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SoftBank and Global Telcos Forge AI Joint Venture at MWC 2024

Aiming to challenge Big Tech's AI dominance, SoftBank, SK Telecom, and partners plan to innovate with telecommunication-focused LLMs
South Korea
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Leading global telecommunications firms including SK Telecom Co., Deutsche Telekom AG, SingTel, and e& have joined Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. in an AI consortium to reshape the industry’s tech landscape by co-founding an AI joint venture at this week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024 in Barcelona that represents a bold departure from today’s AI landscape currently dominated by global technology giants to say the least.

The newly formed joint venture will initially focus on developing large language models (LLMs) that are specific to the unique needs of the telecommunications sector, said Hideyuki Tsukuda, SoftBank Corp.’s chief technology officer (CTO). In July of 2023, SK Telecom established what it described as the Global Telco AI Alliance (GTAA) to transform itself from a traditional telecommunications company into an AI company, which laid the groundwork for this venture. The Alliance includes Deutsche Telekom, SingTel, and e& and collectively covers 1.3 billion users across several strategic global markets.

“Our objective is to develop multilingual LLMs that are capable of supporting various languages, enabling telecommunications services to better understand user intentions in a more accurate manner than ever before,” Tsukuda said. “We expect even greater progress in the telecommunications industry through our close association with this Global Telco AI Alliance members as we tap into our extensive user bases and more tightly integrate AI into our core services,” Tsukuda said.

The move represents a significant step in not only the ability for global telecommunications to collaborate with one another but also starting the process of creating a more robust global AI ecosystem. “We hope to expand this Global Telco AI Alliance to expand our global leadership in this field and invite other global carriers to join us in this effort,” said SK Telecom’s Ryu Young-Sang.

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