Iain Milligan, chief network officer with 3 UK (pictured), offered some real-world perspective on the current hype surrounding AI, telling Mobile World Live (MWL) the technology had already delivered positive impacts on network operations but cautioned it is too soon to unleash generative iterations for day-to-day operations.

Speaking in MWL‘s latest podcast, Milligan explained a segregation of critical network functions from those targeting efficiency remains a necessity when employing AI.

“If you’re talking about being able to efficiently fulfil actions and to look at generating better actions which are about” improving network functions, “then I think that’s something you would like to do”.

But Milligan warned against letting genAI make decisions around cell site functions without the same processes a real engineer would employ, including informing other teams or receiving instructions.

He noted AI is already enabling 3 UK to better-manage its sites and radio network.

On the RAN side, AI is being used to assess current network usage and assist in making decisions on which sites could be run in a lower power mode, for example overnight or during other periods of light loads.

Milligan explained AI is already easing the pressure on engineers to monitor individual sites, helping to provide the kind of big picture view of the infrastructure which delivers meaningful efficiency gains and, in turn, lower costs.

He said 3 UK is already seeing a “70 per cent improvement on energy efficiency, which equates to a good, healthy proportion of” the cost of operating equipment over a typical ten-year lifespan.

During the discussion, Milligan also delved into the need to marry AI usage with current telecoms regulation, to protect customer data while ensuring the technology has sufficient information to be effective and what impact, if any, it will have on jobs.