In AI push, Telenor hires Google Cloud’s Amol Phadke as CTO

OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor has recruited Google Cloud’s Amol Phadke as its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to strengthen its AI activities, Telenor said on Tuesday.

Phadke most recently headed Google Cloud’s telecom business and has previously worked for British Telecom, Alcatel-Lucent and Accenture’s network services unit.

“He knows the challenges that a legacy business such as ours has, and it’s important that Telenor will continue to be on the forefront of the technology change,” Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters in an interview.

Telenor partnered up with Google Cloud in 2021 to digitalise its global operations exploring ways to jointly offer services to customers, part of its ongoing digital transformation plan.

AI can be used to collect data to be used to train predictive models that automate core functions within companies, or their customers.

Brekke said Telenor needs to prioritise speedy innovation and forming partnerships to transform the traditional telecom company, although it started using AI 10 years ago and applied it to make the networks more energy-efficient.

He said he wanted Telenor “to use AI in all of our operations to make operations more efficient, develop new products, increase energy efficiency.”

Phadke said Telenor would use AI will to make business operations more efficient, for example to predict traffic demand and allocate more bandwidth to areas with more users, and to improve interactions with customers.

Telenor will not cut jobs as a result of implementing AI, he said.

“We do not believe that AI will directly result in job reductions,” Phadke said, adding he envisaged using AI to augment and enhance, not substitute, humans in processes.

“I think I think overall as an industry, the adoption has been slow but that’s because the nature of the industry is highly competitive, most things take time because it’s a huge legacy,” Phadke said.

The company also said it had appointed Petter-Boerre Furberg as head of its key Asia unit.

Furberg, who has previously held senior Telenor management positions in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand, replaces Joergen C. Arentz Rostrup in the role, while Rostrup will replace Furberg as head of Telenor Nordics.

Last year, Telenor completed a $15 billion merger to form a telecoms leader in Malaysia, and completed a $8.6 billion deal in Thailand in March this year.

“After completing the two biggest telco mergers in Southeast Asia and setting up and implementing a strong and future-proof organisation in the region, (Rostrup) will now return to the Nordics,” Brekke said in a statement.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty; editing by David Evans)