Artificial intelligence (AI) could eliminate half of all jobs in the telecommunications sector, warned Digicel founder Denis O’Brien.
The Irish businessman, whose debt-laden Digicel has extensive operations in the Caribbean and Central America, believes that adopting AI is essential for the survival of the “shrinking” telecom industry.
“The telecommunications industry is shrinking all the time,” O’Brien said during a discussion hosted by telecoms.com.
Carriers are now adopting new technologies, he said, adding that raising subscription costs is no longer an option.
O’Brien argued that while the industry is “shrinking all the time,” carriers are left with no choice but to adopt AI to stay afloat.
His comments resonate with current global trends, as evidenced by workforce reductions in major European and North American telecom companies.
Despite experiencing subscriber growth, many telecoms have struggled to increase profits due to the immense costs associated with network upgrades and expansion. This has led to widespread adoption of chatbots in customer service centers, the outsourcing of tech functions and even the sharing of network infrastructure to reduce expenses.
Earlier this year, news emerged that Digicel would shut down its contact centers in Trinidad & Tobago to cut costs.
O’Brien’s comments suggest that the emergence of generative AI poses a significant threat to the telecom workforce. As companies strive to boost profitability and survive in a competitive landscape, automation of business functions is likely to become increasingly common.
Digicel employs over 7,000 people across the region and its debt load is mounting with each passing day as interest rates move up.