ZTE 5G SUMMIT & USER CONGRESS, BANGKOK: TM Forum vice chair and director Michael Lawrey (pictured) highlighted the telecoms industry’s infatuation with zero-touch operations to improve efficiencies and better monetise network assets, but cautioned deploying fully autonomous networks is at least five years away. 

Lawrey insisted the zero-touch environment, achieved by using AI and autonomous networks, is critical to being able to generate some $700 million in additional revenue across the wider ecosystem.

“The scale of what needs to happen to get the tools on networks to move to Level 5 is still some distance off.”

He stated an AI evolution is coming very quickly, and CEOs and executives the organisation meets with are all talking about using the technology as enablers to improve their businesses.

Lawrey said some operators are extremely aggressive, with Orange aiming for Level 4 autonomous networks by end-2025, and China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom setting similar targets.

Looking at what autonomous networks can do for the business, he said operators are no longer just interested in location and transitional data.

“We want to talk about how do we capture your natural behaviours, the conversations you have, the segments you have. All those have to be tracked in real time and collected, and we need to bring that data together to enable it to be used across the network.”