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A closer look at AI investment in the telecoms industry

Inside Telecom Staff

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Even before the emergence of the Coronavirus, there was an international increase in the demand for data. Mobile markets were becoming more saturated and there was strong opposition from legacy players, tech entrants, and startups. The global telecoms scene has been a battlefield for market share. Such pressures have consequently led to intense price wars for services and the result was the declining average revenue per user (ARPU).

This fierce competition comes from improvements in infrastructure and technology, meaning that telecoms can be compared, when looking at speeds in connection, pricing of services, and coverage. Companies have to transform their businesses if they wish to compete.

As already highlighted in our previous articles, having a substantial market share under the intense pressures of today and also planning for future operations means the significant investment in Artificial Intelligence. It is expected that the global telecoms industry will invest $36.7 billion on an annual basis in AI software, hardware and services within the next 5 years.

Because of its capabilities to deconstruct massive amounts of data, explain it in a contextual manner, provide requested information or analysis, and recommend necessary actions, Artificial Intelligence can help telecoms reduce costs and streamline by making their operations digital. This means leveraging the increasingly gigantic mine of data that is generated by customers and is passed through wireless networks. As an example, the amount of data that is transferred through AT&T’s wireless network has increased by a whopping 470,000% since 2007.

Reports from both Business Insider and Tractica focus on using AI to enhance the customer journey and more specifically, the main uses for AI deployments. Tractica’s report (which is free to download on their website) indicates that network operations, monitoring and management will account for 61% of the industry’s AI spending between 2016 and 2025. In then goes on to say that AI applications will include virtual assistance for customer service, marketing, intelligent customer relationship management systems, and cyber security.

“The telecom industry is ripe for AI-driven solutions, with their promise of lowering costs and boosting efficiencies through automation,” says Mark Beccue, principal analyst at Tractica. “Many telecom operators have begun to experiment and deploy AI-driven solutions in both customer-facing and internal organizations.” Business insider point out that $62 billion is lost by companies in the US every year as a consequence of bad customer experiences. Bad customer experience is an ongoing concern that has always plagued the telecoms industry. In 2018 the telecoms industry had the lowest average NPS (Net Promoter Score), a measure of how positively a company is viewed by customers, of any industry. Companies that are employing advanced analytics – accessed via AI – in an attempt to improve their image and the general customer journey, are witnessing revenue gains and perhaps more importantly, cost reductions within a few years of implementation. To maximise the impact AI has on their business, telecoms need to focus on and strategize a hybrid organizational model.

We’re a diverse group of industry professionals from all corners of the world. Our desire is to provide a high-quality telecoms publication that caters to an international market, offering the latest and most relevant telecoms information to businesses, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts.

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Philippines: NOW telecom will run as the fourth mobile operator

Ranine Awwad

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Philippines NOW telecom will run as the fourth mobile operator

On September 14, 2020, The National Telecommunications Commission NTC issued a provisional authority allowing NOW Telecom Company Inc. to install, operate, and maintain a nationwide mobile telecommunications system, according to Manila Bulletin.

NOW will run as the fourth mobile operator in the Philippines, offering mobile data, text messages, and voice calls to customers across the country. However, the telco is obliged to accelerate the installation of broadband data services in the suburban and rural areas. Moreover, each phase of project implementation will directly comply with the 70:30 ratio of urban to suburban and rural network rollout coverage, said Now Telecom in a statement.

The telecommunications company has already announced its plan to spend $713 million for its five-year wireless expansion in Metro Manila, according to Inquirer.Net. On the other hand, it will be moving forward to secure high-speed internet for its customers. “As the country’s fourth telco, NOW Telecom, an affiliate of publicly listed telecommunications, media, and technology firm NOW Corp, is currently setting the stage for its public listing as well as its 5G or fifth-generation network rollout”, said the Company.

NOW Group of Companies founder and Chief Executive Mel Velarde, said, “We are moving forward with the corporate restructuring of NOW Telecom to take it to the next level. NOW Corp. and NOW Telecom were the first to introduce 5G broadband speed of up to 2 Gbps [gigabits per second] direct to our existing enterprise clients”, according to Manila Bulletin.

NOW Telecom initially secured a franchise in 1992. Back then, the company was called InfoCom Communications Network, Inc., according to CNN Philippines. However, on February 22, 2018, the 17th Congress renewed the franchise for another 25 years through Act No. 10972.

