Samsung pockets AI startup Zhilabs to fuel transition to 5G

Samsung is buying artificial intelligence and automation startup Zhilabs to prepare for 5G deployments and services. (Pixabay)

Samsung has snagged artificial intelligence and analytics startup Zhilabs to help grease its transition from 4G to 5G.

AI-based automation will play a key role in crunching loads of data for 5G-based services such as the industrial internet of things and autonomous cars.

The Zhilabs deal also serves as an action item from Samsung's announcement in August when it said it was investing about $22 billion over the next three years in companies that were working on 5G, AI, automotive electronics components or biopharmaceuticals. Expect more 5G and AI-related deals from Samsung after it said "it would explore and invest in other business opportunities powered by the emerging technologies" in today's press release.

AI-based automation is particularly relevant for connected cars that need to make constant adjustments on the fly while connected to low latency 5G services. AI can also be used to analyze user traffic and keep track of the applications that are in use. Samsung said AI, automation and orchestration would also improve the overall customer experience for 5G.

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“5G will enable unprecedented services attributed to the generation of exponential data traffic, for which automated and intelligent network analytics tools are vital,” said Youngky Kim, president and head of networks business at Samsung Electronics, in a prepared statement. “The acquisition of Zhilabs will help Samsung meet these demands to assure each subscriber receives the best possible service.”

Financial terms of the deal weren't released. Going forward, Barcelona-based Zhilabs will operate separately from Samsung and under its own management.

Founded in 2008, Zhilabs' customers include Telefónica , Telenor, Vodafone and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, according to its website.  In March, Zhilabs announced it was opening an office in Southlake, Texas.

In May, Zhilabs said it would deploy an "internet in the car" analytics system for a Tier 1 carrier, but additional information is no longer available on its website.

Service providers including AT&T, Verizon, BT and CenturyLink are putting automation and AI to work in their networks to enable closed-loop automation and, eventually, autonomous networks.