By Steve Costello

AI offers operators automation opportunity

AI offers “untapped potential” in automating networks, with the ability to deliver improved quality and customer satisfaction, Kirsi Valtari, VP, telco efficiency business for operator Elisa, said.

This, in turn, means less trouble shooting and fewer calls to customer centres, generating savings for the operator.

Valtari said Finland-based Elisa, which also operates in Estonia, is using AI to predict network faults and act upon them. The technology is also being used in network planning.

In the future, AI will be used in the dynamic optimisation of 5G networks.

With 5G introducing new flexibility, for example with network slicing enabling performance tailored to support specific services, and enabling the delivery of ultra-low latency services and massive IoT, the ability to automate network operations and maintenance will be critical for operators.

Valtari said: “We believe in taking a pragmatic approach. First, define the business goals. Next, ensure the data preparation. Lastly, do fast experimentation to test and learn.”

While using AI to improve customer quality can deliver numerous benefits, the executive noted that “telcos do handle a lot of sensitive personal data”.

“Operators should establish processes that can help understand the ethical aspects and then act accordingly,” she said.

And while there has been speculation about how AI will impact the workforce, as more and more tasks become automated, Valtari predicts “more exciting work for humans”.

“Engineers will do more creative and unique troubleshooting and solution design. AI is a force multiplier for people,” she said.