SK Telecom’s AI chief provides a strategic update

SK Telecom’s chief AI global officer, Suk Geun Chung, talks to TelecomTV at MWC24 in Barcelona.

SK Telecom’s chief AI global officer, Suk Geun Chung, talks to TelecomTV at MWC24 in Barcelona.

  • SKT is positioning itself as an AI company
  • The company’s AI chief, Suk Geun Chung, spoke with TelecomTV at MWC24
  • He presented an update on SKT’s progress on AI-driven developments, including work on building a telco-specific large language model (LLM)

SK Telecom (SKT) has been under the spotlight lately for its ambition to become a leading AI company by embedding the technology at the heart of a range of connectivity solutions, and is now in full swing working on turning its vision into a reality.

The operator’s chief AI global officer, Suk Geun Chung, spoke with TelecomTV at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024 in Barcelona, to provide an update on how SKT has delivered on its AI-based strategy since it first unveiled its new focus in 2022.

“We started some internal capacity development, so we would develop our own LLM [large language model] and after that, we made progress by collaborating with outside [companies,]” he explained.

Central to these efforts are SKT’s collaboration and $100m investment into AI company Anthropic, as well as working with OpenAI – the developer behind generative AI (GenAI) system ChatGPT – and hyperscaler companies. Chung noted that SKT is relying on technology developed by these partners to transform its internal operations and make them more efficient.

Another focal point of the South Korean operator’s vision is the initiative to create a joint venture from the Global Telco AI Alliance – an initiative the telco unveiled in mid-2023 alongside partners Deutsche Telekom, e& and Singtel, and was recently joined by SoftBank. Among its main goals is to build a telco-specific LLM as a means to make GenAI developments easier and quicker for operators.

Chung explained that the founding of the new joint venture is expected to be finalised in 2024, after which the members plan to commercialise the telco LLM on which they have already been collaborating. 

In other hot AI developments, SKT’s chief AI global officer highlighted the company’s goal to “redefine our relationship with our customers with new technology like AI” with the help of the company’s own AI assistance service A. (pronounced A dot).

According to Chung, SKT is looking to set up a new business model beyond its existing telco business, by applying AI and introducing new services based on the technology.

“AI can increase our internal efficiencies and that will definitely cut the cost of our operation. [The] telecom [industry] has a huge spending, huge cost for our operation, like customer service or network monitoring. So, if we successfully apply AI technology on these use cases, it definitely decreases our cost,” he explained.

Chung also shared insights about the challenges that SKT faces on its AI-driven journey and addressed concerns about the impact the technology will have on jobs and how the company works with its alliance partners to ensure the responsible use of AI. To find out more about these topics, watch the full interview – MWC24: SKT’s Suk Geun Chung on global AI ambitions.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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