Artificial intelligence (AI) will make it easier for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to gain a foothold in the telecommunications market, says Daniele Pe, an associate partner at advisory and investment firm Delta Partners. Thanks to AI-enabled automation, setting up an MVNO can be done at "a fraction of the cost it used to take — a few million dollars", San Francisco-based Pe told Business Day. It was now possible to establish an MVNO within "a few months", he said. Through the information and communications technology (ICT) policy white paper, the South African government is trying to encourage competition in telecommunications by lowering barriers to entry. MVNOs, including FNB Connect, Virgin Mobile and MRP Mobile, have a market share of about 1.7%. "AI at this moment is probably the technology with the biggest potential to disrupt the telecoms industry," Pe said. Mobile operators could use the technology to automate customer interactions — including sales and support f...

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