MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, BARCELONA – Rakuten Symphony’s OSS boss and artificial intelligence (AI) maven Rahul Atril claimed that his company’s telco AI systems are “sometimes” smarter than a nine-year old.

That might not seem like much of a boast, but if it’s actually true, it’s actually  pretty impressive compared to many of the weak AI-washed applications masquerading as the future right now.

Unfortunately Atril’s claim is difficult to actually test since the company’s Generative AI (GenAI) apps are only being used in Rakuten Mobile at the moment while its “legacy AI” systems and tools are being used only by Rakuten Mobile and Germany’s mobile and broadband operator 1&1.

As such, Atri joked that Rakuten Mobile is “eating its own AI dog food. We always have.”

Hopefully its Blue River salmon and not Chum!

In their promo video on the booth, a confident Midwestern male AI voice proclaimed the Rakuten systems as “the first human AI” for telcos. (By the way, you’ll know the tone and timbre of this particular voice if you watch many YouTube videos. It’s kind of annoying.) 

Atril told Fierce that the so-far in-house GenAI systems are training Rakuten’s own open-source large language models (LLMs). That’s partially because it can quickly become expensive to query OpenAI and other commercial AI systems.

The “legacy AI systems” help telco engineers to manage their network through reporting and managing radio traffic, he said. It appears that this will be first type of telco AI that Rakuten Symphony will sell to operator customers.

Despite the hurricane of hype behind AI right now, telco AI is really in its early infancy. That will change over time and Rakuten Symphony wants to be one of the premier suppliers of telco AI software in the future. We’ll be watching their progress, as long as we don’t have to taste-test that dog food.

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