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AI ‘game-changer’ to transform mobile ecosystem

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 27 Jun 2024
Huawei embraces commercial 5G-A for the mobile AI era.
Huawei embraces commercial 5G-A for the mobile AI era.

The next decade will play a critical role in ushering in the era of mobile artificial intelligence (AI).

This is according to David Wang, executive director and chairman of the ICT infrastructure managing board at Huawei, speaking at MWC Shanghai, in China.

Wang was among the keynote speakers at yesterday’s MWC Shanghai session on AI, delving into accelerating 5G-Advanced (commonly referred to as 5G-A) and the future of the mobile AI era.

This era will transform not only human-machine interaction, but also content production and mobile devices, he stated. “This will be the decade through which we accelerate the intelligent world, as well as a decade where we’ll lay a solid foundation for 5G-Advanced technology. Huawei is ready to work with industry players, so that together we can ride the huge opportunity of the mobile AI era.”

Last year, Huawei announced a strategic direction with a shift in focus to AI, saying the aim is to help industries make the most of new opportunities.

Technology companies have been in a race to embed generative AI capabilities into their platforms, tools apps and products that consumers use every day. The launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022 brought to public attention the power of generative AI (GenAI) technology.

With GenAI continuing to generate global interest throughout 2023, on-device AI innovations have been catapulted. Smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, Honor, Huawei, Oppo, and more recently Apple, have all unveiled their latest smartphone devices that are packed with AI-powered features.

Lara Dewar, chiefmarketing officer at the GSM Association (GSMA), noted she is yet to see another technology with the same level of potential for disruption.

“Trends can come andgo, but AI feels different. It really is a game-changer, shifting theatmosphere around us. For many years, the mobile industry has used AI in the background to help optimise operations and customer experience. However, today feels like we’re moving from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s seat.

“This is not just an efficiency game but a revolution in the customer experience. There is no doubt that AI and other emerging technologies will reshape our lives and our businesses as we know them.

“In China, the increasing adoption of generative AI is expected to generate about $2 trillion in annual economic benefits.”

In parallel with the identified economic benefits, Dewar urged industry leaders to work decisively to ensure everyone has access to the latest digital skills and services, so that all benefit.

“As we develop this technology, it’s equally important that we put people first. It is vital that we work together to ensure we’re building the technology ethically and for the benefit of everyone.”

The GSMA’s three-day MWC Shanghai 2024, currently taking place at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre and Kerry Hotel Pudong Shanghai, has brought together key industry stakeholders, thought and business leaders, companies and governments.

This year, 5G connections are anticipated to exceed the 1.8 billion mark and continue to grow. At the same time, 5G-A commercialisation is beginning to be a reality, with operators in the Middle East and China already starting to deploy 5G-A networks this year, according to Wang. 5G-A has been tipped as the next technology step in the ICT industry.

For Huawei, the focus on the next frontier is 5G-A development from the ‘networks for AI’ and the ‘AI for networks’ perspectives to create new business value.

“This month marks the fifth year since 5G's commercial launch in China,” said Wang. “Over the past five years, commercial 5G has achieved remarkable success and made an unprecedented impact on the global mobile industry.

“2024 marks the beginning of the mobile AI era thanks to the commercial launch of 5G-A and other AI devices. These technologies will be the key to making intelligent services ubiquitous…and will revitalise society and create opportunities for the mobile industry.”

After 5G, the company believes the second wave of commercial benefits will see 100 billion connections driven by services in all scenarios and industry upgrades driven by new business models.

“Operators around the world are already looking to capitalise on 5G-A. More than 30 operators have already completed 5G-A technical verification. There are nearly 20 mobile phone models on the market that can currently support multi-carrier aggregation, with a number of them supporting activating the feature by default.

“Around 10 operators have also already announced commercial 5G-A plans, which include the launch of 5G-A packages and other related services. Multiple operators in the Middle East and China have started to deploy 5G-A three-carrier component aggregation networks at scale targeting 5Gbps downlink rates, and many operators are introducing a new experience-based monetisation model as they transition to 5G-A.”