• Dean Anthony Gratton

Artificial Intelligence and the 5G Connectivity Revolution

We’re coming to the end of another year, and we are still faced with the ongoing pandemic crisis with yet again a new Coronavirus variant, named Omicron being identified in South Africa and something that has already been detected in Britain and is already spreading quite rapidly. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified this new mutation, B.1.1.529, “Variant of Concern”.

The overwhelming demand on network services

With numerous travel restrictions to and from Africa; other restrictions for travel also being introduced and a ‘Plan B’ enforcement for the UK in readiness for another gloomy Christmas. Now there is more of a continued need to rely on our existing telecoms infrastructure to keep us connected over the festive period. In fact, since the onset of the first lockdown back in January 2020, in Wuhan City, China where the rest of the world soon followed, we as employees and employers sought new ways of working, in turn, establishing a whole new paradigm for the future of work and engagement.

There has never been such an undeniable dependency on our telecommunications infrastructure to keep us connected during this ongoing pandemic.

As a consequence, Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have adapted and evolved incredibly quickly to the unexpected change in how they deliver their services, along with accommodating the exponential demand on their bandwidth for data hungry services over their networks. While everyone was contemplating their digital transformation strategy, a sudden change pushed many companies into formulating or completing their transformation far more quickly than originally anticipated. CSPs, for example, would have continued their digital transformation implementation, but would also offer flexibility, and efficacy whilst evolving their operational models to manage the overwhelming demand on network services.


Continuity in our supply chain and services

Likewise, many other industries and businesses immediately took note that they had to accommodate a change to, not only rethink their way of working, but to establish a new perspective on their respective worlds. Governments around the globe, had to continue to ensure their people had water, food, medicine and other essential services and products, so it was essential that key workers sustained our food supply, supply chain and, in order to establish new logistical and transport strategies, to ensure our nations were fed. We all stand proud, and continue to do so, as we endeavour to move out of this unrelenting crisis.


We often take for granted key services, such as our supply of water, gas, and electricity and, of course, telecommunications, that is, our confidence in making a telephone call, the ability to connect to the internet or to use our smartphones to video chat with friends and family. But, due to the unplanned drop in our workforces and key workers that ordinarily would sustain our ecosystems and infrastructure, we were forced to turn to other technologies to help us provide continuity in our logistics, supply chain and services.


Our technology has never been so important

Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a broad concept, may help bolster and improve existing infrastructures, ensuring the continuity of telecom services for both CSPs and their consumers. I use AI ‘broadly’ to mean “assistive technology,” which is nothing more than clever programming and smart technology, something I touched upon in my earlier columns (see Artificial Intelligence: Freedom of Thought). You see, a lot of AI-powered tools and services are simply the result of good software engineering, that which enables remote and predictive maintenance, and gathers insights about our infrastructure’s well-being, when there’s no human available to manage it, for example.


As we all shift, adapt, and adjust to our new future of work, the reliance and continued availably of our essential services is paramount. With AI-capable software monitoring our newly established heterogeneous 5G ecosystems, especially as the rollout gathers pace, we need to ensure that there’s an uninterrupted sense of connectivity. Our reliance on technology has never been more important than during this period of continued uncertainty – if we can’t see each other face-to-face, then let’s do it virtually!


A competitive and healthy marketplace

There are numerous initiatives gaining both momentum and global recognition, with the incumbent rise of the O-RAN Alliance and Open RAN initiative creating new open architectures. The seamless transparency provided through this open architecture mantra allows CSPs to support their networks at reduced costs, whilst providing seemingly effortless services for their consumers. I talk more about the differences in these architectures in, “What are O-RAN, Open RAN and OpenRAN?”.


There are numerus initiatives to aid in the reduction of both operational and capital expenditure, whilst continuing to streamline the costs for all CSPs and their consumers. These initiatives ultimately mean that we are able to support a sustainable and cost-effective marketplace for the future of our ever-evolving, connected world. As such, we retain the competitiveness for the consumer in a very crowded space.


Until next time…

With the realisation that an end to this pandemic isn’t coming anytime soon, and that, unfortunately, we may endure new variants periodically as the years go by, I realise that we have an unprecedented reliance on CSP network products and services to support us in our connectivity need. For me, what it means to be pervasive and, I think it’s something we should certainly strive to achieve, is where the world itself becomes one enormous hotspot for passing visitors across the universe. As one Alien said to the other, “Let’s pass Earth – I hear it has great connectivity!”


So, this is where ‘wishing you all a fabulous Christmas and, a safe and healthy New Year’ Dr G signs off.

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a technology influencer, analyst & futurist 

I dispel the rumours, gossip and hype surrounding new technology