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article imageTelecom startups investing in AI

By Tim Sandle     Dec 12, 2017 in Technology
The future of improved telecommunications services is being driven by startups. From AI integration to cloud security, startups are showing big telcos how to innovate through the use of digital tools and grow the industry.
According to a report from the World Economic Forum, the digital transformation of the telecommunications industry is a $2 trillion opportunity. Over the next ten years, the industry will shift dramatically, no longer just providing connectivity, but branching into a whole new realm of network technology and new sorts of customer engagement.
A spokesperson for Parallel Wireless, an up-and-coming startup, told the Indian Times that digital must be the focus for developing telecommunications companies: “As telcos move from providing just basic connectivity to becoming a provider of digital services, they will be looking to partner with new companies with fresh ideas. It is here that startups become crucial. Engagement with the startups can bring in much needed innovation in the culture of big telcos.”
Patients at digital dependency therapy group "Delete" show their cellphones inside a clini...
Patients at digital dependency therapy group "Delete" show their cellphones inside a clinic in Rio de Janeiro
Telecom startups go digital
There are many examples of telecom startups offering digital innovations. Some of these are business-to-business, such as the Australian startup Unlockd. This company offers any operator an option that allows subscribers to reduce their phone bills. The concept is that each time users swipe the screen to unlock their handset they receive full-screen ad content, with the advertising tailored to the user’s location and interests. By viewing a minimum number of adverts per day subscribers receive a smartphone bill reduction.
A second business application example is network automation startup Apstra. The company is involved with the automation of data center operations. Its operating system manages data center networks with the aim of improving the agility required for the cloud. The system uses software agents located on top of each network device, which reduces the total cost of ownership via vendor-agnostic automation that leverages the choice of hardware.
A third example is the company GreatHorn, which automates threat detection and response in cloud communication systems. As cloud computing becomes commonplace it becomes a bigger target and greater safeguards are required. Services provided by GreatHorn extend to email, collaboration, and chat tools. With email, for instance, GreatHorn automatically monitors and detects suspicious inbound email messages, categorizing external factors like suspicious domains and DNS records, plus internal indicators, including relationship analytics and target viability.
Funding and acceleration
Startups often struggle in terms of funding, especially in the early days of product development. To help boost startup telecommunications firms (plus smart mobility and fintech innovators), SK Telecom (the largest mobile operator in Korea), Hyundai Motor Company, Hanwha Asset Management,and Element AI have come together to develop an investment fund for startups. The new joint fund is called the AI Alliance Fund and it already contains a pot of $45 million.
Stock market down
Stock market down
This fund can be drawn upon by telecom startups in Korea, U.S. and Europe as part of an accelerator program.
Technological space for development
Startups can also lack the appropriate environment within which to develop. As an example, and one designed to help boosts artificial intelligence for telecoms developments, the government of South Korea has announced plans to open an industrial complex dedicated to artificial intelligence and telecoms. The new technology hub will be located in Gwangju, built to the tune of $916 million.
Flickr user StevenBrace (CC BY 2.0)
The complex will enable technologists to test, verify and standardize various artificial intelligence systems, as well as offering training and education services.
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