AI-RAN Alliance: Leading Enterprise 6G Innovation

Industry leaders in AI and wireless announced this week the formation of the new AI-RAN Alliance, designed to support businesses on the journey towards 6G

Announced at MWC Barcelona 2024, the AI-RAN Alliance will focus on cutting-edge research and development via the use of AI to help transform radio access networks (RAN) and mobile networks for 5G and upcoming 6G developments. 

A total of eleven companies, including the likes of Samsung, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, NVIDIA and T-Mobile, are participating as founding members.

The news comes in the midst of several high-profile technology companies announcing similar partnerships designed to promote the use of safe AI, including Meta and IBM’s AI Alliance and last year’s Frontier Model Forum.

Unlocking new business opportunities with AI

Aiming to lead technology innovation through cooperation, the technology companies investing in the AI-RAN Alliance seek to revitalise the convergence of AI and wireless communication.

Alliance members state they will leverage their expertise to focus on three main areas of research and innovation:
  • AI for RAN – advancing RAN capabilities through AI to improve spectral efficiency
  • AI and RAN – integrating AI and RAN processes to utilise infrastructure more effectively and generate new AI-driven revenue opportunities
  • AI on RAN – deploying AI services at the network edge through RAN to increase operational efficiency and offer new services to mobile users

Together, the companies hope to develop new technologies and apply them to commercial products in preparation for the upcoming 6G era. The end goal is to hopefully create new opportunities for businesses by enhancing mobile network efficiency, reducing power consumption, and retrofitting existing infrastructure to set the stage for unlocking new economic opportunities for telecommunications companies with AI.

Maximising the use of infrastructure in this way will enable AI on RAN to focus on discovering new AI use cases and services in wireless networks. According to those within the AI-RAN Alliance, these activities will greatly contribute to the standardisation and commercialisation of 6G in the future.

The companies included in the alliance have already started to make valuable progress towards 6G. In particular, Ericsson’s recently announced partnership with IIT Kharagpur aims to drive AI and edge compute research in India, driving valuable 6G research.

Per Beming, Vice President and Head of Standards & Industry Initiatives at Ericsson, says: “Ericsson sees AI-driven RAN automation as a pivotal shift towards enhancing operational efficiency and unlocking cost reduction opportunities. This collaboration marks a step towards a smarter, more efficient future in telecommunications.”

Jan Hofmeyr, Vice President at AWS, adds: “With the software transformation of radio access networks (RAN) using cloud computing, there is a tremendous opportunity for mobile operators to collect all kinds of data at various layers of the stack. This data, acting as the fuel for AI, offers to the telecom industry a tremendous opportunity to not only optimise operations of RAN deployments but also revolutionise the way consumers, enterprises and industries interact with mobile networks.”

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