Telecom Networks Brace for GenAI Impact | HCLTech

Telecom, communication networks and platform companies brace for impact of GenAI

As advancements in GenAI and 5G expand, communication networks and platform companies are seeking to address challenges and stay ahead of the curve
7 minutes read
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
US Reporter, HCLTech
7 minutes read
Telecom, communication networks and platform companies brace for impact of GenAI

Network providers and the telecommunications industry as a whole are grappling with the impact of transformation across the sector due to the evolution and implementation of 5G and GenAI technologies.

This transformation journey is expected to have continued impacts on how we work, how we communicate with others, how our children attend school and even how healthcare services are conducted. The future of networks was under the microscope at MWC 2024 last week, as industry leaders from across the globe came together for the largest connectivity event in the world.

There are many challenges ahead for telecom companies and the impact of network transformation. Game-changing GenAI technology and collaboration with partners who have the skillsets needed to implement the technology will help overcome these hurdles and embrace this revolution.

5G and AI evolving future networks

When it comes to the ways in which 5G and AI can impact future networks, in some ways it will be similar across industries and in other ways it’s going to be specific to an industry. What some are seeing today is that AI can be a great augmenter of what one’s business can do and almost acts as an expert mentor to people and brings people up to speed, according to Geoff Hollingworth, CMO at Rakuten Symphony during a panel at HCLTech’s booth at MWC.

“What we’re already starting to see is the ability to ask higher level questions that are more outcome-based,” said Hollingsworth. “The journey we’re on is actually being able to lift up the intelligence, based on the person asking and have the system actually respond in a much more intuitive way.”

When considering the future of networks, organizations will have to ask how to deploy 5G and GenAI and how one can make the best use of GenAI capabilities that exist today. Margaret Rooney-McMillen, VP of Integrated Partner Solutions and Hyperscalers at AT&T, made mention of a forum within their chief data office where employees can submit areas of interest. The idea of this is to take this feedback and establish a future network that focuses on areas that make the most sense and expand them and kick the can down the road on areas that don’t make sense to expand right now.

Ultimately, the future of telecommunications networks will be built on the foundation of what 5G and GenAI technologies can accomplish now, while strengthening the most pressing areas of concern for stakeholders.

Challenges in the market today

According to Hollingsworth, an important part to acknowledge is that we’re at Day Zero of a massive paradigm shift, which can be difficult to recognize at times. Organizations are going to have to move into this new era and balance how to embrace the evolution within the network, as well as with customers.

One of the challenges AT&T is working to address is how to usher customers through this journey and trying to keep pace with how quickly these technologies are evolving.

“We’re at ground zero in trying to evolve this and so I think there are a whole lot of lessons to be learned over the next few years,” said MacMillan. “But this technology is not giving us a lot of time. As we’ve historically seen, the technology leap here is going to happen even faster than we’ve seen previously.”

According to Martin Zimmerman, CTO, OWN-North America, CommScope, there are two classes of problems that telecom companies are still looking to address. First, how do you expand 5G bands and equipment into existing settings without causing a structural overload, particularly in urban areas. Second, is how to bridge the digital divide over rural areas in an economically feasible model.

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Bringing capabilities to customers

Telecom companies want to serve their customers, first and foremost. Figuring out the most effective way to serve these customers during this time of change is still an ongoing task for the industry. However, good partners can always help.

“We’ve done an extraordinary job and there’s more to do, but enterprises want services from us, and we have to help them simplify what we give them,” said Mark Rouanne, Chief Network Officer at Dish Network. “We love to tell them that they should be as knowledgeable as we are, but they have a business to run so that can’t always be the case. Let us do it for you so that you can run your business,” he said.

Simplifying and accelerating testing services are important in bringing advanced capabilities to customers. Partner solutions, such as HCLTech’s AI Force — which automates test script generation with GenAI — can help telecom companies secure online GenAI models hosted in cloud servers and local AI models running on the client’s on-premises.

Network providers are also looking at ways to get better and faster at designing components, not to simply improve component performance, but to improve network performance overall.

“What I see is we’re going to get to the point where all the people that are providing components in the network will be judged based on network performance metrics rather than component performance metrics and that’s how you improve the network to the next level,” said Zimmerman.

GenAI and 5G have a complex and evolving future, so it will take collaboration in the tech industry to stay ahead of the curve. This wave of 5G technology and GenAI in networks will shape the global mobile market. The revolution will require new infrastructure requirements and diverse skill sets, which GenAI will help address. However, teaming up with other service providers will allow telecom companies to transform their network, while maintaining focus on their customers.

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