AI-RAN: transforming telecom at MWC 2024

Chiang, Jen-Chieh, Taipei; Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: AFP

At MWC 2024, the spotlight wasn't just on the latest Generative AI advancements; there was also a palpable buzz around the burgeoning Open RAN initiatives led by telecom titans.

Google DeepMind's CEO, Demis Hassabis, introduced Gemini, a state-of-the-art Large Language Model (LLM) fueled by Generative AI. Despite Gemini's rollout in December 2023, concerns arose over inaccuracies in its image generation capabilities. Nonetheless, Hassabis reassured attendees of swift rectification efforts within weeks.

Conversations between Microsoft President Brad Smith and Dell CEO Michael Dell underscored the rapid proliferation of Generative AI and its seamless integration into telecom services—a recurring theme throughout the conference.

Meanwhile, SoftBank made waves with the announcement of the AI-RAN Alliance, a strategic collaboration with industry heavyweights like Arm, Nvidia, and AWS. This alliance is poised to explore the application of AI in Virtual Radio Access Networks (vRAN), promising efficiency gains and innovative service offerings.

From optimizing wireless device performance to enabling low-latency applications through Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), the potential of AI in telecom took center stage.

In partnership with Google, Samsung Electronics unveiled novel search functionalities integrated into smartphones, leveraging Generative AI for enhanced user experiences.

On the Open RAN front, partnerships flourished as NTT DoCoMo and NEC joined forces to establish Orex Sai, a new venture dedicated to advancing Open RAN solutions. Rakuten showcased successful deployments of Open RAN across multiple markets, while KDDI collaborated with Samsung and Fujitsu to validate Open RAN technologies.

While immersive experiences like Metaverse and Augmented Reality (AR) took a backseat compared to previous years, innovation still abounded. NTT DoCoMo teased the release of AR glasses, slated for mid-2024, promising users a seamless blend of real-world interaction and digital engagement.

The convergence of AI and telecom signals an era of unparalleled innovation and connectivity, reshaping the future of mobile communications.