Last week, two very exciting things happened. First, I boarded a plane for Barcelona to connect with so many customers and partners in person after such a long gap, which felt completely surreal. Secondly, I presented a new demo to a keen crowd of highly influential tech strategy shapers, industry analysts, and media.
Whether it was finally attending a physical event, meeting some of our partners for the first time in real life, the thrill of unveiling a new partnership, wearing a face mask while continuously talking for 12 hours straight, or a heady cocktail of all the above: something hit me. When you work in tech, you spend so much time looking forward to the future. But walking onto our showroom floor, I realized something about the “now”.
In the decade leading up to 2030, widespread commercial use of AI and 5G will redefine business and fast-track economic growth. We’ve been talking about the potential of combining these technologies for a long time. By converging AI and 5G, literally thousands of enterprises (with a helping hand from application developers) will be able to rewrite their workplace rulebooks. Last week at MWC, I realized we’re one step closer. The first domino has fallen.
In this blog post, I’ll share some of the exciting use cases we’re currently seeing and announce the latest brainchild of the Cloud RAN team at Ericsson and our partner NVIDIA, which we developed with help from our ecosystem collaborators HPE and Chooch.
If 5G provides an infinite smorgasbord of delicious innovations generating tons of rich data, AI is the head chef explaining how to eat it. Up to 100 times faster than 4G, 5G delivers ultra-low latency, greater bandwidth and ultra-reliable, highly secure connectivity — creating a world of limitless connectivity and limitless opportunities. On the other hand, AI applications on 5G networks can unlock intelligence to drive innovation and decision-making and deliver superior experiences.
AI adoption in business is skyrocketing and according to PwC, it will generate a whopping USD 15.7 trillion for the global economy by 2030. Applied at the network edge, AI enables new use cases such as autonomous guided vehicles, video analytics, asset tracking, robotic factories and more. Throw Cloud RAN into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a real treat (but more on that later).
But getting it right is a collaboration game. Communication service providers, telecom vendors, device manufacturers, AI application developers, cloud infrastructure providers, and hardware vendors need to innovate together across the full stack of components needed for 5G (and beyond) to deliver on the promise to transform enterprise. And this powerful new ecosystem is already creating win-win-wins for everyone involved.
Ericsson and NVIDIA, inventor of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and leading AI provider, are partnering in the AI on 5G space to explore flexible, efficient, and secure AI enterprise applications over 5G networks.
One of the key use cases for this concept – and what our demo last week was based on – is intelligent video analytics. Intelligent video analytics allows businesses to leverage video feed data to make powerful business decisions and optimize processes. AI-powered video software detects and identifies different objects in a video and classifies them to enable intelligent video analysis, such as search, filtering, alerts, and data aggregation and visualization.
Examples of what’s possible with intelligent video analytics include:
Video analytics solutions have seen significant growth lately thanks to their ability to provide invaluable business insights, and it’s no surprise. The possibilities that this technology unlocks for enterprises are endless, and together, I'm excited to say that Ericsson and NVIDIA are ready to help our communication service providers (CSPs) and their enterprise customers to explore them.
The Ericsson-NVIDIA concept we presented at MWC delivers AI applications at the edge of a high-performance 5G Cloud RAN, allowing for data to be processed on-premise to provide real-time decisions and alerts. Running AI and 5G on the same Cloud infrastructure lowers total cost of ownership and pre-integration makes it much easier for enterprises to adopt AI on 5G solutions.
NVIDIA’s AI-on-5G Platform opens a new technical playbook by delivering AI applications at the edge over a high-performance, software-defined 5G RAN. It’s a homogenous scale-out platform (a rack of 1RU telecom-grade servers running both AI and 5G workloads) that is easily expandable from small to large deployments. Thanks to its modular architecture of AI, 5G, compute and orchestration/management stacks, it can support different customer configurations too.
NVIDIA also brings an entire suite of AI-enabled applications and partners to the table, creating many more opportunities for joint innovation (yes, I’m back to looking forward now). But we’re not alone. This new end-to-end solution is bolstered by a much bigger, exciting ecosystem.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is collaborating with us to deliver RAN-optimized telecom servers that help service providers reduce complexity and accelerate innovation for 5G deployments at scale. Leading enterprise AI platform provider Chooch is also working closely with us to develop and deploy more world-class computer vision solutions.
Together, we can also easily expand the solution to enable other use cases, for example, drone traffic analytics, quality assurance detection, AI-powered autonomous stores, and remote connected vehicles.
For enterprises, running AI applications at the edge on a high-performance 5G RAN is essential for more efficient, intelligent operations. For service providers, deploying AI applications at the 5G edge creates new revenue sources: positioning AI to be one of the prime applications for 5G.
Judging by the nodding heads in the audience, it was clear that the potential of AI on 5G use cases struck a chord with my audience at MWC. But the main question from the audience was “how far can this technology go? What other use cases are potentially possible?”
My answer: there are many more on the horizon. We’re excited about developing this concept further and continue to explore the potential of this technology with NVIDIA and our wide ecosystem of partners. I believe the universe of 5G and AI use cases is vast and colorful, and just like our own, the further we look, the more amazed we will be.
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