Machine learning, cloud and artificial intelligence are transforming the telecommunications industry, but the numerous emerging technologies and promises they offer can overwhelm operators into indecision and inaction -- and that can be as dangerous as making the wrong tech choice, industry experts caution.
Indeed, with so many technologies on the hype curve, it’s difficult to know which new or emerging technologies will make a difference, and which are buzzwords. Open source and standards, the focus on interoperability and cross-vendor testing help alleviate some pressures, but investments are costly and decisions are critical. Ultimately, though, selecting solutions comes down to one thing: the subscriber, Craig Fenton, Google UK Director, told Broadband World Forum, in a video interview (watch the entire conversation below).
Several service providers have begun using AI to address an expensive pain-point that hurts customer satisfaction and the bottom line. Globally, about 70% of network faults stem from human errors or oversights, according to estimates. As a result, network operation and maintenance eat up most of an IT operation's budget, whether it's a bank, telco or cable operator. AI and machine learning have the potential to transform networking by creating fully automated, self-healing and self-optimizing networks. With AI built into networks, not only could infrastructure maintenance expenses and downtimes dramatically go down but power costs could be reduced, too.
Early adopters reap early rewards. In 2017, for example, AT&T teamed up with Tech Mahindra on an open-source AI platform so developers can rapidly edit, integrate, train and deploy microservices for virtual agent or chatbots for customer support, Broadband World News reported.
To fully realize the opportunities AI affords, leaders in both the private and public sector need to appreciate the value of augmenting human capabilities, said Fenton.
"First and foremost, [operators must] invest for quality of service, speed and opening up the functionality of network functional virtualization and software-defined networks,” he added. "[And develop platform-based architectures] that will allow them to draw from an ecosystem partner innovation as well as drive their own."
Not all decisions will work. Monetization models are theoretical and few, if any, have been stress-tested in the real world. Whilst consumer demand for video over mobile is important, the bulk of telcos' future revenue will be derived from increasingly adjacent markets as operators engage with the fourth industrial revolution.
In this fourth industrial revolution there will be an ever-increasing number of technologies influencing the telecommunications and broadband industry. The roadmap may remain less certain, but education about the future is key to gaining an early competitive edge.
Over the next two years, approximately 60% of service providers (both large and small) will adopt virtualization on a wide scale across their networks, according to the latest survey report from Ovum. Why are providers making these moves? Is there an easy way to start?
Learn how and why service providers are using virtualization to transform their networks. This webinar will look at how providers are leveraging virtualization to create more flexible and agile networks while also providing a better customer experience. Expert speakers from netElastic and Heavy Reading will address the industry drivers for network virtualization, the benefits that can be realized, the challenges to face and the results of virtualization being achieved by providers today.
Key topics will include:
Current network infrastructure and the move to virtualization
Benefits and challenges of network virtualization
How providers can get started
Service provider success stories: the decision to virtualize, the solution, and results