Telefónica and Ericsson announced on Wednesday that they've inked a managed services deal for AI-powered network operations across five countries.
The length of the deal is from four to six years and the countries are the U.K., Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Uruguay. Through its global network operations centers (NOCs), Ericsson will provide artificial intelligence-based technologies for day-to-day monitoring and service desk, change management and problem and incident management.
"Expanding our long-term partnership with Ericsson with the implementation and support of their global network operation centers will now allow us to build a more agile network, while implementing new tools and developing technologies for the network and our customers," said Juan Manuel Caro, Telefónica's global director of operations and customer experience, in a prepared statement. "AI and automation are key pillars of the network operations of the future."
The deal bolstered Telefónica's strategy to focus on the increased use of AI-based automation for its network operations. Telefónica has been working on getting its AI ducks in a row. On Monday at Mobile World Congress, Telefónica announced it was working with Microsoft to expand the use of Microsoft Azure for artificial intelligence into customers' homes.
Microsoft and Telefónica are also partnering on identifying opportunities that pair AI with blockchain, 5G and edge computing. The two companies will collaborate through the creation of a joint working team to explore how AI and machine learning can be applied to optimize its network and reduce costs.
AI was one of the five growth pillars that were outlined by Telefónica Chairman and CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete in an address to the company's employees in November.
Speaking live in front of 900 executives in Madrid and via a streaming broadcast to the company's 12,000 employees, Álvarez-Pallete unveiled Telefónica's "Reconnect" program for the 2019-2021 time frame. The Reconnect initiative is seeking to increase the company's relevance and revenue through a digital experience that is "based on simplicity and the personalization of the offer" through use of artificial intelligence and other technologies.