Swisscom pumps $116m into Nvidia-based AI strategy

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Jan 17, 2024

Source: Swisscom

Source: Swisscom

  • Swisscom is investing $116m in AI technology and use case developments for customers and internal use
  • It will build Nvidia-based GenAI supercomputers in Switzerland to support the strategy
  • The telco will form a Trusted AI Factory for sovereign GenAI developments
  • It is already working with Nvidia in Italy via its Fastweb subsidiary

Swisscom is strengthening its existing relationship with AI tech giant Nvidia by pledging to build generative AI (GenAI) full-stack supercomputers in Switzerland and establish a Trusted AI Factory for domestic customers as part of a 100m Swiss francs ($116m) programme. The telco will also become a reseller for Nvidia.

The news follows the recent announcement that Fastweb, Swisscom’s network operator subsidiary in Italy, has invested in a cluster of 31 Nvidia DGX H100 systems that it will use for AI processing. Fastweb plans to make the resources available on an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) basis to its customers in Italy for the development of AI and generative AI (GenAI) applications. 

Now Swisscom is investing in Nvidia’s accelerated computing and AI enterprise software platform, including the NeMo framework for building, customising and deploying GenAI applications, to develop standard, tailor-made and new AI use cases in collaboration with domestic customers and to help it meet its internal requirements. 

The Swiss national operator noted that it has been using AI tools in its internal operations for several years in its customer service, network operations and other functions, such as automated fault management and resource allocation. 

And to ensure that its Swiss customers are getting the GenAI support they need, including adherence to strict data security regulations, Swisscom is to establish a Trusted AI Factory as part of its programme. 

“Working with Nvidia enables us to act as a bridge-builder between the possibilities of technology and the needs of customers,” stated Swisscom CEO Christoph Aeschlimann in this announcement. “As a first step, we are building a high-performance infrastructure upon which we will create trustworthy services. We have been in close contact with many customers to consult them on their specific needs.”

That trust aspect is critical, noted the CEO. “Everyone talks about generative AI, but the gap between expectations and reality is tremendous. A customer must be sure what happens with its data, where it happens and how it happens. Switzerland, with its many multinational organisations, needs trusted and unique sovereign building blocks for AI. That is where we step in. We are developing it in a reliable and secure manner, with a distinct Swiss flavour, hand in hand with Nvidia,” added Aeschlimann.   

The move further cements Nvidia as a key technology partner for telcos, which Nvidia regards as being ideally placed to build, host and offer sovereign AI services. “Having a trusted, high-performance infrastructure is becoming critical to every nation’s technological advancement,” stated Nvidia’s VP of worldwide AI initiatives, Keith Strier. “Building on Nvidia’s full-stack accelerated computing platform for streamlining the development and deployment of production-grade AI applications, Swisscom can enable leading, real-world AI solutions to Swiss companies, driving the transformation of the country’s economy,” he added. 

And there are plenty of other ways telcos can, and are, engaging with Nvidia, from multifunctional distributed datacentre and next-generation radio access network development – for example, with Softbank – to internal data processing  – for example, with AT&T – and local large language model (LLM) development – for example, with Reliance Jio.   

Swisscom’s announcement comes just as many of the international business and political elite head to the mountains in eastern Switzerland for The World Economic Forum in Davos, where AI is one of the hot topics on the agenda and not just in a positive way: António Guterres, the head of the United Nations, took to the podium at Davos to warn of the risks of genAI and the dangerous profiteering of big tech giants, reported The Guardian.  

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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