AI to account for 30% of True’s digital service revenues by 2027

Thai telco True Corp has launched artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for local businesses as it seeks to increase the share of AI-driven revenue in its digital services business to 30% by 2027.

True says its AI solutions, which include virtual service agents, smart retail solutions and AI-powered content will enable businesses to leapfrog to AI.

“We aim to integrate digital services into consumer and business segments to bridge gaps, provide equal access to digital resources, and ensure technology is accessible, affordable and beneficial,” True’s chief digital officer Ekaraj Panjavinin said at a True event promoting its AI solutions this week.

True is also promoting its own internal adoption of AI as proof that its AI solutions deliver on their promise, with Ekaraj saying that the company aims to automate 100% of its repetitive processes using AI within the next three years.

“By leveraging the exceptional capabilities of AI, proficiency in processing, and analyzing extensive datasets, we are able to build AI-driven platforms which integrate data across various sources for deep analytics, providing actionable insights to expand businesses in various industries,” he said. “AI can thereby unlock new business models, increase competitiveness for sustainable business growth, and serve consumers’ needs in the digital era with hyper-personalized experiences, while also driving productivity enhancements and cost savings.”

Bandith Pangpong, True’s head of IT and Security, added that AI is being used by its teams to develop solutions more rapidly. “By using artificial intelligence, we can do in a few hours what used to take days or weeks.”

However, in order for its business customers to get the most out of True’s AI solutions, they’ll need serious reskilling to transform their culture to not just be digital-ready, but “AI-driven”, said True’s chief human resources officer Sarinra Wongsuppaluk.

“A lot of organizations in Thailand are potentially ‘AI-ready,’ meaning they do have some proprietary data and digital initiatives in place,” she said. “But to become ‘AI-first’ requires a change in culture from experience-based, leader-driven decision making to data-driven decision making at the front line.”

That change shouldn’t be limited to the IT department, but across the entire organizsation, she said, pointing to True’s AI-powered chatbot “Mari” as an example. Sarinra explained that the teams working on Mari are set up as agile squads across IT, analytics, customer experience, customer service and robotics.

All of this means change has to start at the top, Sarinra added. “AI-first organizations need a C-Suite that understands this new technology and is entrepreneurial enough to adopt it.”

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SoftBank to invest $960m in Japanese AI 


News

The investment follows the company spending JPY20 billion ($129.2 million) on computing infrastructure last year 

Japanese tech giant SoftBank has announced that it will invest JPY 150 billion $960 billion to upgrade its computing infrastructure to deliver a Generative AI (gen AI) platform in the Japanese language, according to a report from Nikkei, which cited anonymous sources. 

Over the next two years, SoftBank will reportedly purchase GPUs (graphics processing units) from US based chip company Nvidia, using them to train and power its own large language models (LLMs), and then loan access to them to other firms. 

The investment in computing infrastructure is set to be the largest of any Japanese company, although SoftBank has not yet commented on the report. 

Last August, SoftBank invested JPY 150 million ($969 million) launched a new company, named ‘SB Institutions’, to research and develop homegrown LLMs that are specialised for the Japanese language. The company will ‘provide the necessary data sets and tools for LLM learning and develop models for reinforcement learning on SoftBank’s computing platform,” the press release reads. 

“By developing LLM specialized for the Japanese language, SB Intuitions can develop generative AI services tailored to the unique needs of Japan-based customers,” it continued. 

SB institutions is currently working on its own LLM, which is set to be completed this year. 

Keep up to date with the latest international telecoms news by subscribing to the Total Telecom daily newsletter  

Also in the news:
South Korea to invest $7 billion in AI semiconductors
Swisscom expands 5G partnership with Ericsson
Daisy Group set to acquire 4Com for £215m

Authenticity in action: Charlotte Scott’s keys to investor relations


Insight

Using her experience working in Venture Capital, Angel Investment and with startup businesses, Charlotte Scott, Senior Investor Relations Manager at Innovation SuperNetwork, works to improve the relationship between investors and businesses. 

