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The sign at the IBM facility near Boulder,

By Clara-Laeila Laudette and Supantha Mukherjee

Big technology players such as Microsoft and Amazon are vying for a share of 5G revenue by offering telecom operators next-generation software tools.

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IBM, using technology it obtained from buying software firm Red Hat, will offer the telecom operators cloud services to run their networks and assist them in selling products tailored to customers. No financial terms were disclosed about the tie-ups, which broadened IBM’s existing partnerships with the two firms.

A cloud platform uses software instead of physical equipment to perform network functions, helping telecom operators build 5G networks faster, reduce costs and sell customised services.

“It’s a disruptive time in this particular market segment, telcos are trying to position themselves as the destination for services like augmented reality, machine learning and AI,” Darell Jordan-Smith, vice president of Redhat, told Reuters.

On the AI front, IBM and Spain’s Telefonica have created a virtual assistant that they say will remove friction points, such as long wait times, by automating the handling of frequently asked questions and tasks like billing.

“We see this as an existential moment for telco operators with 5G: architecturally, they’re looking to gain more control on their platforms and rethink their network as a digital world rather than a structured physical model,” said Steve Canepa, IBM’s general manager for communications business.

(Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Supantha Mukherjee in Barcelona)

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