What’s up with… KT, AWS, Telecom Italia, AIS

KT CEO Kim Young-seop unveils the South Korean operator's new AICT strategy in Barcelona.

KT CEO Kim Young-seop unveils the South Korean operator's new AICT strategy in Barcelona.

  • KT revamps itself as an AICT company, hooks up with AWS
  • Telecom Italia is in trouble for VAS shenanigans 
  • Thailand’s AIS is the latest to embrace network APIs

In today’s industry news roundup: South Korean operator KT is revamping itself as an AICT company and has teamed up with AWS for GenAI and private 5G developments; Telecom Italia is set to be financially penalised for some historical value-added services (VAS) misdemeanours; Thai operator AIS is the latest network operator to embrace emerging network API opportunities; and much more! 

South Korean operator KT Corp is to be “reborn as an AICT company,” the company’s CEO Kim Young-seop announced during a presentation at #MWC24 – with AICT being a combination of AI and ICT (information and communication technology). The CEO said the telco would undertake a “drastic internal reorganisation, recruit talent and expand bold open partnerships” as part of its new management vision and business strategy. “We will become a digital innovation partner that combines IT and AI with communication capabilities” and become a “digital innovation partner that opens up new markets,” the CEO added. The company noted it is to “recruit up to 1,000 experts in the AI ​​and digital fields this year” and “completely change KT’s DNA to centre on AI by strengthening internal education and internalising AI.” As part of the strategy, KT is to launch an internal business innovation platform dubbed Gen.AIDU that will allow users to “directly develop and use [GenAI] APIs.” KT will also apply AI to its core businesses to improve its operations. Ultimately, noted the operator, “an AI governance system will be established so that this AI can be used for the right purposes. We plan to further specify the AI ​​ethical principles being applied internally and upgrade them into guidelines that can be implemented in practical settings. In particular, we plan to correct AI bias, strictly manage data privacy, and establish a system to constantly monitor and evaluate the risk level of AI.” KT’s move follows in the wake of its main domestic rival SK Telecom, which reinvented itself as an “AI company” in 2022

Still with KT… The telco has struck a generative AI (GenAI) and enterprise mobile services partnership with cloud giant Amazon Web Services (AWS). The two companies “will develop generative AI using Amazon Bedrock and [offer] cloud-based private 5G services,” noted KT in a press release (in Korean). “Amazon Bedrock is a cloud service that allows companies to develop their own AI. When developing applications with generative AI, it helps ensure that the functionality is safely integrated. Private 5G service is a closed, customised 5G network” for business and public sector users, it added. The operator expects that “the AWS cloud-based private 5G service will be combined with AI, machine learning, and the internet of things to improve the on-campus communication environment and be flexibly combined with various digital innovation (DX) solutions,” and that the ‘IPW (Integrated Private Wireless) on AWS’ offer will be part of the partnership. 

Italian finance police have been authorised to retrieve around €248.9m from Telecom Italia (TIM) over alleged unauthorised activations of value-added services (VAS), Italy’s law enforcement agency for economic and financial matters, Guardia di Finanza, has stated. It added that authorities have obtained seizure orders for six content service providers working with TIM, with the amount involved totalling €322m for offences made between 2017 and 2020. According to the statement from prosecutors, a user only needed to visit a web page or consult an app on their mobile phone to become signed up to services that charge a weekly or monthly fee, even though they had not subscribed to them. In response to the move, TIM issued a statement noting that it was surprised to learn about the seizure order from the media as, in 2019, when it became aware of irregularities, it “proceeded upon its own initiative to report the facts to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome” and has since refunded customers for irregular VAS and blocked illegitimate activations. “The company, therefore, trusts that every aspect of this matter will be clarified as soon as possible,” it concluded.

Thai operator AIS has introduced 11 sets of open application programming interfaces (APIs) to enhance the capabilities of various applications. Its portfolio includes APIs for user authentication validation, such as Silent Network Authentication APIs for verifying users’ phone numbers and checking SIM card swaps using “trusted information” from network service providers’ system[s]. The APIs have been designed according to the Camara Open API standards and are certified by the GSMA, which unveiled the Open Gateway initiative at last year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. AIS claims that its API sets simplify the access and use of telecoms services and various capabilities from network service providers, enabling app developers, solution providers and other businesses to innovate and “seize opportunities more rapidly”. The APIs have already been deployed in commercial digital applications and can be used by both business customers and organisations. Read more.

