- Four major global telcos joined forces to launch the Global Telco AI Alliance to accelerate AI transformation of the existing telco business and create new business opportunities with AI services.
- They signed a Multilateral MOU for cooperation in the AI business, which includes the co-development of the Telco AI Platform.
Deutsche Telekom, e&, Singtel and SK Telecom have established a new industry group that aims to progress generative AI. Called the Global Telco AI Alliance, it represents a coordinated effort by these four operators to accelerate the AI-fuelled transformation of their businesses, and to develop new, AI-powered business models.
The Telco AI Platform will serve as the foundation both for new services – like chatbots and apps – as well as enhancements to existing telco services. The alliance members plan to establish a working group whose task will be to hammer out co-investment opportunities and the co-development of said platform.
Members will also support one another in operating AI services and apps in their respective markets, and cooperate to foster the growth of a telco AI-based ecosystem.
As of today, all the operators have done is sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU), under which they pledge to carry out all this work. A signing ceremony took place in Seoul, Korea, and was attended – either in person or virtually – by the CEOs of e&, Singtel and SK Telecom, and Deutsche Telekom’s board member for technology and innovation, Claudia Nemat. The Global Telco AI Alliance will also have to ensure that any AI-based services they develop are capable of accounting for cultural differences. They won’t get very far if their virtual assistants make culturally insensitive recommendations, for example.
The seniority of these signatories represents a strong statement of intent though, and the group said it will discuss appointing C-level representatives from each member to the Alliance.
“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 Telco AI Alliance. 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,” said Claudia Nemat, Board Member Technology and Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.
“We recognize 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. The alliance signifies a strategic commitment to driving innovation and fostering collaborative efforts. 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,” said Khalifa Al Shamsi, CEO of e& life.
“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. 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,” said Yuen Kuan Moon, Group Chief Executive Officer of Singtel.
It is not clear at this stage of proceedings whether the operators plan to develop their own in-house AI assets, or license them from the likes of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, or Google Bard. On the one hand, going with a third party that has done most of the legwork offers efficiencies, but on the other hand, the Global Telco AI Alliance might prefer an AI that specialises in telecoms, rather than a generalist.
Japanese vendor NEC showed earlier this month – with the launch of its own large language model (LLM) for enterprises in its home market – that generative AI isn’t necessarily the preserve of Silicon Valley big tech. It also highlighted the desire to develop localised AI for different languages.
The announcement also doesn’t attempt to grapple with any potential ethical pitfalls that might befall the Alliance. While it’s a fairly safe bet that responsible AI development will be an important consideration, it’s always better when companies make that clear.
Even big tech has come round to that way of thinking, with the launch earlier this week of the Frontier Model Forum. Established by Google, Microsoft, OpenAI and self-styled ethical AI company Anthropic, the group aims to advance the development of responsible artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity.