Spotlight on Tech

The era of AI is here: But is the Telecom Industry ready to digest it?

Anshul Bhatt
Chief Product Officer, BU Intelligent Operations
Rakuten Symphony
February 27, 2023
minute read

Rakuten Symphony has the right foundation to leverage the AI revolution thanks to the last four years of digitalization and relentless automation

Have you seen the latest TIME magazine cover? For the first time in history, the cover features AI. That's right, folks — the AI revolution is here, changing how we live and work.

One of the most exciting applications of AI is in the telecom industry, where tools like ChatGPT are disrupting how we generate and gather valuable insights from the vast amounts of data generated by telecom network operations. However, to fully leverage the benefits of AI, it is essential to go beyond just insights. And that's the goal here at Rakuten Symphony, to go beyond insight generation and question-answer-based discovery toward action orchestration and autonomous networks.

We published our viewpoint on telecom's AI and autonomous networks almost three years ago in the paper, “Towards a Truly Autonomous Network.” With increasing complexity, telecom networks are not only for humans but also for machines. At the same time, the increasing costs to maintain complex modern telecom networks cannot be offloaded to the customers. Moving towards an AI-powered autonomous network is the only way to offer quality services to consumers sustainably.

Telecom is a regulated and responsible business. Therefore, the foundation must be done right to enable AI-powered operations in a telecom network. The foundation underlies digitalization and automation layers with unified data models and interfaces, allowing AI to work toward an autonomous network. Let me shed some light on this journey towards AI-powered networks that we have taken in Rakuten Symphony over the last four years to build the two foundational pieces: Digitalization and Automation.


We have digitalized the entire network lifecycle data from planning, deployment and security to operations into universal vendor-agnostic data models. This was made possible because of a platform-based, clean architecture that leverages a common data lake and other platform services.

The complete site management workflow from planning to construction, network coverage and capacity geo-data, every customer feedback or inquiry, every incident debrief and RCA, every change request method of procedure, the end-to-end inventory data model, the full-stack observability including configurations for all horizontal and vertical domains; we made it all digital. We made it all available on the common platform. We made it all accessible by standard vendor-agnostic APIs.

Figure 1: Rakuten Symphony product offerings that enable digitalization and automation in the network powered by Symworld platform


Automation was not just a technology problem but also a culture/mindset problem. We solved our technology problem by embracing the OpenRAN, cloud-native and platform-based application architecture. Once the interfaces were open and all the data available digitally, we could automate the day-to-day manual network operational procedures, change requests and some of the most complex and time-consuming tasks, such as deploying, upgrading and restoring the network.

We had to make every network operation-related task available as an automation template so that, eventually, AI could understand and operate the network autonomously. We quickly realized this was not a problem of technology, but a culture/mindset one. It was only possible to achieve the scale of automation we were looking at if the entire organization contributed toward automation. Hence, we created a framework called Automation Studio. It comes with an “Automation Use case Portal” where users can get incentives for posting, designing and implementing automation use cases. This was backed by the automation libraries and development toolkit we enabled to expedite the automation implementation, execution and security.

Figure 2: Symworld Automation Studio that enables the automation of every network lifecycle management step

What’s next? World’s first autonomous networks powered by SymworldTM

With digitization and automation in place, Rakuten Symphony is well-positioned to leverage the benefits of AI to enable autonomous networks in telecom. This means that the vision of autonomous networks in the industry is no longer just a dream but can now be made a reality.

With the Symworld™ platform that has an open developer toolkit, we can enable application developers (rApps, xApps, any apps) worldwide to contribute towards this journey to autonomous networks.

In conclusion, the AI revolution is here, improving the telecom industry. With the prerequisites of digitization and automation in place, we at Rakuten Symphony are well-positioned to enable AI and autonomous networks in the telecom industry, ushering in a new era of efficiency and productivity. So, let's embrace the AI revolution and take our telecom networks to the next level!

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