Industry association the GSMA, which is also the organiser of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, estimated that the 2024 event has been attended by more than 101,000 unique visitors from 205 countries and territories. Of all visitors, 59% represented industries related to the core mobile ecosystem, and more than half of all attendees were at director level and above. According to the association, there were more than 2,700 exhibitors, sponsors and partners at this year’s event which was held at Fira Gran Via between 26 and 29 February. Key topics explored at the event included AI, GSMA Open Gateway and the mobile usage gap – see What’s up with… Iliad & Tele2, MWC24, network APIs.  

In the US, scientists are researching atmosphere-breathing electric propulsion (ABEP), whereby very low-earth orbit (VLEO) satellites would be enabled to stay aloft for years on end and manoeuvre without the need to carry a heavy payload of conventional propellant. The technology uses residual molecular wisps of the rarefied gases that exist at heights of between 80 kilometres and 400 kilometres above the earth’s surface. They are forced through an intake, ionised, repurposed as fuel, and fed into an electrically powered thruster to provide propulsion. ABEP was first identified back in 1995 as a technology and methodology potentially able to keep satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO) for much longer than is possible at present. In every case, LEO satellites are affected by atmospheric drag that eventually causes orbital decay and the consequent burning of very limited, volatile, fuel reserves to keep the satellites in their correct positions. Such manoeuvres can be made only a certain number of times before the fuel is exhausted and the satellite is doomed to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere proper and either burn up or, as has already happened many times, stay intact enough for some solid pieces of varying sizes to splash into the oceans or crash onto land. According to Nano Avionics, as of 3 January 2024, there were 8,377 active satellites in various earth orbits, 63% of which were communications satellites. The reality is that orbital sections are now so crowded that, in the near future, a new and hitherto unused and, therefore. empty very low altitude section (not in excess of 400km above the earth) of space will have to be opened. That’s good news for the companies behind the ever-growing number of constellations of comms satellites that are being lofted on an almost daily basis – latency will be ever lower than it is now. However, it will be bad news for astronomers and ‘dark skies’ enthusiasts. As UK technology website, The Register, has reported, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a part of the US Department of Defence overseeing the development of emerging technologies for use by the military, has provided $400,000 in funding to the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and scientists from George Washington University to build prototypes of ABEP technology. Elsewhere, the European Space Agency (ESA) is also interested in ABEP and five years ago reported that it had built a device able to transform air molecules into propellant. Development continues as part of an ESA project to develop a system that would fly at an altitude of 200 kilometres, where the atmosphere is incredibly thin, at a speed of 7.8 kilometres per second. This is important because ABEP should work on any planet with an atmosphere, including Mars. Thus, in the not-too-distant future, it is very possible that satellites may be able to make propellant fuel out of thin air. Now that is rocket science…

Telefónica and technology developer and integrator partner Tata Elxsi say they have successfully developed a cloud-native infrastructure management system based on ETSI’s Open Source MANO (ETSI OSM) software stack and Tata Elxsi’s Neuron platform. “This milestone represents a significant evolution in network management, enabling operators to build intent-driven network systems with unprecedented efficiency and agility,” according to Telefónica, which added that the partners have “enhanced the capabilities of OSM, introducing innovative features, such as infrastructure automation, serverless operations execution environments, and the deployment of multi-cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions.” Read more.

SoftBank, NEC and VMware (which was recently acquired by Broadcom) have, together, verified a process that enables the virtualisation of the radio access network (RAN). In a statement, SoftBank said the trio have confirmed that “it is possible to modernise from a traditional RAN system to a vRAN [virtualised RAN] system to unify and improve the efficiency of network operations.” They also confirmed that adopting Open RAN architecture results in “open and unified operations – from the design and procurement to the construction and operation.” Another finding, according to the Japanese telco, suggests that optimising for the telco cloud can enable the construction and the operation of “a scalable RAN system for smart and efficient operations.”

- The staff, TelecomTV

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