AI-RAN Alliance aims to integrate AI into mobile networks

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A new alliance announced during MWC could reshape the future of mobile networks and telecommunications by integrating AI into radio access networks (RAN).

The AI-RAN Alliance brings together tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Samsung, along with major telecom companies including Ericsson, Nokia, SoftBank, and T-Mobile.

The alliance’s goals are using AI to enhance mobile network efficiency, reduce power consumption, retrofit existing infrastructure, and unlock new economic opportunities powered by 5G, 6G, and network edge AI capabilities.

“Emerging services in the 6G era will revolutionise the way people interact with technology, and AI will be an integral part of this trend,” said Charlie Zhang of Samsung Research America, a founding member. 

Samsung has been an early leader in 6G research, establishing an Advanced Communications Research Center in 2019. The company envisions “AI-Native” as a key attribute of 6G networks where AI is a natural part of network functionality.

The three main areas of research for the AI-RAN Alliance are:

  1. Using AI to advance RAN capabilities and improve spectral efficiency
  2. Integrating AI and RAN processes to utilise infrastructure effectively  
  3. Deploying AI services at the network edge through RAN

Network operators like Ericsson, Nokia, SoftBank, and T-Mobile will test and implement the AI-powered RAN technologies.

Per Beming, VP and Head of Standards & Industry Initiatives at Ericsson, said: “Ericsson sees AI-driven RAN automation as a pivotal shift towards enhancing operational efficiency and unlocking cost reduction opportunities. We anticipate that working together in the Alliance alongside operators, infra vendors, and other members, we can collectively leverage relevant data to enable AI use cases that will surface vital insights driving the industry forward.

“This collaboration marks a step towards a smarter, more efficient future in telecommunications. I firmly believe AI technology is of utmost importance and Ericsson is committed to collaborating with all telecom industry stakeholders equally invested in this transformative journey, marking a collective step towards a smarter, more efficient future.”

The alliance also includes researchers from Northeastern University. Its formation signals a shift towards an AI-integrated, software-driven future for mobile networks.

Tommaso Melodia, William. L. Smith Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Northeastern University’s Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things, said, “The formation of the AI-RAN Alliance marks a pivotal moment in the industry’s evolution towards a more open, software-driven, and AI-integrated future.

“This strategic collaboration is set to fast-track the development of new services and use cases by leveraging the power of openness, softwarisation, and AI integration to enhance network performance, energy efficiency, spectrum sharing, and security, ultimately redefining the landscape of global communications.”

Alex Sinclair, CTO at the GSMA, welcomed the alliance’s “shared ambitions to create new, open platforms that can help democratise the use of artificial intelligence in the mobile industry.”

(Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash)

See also: GSMA Open Gateway unlocks mobile network capabilities for developers

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