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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
July 14, 2024

Market Now

SK chief ambitious about leading AI era with ‘much more’ services

  • PUBLISHED :February 27, 2024 - 18:08
  • UPDATED :February 27, 2024 - 18:08
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SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won looks around SK Telecom's exhibition booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. (Joint Press Corps)

 SK Group Chair Chey Tae-won stressed his determination to make the energy-to-semiconductor conglomerate a group that would secure more customers and provide better services in the era of artificial intelligence.

After touring the showroom of the group’s telecom unit, SK Telecom, on Monday, the opening day of the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain, the SK chief said that all of the group affiliates are working hard to come up with AI solutions.

“Almost every company (from ICT to energy companies) is doing something related to AI,” Chey told reporters when asked about the group’s key strengths and competitiveness on AI.

When browsing SK Telecom’s showroom, he explored the telecom unit’s next-generation liquid cooling technology for AI data centers, as well as American startup Humane’s products set up there as a partner.

He expressed great interest in UAM and AI-related energy solutions and asked if immersion cooling technology using AI would be more advantageous. Chey also boarded a full-scale model of urban air mobility in collaboration with US aviation company Joby Aviation for flight simulation.

While SK Telecom celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, the SK chief delivered his hope for the telecom giant to be “remembered as a company that leads the way in technology and customers."

Chey visited the world’s largest mobile tech show for two consecutive years this year. He appears to be actively searching for future growth engines by participating in global tech events, including the MWC and the CES 2024, the world’s largest tech trade show, in Las Vegas, last month.

On the same day, Chey visited Samsung Electronics' showroom with the tech giant mobile chief Roh Tae-moon and experienced the Galaxy AI, as well as the long-awaited Galaxy Ring smart device.

Meanwhile, the announcement on the Global Telco AI Alliance led by SK Telecom establishing a joint venture was made earlier in the day at an inaugural meeting after its launch in July last year in Seoul, with SoftBank joining as a new member.

The five members of the GTAA -- SK Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, e&, Singtel and SoftBank -- agreed to join forces to develop telco-specific LLMs after establishing the joint venture within the year and to help telecom carriers improve their customer interactions via digital assistants and chatbots.

In a separate press briefing held in Barcelona, SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang told reporters that he is pleased to announce since he had to wait a year to make it official.

"Global telecom companies are trying to become a game changer that leads market changes through cooperation in the AI ​​field, including telco-specific LLMs," Ryu said, regarding the reason for establishing the joint venture.

Although the telco-specific LLMs are in the learning phase, he forecasts that a lot of progress will likely be made within the year. The telco-specific LLMs are expected to be used by GTAA members in their respective markets, enabling them to reach a global customer base of approximately 1.3 billion people across 50 countries, the CEO added.

Ryu was also positive about maintaining the GTAA's AI leadership against other Big Tech firms. "Our goal is to attract more telcos to the alliance and many of the telecom companies that attended our round table event showed great interest in the GTAA partnership," he said.

"If we strengthen the alliance, we won't lose our AI leadership to Big Tech firms."

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)

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