Through her work in the Northern Investor Hub and on the Pathways to Funding North of Tyne and Tees Valley Securing Investment programmes, she builds bridges between businesses and investors, helping investors expand their portfolio, reach new opportunities, and connect with exciting businesses.  

Hear from Charlotte as she shares her key tips and advice on how to improve your business investor connectivity. 

Be Authentic. 

Transparency and authenticity are often missing when it comes to building long lasting investor business relationships. There’s a misconception that investors loom in the upper echelons of society. However, human stories will engage them, and authentic connections can be the basis of a very trusting and productive relationship.   

An investor will likely take a board seat in your business, so if you haven’t taken the time to build that trusting relationship where you can disclose key information, then they can’t help you make decisions and offer advice that could potentially save your company.  

Take the time to just get out there, network with investors and invest time nurturing those relationships. Treat them as humans and respect their time and opinions as you would anyone else. You’ve got to be able to have good communication and good interpersonal relationships. 

Expand and diversify your pool of connections. 

Working with start-ups in a variety of roles and regions has introduced me to a lot of underrepresented founders and communities that have – through no fault of their own – slipped through the access to funding net. And that was quite an eye opener. It was clear how much having access to business support could really transform their personal and professional situations.    

It’s generally acknowledged that we want to hang out with people who have similar interests. But if an investor is really committed to diversity and inclusion then they should be branching out, involving themselves with communities who are not from the same background, and welcome the diversity of opinion that comes with expanding our network beyond the familiar.   

Expanding your network allows you to come across such a range of people, ideas, and businesses. The nature of individuals operating businesses is that they’re ambitious and highly motivated – have a certain resilience and grit. It’s a wonderful thing to be surrounded by. 

Make sure your voice is heard. 

Get out there and start talking about yourself! If an investor needs to go to areas and break into communities who don’t look and sound like them, you’ve got to try and do the same.  

For example, put an event every week in your diary where you think investors might be and show up.  Don’t pitch in that informal environment but have a chat and start to build a positive relationship. That person will remember you as that interesting individual who they had a good chat with a couple of months ago, so they’ll be more receptive to start up a conversation and lend you a hand.   

Working with Innovation SuperNetwork. 

At Innovation SuperNetwork, we work with businesses access the finance they need, helping them to understand their options. 

We offer a programme of events, workshops, and one-to-one support to help you identify and apply for grants or loans. Our investor readiness programme steps in to make you pitch perfect and able to secure investment for growth.  

Through the Northern Investor Hub, we work closely with local and national partners, to bring experienced and budding investors together, identifying co-investment opportunities, and showcase the North’s most inspiring businesses. 

If you are an investor, find out more about the opportunities we can provide for you here.

China Mobile, ZTE, Qualcomm milk 5.4 Gbps speeds out of 5G-A

Chinese telecoms equipment vendor ZTE said on Friday it has collaborated with China Mobile and Qualcomm to achieve a peak download rate of 5.4 Gbps on a 5G-Advanced network by combining three-carrier aggregation with 1024QAM.

Earlier this year, China Mobile’s Zhejiang Branch conducted an end-to-end field test using 3CC CA (three-carrier component carrier aggregation) technology, utilising 260 MHz of spectrum in the 2.6-GHz and 4.9-GHz bands.

The test also used 1024QAM (1024-state Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), a higher-order modulation technology defined in 3GPP’s Release 17 that can transmit 10 bits of data in a single symbol.

3CC CA and 1024QAM are both key components in 5G-Advanced, the next iteration of 5G under Release 17. When the two are combined, 1024QAM can improve the peak data rate and spectral efficiency by 25% over 256QAM in the same bandwidth, according to ZTE.

The field test results showed that combining both features can achieve a single user downlink data rate of over 5.4 Gbps, the company said in a statement.

