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AI and Cloud: The Power Duo Reshaping Telcos for a Resilient Future

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Anthony Behan
Anthony Behan
Anthony Behan, Global Managing Director, Communications, Media & Entertainment at Cloudera

AI and cloud tech revolutionize telecoms, boosting resilience, reducing costs, and optimizing customer experiences.

In the ever-evolving telecommunications landscape, the combined innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and public/private Cloud technologies are the foundation of accelerated transformation. 

Telcos are redefining how they operate, serve customers, and optimize networks by virtualizing core infrastructure, extending into the public cloud, and automating through AI. These shifts will reduce the cost of operations, introduce more significant levels of agility and resilience, and deliver an improved customer experience for all telco customers, both business and consumer. 

AI technologies have catalyzed a paradigm shift in the management and maintenance of telco networks. AI is pivotal, from bolstering network resilience to preemptive maintenance and automation. By analyzing an array of data points—from network performance indicators and OSS data to weather patterns —AI anticipates potential network vulnerabilities, allowing telcos to address impending issues before they escalate. 

Increasingly, this can be achieved programmatically, dramatically reducing mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) and operations costs. Predictive modeling and machine learning provide insights into customer behaviors, enabling telcos to tailor their services and optimize network resources accordingly.

The Covid-19 pandemic acted as a litmus test for telcos, highlighting the indispensable role of connectivity. As remote work and digital interactions surged — Netflix acquired more new customers in the first quarter of 2000 than in any other quarter in their history — telcos faced challenges in meeting unprecedented demands while at the same time witnessing dramatic changes in consumption patterns. 

Networks experienced different strains during peak hours, revealing the necessity for a robust infrastructure to accommodate unforeseen surges. AI, however, emerged as the unsung hero during this time, identifying bottlenecks, optimizing workloads, and advising customers on network connectivity adjustments. One telco in Europe, for example, moved some video streaming traffic from an overburdened fiber network to an under-utilized LTE (wireless) network during lockdown, significantly enhancing customer experience. This required careful analysis of bottlenecks and capacity and power distribution in the wireless network, and AI recommendations provided the core of the strategy.

Despite the promise of the Public Cloud regarding agility, innovation, and collaboration, the journey has sometimes been challenging for telcos. Challenges abound regarding data volumes, security, compliance, and cost management in the public cloud domain. Telcos manage colossal amounts of data daily, and storing this data in public clouds can incur substantial expenses. 

Moreover, compliance with security and data protection regulations and the intricacies of migrating vast amounts of personally identifiable information (PII) pose considerable hurdles. Architectural complexities, differing cloud platforms, and uncertainties around disaster recovery add layers of intricacy to cloud migrations. 

However, the solution lies in a hybrid data architecture—a bridge between on-premises virtualized infrastructure and the Public Cloud. Such an architecture empowers telcos with the flexibility to determine data placement, seamlessly moving between multiple on-premises clusters and Public Cloud environments as per their evolving needs. This approach addresses compliance concerns, manages costs, and streamlines complexities inherent in the cloud migration process. 

For example, there can be on-prem high-performance clusters powered by GPUs, on-prem clusters for operational day-to-day support, and on-prem clusters for archives and historical training datasets connected to public cloud digital advertising data applications managed by a single architecture and governance. 

The amalgamation of AI and Cloud technologies is reshaping the customer experience within the telco sphere. AI-driven interactions, empowered by sentiment analysis and affective computing, enhance customer engagement and decision-making across various touchpoints. From personalized customer service to optimized and automated network operations, AI’s integration permeates every facet of telco operations, ensuring reliability, observability, and efficiency.

The emergence of  AI and cloud technologies does not merely represent a technological advancement—it is a paradigm shift. Telcos embracing this evolution are enhancing customer experiences, reducing costs, and becoming more resilient. The future of telco lies in the seamless convergence of innovation and customer-centricity, and AI and Cloud technologies – both public and private – are the bedrock upon which this future is built.

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