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How Ericsson’s and AT&T’s cloud, AI and API native 5G platform empowers future storytellers to shape their narratives – Reflections from MWC 2024

  • AT&T’s Stephanie Ormston and Ericsson’s Mischa Dohler reflected on the state of the telecommunications industry in 2024, emphasizing the importance of Open RAN, APIs and a thriving developer ecosystem.
  • They delved into the emergence of AI and Generative AI use cases in telecoms, from producing AI-driven insights to deploying large language models – all technological components that empower creators and revolutionize industries.
  • Both engaged in a thoughtful discussion on the importance of human-centric designs for enhancing human experiences, transforming technology from a mere tool into a medium that brings stories and interactions to life.

VP Emerging Technologies


VP Emerging Technologies

VP Emerging Technologies

"At the heart of it all is to enhance human storytelling experiences through technology"

How did we end up discussing “the purpose”, “the storytelling mandate” and “the soul” of 5G in the midst of one of the largest engineering tradeshows of the planet? Here is how:

Stephanie Ormston, AVP Digital Services Integration at AT&T, and I did spend parts of our careers with artists and storytellers. Stephanie was at Warner Media and I was a music composer. It was clear from the beginning that this MWC 2024 interview was going to be very different – and different it was!

We were definitely feeding off the incredible energy present in every booth at MWC 2024. And despite the sheer size of the event, three business themes stood out for us: monetization of telco assets via Open RAN platforms, empowering of an emerging developer ecosystem via network APIs, and Generative AI with all its opportunities and data challenges.

The potential of AI and Generative AI in 5G

Whilst the buzz word for previous editions of MWC was “XR”, it is Generative AI – or GenAI for short – which has been dominating the tech landscape ever since the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI in late 2022. MWC 2024 was no different!

I, however, was a little surprised that the large majority of GenAI use-cases were evolving around chatbots for customer support. Surely, GenAI could do so much more in and for telecoms than chatbots. Stephanie agreed. In fact, AT&T has been integrating AI into data systems and networks for a considerable time, laying the foundation for the next wave of innovation on GenAI and beyond. 

Importantly, AT&T sees AI as an enabler for enhanced customer experiences, particularly when combined with 5G. The synergy between 5G and AI can transform industries by providing ultra-fast, low-latency connectivity that supports real-time data processing, AI-driven insights and GenAI-centric offerings. This integration allows for more immersive and interactive experiences, eventually leading to things like personalized content delivery. It thus ultimately empowers creators to use technology in storytelling and beyond.

At MWC 2024 and in our discussions, there was a thoughtful consideration of the human aspect of technology. We emphasized the importance of advancing emerging technologies with a conscientious approach, prioritizing the wellbeing of the environment, society and the storytellers. 

The “Mechanics”: Open RAN and API accelerator program

Both AT&T and Ericsson are driving the promotion of open platforms and API thinking in the telecom industry to monetize their assets. AT&T is aiming for 70% of its wireless network traffic to flow across open-capable platforms by late 2026. For Ericsson, an important industry milestone was the  $6 billion acquisition of San Francisco headquartered API platform company Vonage.

Such significant investments underscore the industry’s commitment to building an ecosystem of collaborators, taking advantage of Open RAN and APIs to expose network capabilities to product developers. These developers include internal teams, external consumer application developers, and large system integrators. And by utilizing APIs, we are hoping to accelerate innovation, enabling developers to create advanced applications without being encumbered by the intricacies of network connectivity. 

The 5G-as-a-platform initiative began with 5G Standalone (SA) capabilities, but AT&T's converged network – comprising fiber, Wi-Fi, and 5G – offers much broader access through APIs. This comprehensive approach is designed to foster a seamless user experience, irrespective of the underlying network technology.

Additionally, Ericsson will utilize its 5G Smart Factory in Lewisville, Texas, known for its high level of automation and sustainability, to produce a variety of 5G Open RAN products. This facility complies with the Build America, Buy America Act, guaranteeing that the products are manufactured in the U.S.

The “Catalysts”: A growing developer ecosystem

Our conversation emphasized the significance of platform thinking in the telecom industry, focusing on the creation of a vibrant ecosystem of partners. To accelerate innovation and gather valuable insights, AT&T has launched the Network API Accelerator program, working closely with Ericsson and Vonage. 

This initiative provides developers with access to a suite of APIs for trial and testing, allowing us to collect feedback, quantify opportunities, and shape the API roadmap based on market demands. Such collaborative efforts enable the industry to collectively push the boundaries of what is possible!

Four APIs are currently available to developers, and we actively seek feedback on their value proposition in the marketplace. This process validates market value, proves the points of value hypotheses, and helps refine the API roadmap to either accelerate development or cover gaps.

Stephanie also highlighted the importance of balancing standardization efforts with proprietary innovation, particularly for enterprise and IoT customers utilizing AT&T's SIMs. Coordination with industry initiatives like CAMARA and the Open Gateway project is essential to accelerate progress. Ericsson's ability to facilitate quick integration of standardized APIs underscores the value of these APIs across operators and globally, enhancing consumer experiences.

We are both excited that the ongoing collaboration between AT&T and Ericsson catalyzes the telecom industry to come together and develop new business opportunities. By taking advantage of Open RAN and network APIs, the industry can innovate and create advanced applications that enhance connectivity. Our approach promotes flexibility, cost-efficiency, and competition, ultimately driving the industry forward and enabling a new era of experiences for enterprises and consumers alike.

The “Soul”: Storytellers of the future

There is incredible potential for personalized spatial experiences using high-performance 5G networks. APIs, AI, and AR, however, ought to serve as enablers only. The true essence lies in the experiences they create for people, communities and society. 

Our technologies are set to revolutionize how stories are told and experienced, allowing for a deeper connection between the storyteller and the audience. The focus is on enhancing human interactions, making technology not just a tool but a medium that brings stories to life with a profound impact.

For storytellers eager to present their narratives in creative and interactive ways, the advent of these technologies opens up a world of possibilities. Personalized spatial experiences can adapt in real-time, creating immersive environments that resonate on a personal level. The goal is to empower storytellers to captivate their audiences in innovative ways, pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling and fostering a deeper emotional connection through technological advancements.

Imagine interactive films rendered through Gen AI at an edge-cloud and transmitted in real-time via 5G, seamlessly adapting to viewers' environments and preferences. It creates a level of personalization and immersion that was previously unimaginable, allowing each viewer to experience a unique narrative that resonates on a deeply personal level and transforms passive viewing into an engaging experience with the audience being part of the story.

Anticipating MWC 2025: A vision for an exponential future

As we wrapped up our conversation, Stephanie shared aspirations for the coming year: AT&T aims to expand the portfolio of APIs, doubling the offerings available to developers, innovators, and creators. The goal is to attract more collaborators to the ecosystem, providing a comprehensive suite of tools to empower the next generation of applications.

The AI, API and platform journey ahead is definitely exciting! So, here’s to the innovators, the collaborators, and the dreamers – let us create a future where technology knows no bounds, and human experiences are at the forefront. 

See you at MWC 2025!

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