The Future Telco: AI and Automation will be ‘Table Stakes’

Contributed by Nigel Stephenson, Dir. Market Development. VMware Telco Group.

Transforming the industry.

The telecommunications industry is rapidly evolving, and automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are playing an increasingly important role in this transformation. In the coming years, we can expect to see automation and AI being used to improve network efficiency, open new markets and reduce costs.

Telco networks are becoming increasingly complex, with multiple technologies and protocols being used to support a wide range of services. This complexity will only increase as operators move towards cloud native deployments; whether as an evolution from virtual to cloud native in the core network or a revolution in the RAN, where the move from single vendor silos to cloud-based infrastructure necessitates full automation from day one.

This complexity can make it difficult for operators to ensure that their networks are running efficiently and providing the best possible service to customers.

AI can help operators overcome these challenges by providing real-time insights into network performance and identifying areas for improvement. For example, AI algorithms can analyze network traffic patterns and predict where congestion is likely to occur. This information can be used to dynamically allocate resources and optimize network performance in real-time. We are already seeing this evidenced in open RAN trials and plugfests where VMware’s RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) together with VMware and 3rd Party r/xApps have demonstrated the ability to predict traffic flows, detect anomalies and manage spectrum in the RAN, with resultant benefits to user experience and power efficiency.

With the rise of digital technologies, customers have also come to expect fast, personalized service from their telco providers. AI can help operators meet these expectations by providing personalized recommendations, resolving issues quickly and efficiently, and predicting customer needs before they arise.

After performance and price, most customers would site fault resolution and customer support as the most important attributes of a good quality service. AI-powered chatbots can provide customers with instant support and resolve issues without the need to engage with support staff. These chatbots can also use customer data to provide personalized recommendations and offers and potentially activate new services or service upgrades with little or no human intervention, improving customer engagement and loyalty.

AI is nothing without automation.

The value of AI is only fully realised when combined with automation. AI can drive automated service provisioning and network (re)configuration, reducing the need for manual intervention and improving efficiency and reliability. AI-powered analytics can also be used to identify areas where costs can be reduced, such as detecting potential configuration conflicts, optimizing resource allocation, or identifying unnecessary workloads (for example, turning down power when systems are not required).

The future’s bright, but there are challenges.

While the future of telco automation using AI is bright, there are also challenges that must be addressed. One of the biggest challenges is the need for data. AI algorithms require large amounts of data to learn and improve, and telco operators must ensure that they have access to the right data in order to achieve the full benefits of AI. Modernizing the infrastructure in ways that facilitate access to data will be essential. Including data from legacy infrastructure.

Another challenge is the need for skilled personnel. While AI can automate many routine tasks, it still requires skilled personnel to design and manage the AI algorithms and ensure that they are aligned with business goals and objectives.

Despite these challenges, the future of telco automation using AI is full of opportunities. By combining AI with automation, operators can increase scale, reduce costs and speed innovation. And when that innovation increasingly means the deployment of open, multi-vendor technologies, intelligence and automation become ‘table stakes’ for operators.

VMware Telco Cloud solutions leverage AI and Automation extensively for platform and service provisioning, operations, and lifecycle management. You can find out more by visiting our website, or meet us at Futurenet World, London on May 3rd and 4th.