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Is the apps era ending? AI is everywhere as MCW looms

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BT is applying AI to product development, while DT has transitioned its telephony to multi-vendor cloud and is working with Qualcomm on phones without apps. Contributing Editor Annie Turner reports

BT Group has started applying AI to product development with Amazon CodeWhisperer, provided by AWS. The operator says that the ‘code companion’ and initial group of volunteer software engineers generated more than 100,000 lines of code in the first four months. The CodeWhisperer also helped automate around 12% of their most tedious, repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing them to do more productive work.

Woman at computerThe companion generated 15 to 20 suggestions of code per software engineer in real time, per day, with an acceptance rate of 37%. This might be in the form of a small snatch of code or a function. BT says the output is within itscomprehensive guardrails” aligned with the group’s tech principles BT Group has now made the solution more widely available to 1,200 engineers across the business.

Deepika Adusumilli, Chief Data and AI Officer, Digital, BT Group said, “The adoption of generative AI solutions on this scale is not just a major milestone for BT Group, but for the industry as a whole. It will equip our colleagues for a world of work that is transforming overnight, in turn delivering solutions for our customers quicker than ever before.

“Implementing coding assistance is step one in a wider enablement move for our digital colleagues in AI-supported product lifecycle management.”

DT moves telephony to cloud

Deutsche Telekom (DT) is also claiming an achievement as a blueprint for the telecoms industry. In its case, successfully transitioning its IP-based telephony system to a multi-vendor cloud. Landline connections are now centrally controlled from cloud data centres in Germany. The new platform is known as Next Generation IP Multimedia Subsystem (NIMS) and handles billions of voice minutes a year for 17 million subscribers.

One advantage is that features created by third-party application developers can be incorporated into the platform through what the operator says is the “near-complete automation of the telco cloud.”

Abdu Mudesir, CTO of Telekom Deutschland
Abdu Mudesir, CTO of Telekom Deutschland

Abdu Mudesir, CTO of Telekom Deutschland (DT’s German subsidiary) and DT Group’s CTO, commented, “This project is a game-changer in the industry. It is the result of excellent cooperation with partners such as Juniper Networks, Mavenir, Microsoft, HPE, Red Hat and Lenovo.

“Our common goal in this innovation project has always been to set a benchmark for excellence in the industry [and] for our customers. The success has spread – many network operators are now asking us specifically how we managed to achieve this.”

There is more about NIMS’ development in this interview with DT’s Thomas Van Briel.

Smartphones without apps

And that’s not all. DT is to demo app-free smartphones at MWC, showcasing its “generative interface” powered by Brain.ai.  The idea is that an AI-enabled, concierge-like functionality will enable individuals and businesses to carry out many everyday tasks that today are done through apps.

Smartphone useDT has already demo’d two use cases integrated into Telekom’s T Phone, which is widely available, with the AI located in the cloud. The operator is also showcasing a version of an AI smartphone based on the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Reference Design, in which the AI processing is done on the device.

DT said in a statement, “This underlines the Group’s commitment of introducing innovations on devices that are already on the market and making them accessible to everyone”.

This move, which looks inevitable, could have big repercussions for the duopoly that controls most of the global app market – the Android platform and Apple. It could strip out the intermediary layer between app developers and operators’ customers that has proved so very lucrative.

The app-store model is already involved in various anti-trust court cases and under scrutiny by regulators for possible abusive use of dominant market power.

Ericsson’s explainable AI for networks

Ericsson announced new capabilities using Explainable AI (XAI) within its Cognitive Software portfolio for operators which has a cloud-native architecture. The solution relies on AI models trained on the largest, most diverse global data sets in the market, according to Ericsson. The models can be retrained locally for specific use cases.

XAI provides the rationale behind actions it recommends to identify and fix root causes that affect network performance and end user experience. The XAI gives optimisation teams visibility of the biggest contributing factors to an issue, its impact on the network’s performance and recommended actions.

Adaora Okeleke, Principal Analyst at Analysys Mason, observed, “Communications service providers are beginning to realise the value of AI but are hindered by several factors including lack of transparency of their AI solution, limited access to high quality data and the difficulty of scaling AI solutions. Ericsson’s focus on addressing CSPs’ current concerns…aligns well with current market needs and will help accelerate AI adoption.”

Jean-Paul Arzel, Executive Vice President and CTIO of Bouygues Telecom, said, “We have recently achieved very promising results on our network with Ericsson in applying AI to network optimisation, [reducing] congestion…increasing capacity and ease of use, as well as improving spectral efficiency.”

Dell and Nokia team up

Dell and Nokia team upDell Technologies and Nokia have extended their strategic partnership. They are to use each other’s expertise and solutions, including infrastructure from Dell and private wireless connectivity from Nokia.

Under the agreement, Nokia will adopt Dell as its preferred infrastructure partner for existing Nokia AirFrame customers. In future, it will offer Dell’s technology as its infrastructure of choice for telecom cloud deployments.

Nokia and Dell will gradually transition Nokia AirFrame customers to Dell’s infrastructure portfolio, including Dell PowerEdge servers designed for telecom network workloads from the core via the edge to the RAN.