The AI-RAN Alliance has been unveiled at the start of Mobile World Congress 2024, which hopes to ensure radio networks can make the most of the artificial intelligence boom.

It wouldn’t be MWC without the launch of a new industry body the promises to give the telecoms industry a much-needed boost. And it’s almost as predictable that this year’s one would be all about AI, since it’s impossible to avoid talk of that right now. Mercifully, this announcement makes no mention of the otherwise ubiquitous generative AI, focusing instead on the old-fashioned type that you plug into systems to make them smarter and more efficient.

The announcement is light on specifics but heavy on supporting quotes, the thanks to an impressive initial roster of alliance members that includes Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Softbank, TMUS, Nvidia, Arm, AWS, and Microsoft. That list shows how increasingly central to the business of telecoms the general tech world has become. In fact, the pre-briefing given just before the start of MWC was conducted by Ronnie Vasishta, SVP of Telecom at Nvidia, and Mohamed Awad, GM of the infrastructure line of business at Arm.

They explained that the three main areas of concern for the AI alliance are as outlined in the slide from their presentation below.

“The AI-RAN Alliance marks a critical step toward a future in which the full power of AI and digital twins can be harnessed for mobile networks and the transformation of the telecom industry,” said Vasishta. “The alliance’s work will help accelerate the pace of AI innovation, driving unprecedented levels of efficiency across the industry.”

“AI will fundamentally change the way wireless services are deployed and enable broad innovation and operational efficiency across the telco sector,” said Awad. “The AI-RAN Alliance brings together industry-shaping companies with expertise from silicon through software to deliver on the promise of ubiquitous AI and 6G.”

The mention of 6G adds to the impression that we shouldn’t expect anything much more substantial than PowerPoint presentations from this new industry group in the short or even mid-term. This slide outlines the sort of thing it will get up to sooner or later.

Arm has taken on the responsibility of showcasing the AI-RAN Alliance at MWC, further emphasising the semiconductor-led nature of this new group. Nvidia has experienced stratospheric growth on the back of AI industry demand for its super-powerful chips. While those are mainly housed in datacentres right now, a major aim of this group is to bring them to the network edge in order to enable the bits of AI cleverness outlined above.

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