Telecom Sector Bets on AI to Bridge Legacy and Future Operations

SK Telecom

The telecommunications industry can’t afford to put integrating generative artificial intelligence (AI) on hold.

A backbone of the connected economy, global telecoms are under enormous pressure to transform their capabilities to meet the future-fit needs of tomorrow’s industries — and AI has emerged as a game-changer for the sector by offering novel solutions to age-old challenges.

This, as SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest operator, has invested $100 million into U.S.-based AI startup Anthropic with the goal of jointly developing a large language model (LLM) and AI platform.

The investment will see Anthropic’s Claude service provided to Korean enterprise customers. As an official partner, SK Telecom will also be responsible for assisting the expansion of Anthropic’s Korean market ambitions.

“The two companies will jointly develop a multilingual LLM for global telecommunications companies, including Korean, English, German, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish and more. SK Telecom plans to further enhance the performance of the LLM it has already developed, while expanding the new multilingual LLM model with Anthropic to demonstrate the synergy of cooperation,” the company said.

It has been the summer of AI for SK Telecom. Outside of cutting a sizable check to Anthropic, the firm last month (July 27) announced the launch of the Global Telecom AI Alliance, a multilateral cooperative between SK Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, e& and Singtel.

The alliance is being developed with the stated goal of accelerating the AI transformation of existing telco businesses while creating new business opportunities with AI services.

And as future-fit technologies including 5G broadband, IoT (internet of things) and Edge Computing gain traction within the telecom space, the embrace of generative AI couldn’t be happening at a more critical juncture for the sector.

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Streamlining the Historically Tangled Telecom Industry

Telecom is undergoing a shift from old to new, and currently sits at the intersection of future-fit and legacy technologies, resulting in hybrid networks, a variety of both frequency bands and spectrums, all serving an ever-growing abundance of connected devices.

By tapping AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities, telecom operators can more quickly address the complexity of today’s landscape while effectively addressing the emergent requirements of tomorrow.

AI has a powerful ability to unify and distill data across usage, geolocation information, customer profiles and even billing; while ML can enable network automation across devices, mobile applications and networks.

By cutting through the complexity, AI solutions can create ongoing business value through improved performance and efficiency on the back end, while simultaneously streamlining and personalizing the customer experience on the front end.

As evidenced by the details of SK Telecom’s investment into Anthropic, overcoming language barriers within today’s increasingly interconnected world is crucial. Generative AI-powered language translation services can enable seamless communication between customers and providers, breaking down linguistic barriers and expanding the reach of telecom services to diverse markets.

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Unleashing the Power of Generative AI

Generative AI can predict the types of services that might become popular based on social media trends and consumer sentiments, analyze data from various sources to predict network issues, optimize resource allocation, and enhance overall performance, dynamically adjust prices based on demand — ensuring competitiveness while maximizing revenue — as well as aid in optimizing internal processes, from supply chain management to resource allocation.

One of the more promising areas of generative AI’s applications, across all industries, is its ability to drive a degree of personalization across customer engagements that was previously thought unimaginable.

Customer satisfaction is the bedrock of the telecommunications industry, and AI technology’s ability to analyze vast amounts of data can empower companies to better understand customer behavior, preferences, and pain points.

This information can then be leveraged to create personalized experiences, from tailored service recommendations to customized communication strategies.

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants enable real-time interaction, providing instant solutions to customer queries. These AI-driven interfaces not only streamline customer support but also learn from interactions, continually improving their responses and helping customers sort through their choices of phones and calling plans.

Because personalization is crucial for helping telecom’s lower their customer churn, AI holds a right-now practical utility where generative AI can drive new value across the customer lifecycle.

Beyond customer service, AI’s potential applications are vast. By embracing AI-driven solutions while remaining vigilant about ethical considerations, the telecom industry can usher in a new era of innovation and efficiency.