The test utilized China Mobile’s 5G network in Jiaxing, as well as commercial 5G network equipment from ZTE and a test device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X75, billed as the first 5G-A-ready modem and RF system.

China Mobile said the test shows how it can “fully unlock the spectrum potential of 5G commercial networks”, particularly for emnerging bandwidth-intensive applications like “VR smart experiences, ultra-high-definition live broadcasting, and glasses-free 3D.”

Earlier this month, China Mobile said it has launched 5G-A in 100 cities across China, and aims to expand coverage to more than 300 cities before the end of this year.

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UK SMBs could save 280m tonnes of CO2e by hitting 2030 targets


Press Release

22 April 2024: This Earth Day, BT is announcing a new partnership with the UK Business Climate Hub (UKBCH) that aims to help UK small & medium businesses (SMBs) halve CO2e emissions by 2030 and empower them to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It comes as research suggests UK SMBs would stop 280 million tonnes of CO2e emissions from reaching the atmosphere if they hit this near-term goal*.

There are 5.5 million SMBs in the UK, making up more than 99% of all businesses nationwide. Collectively they account for almost half (44%**) of non-household emissions, making their role in tackling the climate crisis critical to the UK’s chances of hitting net zero by 2050.

Nine in ten (90%) of SMEs would like to address climate change at their business, but find it challenging to get started and identify the right tools to mitigate their environmental impact.*** To help them map out a path to net zero, the UKBCH, a shared endeavour between industry and government, has welcomed BT as a key industry partner and member of its Advisory Board, and has developed ‘Seven Steps to Sustainability’ to empower SMBs to get started today.

The new partnership aims to bring together BT’s expertise in supporting more than one million small business customers with the UK Business Climate Hub’s free resources to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and their energy bills. Businesses can take the first step today by checking out the available, free resources from the UKBCH on its website. They can also work towards the SME Climate Commitment, by making a pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, achieve net zero emissions before 2050, and report progress on these goals annually.

Chris Sims, Managing Director, Small and Medium Business at BT, says: “BT set its first carbon reduction target more than 30 years ago, and we’ve had a strong track record of hitting our sustainability goals ever since. But we have size on our side – and from speaking to our small business customers we know that with limited resources, many of them struggle to find the time, the funding, or the guidance to help them prioritise sustainability. With the UK Business Climate Hub we are beginning our journey to reach more businesses with free tools and practical support to help them set the foundations for a greener future, and ultimately, reach Net Zero.”

Chris Taylor, Net Zero Programme Director at the Broadway Initiative – which manages the UK Business Climate Hub – adds: We’re delighted to partner with BT and are energised about the impact we will make together. The UK Business Climate Hub works closely with the government and our industry partners to produce essential guides for SMBs across multiple sectors, with practical advice on how to reduce carbon emissions and save on energy bills. Whether it’s a tailored net zero plan for individual SMBs, free carbon footprint calculators or an online training course on cutting emissions, with our tools and support, SMBs can reduce both costs and emissions and transition to a greener economy – the ultimate win-win.”

Seven steps to Sustainability: Practical tips for all sectors

The UKBCH has charted a course for SMBs to build and achieve a greener future. The ‘Seven Steps to Sustainability’ break down key actions so that businesses can create an achievable plan. These include:

1.      Understand the basics: An overview of net zero and how to reduce your business’s carbon footprint and any legal requirements on reducing carbon emissions.

2.      Involve your teamEngage staff across the business to develop carbon reduction and energy saving initiatives. This could include an internal working group or hiring an external consultant.

3.      Make the SME Climate Commitment: Commit to halving business emissions by 2030, reach net zero by 2050, and report yearly on progress towards these goals.

4.      Make a planMeasure current emissions from fuel consumption and electricity use. Taking stock of current business activities that contribute to overall carbon emissions will enable businesses to identify key focus areas.

