrum efficiency significantly, and meet the high data rate access requirements.

In 2015, ZTE completed product R&D and field testing of Pre5G TDD Massive MIMO and launched commercial products, which were selected by many well-known operators for commercial tests and deployment. At Mobile World Congress 2016, ZTE won the “Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough” and “Outstanding Overall Mobile Technology - The CTO’s Choice” awards for its Pre5G Massive MIMO solution.

Mobile World Congress, sponsored by the GSM Association (GSMA), is the world’s biggest and most influential event in the telecom industry, and the Global Mobile Awards represent the highest honor in this field. It was the first time that a 5G technology won an award in the history of the GSMA awards. ZTE’s Pre5G innovative philosophy and wonderful ideas wowed the industry and received enthusiastic responses. In particular, Pre5G Massive MIMO improves the spectrum efficiency of the 4G network three to six times, already very close to that of the 5G network. This not only brings new hope to the 4G operators who are concerned about the rapid growth of wireless broadband requirements but also attracts a large number of FDD LTE operators who have expressed high expectations for the FDD-based Massive MIMO. 

In the 2017 MWC, ZTE announced its Pre5G FDD Massive MIMO solution demonstrated a scenario of eight 4G terminals connected simultaneously, achieving a 2.6Gbps peak data rate of single cell, improved by eight times.


In spite of the unique technical advantages of Massive MIMO, how to solve FDD channel reciprocity is still the core challenge in the industry when introducing Massive MIMO technology to FDD system.

The launch of the Pre5G FDD Massive MIMO solution is a result of ZTE’s profound technical accumulation and continuous innovation in the 5G area:

• ZTE accumulated a large amount of data and practical application experience about Massive MIMO propagation characteristics during the scale commercial deployments of TDD Massive MIMO in populous countries. 

• ZTE developed the patented algorithm regarding channel measurement and estimation for the FDD-based Massive MIMO solution in an innovative way to implement FDD macro symmetry. In this way, multi-user spatial multiplexing is implemented without additional assistance from mobile phones, and spectrum efficiency is enhanced. 

The self-developed vector processing chip provided a more efficient platform for the continuous evolution and upgrade of Massive MIMO technology. 


Capacity and performance have gradually become the development bottlenecks of 4G networks during the explosive growth of broadband services and IoT requirements. To solve these problems, ZTE first presented Pre5G concept and a series of solutions, which provides 5G-like performance and service experience in the existing 4G networks by applying 5G technologies in advance, thus building a comprehensive evolution bridge to 5G.

ZTE introduced Massive MIMO to widely-used FDD LTE networks boosting the commercial value of the Massive MIMO solution and helping operators increase network capacity by multiple times and greatly enhancing spectrum efficiency without changing the existing spectrum resources. More importantly, the deployment of Pre5G Massive MIMO base stations does not require changes to the existing 4G network architecture, which is fully compatible with the current 4G terminals. This means that commercial revenues can be immediately obtained upon deployment. The 5G core technology is introduced before 5G standards are finalized, enabling a smooth transition from 4G to 5G.

ZTE applies Massive MIMO to the 4G era, providing a basis for the development of follow-up 5G products. ZTE is advancing the establishment of a unified, flexible, and configurable unified air interface (UAI) on the basis of the overall 5G design, and has always been at the forefront of the development of 5G network architecture on the basis of the Cloud Aware Soft-network (CAS) technology. ZTE develops its own iconic technologies in Massive MIMO, MUSA, FB-OFDM, Virtual Cell, and SLA, and is therefore recognised by the industry.


After launching Pre5G solutions, ZTE is highly recognised by the industry, and has carried out extensive cooperation and network development with many global operators. In 2016, China Mobile carried out the pre-commercial deployment of Pre5G Massive MIMO in more than 90% of provinces in China. In September, Pre5G Massive MIMO was put into large-scale commercial use by SoftBank in Japan, which became the world’s first commercial Massive MIMO system. In December, ZTE successfully commissioned Pre5G Massive MIMO trial networks for “Telefonica” Group and Hutchison Three Austria. So far, ZTE has carried out commercial and field tests with many operators in China, Japan, Korea, Austria, Singapore, Spain, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia involving Pre5G products and solutions. In 2017, the launch of the commercial FDD Massive MIMO solution will meet more extensive market demands. The deployment and application of this solution in global markets will make 4G operators gain network benefits from 5G technologies ahead of time and get ready for the commercial use of 5G networks.