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Mobile World Congress: Telco partnerships pivotal in actualizing AI technologies

Partnerships between tech companies and telecom operators are crucial for the uptake and implementation of artificial intelligence technology, industry leaders said at the annual Mobile World Congress.

During a Feb. 28 keynote in Barcelona, Teralytics AG Chairman and Co-founder Georg Polzer underscored how telcos' infrastructure and data are beneficial to products and solutions that use artificial intelligence.

"AI is built by the data we feed it," Polzer explained.

He added that AI-focused companies should utilize telecom data sets, as they provide insight and analysis on transportation and mobility.

"Since telecom data is always on the background, the network understands where each phone is, every moment," Polzer told the delegates.

Moreover, data from telecom providers is highly suitable for the future of mobility services, such as understanding how to improve train services and finding out where new road infrastructure should be built.

Polzer underscored that these data sets are anonymous, as they are aggregated by demographics, and do not reveal personal information of the telecom subscribers.

Furthermore, artificial intelligence also has an impact on automation processes in order to reduce the human workload.

Airobotics Ltd. CEO Ran Krauss told Mobile World Congress that the use of AI-powered drones in different industries is slowly taking shape, naming emergency response and package delivery as a few of the potential services that can be offered through drones.

"It is just a matter of regulation at this point," he said.

However, implementation can solely take place if telcos form partnerships with AI players.

"There's no other way to do this without the infrastructure of telcos," Krauss said.

Operating a drone does involve a transfer of data and requires constant connectivity, a key role from telco companies. The availability of faster networks, most notably 5G, may enable critical capabilities.

In addition to providing companies with the digital infrastructure to offer AI-powered services, operators are also tapping the benefits of AI for their operations, such as AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and Bell Canada, which are eyeing to implement a combination of AI and network automation tools as part of their overall network virtualization efforts.

To date, voice-enabled capabilities, such as the voice assistants developed by the likes of Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google Inc., are the most common form of artificial intelligence, but Polzer stressed that AI can further aid in providing various services across different verticals.

"AI [when] trained by the right data can have a positive impact on humanity," Krauss concluded.