CTOs meet ahead of ITU event to discuss how AI will shape 5G standards

Image credit: ITU

CTOs meet ahead of ITU Telecom World, highlighting the role of AI in 5G and the need for ITU-T standards that support intelligent virtual networks.

Twenty industry executives met Sunday with senior ITU management for the ninth invitation-only CTO Meeting, which was held in Busan, Republic of Korea on the eve of the annual ITU Telecom World event.

Chief technology officers (CTOs) and other top executives from companies such as KT, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, Orange, Nokia, Samsung, ETRI, KDDI, NEC, Tunisie Telecom, Telkom (Indonesia), Trace Media, KT, NTT DoCoMo, TTC, NICT discussed a range of topics, which included a focus on how machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) could help power smart 5G networks.

They also highlighted the importance of international standards to improve networks and reduce operational costs at a time of great change.

“This type of change has not happened in our industry before,” said Lauri Oksanen, VP of research and technology for Nokia, referring to new high-bandwidth and low latency requirements driven by data-heavy consumer usage as well as interconnected smart cities, ports and factories. “If VR [virtual reality] really takes off, that will really increase the bandwidth requirements a lot. … This is one of the things that we as an industry need to look into.”

Oksanen shared a presentation on network architecture evolution toward smart 5G systems by saying that ITU has been successful in building widely recognized technological leadership in transport networks. That leadership has been beneficial for the telecommunications industry as a whole and should be maintained as a common asset, he and others agreed.

Network automation, augmentation and amplification

Operators seized the opportunity to share how they offer AI-enabled services as a unique selling proposition to their subscribers.

Korean operator KT, for instance, gave numerous examples in a presentation that also showed fellow executives and senior ITU management examples of how AI and operator data helped plan urban night bus routes and prevent contagion.

At a time when operator margins are getting squeezed, everyone is looking for better ways to get more efficiency out of their networks, said Dr Dong-myun Lee, CTO and senior executive vice president of KT. He also asked ITU to find a way to solicit from operators best practices on how to apply AI for more efficient networks.

In the context of future 5G systems, AI methods will allow for a better understanding of the behavior of both users and the network, enabling the optimization of the use of scarce radio resources and the prediction of related decisions’ impacts over time.

Automatic detection and resolution of anomalies and other incidents of inefficiency, as well as predictive maintenance, will help limit operational costs of network operators, and service providers in other sectors, participants agreed. They also urged that new studies should cover an analysis of existing and emerging standards and specifications in this domain.

Flexible networking standards needed

CTOs agreed that use of intelligence and virtualization techniques at the network edge constitutes yet more evidence of the convergence of IT and telecommunications sectors.

Convergence, and the entrance of fast-growing over-the-top (OTT) players and other industry sectors to the ICT ecosystem, yields a new set of requirements to be met through common, flexible, programmable and scalable networking solutions.

CTOs called for ITU’s standardization arm, ITU-T, to take these new requirements into consideration, addressing short-distance, large-bandwidth and low-cost data center interconnection, edge cloud inter-networking, and emerging fronthaul and midhaul technologies to support the deployment of 5G systems.

Participants also encouraged ITU-T to engage with OTT and vertical sector organizations to identify, understand and respond to networking requirements in a timely and accurate manner.

“ITU-T needs to consider how to absorb OTT and vertical industry players into ITU-T network standards work by winning their trust,” said Noah Luo, senior manager for Huawei’s Standard and Industry Department, Europe. This would help to avoid further fixed-network industry fragmentation, he and others agreed.

To demonstrate ITU-T’s responsiveness to this call, ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau director Dr Chaesub Lee mentioned recent visits to Google and Facebook and new memberships from auto and finance companies such as Hyundai Motors and eCurrency. Other ITU participants mentioned promising meetings with Amazon Web Services and Akamai as evidence of new moves to embrace new players.

ITU management also briefed the CTOs on ITU’s standardization work, including new initiatives on 5G, AI and distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain.

The original version of this article first appeared in ITU News

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