Verizon, China Telecom, Huawei, others team at ETSI to research AI in networks

Verizon, China Telecom and Huawei are among the companies in the ETSI standards association that voted to create a new “Industry Specification Group” that will explore how artificial intelligence might be used to improve the deployment and operation of telecom networks.

Specifically, ETSI announced the elections of a chair and vice-chair for its new Industry Specification Group on “Experiential Networked Intelligence" (ISG ENI).

“The purpose of the group is to define a Context Aware System using Artificial Intelligence (AI) based on the ‘observe-orient-decide-act’ control model,” ETSI said on its website. “This enables the system to adjust offered services based on changes in user needs, environmental conditions and business goals.”

The group will “improve operators' experience regarding network deployment and operation, by using AI techniques,” Huawei’s Raymond Forbes said on ETSI’s site. Forbes is the chairman of the new group.

"By introducing technologies such as SDN, NFV or network slicing, the network becomes more flexible and powerful,” added China Telecom’s Haining Wang, the group’s vice-chair. “Nevertheless, the complexity of the future network is not reduced, but transferred from hardware to software, from the network itself to management and operation, from equipment to people. Experiential Networked Intelligence is expected to help operators to solve these problems.”

The group said it would work on the topic with other standards organizations including IETF, MEF, 3GPP and others.

Aside from Verizon, China Telecom and Huawei, other members of the ETSI’s artificial intelligence group include the China Academy of Telecommunications Research of MIIT, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, the Reliability and Trust/University of Luxembourg, PT Portugal, Samsung R&D Institute, Wings ICT Solutions and Xilinx.

ETSI, or the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, creates a variety of standards for fixed, mobile and internet communications.

This isn’t the first time artificial intelligence has been discussed in the realm of telecommunications. For example, AT&T’s Brian Daly said last year the carrier is experimenting with AI to make its processes more efficient. And Verizon earlier this year said its “Exponent” initiative will include big data and AI to help carriers monetize troves of data through the application of advanced machine learning techniques and deep analytics. Indeed, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son said earlier this year that the “singularity”—the idea that the invention of artificial superintelligence will trigger massive technological growth and cultural change—will happen in the next handful of years.