2019: Artificial intelligence starts to blossom across telecom industry

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our 2019 Preview, which looks at the big topics facing the industry next year. Click here for the 2019 preview in the wireless industry, click here for the 2019 preview in the video industry, and click here for the 2019 preview in the wireline industry.

The artificial intelligence seeds that were sown this year will start to bear fruit in 2019.

Whether it's networks, services, virtualization, or industrial applications, AI is crucial for solving complex problems while enabling new technologies. In order for AI to flourish, there first needs to be underlying machine learning and deeper analytics of data in place, which is well underway this year.

AI is key to enabling future services, whether they be 5G, IoT or keeping up with bandwidth demands due to increased video streaming.

"AI is probably the most overused buzzword, or will be by the end of next year," said Adva's Ulrich Kohn, director, technical marketing, in a recent interview with FierceTelecom. "Everybody is trying to do AI."

Kohn said Adva is prepping for AI by putting machine learning into its underlying networks, and that AI will be play a pivotal role in managing all of the elements from disaggregation.

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By putting AI and deep learning into software-defined architectures, network operators and enterprises can move a lot of the human manual processes into automated operations in the near term. The long-term goal is moving from automated elements to closed loop automation and finally to autonomous control of networks.

One example of AI development from this is year is Colt Technology Services. Colt started working on its Sentio initiative for its on-demand platform in early 2018. Sentio is the network intelligence platform that uses machine learning, analytics and artificial intelligence for automated service management, service modification or restoration based on closed-loop automation, and data analysis and correlation.

Colt's Mirko Voltolini, head of network on demand, said the goal of Sentio was to use AI to make the network more self-healing and more self-sufficient in order to eventually manage itself. Colt is using AI-based automation to handle service assurance and for the management and change control process, which will take multiple different phases. Colt will be moving several AI related proof-of-concepts forward into to 2019.

In order to move the AI ball downfield, AT&T and Tech Mahindra announced in October of last year that they were teaming up on the AI and machine learning Acumos platform with the goal of putting it into open source.

Acumos, which is hosted by the Linux Foundation's LF Deep Learning Foundation, was created to simplify the development of AI across a broad range of verticals while also providing a marketplace for accessing, using and enhancing AI apps. Acumos went live in March in conjunction with the Open Networking Summit. Expect several AI-related projects to emerge from Acumos next year.