NOW isn’t allowed to share or co-use its frequencies with other players, according to Telecompaper. The National Telecommunications Commission requires NOW to reach a total capital of PHP 15.9 billion for the first five years. Moreover, the company should invest at least 30% of its total Capex requirement for the first two years or PH 1.89 billion.

For the last two decades, the Philippines telecom market has been dominated by the PLDT-Globe duopoly. In 2018, DITO- the third telecom operator – received its franchise. However, in late August, and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s House of Representatives approved the renewal of its franchise for the next 25 years in a vote of 240 to seven with no abstentions, according to Developing Telecom. The introduction of Now Telecom into the Philippines’ market will allow competition among telecom operators and will enhance service developments in the country.

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Indian Innovation Chingari gains 30 million downloads

Karim Hussami

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Indian Innovation Chingari gains 30 million downloads

The government’s decision to ban an estimated 200 Chinese apps in India, including popular ones such as TikTok, Helo and WeChat, has presented opportunities for local talent. While many Indian startups received attention for their ingenuity in the recent few years, there was less room to dominate a market already saturated with bigger industry players. As such, changing circumstances may have prompted a wave of tech innovation that will foster growth in the local digital market.

The made-in-India short-video sharing platform, Chingari announced that it has reached more than 30 million organic users in just three months, with the highest percentage of users aged between 18 and 35.

India has emerged as the third largest start-up base behind US and UK, and such ventures are poised to grow 2.2 times to reach 10,500 by end of 2020 employing over 210,000 people, according to the “Indian Startup Ecosystem Maturing” report by Nasscom-Zinnov.

“The startup landscape in the country is becoming the epitome of innovation, with companies bringing out solutions that are aimed at solving locally relevant issues. Nasscom believes that the contribution by startups have been growing at a rapid rate,” said Nasscom Chairman C.P Gurnani.

Sumit Ghosh, Co-founder and CEO of Chingari App said that “The rise of Chingari App has a direct correlation with the advanced tools that we offer and the seamless creation experience that Chingari App provides. We provide excellent video and audio editing tools to our content creators and empower them with the best-Indianised filters for visual effects.”

What did Chingari do to attract more users? It has added AR (augmented reality) filters on its platform to give content creators more advanced front and rear camera tools to work with, according to the app.

“Chingari is all set to ablaze the market with new and unique AR filters and more interesting video-editing features that people will love,” Ghosh said.

In addition to English and Spanish, the Chingari content is available in Hindi, Bangla, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil, Odia, and Telugu, the app notes. “Apart from India, the app is steadily increasing its user base in the UAE, the United States, Kuwait, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.”

The homegrown platform last week signed a music licensing agreement with T-Series. As a result of the partnership, all Chingari users in India, other Saarc nations, and the Middle East will get access to the music collection of T-Series.

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Ed technology developments in South Korea amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Ranine Awwad

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Ed technology developments in South Korea amid the Covid-19 pandemic

On September 21, 2020, Korean top mobile operator SK Telecom Co. has announced its partnership with the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education aiming to offer a remote education service for students stuck at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the operator, the service will be used by around 20,000 students at 312 schools in the city located 300 kilometers south of the capital. Based on the mobile carrier’s existing MeetUs Video conference platform, the service will make use of 5G and Artificial Intelligence technology to ensure high-quality video conferences and offer other educational features such as surveys and tests, according to The Korea Bizwire. MeetUs was launched in August and can be used to offer presentations and share content with around 100 people.

The company’s move comes after an introduction of mix and in-person classes in South Korea to curb the spread of the virus. At the end of August 2020, South Korea ordered the closure of all schools and kindergartens in the greater Seoul area, according to BBC.

SK Telecom is not the only Korean mobile carrier that introduced the remote education scheme. In fact, LG Uplus, considered the third-largest mobile carrier in Korea, has introduced a mobile app service for elementary school students. Moreover, KT Corp. has collaborated with Signong Group aiming to create educational content using Artificial Intelligence technology.

Online learning has become part of the educational process since the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Choi Won-hwi, who works in the South Korean education ministry division overseeing teacher instruction said, “We prepared for remote learning because of the Covid crisis, but now it will be a permanent part of the educational process”, according to The Wall Street Journal. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education has allocated more than $110 million for developing online learning tools such as textbooks. Moreover, the government has requested the telecom carriers to give free online access to educational websites for Korean students.

On September 11, 2020, the Ministry of Education announced its plan to transition to e-textbooks for third and fourth-grade students in 2022. Higher grades would be covered starting 2023, according to The Korea Herald.

Global education market intelligence firm, HolonIQ, states that the expenditure on education technology is expected to reach $341 billion by 2025.

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