SK Telecom seeks to boost cooperation in the AI field

In September, SK Telecom had announced its ambition to become a global artificial intelligence company

Korean telco SK Telecom aims to boost cooperation with big tech firms to fulfill its vision to become a global AI company, Korean newspaper The Korea Herald reported, citing the telco’s AI assistant service chief, Kim Yong-hun, as saying.

“SK Telecom’s AI services are anticipated to achieve effective results based on various possibilities and capabilities both here and abroad. To accelerate our global business expansion, we’ve formed a global tech alliance and cooperated with big tech firms,” the executive said in an interview on the sidelines of CES 2024, taking place in Las Vegas this week.

As a part of its efforts, SK Telecom led the launch of an alliance dubbed the “Global Telco AI alliance” with major telecom carriers in Germany, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. The companies agreed to make joint efforts to develop new growth engines through new AI-powered business models.

Kim said that he was confident that SK Telecom would be able to show more concrete results from the alliance’s AI activities in time for MWC Barcelona next year.

SK Telecom has released A., a service for domestic smartphone users. With the initial features including call summary and calendar functions, AI-based real-time translation of calls was added three months later, according to the report.

The call translation service is available in four languages — English, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese — and is designed to be used both by foreigners in Korea whose first language is not Korean, and local users when making international phone calls.

“We expected to create great synergies when adding AI to traditional communication features such as calls and text messages,” Kim said.

In September, SK Telecom had announced its ambition to become a global artificial intelligence company by strengthening its own AI competitiveness and cooperating with partners globally.

The carrier’s CEO Ryu Young-sang unveiled the telco’s new ‘AI Pyramid Strategy’ centered around three key areas including AI infrastructure, AI transformation (AIX) and AI service.

Under this new strategy, Ryu said that the carrier expects the proportion of AI-related investment to approximately triple from 12% over the past five years to 33% over the next five years.

The company noted that AI Infrastructure is an area where SK Telecom’s technological capabilities are concentrated. The area consists of AI data centers, AI semiconductors and multiple LLMs.

Going forward, SK telecom also plans to leverage its AI service-related experience and knowhow accumulated in the Korean market to develop a personal AI assistant service that can attract global customers. The company expects that its partnerships with diverse global players — including the Global Telco AI Alliance — will help accelerate its progress in the AI field.

In November, SK Telecom announced an investment of KRW 9.4 billion ($7.2 billion) in artificial intelligence (AI) startups Allganize and Imprimed.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Allganize provides more than 200 corporate clients with a large language model (LLM) via generative AI. Some of the firm’s customers are Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Finance, retail giant Aeon Co. and Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co.

Meanwhile, California-headquartered Imprimed provides personalized predictions on survival and response to specific cancer treatments. The company analyzes traits of a patient’s cancer cells and drugs to help identify an optimal treatment for the patient.

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