Orange created an experimental service in its home market to gain real-world insights into employing technologies including cloud and AI to deliver agile networking across its operations.

At a webinar, SVP of Orange Labs Research Nicolas Demassieux (pictured) said the trial is part of the company’s efforts to move from a traditional and heavy-to-change network to a data-driven one, with the help of software virtualisation, cloud, edge and AI.

The executive said the pilot service already had thousands of customers in France, and a first call based on it was conducted a several weeks ago. Following the trial, further tests are potentially in the works across other Orange markets in Europe.

“We do believe that the operator itself has to master its destiny” Demassieux said, adding to achieve this, it must “master the technical choices that are inside this totally virtualised data-centric network”.

R&D goals
Demassieux highlighted a number of other research endeavours were on Orange’s radar, as the company seeks a competitive edge in an increasingly complex world.

Among the key focuses is ambient intelligence, combining the push for AI and connectivity with real-life problems and smart objects.

The Orange executive also claimed a world first in developing a speech recognition engine in Wolof, a language spoken by some 14 million people in Senegal.

Explaining larger players such as Google lacked the capability to recognise speech in less popular languages, Demassieux said an opportunity for Orange was to fill the gap and replicate its trial in other less spoken languages.