Is AI Improving Cell Service? Short Answer: Yes

In the first episode of Source De[Code], This is Your Brain on AI, host Ben Coffin sat down with Rahul Brito, a PhD student researching the link between language and mental health, to explore how artificial intelligence (AI) is useful in helping the research community accelerate medical and scientific discoveries. This was an excellent introduction to AI and went a long way towards helping me to decouple the AI mythologized by popular culture from its real and impactful benefits. Episode two takes AI out of the lab and frames the technology within a context we all understand: our phones.

In episode two, Ben brings the conversation about AI closer to home for him. As a tech professional who has built his career in wireless communications technology, exploring where AI fits into this ecosystem is a natural next step in his exploration of artificial intelligence. To do this, he sat down with his colleague and Director of 6G Marketing at Keysight. Together, they explore the evolution of wireless networks, investigate the ways in which researchers are leveraging in the 5G wireless toolbox of today, and speculate as to where AI-enabled networks might lead us in the future.

How Does AI Make Your Cell Service Better?

Ben observed in the episode that “wireless communication is a fabric of technology that makes our everyday lives possible.” The holiday season has just ended, and, like most podcast enthusiasts, I carried out the majority of my magic-making tasks in the company of my favorite podcast hosts. Indeed, gift wrapping, meal prep, and post-holiday cleaning would have taken longer and been far less bearable without the countless hours of podcasts I binged.

In the same way that families see the magic of the holidays and not the effort that goes on behind the scenes to make it possible, I take for granted the fact that my phone will connect to the network and just do what I need it to do. Prior to listening to Ben and Sarah’s conversation, I only really thought about the network and technology behind it when my coverage is spotty, or the network is down.

This acknowledgement that we do not think about networks until there is an issue was the jumping off point for the conversation between Ben and Sarah about AI’s place in the wireless ecosystem. Prior to 5G, cellular communications systems were primarily hardware-based, but as technology as evolved, these systems have become increasingly software base. As a result, it is natural that AI will take a larger role in the design, development, and optimization of cell phone technology.

Optimization, Sarah emphasizes, is where AI will increasingly be pivotal in wireless communications technology. As we learned last episode, AI is uniquely suited for parsing and benchmarking massive data sets against known-good training data to identify patterns. This is critical for continuous optimization and is why Sarah believes that AI will be used at every touchpoint in wireless technology going forward.

AI won’t only optimize new product design and development but will also be critical for resource optimization and making the wireless communications industry more environmentally sustainable. The wireless comms industry is one of the largest consumers of energy and researchers are actively committed to finding solutions to reduce energy consumption at all touchpoints, and AI will be pivotal in identifying opportunities to do so. Another finite, non-renewable resource that wireless networks require is spectrum bandwidth. Optimizing spectrum use is vital to ensuring that wireless communications technology can continue to evolve and improve.

With all of the things that AI can be used to improve and optimize, it might be easy to think it is a magic bullet solution. This leans into the myth of AI, doesn’t it? No. “It’s not a one size fits all solution,” Sarah cautions. “When you dig it, you realize it solves specific problems you train it to solve.” Much like the promise of magic during the holiday seasons, when it comes to AI, it is important to balance expectations with reality. This is especially true when it comes to scaling AI up to the scales required for wireless networks.

AI is already being used to optimize the cell phone networks that we rely on in every part of our daily lives and will continue to do so in greater ways as the technology advances. And just like Mom makes magic during the holidays, we will know that AI research is working because we can continue to not think about the complexities that make it possible.

Get to Know Source De[Code] Episode 2 Guest, Sarah Laselva

Sarah Laselva, Director of 6G Marketing at Keysight Sarah Laselva, Director of 6G Marketing at Keysight Technologies discusses how AI is improving cell service in episode 2 of Source De[Code].

Sarah leads 6G marketing efforts for Keysight Technologies. She has over a decade’s worth of experience in the test and measurement space with a specific concentration on wireless communications- both the study and promotion of the latest wireless technologies.

What was the 'aha' moment that started you down the path/influenced your journey to where you are right now?

I saw a presentation from a marketing manager about how software defined radios were being used in wireless research. It was such a cool technology being used to solve hard and interesting problems. I knew I wanted to work with it going forward.

If you hadn't chosen your current profession, what would you have pursued instead? Why?

As a kid I always wanted to be a radio DJ. I love music. I love digging deep into unknown artists and picking the ones I think will be the next big thing and sharing those finds with friends.

Where can we find you when you're not innovating the future of technology?

Outside of the office you can find me cooking, riding my bike, hiking with my husband and our dog, and knitting. But more than anything I love to ski and I am so excited that ski season is almost here!

Listen to Episode 2 Out Now Wherever You Listen to Podcasts

Get to know Sarah and learn more about how AI impacts your cell service by tuning into episode two of Source De[Code] now. You can dive into more resources, learn more about the podcast, and more by visiting the Source De[Code] homepage.