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NTT, Qualcomm drive AI at the network edge

Mobile platform giant and leading IT infrastructure and services company invest in and accelerate the development of the 5G device ecosystem, including edge-as-a-service offering and 5G-enabled chipsets with AI models built in

IT infrastructure and services company NTT has forged a strategic engagement with Qualcomm Technologies to invest in and accelerate the development of the 5G device ecosystem and facilitate private 5G adoption, which is critical to powering artificial intelligence (AI) at the edge.

The principal aim of the move is to drive the mobile ecosystem and accelerate private 5G adoption across digital devices, with NTT opening a device-as-a-service practice to help enterprises boost IT maintenance productivity and reduce costs.

As part of a multi-year engagement, NTT and Qualcomm Technologies revealed they will prioritise the development of 5G-enabled devices to accelerate innovation with global enterprise customers, a critical catalyst in driving widespread enterprise adoption of private 5G, a market which, quoting IDC estimates, they claimed will exceed $8bn by 2026.

The firms are confident Qualcomm’s expertise in application-specific semiconductors and 5G chipsets, combined with NTT’s legacy in private 5G, will strengthen the 5G ecosystem, advance AI processing capabilities at the edge and spur innovation across industries. They added that they would use their combined expertise to meet the need for 5G-enabled devices that support use cases, such as push-to-talk devices, augmented reality headsets, computer vision cameras and sensors at the edge across the manufacturing, automotive, logistics and other industries.

“This collaboration is truly an exciting one,” said Shahid Ahmed, executive vice-president of new ventures and innovation at NTT. “Together with Qualcomm Technologies, we will strengthen the 5G ecosystem delivering the devices our customers require in a simple and cost-effective way, empowering them as they continue along their digital transformation journey. By working with Qualcomm Technologies, we will further accelerate demand for private 5G across global industries.”

Mark Bidinger, president of commercial and industrial segments and channels at Schneider Electric, said: “The proliferation of 5G-enabled devices is a critical component of shaping a more digital and sustainable future. It forms the backbone of many tech advancements that can improve efficiency and sustainability through efficient resource management and energy conservation, and are pivotal for innovation across various industries.

“NTT’s collaboration with Qualcomm represents a significant step forward in advancing private 5G adoption and meeting the unique demands of the internet of things and machine learning.”

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The firms said that for AI to scale and make an impact on enterprise operations and organisations’ bottom line, AI processing needs to happen in a hybrid form – both in the cloud and at the edge of the network.

Qualcomm and NTT will work together to deliver 5G-ready devices with 5G chipsets and AI models built in to enhance the technology at the edge through various applications, such as image recognition, with capabilities ranging from counting items and identifying object characteristics to verifying workers wearing safety masks or hardhats. Deploying AI applications through NTT’s edge as a service will assist enterprises with workplace safety, optimisation and security.

As part of NTT’s end-to-end edge-as-a-service offering, the firm is now providing managed services for device as a service to make it easy for customers to access, upgrade and recycle 5G and edge devices, as well as simplify device lifecycle management and reduce IT maintenance and costs.

“Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G chipsets are prepared for the widespread adoption of AI applications at the edge and, together with NTT, we’ll enhance innovative change across the 5G device ecosystem,” said Jeffery Torrance, senior vice-president and general manager of connected smart systems at Qualcomm Technologies.

“NTT is the voice of the customer, and combined with Qualcomm Technologies’ semiconductor expertise, we can enable OEMs to build the devices that will benefit a wide range of use cases and customers.”

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