Samsung buys Spain's Zhilabs to shape up AI business

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Samsung has bought Spanish artificial intelligence and networks analytics firm Zhilabs to strengthen its 5G portfolio.

The takeover, for an undisclosed sum, will help Samsung boost its automation and analytics capabilities, which it said would be central to developing 5G services.

The Korean vendor and device manufacturer said that AI will specifically play a critical role in the industrial Internet of Things and connected cars.

These areas will create the need to analyse user traffic at a granular level, determine which applications are being used and increase service quality, Samsung said. It noted existing solutions do not provide the necessary services.

Zhilabs will continue to operate under its own management and independently from Samsung.

Youngky Kim, President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, said: “5G will enable unprecedented services attributed to the generation of exponential data traffic, for which automated and intelligent network analytics tools are vital.

“The acquisition of Zhilabs will help Samsung meet these demands to assure each subscriber receives the best possible service.”

Joan Raventós, CEO at Zhilabs, added: “5G technology will disrupt the communications landscape for the better, but it will only be successful if the quality of the networks transferring the information can be measured and improved to provide a best-in-class experience.”

The Zhilabs acquisition is part of Samsung's €140 billion spend to support capex and R&D for the next decade.

First announced in the summer, Samsung said €19.25 billion of this cash would be devoted to 5G, AI, autonomous driving and semiconductors.

It is aiming to swell its AI global research team to 1,000.