Global Telco AI Alliance formalises JV – but the clock is ticking

Deutsche Telekom, e&, Singtel, SoftBank and SK Telecom have finally signed their joint venture agreement, paving the way for the co-development of their multilingual, telco-focused large language model (LLM).

Nick Wood

June 20, 2024

2 Min Read

The deal was signed at this year's Digital Transformation World (DTW24) in Copenhagen, Denmark, but the decision to turn the Global Telco AI Alliance (GTAA) into a fully-fledged joint venture was taken months ago, at February's Mobile World Congress.

Under the agreement, the founding telcos will all contribute an equal, albeit unspecified sum of money to give the JV some working capital that will fund work on the LLM. This will underpin a range of generative AI (GenAI) applications – including digital assistants – tailored to the needs of GTAA members in their respective markets.

'Telco', and 'multilingual' are the two big differentiators upon which the GTAA is pinning its hopes. The LLM will work in Arabic, Bahasa (official language of Indonesia), English, German, and Korean – among other languages. The GTAA will also use telco-specific training data, so the LLM should be able to address telco-specific queries.

If all goes according to plan, the GTAA will have a powerful suite of GenAI tools serving the needs of their combined 1.3 billion customers spread across 50 markets. The group is also keen to sell AI services to enterprises too.

They need to get a move on though. They've been working together on this for nearly a year now; they don't have much to show for it; and others are cottoning onto the idea of telco-focused GenAI.

GTAA even potentially faces competition from one of its own members, which could get awkward.

SK Telecom (SKT) is putting the finishing touches to its own GenAI platform. It makes use of three LLMs: one called A.X. that was developed in-house; OpenAI's GPT-4; and Anthropic's Claude. These have been trained on a range of telco data, including tariff plans, subsidies, loyalty schemes and so-on, and naturally it can understand Korean too.

Presumably then there is nothing in the GTAA's JV agreement that precludes members from working on their own GenAI solutions in parallel.

Meanwhile, another recent example is Mavenir. The network software specialist has teamed up with Nvidia and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop and launch a range of GenAI solutions designed to enhance intelligent RAN operations, underpinned by an LLM trained on various network KPIs.

While Mavenir isn't treading directly on the GTAA's toes, it shows that with the right partners and the relevant LLM training data, companies can quite quickly (relative to the GTAA, anyway) address the GenAI requirements of specific industry verticals.

Hopefully the GTAA's merry band of telcos will be able to pick up the pace now their JV agreement is in place.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the newsletter here.

You May Also Like