Telefonica and Microsoft partner to design ‘telco of the future’

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The strategic partnership will collaborate on projects aimed at accelerating innovation at Telefónica and “transforming the telecommunications industry”.

Building on Telefónica and Microsoft’s previous work together around the use of data and Telefónica’s Fourth Platform to power offerings such as Aura, its AI-powered digital assistant, the new agreement will combine Telefónica’s networks with the Microsoft Azure AI platform to design services telcos will offer in the future.

Future telco

Together, Telefónica and Microsoft will expand the use of Azure Cognitive Services for customer engagement and business processes, create new AI-powered, in-home experiences for customers and explore the use of intelligent technologies to transform the network. The latter will include exploring AI and technologies like blockchain, 5G and edge computing.

The two companies will collaborate through the creation of a joint working team to explore how AI and machine learning can be applied to optimise the network, reduce costs and, in turn, “drive industry-wide transformation”.

They will run create proof-of-concepts to demonstrate how these solutions can be used for predictive provisioning, demand capacity and more.

For the outcome of these working groups, the two partners will implement an intellectual property model based on Microsoft’s Shared Innovation Initiative. This initiative is built on a set of principles designed to provide clarity about intellectual property for those co-creating technology with Microsoft.

Liquid networks

José María Álvarez-Pallete, chairman and CEO of Telefónica, said “Telefónica is applying cutting-edge technology to its ongoing transformation, pioneering virtualisation and softwarisation to develop smart, liquid networks ready to be powered by AI. Specifically, we are already using AI to enhance our customer relationships and are really excited to work with Microsoft to further harness the power of Azure AI. This agreement strengthens our relationship and our common belief that AI technology and the use of data should be based on solid ethical principles and empower people to control their digital lives.”

“Telefónica has been a leader in using AI to transform customer engagement, and the strategic partnership we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Together, we will apply the power of Azure and Azure AI to create new, innovative experiences for millions of Telefónica customers around the world and shape the future of Telefónica’s network.”