The new Global Telco AI Alliance aims to use the tech to accelerate transformation
SK Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, e& and Singtel have formed the Global Telco AI Alliance which aims to make joint efforts to accelerate AI transformation in telcos and develop new AI-powered business models to help grow. The MoU for cooperation in AI includes the co-development of a Telco AI Platform.
The four telcos will jointly develop this platform by combining their respective technologies and capabilities. The Telco AI Platform is expected to serve as the core foundation for new AI services, including those designed to improve the existing telco services, digital assistants, and super apps that offer a wide range of services.
“In order to make the most of the possibilities of generative AI for our customers and our industry, we want to develop industry-specific applications in the Global Telco AI Alliance,” said Deutsche Telekom board member technology and innovation Claudia Nemat.
“I am particularly pleased that this alliance also stands for bridging the gap between Europe and Asia and that we are jointly pursuing an open-vendor approach. Depending on the application, we can use the best technology. The founding of this alliance is an important milestone for our industry,” she added.
“The launch of the Global Telco AI Alliance is meaningful in that it marks the beginning of a new journey to innovate our business models while growing together with our global partners,” said SKT CEO Ryu Young-sang.
“Through collaborative efforts, we will accelerate AI transformation of all industries, provide new value and experience to our customers, and lead the growth of the global AI ecosystem,” he added.
“We recognise AI’s immense potential in reshaping the telecommunications landscape and beyond and are excited to embark on this transformative journey with the formation of the Global Telco AI Alliance,” said e& life CEO Khalifa Al Shamsi.
“Our shared goal is to redefine industry paradigms, establish new growth drivers through AI-powered business models, and pave the way for a new era of strategic cooperation, guiding our industry towards an exciting and prosperous future,” he added.
“This alliance will enable us and our ecosystem of partners to significantly expedite the development of new and innovative AI services that can bring tremendous benefits to both businesses and consumers,” said Singtel Group CEO Yuen Kuan Moon.
“With our advanced 5G network, we are well-placed to leverage AI to ideate and co-create and are already using it to enhance our own customer service and employee experience, increase productivity and drive learning,” he added.
The telcos will form a joint working group to decide on co-investment opportunities and the co-development of the Telco AI Platform to reach a definitive agreement. The makes things stick, the group will discuss designating a C-level officer from each company to coordinate the overall collaboration. The four telcos also plan to support each other in operating AI services and apps in their respective markets and cooperate to build an ecosystem.
SK Telecom wants to be an AI company
It is significant that the MoU signing took place in South Korea. SKT announced it was “stepping up efforts on all fronts to transform itself into an AI company,” according to CFO and head of corporate planning Kim Jin Won at the telco’s quarterly results in May.
SK Telecom is already providing differentiated AI services based on its own hyperscale language technology accumulated over the years. In addition to its generative AI “A dot” service, the telco is actively applying its AI to its five business groups to identify ways to make each better.
SKT makes no secret about wanted to partner with foreign AI companies to achieve its aims. It recently invested 15bn Korean won ($11.4m) in local startup Scatter Lab, which has used deep learning to create a chatbot that can hold empathetic conversations.
As part of this strategy, SK Telecom signed a strategic partnership with Scatter Lab in April with an equity investment of KRW 15 billion won. Known for its Lee Lu-da chatbot that can hold empathetic conversations, Scatter Lab is an AI start-up that uses deep learning to develop a relationship-oriented AI agent that can have human-like conversations with users. SKT will use this to make A dot “more human like than humans.”
The two are also building a hyperscale language model equipped with emotions and knowledge domains.
Singtel already building AI-powered apps
Singtel is already collaborating with Microsoft and Nvidia to combine AI and 5G, using Nvidia’s full stack accelerated computing platform, optimised for Microsoft Azure Public MEC, to create enterprise solutions that use AI video analytics for multiple use cases and to deploy 5G conversational avatars powered by large language models (LLMs). Singtel has been rolling out enterprise 5G and MEC across ports, airports, manufacturing facilities and other locations.
Singtel is working with video analytics software-makers participating in Nvidia Inception, a free program that offers startups go-to-market support, expertise and technology. These software vendors and developers will be able to use the NVIDIA Jetson Orin module for edge AI and robotics in conjunction with Microsoft MEC to identify traffic flows at airports and other high-population areas, and deliver retail video analytics, for example.
The two also demoed a real-time LLM-powered avatar, built with Nvidia’s Riva speech AI and the NeMo Megatron transformer model, which enables people to interact in natural language on any topic of interest.
e& using AI to build “digital conglomerate”
In April, e& said it was the “first digital conglomerate” in the Middle East and Africa to use the GPT available in Azure OpenAI Service to improve its customer service and products. Etisalat by e& will also integrate Azure OpenAI Service into its internal operations to underpin a human resources chatbot and streamline processes.
DT loves AI
DT has a diverse array of AI uses cases it is already using like its Magenta Voice Assistant – so many in fact it has launched a webpage detailing its love for the technology. The telco recently spoke out against proposed EU artificial intelligence regulation, saying the rules risk harming competitiveness yet fail to deal with potential challenges.
Last year, SKT partnered with DT to bring the South Korean operator’s Ifland metaverse platform to Europe.
Signing the MOU were (standing, from left) Jonathan Abrahamson, chief product & digital officer, Deutsche Telekom, Khalifa Al Shamsi, CEO of e&, Anna Yip, deputy CEO, Singtel Singapore and CEO, business development and Young-sang Ryu, CEO of SKT, in the presence of (on screen, clockwise, from top left) Kuan Moon Yuen, group chief executive officer, Singtel, Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group, Claudia Nemat, board member technology and innovation at Deutsche Telekom and Hatem Dowidar, group CEO of e&.