The networking opportunities of Australia's billion-dollar AI and IoT sectors

Opportunities on the horizon for AI and IoT but regulatory issues raise concerns

Artificial intelligence (AI) could have significant implications for Australia’s networking industry, according to a new report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The report, Artificial Intelligence in Communications and Media, stated AI could be applied to help optimise network management and performance, for example enabling service providers to allocate resources in a 4G or 5G network.

In addition, the technology could also support more efficient utilisation of network capacity, analysing data make traffic predictions, and enable more autonomous operations to support the delivery of efficient, high-quality and reliable services to consumers. 

The regulator also claims there is potential for AI technologies to support new approaches to spectrum sharing and therefore greater utilisation of spectrum.

Reports now estimate that digital technologies could contribute $140 to $250 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2025, with automation technologies (including those enabled by AI) comprising $30 to $60 billion for Australia over this period. 

“Ethical principles and frameworks identify some of the desired outcomes for how AI operates and is used across the economy,” the report, however, said. 

“[These] do not address the challenges and potential harms of AI on their own. Regulation (including self-regulation, co-regulation, and direct regulation) provides rules to guide industry behaviour and support accountability.”

In a separate report released at the same time, the ACMA also examined the implications of the internet of things (IoT) on the networking and communications industries.

According to PwC, Australia’s IoT industry hit almost $19 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to $30 billion by 2023, providing a potential new revenue source within the telecommunications sector. 

The report, Internet of Things in media and communications, cited Telstra’s reported growth in its IoT business, which rose by 19.4 per cent in revenue in 2019.

However, the ACMA warned that the growth of IoT devices in the Australian market has the potential to create regulatory and compliance challenges. 

“We are mindful that this may result in new market players with no previous experience in complying with the radiocommunications standards entering the market,” the watchdog claimed.

“We are also aware that new types of objects and devices transmitting radiofrequency could result in increased complexity in managing interference."