5.      Take actionDeploy technologies and new approaches to save energy and reduce carbon. Businesses can get sector-specific information here, and learn about specific actions that can be taken here.

6.      Find finance and support: Businesses across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can identify specific programmes or initiatives to help them to finance their sustainability journey.

7.      Look beyond your business: Identify opportunities across the business’s entire value chain to reduce its impact, including creating a greener supply chain, using electric vehicles and transport, and get low carbon product labels and certifications.

SMBs can visit the UKBCH website to access an entire library of free resources, tools and advice to cut carbon, reduce energy use, and chart a course to net zero: https://businessclimatehub.uk/ 

Industry Spotlight: Toptana Technologies’ Tyson Johnston

One of the more intriguing projects people are talking about these days is Toptana Technologies’ plans for a cable landing station on the West Coast of the United States. Toptana is a first-of-its-kind indigenous-owned internet infrastructure and technology company, owned by the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) of the Pacific Northwest, a community of more than 3,000 tribal members located along the coast in northern Washington State. Its mission is to connect the digitally unconnected and provide internet access to rural communities, starting by bringing the first subsea cable landing station to Washington State in over 25 years. The team is currently building necessary backhaul network connectivity to Seattle and major data center clusters in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Today we talked about the company’s plans and its underlying motivation and outlook with Tyson Johnston, who serves as Toptana’s chairman of the board. … [visit site to read more]

Philippine govt launches Phase 1 of National Fibre Backbone

The Philippine government launched the first phase of its National Fibre Backbone (NFB) project on Friday, which it says will boost the country’s economy as well as its digital ambitions.

According to a statement from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), NFB Phase 1 comprises a 1,245-km cable network from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to Roces, Quezon City. It connects 14 provinces across Northern and Central Luzon, Metro Manila, four Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) eco-zones, and two national government data centres.

Phase 1 of the government-owned backbone – which was soft-launched in December 2023 – sports 28 nodes and delivers an initial capacity of 600 Gbps.

At the official launch ceremony on Friday, Philippine president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr said the NFB “serves as the economic spine that props up our growth, and supports our development. More importantly, we understand that in order for Filipinos to reach their full potential, we must invest in a fast and reliable internet.”

President Marcos Jr said that the completed NFB “will open employment opportunities, improve market efficiency, attract foreign investments, and stimulate livelihood across the different sectors of our economy and our society.”

In the meantime, he said, NFB Phase 1 would help over 340 national and local government offices connected to GovNet boost their overall operational efficiency and generate more than PHP145 million (US$2.2 million) in potential annual savings.

“Additionally, it will extend a digital lifeline to more than 3,000 Filipinos and different Free Wi-Fi Sites, enabling direct internet access for approximately 750,000 beneficiaries in Regions I, III, and here in [Metro Manila],” he added.

Also at the launch event, DICT secretary Ivan John Uy said Phase 1 of the NFB represented a “monumental leap forward in our journey towards a digitally empowered society. With the activation of these nodes, we are bringing high-speed internet across to underserved communities, unlocking opportunities for education, healthcare, and economic development.”

Uy also said DICT will leverage the high-speed connectivity provided by the NFB to power last-mile initiatives like the National Government Portal (NGP) and the Broadband ng Masa Program.

The remaining five phases of the NFB are scheduled to be completed in 2026, at which point it will span 28,000 km. According to the Manila Times, Uy said that Phases 2 and 3 could be completed by the end of this year.

DICT said the completed NFB will help increase the Philippines’ internet penetration rate from 33% to 65% and reach 70 million Filipinos. It also said the initiative would also lower the price of internet connectivity to as much as US$5.00 per Mbps.

“The next phases of the National Fibre Backbone project will focus on broadening our network coverage, extending connectivity across regions, and providing broadband internet access to government institutions and public spaces,” Uy said.

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China demands WhatsApp and Threads to be pulled from App Store

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