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Operators have long been looking for ways to improve user experience and enhance utilization of expensive yet limited spectrum. More than ever, 5G poses big challenges to operators in delivering quality network and optimal user experiences, as it is more complex than previous generation technologies with more spectrum bands to leverage and more services to support. As a key infrastructure of the digital society, 5G network not only serves individual users, but also supports digital transformation across industries. Whereas, the evolution of radio resource management has been far behind that of radio access technologies due to much simpler service offering by previous technologies. Consequently, the increasingly diversified demands further deepened the contradiction between “one-fits-all” network policy and differentiated user experience requirements. It is therefore of great importance for operators to deliver user-centric experiences for industry applications and consumers within limited network resources.

Understanding the need for operators to migrate from network-centered policy to user-centered policy to deliver the best experience in the most resource-efficient way, ZTE has innovatively proposed Radio Composer, the industry’s first AI-driven context-aware, customized experience solution. Starting from the multi-layer of the whole network, Radio Composer enables multi-dimensional perception and machine learning of UE capability, service characteristic, network characteristic and inter-domain information; manages and optimizes radio resources to meet service requirements in a dynamic way by changing the traditional “best effort” mechanisms to “always optimal”; and implements best mapping between service requirement and radio resources. It empowers user-centric policy to achieve a near real-time, customized user experience, and facilitates best user experience and highest network efficiency, so as to expand 5G users, unlock network potential, and promote the development of 5G industry and ecosystem.

Radio Composer takes the lead to use BBU native intelligence as the key driver of wireless network intelligence. With advanced radio resource allocation algorithm, it empowers consumers and industry applications with first-class performance without the necessity of extra hardware, and enables network policy shifting from “one-fits-all” to “context-aware”. The AI training is implemented when the CPU is working at low load in order to minimize impact on legacy user experience, and computing capability coordination will be activated among neighbor cells with the growth of 5G users. The BBU native intelligence also enables edge computing, which makes service applications as close to access as possible. This facilitates the implementation of low-latency services like gaming and AR/VR, which exploit more application scenarios and opportunities, accelerate the monetization of 5G networks, and increase the revenue of operators.

Radio Composer features flexible radio resource scheduling via network level and user level, in which Radio Composer at user level enables a digital-map-like experience navigation with smooth user experience, while Radio Composer at network level implements a lego-block-like resource adaption with higher network payload.

Radio Composer at network level

Radio Composer at network level targets future-oriented network design, enables adaptive adjustment of spectrum, frame structure and beam pattern according to intelligent traffic prediction and interference avoidance on a cluster basis, and implements accurate mapping between variable network serving capabilities and traffic pattern prediction. This helps to improve network payload and reduce O&M cost. According to the results of field tests, it increases network payload by an average of 32% and reduces O&M cost by 46%.

Although the spectrum with dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) features, such as 2.1GHz, is a cost-effective way to provide 5G coverage based on legacy FDD equipment, DSS NR performance is severely limited due to the interference between LTE and NR. In particular, the degradation of DSS NR performance caused by the intra-cell and neighbor-cell LTE CRS interference becomes the common concern among global operators. Radio Composer opens a door for DSS to further improve performance and be deployed on large scale. With intelligent traffic prediction on a cluster basis, the LTE traffic of 2.1 GHz can be intelligently steered to the co-coverage 1.8 GHz cell without affecting LTE user experience, thereby making LTE shutdown in the 2.1 GHz DSS cell possible when LTE traffic is fully carried by the co-coverage 1.8GHz cell. With only NR in the DSS cell, the absence of LTE CRS interference greatly improves DSS NR performance.

China Telecom and ZTE jointly developed Cluster DSS innovation based on Radio Composer, and have scaled application. The field verification demonstrates that the solution helps improve 5G user experience and spectrum utilization efficiency without having an impact on 4G user experience.

Radio Composer at user level

Radio Composer at user level targets a smooth user experience through user steering and scheduling. Based on accurate predictions of network service capabilities and precise recognition of service requirements, together with terminal capabilities, it achieves flexible steering and scheduling among multiple frequencies in the network. In the field network, it improves the average throughput of cell-edge users by more than 300%, reduces handover delay by more than 48% and decreases low-speed NR user ratio by 51%.

For video streaming services, users can enjoy 1080p videos in areas with good coverage while degrading to 360p in areas with poor coverage. With Radio Composer, user will be steered to the cell with best experience when the experience is going to slide. Therefore, smooth user experience can be ensured through source cell experience evaluation and target cell experience prediction based on machine learning. The steering can also be implemented in the shortest latency without waiting for measurement feedback. In a summary, Radio Composer improves user experience and saves video buffer delay and first frame playback delay.

For terminals with different location characteristics for vertical applications such as drone inspection and differential protection services, the traditional policy is to use a unified priority to reside on the high-frequency network with 5G capability. With Radio Composer, the drone inspection service can be accurately guided to the low band for wide coverage while the experience is also on-demand; and the differential protection service with fixed-location terminals is preferentially directed to the high-frequency network to better meet the needs of users for differentiated services.

Future-oriented evolution

Radio Composer will continue to evolve in response to different stages of network development and differentiated service requirements, and exploits the best way to combine new services and application scenarios to offer best experience and optimal efficiency. Moreover, Radio Composer can be driven by more intentions, such as energy-saving intention for carbon neutrality and the comprehensive integration of multiple intentions, like experience, efficiency and energy efficiency. With the introduction of cross-domain information, the joint orchestration of consumers and industry segments will be further strengthened to implement more flexible coordination of user experience, network efficiency and other intentions within a single network, thus facilitating social digital transformation and 5G business prosperity.

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