Global Telco AI Alliance create JV to build telco-focussed LLM


SK Telecom (SKT), Deutsche Telekom, e&, Singtel, and Softbank will jointly own the new company, which is set to be created later this year

In the summer of last year, SKT, Deutsche Telekom, e&, and Singtel joined forces to create the Global Telco AI Alliance (GTAA), an industry initiative to jointly  explore AI in the telco space.

Now, having been joined by Japan’s Softbank, the GTAA are taking the partnership one step further, announcing their intention to create a new joint venture focussed on developing large language models (LLMs) specifically for the telco sector.

Initial plans will see the LLMs developed in Korean, English, German, Arabic, and Japanese, with additional languages to come later.

“We as telcos need to develop tailored LLM for the telco industry to make telco operations more efficient, which is a low-hanging fruit. Our ultimate goal is to discover new business models by redefining relationships with customers. The Global Telco AI Alliance brings synergy to its members by allowing them to achieve more by working as a team,” explained Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SKT.

Speaking at an SKT press meeting earlier this week – reportedly the first of its kind held for Western journalists at MWC – the company explained that current, general purpose LLMs like ChatGPT may be unsuited to telco-specific tasks.

For example, a customer asking a telco’s chatbot, based on ChatGPT, how to cancel their service plan could simply receive direct, step-by-step instructions on how to cancel as a result. This, naturally, is bad news for the telco.

Instead, an AI chatbot that understands the telco business would answer in a way more akin to a contact centre agent, asking why the customer was thinking of leaving and whether alternative services packages could be offered to entice them to stay.

In short, by jointly creating a telco specific LLM, based on all members combined subscriber data, the telcos will be able to offer more enhanced, personalized, and efficient customer experiences.

“This multi-lingual LLM tailored for telcos will greatly expand chatbot capabilities with relevant responses to customers’ technical queries, freeing up service agents to deal with more complex customer issues,” explained Yuen Kuan Moon, Group Chief Executive Officer, Singtel.

The joint venture will be formally created later this year, with details around investment and ownership structure left unnannounced.

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