HomeAutomation/AITelcos believe AI will transform network efficiency: Ciena 

    Telcos believe AI will transform network efficiency: Ciena 


    Global survey of telcos shows that unlike 5G, the vast majority say they will be able to monetise artificial intelligence

    In the same week that SK Telecom (SKT) announced had developed and deployed AI Orchestrator to enable automation of all control and inspection tasks required for network operation, a global telco study commissioned by Ciena has shown that more than half of telecom and IT engineers surveyed believe the use of AI will improve network operational efficiency by 40% or more.  

    Perhaps more surprisingly, Ciena’s survey – in collaboration with Censuswide, surveying more than 1,500 telecom and IT engineers and managers at CSPs in 17 countries – showed that 85% of respondents are confident they will be able to monetise AI traffic across networks. While this may seem fanciful, SKT may once more prove a model of what telcos can do with AI – its enterprise business has become a solid growth driver in the non-telecom space, with sales of enterprise AI expanding by more than 10% YoY.  

    Globally, CSPs believe the sectors that will generate the most AI traffic, and therefore revenue opportunities, are financial services (46%), followed by media and entertainment (43%), and manufacturing (38%). Respondents also see multiple avenues to generate revenue from AI. 

    Specifically, 40% believe it will be from opening their networks to third-party integrations; 37% believe revenue will come from security and privacy services; the same number (37%) believe it will come from new product offerings; 35% believe it will be from the creation of tailored subscription packages; and 34% believe revenue will be from differentiation on quality of service for connectivity. 

    “Understanding emerging technologies like AI is an essential step toward staying competitive in today’s constantly changing digital landscape,” said Ciena international CTO Jürgen Hatheier. “The survey highlights the optimistic long-term outlook of CSPs regarding AI’s ability to enhance the network as well as the need for strategic planning and investments in infrastructure and expertise to fully realize the benefits.” 

     AI network benefits 

    A key theme from the study – and the regular conclusion of many Mobile Europe operator panels – is the opinion that AI will enhance network performance. Participants believe new solutions across fibre network infrastructure and operations will be required. According to the study, the most popular strategies believed to improve performance include upgrading networks with new traffic and network analysis software (selected by 49% of respondents), along with upgrades in switches and routers (43%), and investment in 800G technology (40%). Almost all (99%) respondents believe they will need to upgrade fibre-optic networks to support more AI traffic. 

    As telcos ponder putting more of their core network elements into the public cloud, doing the same for AI functions seems split – 43% of CSPs favor private cloud deployment for AI services, while 37% lean toward public cloud providers’ data centres. Meanwhile, only 21% of respondents plan to adopt a hybrid cloud model. 

    Coming for your job or not? 

    After Telstra announced a 9% workforce reduction this week local media linked the move to recent software engineering deals the telco had done with Cognizant and Infosys were raised to point out AI was coming for telco jobs. However, somewhat strikingly, two thirds (67%) of telcos anticipate AI to be a force for job creation and identified key areas of expertise necessary for developing and launching AI services including: cybersecurity (31%), machine learning (30%) and programming/coding (30%). The key question is where that job creation will take place.