The mobile revolution caused by AI-RAN, the challenge of a new business platform that opens up the AI era


1. What is AI-RAN?

The AI-RAN (Artificial Intelligence Radio Access Network) being developed by SoftBank is a novel architecture that integrates AI applications and software-based Radio Access Network (RAN) on a single computer. Utilizing AI, the enhancement of RAN's functionality and quality is achieved, while a computing platform for AI applications is concurrently offered across various industries, thereby furnishing a new business platform for the AI era.

SoftBank has been a leader in the industry by introducing advanced technologies like TD-LTE and HAPS in the past. This leadership is underpinned by a strategy to boldly create markets and preempt competition in the rapidly evolving technological landscape. Amidst the continuous innovations in AI technology, we have been exploring how to merge existing communication infrastructure with AI to discover new avenues for creating value.

The AI-RAN we envision has the potential to be a technology that not only impacts the telecommunications industry but also has a profound effect on society as a whole.
This article will introduce the features, strengths, applications, and future prospects of AI-RAN.

2. Maximizing communication performance to its limits

The strength of AI-RAN lies in its ability to enhance communication performance by software-defining RAN and combining predictive modeling with AI, along with real-time data analysis.
AI significantly improves communication efficiency by learning and predicting network traffic patterns and optimizing various processes in wireless technology. This enhances the communication experience for end-users during congestion and mobility.

In the past, the primary strategy for telecommunications carriers to achieve high-speed and high-capacity wireless communication transitioning from 3G to LTE and then to 5G was to increase the frequency bands of the radio waves utilized. However, the advent of AI-RAN, which allows for the improvement of user experience without increasing the frequency bands of radio waves, holds significant meaning from the perspective of effectively utilizing radio waves, a finite public resource. Additionally, with the upcoming shift from 5G to 6G networks, the importance of AI-RAN is set to grow even more.

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3. Transforming the business of telecom carriers

The features of AI-RAN aren't just limited to improving RAN performance.

In the AI-RAN data centers being developed by SoftBank, the technology enables the overlay of both "RAN" and "AI applications" onto the same server. This advancement allows mobile carriers to secure two sources of revenue, RAN and AI, with a single capital investment. Additionally, by integrating different uses, carriers can enhance the operational efficiency of their infrastructure. Consequently, it can be said that AI-RAN harbors the potential to dramatically improve future capital investment strategies and return on investment for mobile carriers.
As smartphones have become commoditized and mobile carriers are faced with the need for new transformations, we view AI-RAN as a critical technological element that facilitates the shift toward new business models.

4. AI-RAN as the AI Platform for Industries

Moreover, AI-RAN plays a crucial role in providing industries with an "edge computing platform that offers low latency, high SLA, and high security," something that was challenging to deliver with traditional public clouds.
This is achieved by hosting AI servers in the data centers of mobile carriers closest to the users. Because there's no need to connect to the internet for communication with servers, it becomes possible to achieve low latency and high security, a service that only mobile carriers can offer.
This computing infrastructure, when combined with AI inference, demonstrates its power in various situations such as customer services requiring real-time responses and corporate-specific LLMs incorporating confidential business information.

Of course, it also greatly contributes to the advancement of industry DX and the sophistication of processes using AI.
For instance, in factories, stores, and hospitals, real-time analysis of remote surveillance footage enables the detection of equipment or production line anomalies, analysis of environmental data, and management of employee safety. In smart cities, integrating various IoT sensor data in real time optimizes public safety and transportation systems. Furthermore, by consolidating the decision logic of autonomous vehicles into AI-RAN edge servers, it's possible to make optimal decisions not just from the perspective of individual vehicles but by overviewing entire intersections, thereby enhancing traffic safety and efficiency.

5. SoftBank-NVIDIA Partnership

SoftBank is accelerating the development of AI-RAN through its partnership with NVIDIA and has also begun developing AI-RAN solutions on new hardware, such as Grace Hopper.

Related Post:NVIDIA Collaborates with SoftBank Corp. to Power SoftBank’s Next-Gen Data Centers Using Grace Hopper Superchip for Generative AI and 5G/6G

Related Movie:SoftBank Redefines Regional Data Center for AI and 5G

6. Establishment of the AI-RAN Alliance

SoftBank, in collaboration with 10 leading companies and 1 universities, has established the AI-RAN Alliance to promote the widespread adoption and development of the AI-RAN technology. This alliance includes leading industry companies such as SoftBank, Nvidia, and ARM, aiming to build an open ecosystem.

Click here to apply to join the AI-RAN Alliance

Related Post:Industry Leaders in AI and Wireless Form AI-RAN Alliance
Related Post:AI-RAN Alliance : Leading companies and academic institutions in the AI and telecom fields unite

7. The AI-RAN Revolution: Paving the Way to 6G

This new architecture, leveraging AI technology, not only significantly enhances the functionality and quality of radio access networks but also provides a powerful computing platform for AI applications, creating new business opportunities across various industries.
Aiming to initiate a new paradigm shift not just for 5G but also for the 6G era, SoftBank will continue to focus on the development of AI-RAN as one of its key strategies moving forward.

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