COVID-19 has temporarily shuttered some businesses and moved others to a remote-work paradigm. Meanwhile, people are depending on telecoms to stay connected. How can AI help telecoms meet these demands?
People have never depended more on telecommunication than they do now. Unfortunately, in this environment, a slight fluctuation in connectivity creates a lot of anxiety. As the world is struggling to stay connected, communication service providers (CSPs) are putting technology to work and finding new ways to navigate COVID-induced uncertainty.
Coping with COVID
CSPs have themselves been unexpectedly impacted by COVID, dealing with increased network demand and a delay in their plans around 5G. But they’ve also shown agility and resourcefulness in keeping people connected by:
- Offering networking tools to customers for little or no cost.
- Allocating a significant amount of network capacity for remote work and learning.
- Working with other companies to improve the general user experience, e.g. by requesting video streaming services to restrict bitrates, which allows more bandwidth for essential services.
- Collaborating with competing companies, e.g. borrowing spectrum from other telecoms.
Of course, telecoms are businesses and have to adapt in other ways. We’ve seen them using some innovative methods to sell products and services during the lockdown. And as the economy and business environment continues to shift, we’ll no doubt see some more.
If telecoms are adjusting, what role does AI play in their actions? And how can telecoms use it in the future to continue improvements?
6 Ways Telecoms Can Leverage AI Now
For telecoms, strengthening infrastructures and continuing their digital transformation are key focus areas. CSP customers need an enhanced and consistent omnichannel experience; telecoms need to optimize their current system (maximizing network capacity and quality) while planning for the future. Below are six areas where AI can bring real value:
- Smart adjustments to network quality: Telecoms can use AI and machine learning (ML) to automate the processes for optimizing network features and predicting site failures. This reduces human intervention in network design (and thus reduces human error). AI can also help CSPs automatically adjust their network quality based on traffic information; for regions that regularly experience peaks in demand, this will really optimize the customer experience.
- Better network planning, operations, and design: AI and ML also have the ability to forecast potential bottlenecks in network traffic. This allows telecoms to realistically provision their networks and better assess their capacity requirements. Telecoms constantly produce data; AI can leverage this information to improve product design, services, life-cycle management, and online/offline operations.
- Real-time customer support: Virtual assistants powered by Natural Language technologies have already proved effective customer service agents. We can expect to see them move into the realm of troubleshooting as well; for instance, if a customer has a problem with incorrect cabling, an AI-enhanced chatbot could identify the issue and use video streaming to demonstrate how to fix it. Such services not only reduce the load on human customer service agents, they also create an uptick in consumer satisfaction.
- Personalized offerings: By processing all that data, AI enables telecoms to develop precise customer segmentation, lifetime values, and anti-churn measures. The insights distilled by AI can also be used to create ultra-personalized products and services – the logical extension of the personalization efforts already in place.
- Self-optimization: Providing consistent service is the goal of all telecoms. AI can help companies monitor their equipment; furthermore, it can anticipate failure and proactively fix problems before they surface, adding to the stability of the network.
- Expenditure planning: Since COVID, expenses have increased. Courtesy of the economic impact, there’s something of a cash crunch going on; for CSPs, this implies being careful with their capital investments. AI can employ network usage data to assist CSPs in determining which actions will provide the best return. They can then upgrade their network in very specific ways, maximizing customer satisfaction without breaking the budget.
A Brighter Future with AI
As the COVID crisis continues worldwide, people are becoming more digitally connected. They’re getting increasingly comfortable using Zoom, Skype, and other technological services. That’s good news for the telecom industry.
COVID has also forced many CSPs to analyze their strengths and weaknesses. They have to recognize both the opportunities and threats in this new landscape. And they’ve also had an intensive course in network traffic management!
The upshot has been that AI and ML are now front and centre for telecoms. Incorporating these technologies into network solution systems has already begun producing benefits. It will end in revolutionizing how the industry works, providing a brighter future for the telecommunications world.