September 20, 2023
German incumbent Deutsche Telekom, together with Ericsson, has taken the plunge and commercially launched a suite of network APIs.
Developers have a choice of three from DT’s new platform, MagentaBusiness API Portal, which has been developed and implemented by Ericsson’s Vonage unit.
First up is ‘quality-on-demand’, which enables an app to request a specific quality of service for a SIM card. This is useful for real-time services that rely on high throughput and low latency in order to work properly.
Then there is ‘device status – roaming’, which enables an app to determine whether a device is in international roaming mode. DT said this will prove useful for services like credit card fraud detection, where a banking app can instantly verify whether a customer is likely to be making a payment while abroad.
Finally, there is ‘device location’, which uses the network to identify the location of a SIM card. This has potential uses for various logistics applications.
Opening up network APIs to the developer community is one of the mobile industry’s hottest topics this year. With 5G in its non-standalone form proving something of an anticlimax, the industry wants to expose network APIs in an effort to stimulate the development of services that are more compelling than enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB).
It is being championed by the GSMA, which in February launched its Open Gateway Initiative. Together with operators, vendors and software makers, it has developed and published network APIs in CAMARA, an open source API project spearheaded by the Linux Foundation and the GSMA.
Deutsche Telekom has been involved with the initiative from the start. So has Ericsson, which is mid-pivot towards becoming what it calls a ‘platform company’ that is less reliant on network equipment sales to maintain its financial health.
This was the primary motivation for the kit maker’s $6.2 billion swoop for Vonage. The acquisition brought with it Vonage’s suite of unified communications and contact centre services, an extensive portfolio of comms APIs, and an active community of developers.
When the deal closed, Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm said that in future, network capabilities will be consumed and paid for through open network APIs, creating an opportunity for “unparalleled innovation”.
With the DT deal, that future is looming large. Ericsson on Wednesday described the partnership as a key milestone on its journey to becoming global network platform business.
“By creating a global platform business, Ericsson is redefining the industry and creating new ways to innovate through the network,” Ekholm said.
Citing figures from consultancy STL Partners, Ericsson said the revenue opportunity for mobile network APIs will grow to over $20 billion by 2028. It also reckons that new use cases based on network APIs represent a “vastly higher” revenue opportunity for operators.
“For operators, the API business will open up additional revenue possibilities which will further enhance the future network buildout,” Ekholm said.
Deutsche Telekom will certainly hope so.
“Our network is the very foundation of our company. By opening it up, we are creating new ways for customers and developers to generate value for their business,” said DT chief exec Tim Höttges. “APIs are a key strategic focus for Deutsche Telekom, underlined by our key role in the foundation of the CAMARA alliance, which aims to make standardised APIs available internationally.”
It will be interesting to see how developers put these APIs to use, and whether they can finally demonstrate 5G’s true potential.
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