ZTE to provide 10GB optical networks across SA cities

Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE is looking to partner with local fixed network operators, with the plan to launch commercial 10GB-capable symmetric passive optical network (XGS-PON) services in major cities of South Africa.

So says Alex He, CTO of ZTE South Africa, outlining the company’s business strategy in an e-mail interview with ITWeb.

According to He, the company has also set its sights on driving the country’s thriving 5G market in collaboration with mobile operators.

XGS-PON has the potential to aid communications service providers in delivering high-speed internet access to their customers, while keeping the backhaul cost in check, says Global Market Insights.

XGS-PON is an updated standard for passive optical networks (PON) that can support higher speed 10Gbps symmetrical data transfer and is part of the family of standards known as Gigabit-capable PON, or G-PON.

Global Market Insights says the GPON market surpassed $10 billion in 2021 and is poised to grow at over 10% CAGR from 2022 to 2028. Global GPON product shipments exceeded 250 million units in 2021, according to the firm.

The commercial launch of 10GB-capable symmetric passive optical network services will provide users with 10Gbps broadband and WiFi experiences, says He.

“It is going to be South Africa’s first attempt at delivering 10Gbps broadband to retail users. Moreover, ZTE will release its AX11000 WiFi 6E 10GB-capable symmetric passive optical network (XGS-PON) optical network terminal,” he adds.

“We have also brought our highly-efficient, fast and cost-effective fixed and mobile devices. Recently, ZTE, together with Ellies Electronics, launched its first Android TV 11 set-top-box in South Africa. So we are cruising fast.”

He points out ZTE South Africa has been active in the country for more than two decades in rendering its services to various players in the local market.

The major product buyers come from the telcos, where they complete the whole telecoms ecosystem by serving their end-users with voice, data and other value-added services using devices from suppliers like ZTE, according to He.

“We have transitioned rapidly, not only from the technology evolution point of view, but also as a long-term strategic partner to operators in the ICT domain. 4G and 5G technologies are our focus and the plan is to further enhance our footprint from dense urban to urban and then gradually to the rural regions.”

5G spreads far and wide

Regarding 5G, He says there are new and interesting use cases in the global arena, as operators have sensed the opportunity to take 5G technology to industries other than the normal end-users.

The move by ZTE to tap into the local 5G market comes as South Africa is spearheading 5G deployments in Africa.

This, after in March, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa completed a delayed 5G auction, selling spectrum across 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands.

“We see that 5G is no longer just a telco-vendor model. In fact, there is now new use cases for the end-users; plus for industries like entertainment or manufacturing, 5G can be a great growth driving force in the years to come.

“In South Africa, the mobile broadband using 5G technology that supplements the needs that previously could only be realised by fibre is one of many opportunities that are dominating at this stage.”

The company is also playing a part in driving indirect investments in South Africa, He says.

“Currently, ZTE focuses on an indirect investment strategy; we sponsor students from various universities in South Africa that may open many avenues of job creation for them.

“ZTE also plans to hire those students who qualify as potential candidates for us to work in the highly-intense and active environment of ZTE. The option of direct investment is always on the table.

“We are doing our part in realising digital transformation and in bridging the digital divide. We are ever willing to go the extra mile to support enterprise projects of a diverse nature. ZTE truly believes the time has come for all the citizens at every corner of the country to start reaping the true benefits of tech evolution.”

On the consumer segment, He says: “We intend to sell our devices directly into the market because it could be a great marketing strategy for our brand to thrive further.”

He notes ZTE products like MiFi, WiFi routers, set-top boxes and mobile devices are available in various stores across SA and online marketplaces. “We are more inclined to strengthen our position in the telecom infrastructure building.”

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