The GSMA has revealed as many as 47 mobile operator groups, representing 239 mobile networks and 65% of connections around the world, have now signed up to its Open Gateway initiative, designed to accelerate the growth of digital services and apps, unlocking the full potential of 5G networks and commercialising network application programming interfaces (APIs), ensuring they integrate seamlessly with hundreds of participating networks globally.

According to research by McKinsey, network API initiatives can unlock significant value for the telecommunications industry, and businesses using 5G networks over the next six years. It’s forecast that, if operators can expose more of their network APIs and innovations to enterprise developer and cloud provider communities, they can unlock an additional $300bn market opportunity by 2030.

Explaining the rationale for the launch, the GSMA stated that with online fraud and cyber crime being one of the biggest issues facing online commerce, it was joining mobile operators and technology partners to first focus the initiative on tackling online crime.

Having built support among the global mobile operator industry in 2023, the GSMA Open Gateway initiative is focusing on how it can help members ramp up developer engagement in 2024. This will be achieved through the commercial launch of new services and a focus on three go-to-market commercial channels for open API adoption.

The GSMA noted that though Open Gateway, technology partners and cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Infobip, Microsoft, Nokia and Vonage, a part of Ericsson, more than 40 mobile operator networks have now made a combined total of 94 APIs commercially available to enterprise developers in 21 markets across Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.

“It’s been an exciting year for GSMA Open Gateway, and the mobile industry, where we have begun to build a unified ecosystem and unlock the full potential of 5G networks,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA. “This has culminated in the birth of a new API era.

“Our collective job for 2024 is to nurture and grow this opportunity and provide ubiquitous access to enterprise developers and cloud providers, so they can do what they do best, which is launch game-changing new services that can maximise the benefits of 5G networks.”

Recent activity in the sector includes Nokia and Liberty Global conducting successful trials in Port of Antwerp in Belgium, as part of the initiative, delivering high-definition video streams to remotely located captains to help them manoeuvre shipping vessels through busy areas. Deutsche Telekom, O2 Telefónica and Vodafone are testing Quality on Demand APIs with Siemens Energy. Siemens is using the API to perform virtually assisted remote maintenance, using augmented reality that requires consistently high network quality to enable broad deployment even in locations without stable connectivity.

AWS and Liberty Global have announced a collaboration to create a network-as-a-service (NaaS) framework that enables developers to use and access Liberty Global’s fixed and mobile networks as a platform for innovation.

During the opening speech at MWC 2024, Telefónica chairman José María Álvarez-Pallete said the telco industry was becoming active co-creators of the new digital era. “[The industry] has once again transformed its vision into reality,” he said. “A year ago, we shared a vision for the industry, for the future of our sector, a massive revolution coming from a new era, the era of Earth Computing, in which networks are becoming proactive and liquid.

“The future is already here. It is happening. Amazing new products and services are already flowing through our networks. Collaboration embodies the power of what can be done when all come together. And that’s what GSMA is doing. That’s Open Gateway. And I am proud of belonging to GSMA. Vision and reality merge in a new world of diversity, curiosity, intelligence, innovation, progress, sustainability, welfare and humanity. We are proud of what we have created.”

Ross Ortega, vice-president of product management at Microsoft Azure for Operators, added: “Microsoft proudly champions the Open Gateway initiative, underscoring our commitment to making network programmability universally accessible to developers of connected applications.

“We believe that the standardisation of network capabilities and APIs is crucial for ensuring that developers can easily understand and adopt these technologies. Azure Programmable Connectivity is at the forefront of this effort, aligning closely with Open Gateway standards to pave the way for seamless integration and innovation.”

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