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If You’re Not Moving Forward, You’re Falling Behind

July 18, 2023
Learn four areas telecom network engineers should learn related to the Metaverse, AI, VR and ML.

Engineering Pros Must Upskill to Learn AI, ML, VR and Meta Network Implications

While 5G promises lightning-fast speeds, ultra-low latency and massive device connectivity, business adoption has been generally slow as marketing hype prioritizes consumers’ smartphone benefits with video, gaming, and TikTok.

Still business applications for 5G are expected to drastically increase in the coming years. In addition to high bandwidth and low latency, 5G’s network slicing capabilities allow organizations to maximize the use of network resources while optimizing service flexibility. This opens up new possibilities for industries such as healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and entertainment. It enables advancements like autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, smart cities, and immersive virtual reality experiences. 

“McKinsey says field operations account for 60-70% of most telcos’ operating budgets so applying AI can offer real and rapid results. Meta, AI, and ML can help automate various processes within telecom networks. When you learn intelligent network management systems that utilize AI algorithms, you’ll be ready to analyze network data, detect anomalies, and automatically adapt to changing conditions.”

You play a critical role in this transformation. And since you’re responsible for designing, deploying, and maintaining the infrastructure required to support 5G networks, you must understand the broad and detailed view of how it impacts network transformation.

Consider that 5G connectivity is now available in 503 cities across the US.Therefore, 5G smartphones are already making their way into the vertical industries mentioned above. With IDC predicting 161.2 million 5G smartphone units will ship in the US2 by 2026, you best learn how to design and optimize networks to handle that increased capacity, while still ensuring reliability and security.

Disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), 5G, and the latest developments from Meta3 are already being used in business applications. Like it or not, these technologies will reinvent the way we connect, communicate, and interact with the world around us.

Many telecom companies have made significant progress in adopting digital technologies, such as cloud computing, data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and AI, to enhance their operations, customer experiences, and service offerings.

That’s why it’s even more important for you to become well versed in how these technologies impact the fixed and mobile networks. Remember, you’re on the forefront of managing this evolution, driving a significant transformation and while digital transformation is ongoing, you must still ensure a smooth integration and optimization of emerging technology.

With networks becoming increasingly complex and interconnected, AI and ML will become essential tools for the telecoms industry.4 There is too much data available for you to manually sort through. Yet that data is critical to drive innovations in network optimization, predictive maintenance, and customer experience management.

AI and ML algorithms can analyze vast amounts of network data to identify patterns, detect anomalies, and predict network failures before they occur. This predictive capability allows telecom professionals to proactively address issues, optimize network performance, and minimize costly downtime.

That’s why you should acquire expertise in AI and ML frameworks, data analysis, and algorithm development. When you understand and leverage the latest tools, algorithms, and frameworks you can find innovative ways to enhance network performance, improve efficiency, and provide innovative services. Collaborations with data scientists and AI specialists can also further enhance your ability to leverage these technologies effectively. 

Start by sharpening your expertise in these four areas:

  1. Network Optimization: AI and ML techniques have significant potential in optimizing telecom networks. By keeping up with the latest developments, you can learn advanced algorithms that enable efficient resource allocation, predictive maintenance, traffic prediction, and dynamic spectrum management. These techniques can lead to cost savings, improved network capacity, and better quality of service.
  2. Automation and Self-Healing Networks: McKinsey says field operations account for 60%-70% of most telcos' operating budgets so applying AI can offer real and rapid results.5 Meta, AI, and ML can help automate various processes within telecom networks. When you learn intelligent network management systems that utilize AI algorithms, you’ll be ready to analyze network data, detect anomalies, and automatically adapt to changing conditions. This automation can streamline operations, reduce manual intervention, and enable self-healing networks that are more resilient and reliable.
  3. Customer Experience and Personalization: Meta, AI, and ML enable telecom companies to offer personalized services and enhance the customer experience. By becoming a student of these technologies, you can explore AI-driven solutions for personalized customer management systems, intelligent chatbots, and virtual assistants. These technologies can help tailor services to individual needs, improve customer satisfaction, and drive customer loyalty.
  4. Security and Fraud Detection: AI and ML play a crucial role in detecting network vulnerabilities, identifying security threats, and preventing fraud. You need to be aware of the latest AI-based techniques for network security, anomaly detection, fraud prevention, threat intelligence, and effective countermeasures against emerging threats.

Big Tech: Friend or Foe?

Some telecom providers are calling on Big Tech companies like Meta, Netflix, Google, and Amazon, to share the financial responsibility of ensuring the proper infrastructure is in place to support their content since they are largely responsible for driving increased demand on the fixed and mobile networks, For now, the chances of Meta jumping in to ease the financial strain on telecoms seems low,6 but in the coming years the likelihood of US tech giants taking some responsibility and investing in advanced infrastructure could be more promising.

Consider the case of Meta’s augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. The company plans to release its first pair of smart glasses accompanied with a smart watch to control them in 2025 and its first pair of AR glasses in 2027. Already, Meta has sold nearly 20 million of its Quest VR headsets.7 Clearly, the company’s vision of the Metaverse, a virtual shared space, has the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate and interact. The convergence of 5G and Meta's vision offers opportunities for applications like immersive teleconferencing, remote collaboration, and virtual experiences. It also has the potential to put a large strain on existing telecom infrastructure.

In the very near future, it’s likely you and your team will be responsible for the seamless integration of Meta's AR/VR applications into the telecom infrastructure. That calls for some quick learning about HOW to optimize network performance to handle Meta’s increased demands for data transmission and low latency.

Telecom professionals like you are at the forefront of converging technologies. This brings both challenges and opportunities for your skill set and requires you to adapt and embrace the transformative potential of these advancements.

So, while you don’t need to be an expert in all these things, you do need to have a sound knowledge base that helps you remain relevant and competitive in the industry. When you invest time to learn the latest impact these developments have on the fixed and mobile networks, you make yourself more valuable to your company and the industry at large. The investment will pay off as you help lead the industry towards a future where immersive technologies redefine the way we connect, communicate, and experience the world around us.

About the Author

Sander Barens | Chief Product Officer, Expereo

Sander Barens has been Chief Product Officer of Expereo since 2022 having been with the business since 2007. In his current role, he is responsible for the development of the existing managed services portfolio, enabling global enterprises to transform to a scalable and high performing cloud and Internet native infrastructure.

For more information, visit Follow Sander and Expereo, respectively, on Twitter @Sander_Barens and @expereo, LinkedIn: