Communications service provider engineers and managers are upbeat about artificial intelligence (AI), according to a global study conducted by Censuswide that was commissioned by telecom equipment vendor Ciena.

Respondents were in 17 countries. Overall, 85% are confident in providers’ ability to monetize AI traffic. But U.S. respondents were less confident than those in some other countries, with just 55% of U.S. respondents expressing confidence in monetizing AI.

Overall, more than half of respondents expect AI to improve network operational efficiency by 40% or more. And almost everyone (99%) believe they will need to upgrade their fiber optic networks to support more AI traffic.

Telecom AI Study

The survey asked what types of businesses will contribute the most AI traffic. The top three responses were financial services (46%), media and entertainment (43%) and manufacturing (38%).

Respondents said revenue generation will come from opening networks to third-party integrations (40%), security and privacy services (37%), new product offerings (37%), and creation of tailored subscription packages (35%). Just over a third (34%) see revenue opportunities from quality of service (QoS) connectivity options.

There was support for three types of cloud deployments of AI: 43% of respondents favor private cloud deployment, while 37% favored public cloud deployments and 21% favored a hybrid cloud approach.

Finally, 67% of respondents expect AI to result in job creation. Areas where they expect to see new hires include cybersecurity (cited by 31% of respondents), machine learning (30%) and programming/coding (30%).

“Understanding emerging technologies like AI is an essential step toward staying competitive in today’s constantly changing digital landscape,” Jürgen Hatheier Ciena’s international chief technology officer, said in a prepared statement. “The survey highlights the optimistic long-term outlook of CSPs regarding AI’s ability to enhance the network, as well as the need for strategic planning and investments in infrastructure and expertise to fully realize the benefits.”

A report from Capgemini suggests that generative AI – AI that creates content such as text, video and images – can be an important tool in network automation.

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