Telenor has brokered a deal to work with Nvidia on the development of artificial intelligence in the Nordics, spending a hefty sum in the process.

Mary Lennighan

February 26, 2024

2 Min Read

The Norwegian incumbent said the collaboration will enable it to embed AI into its own business and network operations, as well as helping it to develop AI-based solutions for its customers.

In an unusual move, it disclosed that it will spend around 100 million kroner (or just shy of US$10 million) on Nvidia kit in the first year of the partnership alone. While that's not an eye-watering sum in broader telecoms industry terms, it's certainly a statement of intent from Telenor. And it's probably safe to assume that this is not a one-year partnership.

That NOK100 million will go into Nvidia infrastructure to drive AI adoption for internal consumption and external business customers' needs, Telenor said. Under the partnership Telenor will gain access to the latest Nvidia hardware and AI enterprise software to support a number of AI use cases across its operations.

Aside from positioning itself as a tech-driven telco, to use Telenor's own words, the partnership brings network-related benefits.

Specifically, "the collaboration will enable Telenor to explore the next generation of software-defined, high-performance network solutions, powered by the Nvidia Aerial software development kit, so it can simultaneously utilise 5G RAN and AI technologies on a single infrastructure," Telenor explained.

"This collaboration with Nvidia will help Telenor deliver cutting-edge solutions to our customers, drive innovation and efficiency across our operations, and contribute to the development of the AI ecosystem in [the] Nordics," said Amol Phadke, EVP and GCTO at Telenor Group. "Through this collaboration, we intend to create a highly sustainable and efficient AI centre and pave the way for a more connected and intelligent future," he said.

Specifically, Telenor said it plans a to build a green AI centre for the Nordics, providing AI infrastructure for businesses and researchers. It is shooting for a minimal environmental impact and zero emissions. The centre will be located in Norway and will use Telenor's next-generation data centres and Nvidia's AI platforms to create new AI-based solutions, as well as fostering collaboration between AI industry participants and working with academia on AI research.

Talk of environmentally-conscious AI, as well as references to ethical and responsible AI applications, are becoming the norm for Telenor.

The operator inked a three-year MoU with Ericsson late last year with a view to researching, developing and testing AI and machine learning solutions with two main aims: firstly, the pair are looking at energy management and optimisation, particularly in the RAN; and secondly, they are focusing on responsible AI development.

Both the Ericsson and Nvidia partnerships form part of Telenor's aim of becoming an AI-first company. It is far from being the only player in the telecoms industry with such an outlook, as alluded to by Nvidia itself.

"Generative AI is transforming the way telcos operate globally, enabling efficiencies while improving sustainability," said Chris Penrose, global head of business development for telco at Nvidia.

And this week at Mobile World Congress, Telenor will not be the only telco keen to shout about its plans for AI.

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About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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