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Unleashing the Potential of Network APIs: A Collaborative Journey for Boundless Innovation

Contributed by Shkumbin Hamiti, Head of Network Monetization Platform business unit, Nokia.

For decades, the telecommunications industry has operated within the confines of closed networks, tightly controlling access to their infrastructure. This insular approach, while providing a degree of control and security, has ultimately served as a barrier to innovation and progress. However, the advent of software-defined networking standards and the transformative 5G revolution has ushered in a paradigm shift, compelling telco companies to embrace ecosystem-centric models and the imperative of network openness.

The GSMA Open Gateway initiative, in conjunction with the CAMARA project, has gained remarkable traction, with a substantial number of mobile operators and networks participating worldwide. This initiative represents a collective commitment to network openness, aiming to streamline digital service integration across networks through the implementation of Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs). With 47 mobile operator groups and 239 networks worldwide, representing an impressive 65% of global connections, this endeavor underscores the industry’s recognition of the need for collaboration and openness.

 

Unlocking dynamic network capabilities: the power of APIs

At the heart of network openness lies the transformative potential of APIs, enabling seamless communication between applications and networks. These APIs leverage the programmable nature of cloud-native 5G networks, facilitating dynamic allocation of network capabilities based on real-time requirements. This unprecedented level of flexibility and responsiveness represents a paradigm shift in network management, allowing applications to request and receive specialized capabilities tailored to their specific needs.

Applications can now request low-latency connectivity, augmented capacity, or other specialized capabilities, on demand. This dynamic provisioning represents the realization of the long-promised potential of network slicing, a concept that has been discussed for years but is now becoming a reality. With APIs enabling automated creation and management of network slices, applications can truly leverage the full power of 5G networks, unlocking new realms of possibility and innovation.

 

Cultivating an ecosystem of innovation and value creation

Network APIs foster a vibrant ecosystem where stakeholders across industries can mutually benefit, driving innovation and value creation. Developers gain access to specialized network capabilities, empowering them to create cutting-edge applications that push the boundaries of digital transformation. Simultaneously, service providers can monetize API access, generating new revenue streams and maximizing returns on their 5G investments, ensuring a sustainable and profitable future for their businesses.

Infrastructure vendors, such as Nokia, play a pivotal role in this ecosystem, providing platforms like Network as Code to facilitate seamless access to network APIs. These platforms act as catalysts, fostering collaboration and driving ecosystem growth, enabling stakeholders to seamlessly integrate and leverage the full potential of network openness.

Early adopters across various industries, including automotive, manufacturing, public safety, and entertainment, have already recognized the transformative value of these dynamic network capabilities. For instance, a drone operator could leverage location verification APIs for another layer of  location tracking and “quality on demand” APIs to ensure reliable connectivity in congested areas, facilitating seamless and efficient operations.

Another exciting example showcased at MWC is the use of remote piloting. The Port of Antwerp, Belgium, ranks second in size and is among Europe’s busiest. Situated inland at the estuary’s apex, it enjoys seamless rail, road, river, and canal connections. Historically, ships faced challenges navigating the narrow passage, necessitating temporary docking for a licensed captain to guide them in.

Today, advancements in network and software technology offer a solution. Utilizing Telenet’s advanced 5G network, licensed pilots can remotely steer vessels from offshore control centers.

By empowering application developers to program the network, Telenet enables precise navigation, reducing wait times for ships and enhancing safety. This innovation not only improves efficiency but also reduces fuel consumption, emissions, and idle time. Moreover, it opens opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in piloting. Similar innovations are emerging across Europe, revolutionizing transportation systems.

 

Collaboration: the key to unlocking boundless potential

As APIs enable vertical industry applications to directly interface to networks,, the possibilities for innovation and transformation are truly boundless. However, the anticipated surge in demand from developers across industries undergoing digital transformation underscores the critical importance of collaboration across the ecosystem.

Realizing this vision requires a concerted and collective effort from all stakeholders. Developers must articulate their needs, continuously providing feedback and insights to shape the evolution of network capabilities. Service providers must invest in developing robust and flexible supporting systems, ensuring seamless integration and delivery of dynamic network services. Infrastructure vendors must continue to push the boundaries of enabling technologies, providing the foundation upon which this ecosystem can thrive.

By embracing network openness and unlocking the full potential of 5G networks, the telecommunications industry can drive unprecedented innovation, growth and value creation for all stakeholders. Collaboration and cooperation among players across the ecosystem are paramount, fostering an environment where ideas can flourish and transformative solutions can take root.

 

Conclusion: shaping the future of connectivity, unleashing boundless possibilities

The paradigm shift toward network openness represents a pivotal moment in the telecommunications industry, reverberating across industries and shaping the future of connectivity. As telecommunications companies embrace ecosystem-centric models and leverage the power of APIs and dynamic slicing, they are poised to unlock unprecedented possibilities for innovation and collaboration.

By fostering an environment where stakeholders across industries can access and leverage specialized network capabilities, the telecommunications industry can pave the way for a future replete with innovation, growth and value creation. Boundaries will be pushed and new frontiers will be explored as the power of 5G networks is unleashed, enabling applications and solutions that were once mere concepts to become tangible realities.

As we move forward on this transformative journey, collaborative efforts will be the key to realizing the boundless potential of network openness. Through collective commitment, vision and action, the telecommunications industry will shape a future where connectivity knows no bounds, driving progress, empowering businesses and enriching lives in ways we can only begin to imagine.