Korean telecom seeks to become ‘AI company’

KT will invest 300 billion won ($257 million) over the next four years to be transformed into an artificial intelligence (AI) company that leads a fully connected, intelligent world, the company said Wednesday.

The Korean telecom company said during a media conference in Seoul that it will also nurture about 1,000 AI specialists with the aim of creating new value in line with the advancement of fifth-generation (5G) networks.

KT rolled out its AI-based service dubbed Giga Genie in January 2017, which was first offered in the form of a television set-top box. The company has since expanded the application of the service to more diverse areas such as speakers, apartments, hotels and cars.

“Giga Genie has been highly acclaimed at home and abroad since its release,” said Lee Pill-jai, a senior executive vice president who heads the marketing group at KT. “KT is now declaring its transformation into an AI company.”

The nation’s largest broadband service provider and second-largest mobile carrier will focus on four areas to expand its AI business ― the global market, industries, offices and education.

To take the Giga Genie service to the global market, the company is already working to apply its tech-centric hotel service offering AI-based features around the clock to hotels in the Philippines this month. Then, the service will be expanded to hotels in Singapore, Dubai and Guam.

For industries, the firm has worked to apply AI to manufacturing plants as well as security and the energy sector.

It is currently operating an AI customer center on a trial basis, with the aim of officially launching it by the end of next year. The AI customer center will be useful in offering counseling to customers during late hours or peak time, the company said.

In a bid to improve business efficiency at offices, KT is preparing a processing service powered by AI, which will replace human employees doing simple, repetitive work. Robotic process automation (RPA) and chatbots will be applied to this service.

The company will also contribute to nurturing the future generation by releasing various educational services powered by AI.

The firm has already rolled out its AI Makers Kit in July that enables anyone, who has a general level of coding knowledge, to create voice-recognition AI devices.

During the media conference, KT unveiled about 20 kinds of AI-related source technologies, with which the company will develop a variety of services that will lead the AI ecosystem.

It added it is aiming to expand the number of devices equipped with its AI engine to 100 million by the end of 2025.

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