Wei Leping, former CTO and current adviser at China Telecom, tells Light Reading about the key technology challenges facing the operator

February 4, 2010

2 Min Read
China Telecom Guru Talks Hot Tech

Wei Leping may have retired as CTO of China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) in 2006, but he is still active at the carrier as the chairman of the operator's Science and Technology Committee.

Speaking with Light Reading at the operator's headquarters in Beijing, the 64-year-old outlined the three biggest strategic challenges facing his team this year.

One is the transition to IPV6. "We’ll be running out of addresses in three years," notes Wei. He says his team of 100 technology experts is focusing on what the shift to IPV6 will mean for China Telecom's network, from the access, through the many deployed routers and switches, to the core.

Next is the evolution, and migration, from CDMA to LTE in the carrier's mobile network as it moves rapidly from 2G to 3G (CDMA 2000) to proto-4G: China Telecom inherited China Unicom's CDMA business and was awarded a 3G license during the restructuring of the country's carrier landscape in 2008. (See China to Get 3G – At Last!, China Pumps $15B Into 3G, and China Telecom Turns On EV-DO.)

Thirdly, Wei identifies ubiquitous networking: "We call this The Internet of Things." His team's challenge is to figure out how best to enable connectivity across China Telecom's network and the millions of machines, devices, sensors, meters, and industrial systems that will be interconnected via the Internet.

Wei also notes his current interest in femtocells and cloud computing. China Telecom is conducting a femto field trial in Shanghai that's due to be expanded so the carrier can monitor potential issues such as signal interference and network synchronization, while there's also work still to be done on the business case.

In terms of cloud-based capabilities, Wei believes there's an opportunity to host applications for mid-range feature phones, as well as smartphones, a move that would dramatically increase the number of people in China able to take advantage of next-generation data services.

Talking about his experiences in the industry, he notes that his smartest move was in switching from ATM to IP in 1997, but that he's still hoping to see GPON -- a technology about which, he admits, he was overly optimistic -- be taken up on a broad scale.

And does he have any advice for other CTOs? "Follow your own belief in where technology is going. Don't be short-sighted and make short-term business decisions."

— Joe Braue, Group Director, Light Reading

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