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GSMA Open Gateway: transforming networks into service enablement platforms

MAR 07, 2024 | Suruchi Dhingra
region: ALL vertical: ALL Internet of ThingsHyperconnectivityAutonomous Robotic SystemsArtificial IntelligenceData SharingEdge Computing

Last week at MWC Barcelona 2024, the GSM Association (GSMA) opened the keynote presentation by sharing the progress on the Open Gateway initiative that it launched in 2023, describing how the mobile industry is unlocking the potential of commercialising network APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Many operators (including Orange, KDDI and Telefonica) showcased demonstrations of use cases enabled by network APIs at their stands during the event.

Currently, more than 47 mobile operator groups, representing 239 mobile networks and 65% of cellular connections globally have signed up for the Open Gateway initiative including Telefonica, Singtel, Vodafone, Verizon and many others featured in the graphic below. These mobile operators have now made 94 APIs commercially available to enterprise developers in 21 countries across
the world. 

Open Gateway operators.png

What is the Open Gateway initiative?

Open Gateway is a GSMA-led initiative in the telecommunications sector that seeks to transform cellular communications networks into seamless platforms. The initiative allows operators to open access to their network APIs and give developers, cloud providers and enterprise customers access to network services so that they can enhance existing services and develop new digital services more quickly across multiple operator networks. 

The Open Gateway APIs are defined, developed, and published in CAMARA, an open-source project for developers to access enhanced network capabilities, driven by the Linux Foundation in partnership with TM Forum. CAMARA works in collaboration with the GSMA Operator Platform Group to standardise and publish the API definitions and APIs.

Open Gateway portfolio of APIs

The GSMA Open Gateway initiative was initially launched with eight network APIs in early 2023. The portfolio of CAMARA APIs has since continued to expand and now has more than 17 standardised APIs, as listed in the table below (Source: GSMA). The CAMARA API’s cover anti-fraud, mobile connectivity, payments, cloud & edge, and more services. To give a few examples on what these APIs do:

  • The ‘Simple Edge Discovery’ API allows an application to discover the nearest edge cloud node that optimises the network performance and thus has use cases across edge cloud cases such as gaming, high resolution video streaming and remote control of vehicles.
  • The SIM Swap API supports the ability to obtain information on any recent SIM pairing change associated with a mobile number. This can be used for fraud prevention in banking and fraud prevention for password resets. 
  • The Geofencing API allows for notification of geographical position changes i.e. receiving notifications when a device enters or exits a specified area. This API can be specifically useful for personalising services in retail, ecommerce, and tourism.
Open Gateway APIs.png

In general, these APIs have the potential to facilitate development of numerous opportunities including the delivery of immersive gaming experiences, combatting online financial crime, preventing digital identity theft, securing online transactions, enhancing consumer experience with more personalised services, and enabling autonomous and aerial vehicles to carry out data intensive operations and fulfil safety obligations. For example, in the US, Inspired Flight Technologies (IFT) is working with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to test the use of network APIs to enable connected devices, such as drones, to maintain mid-flight connectivity.

Adam Bilmes, Senior Director of Business Development at Inspired Flight Technologies, said “The ability to access this type of network information via an API will allow us to better support drone flight and management, to pinpoint where to send relief immediately after weather events and/or to fly over communications and other assets to expedite recovery efforts”.

KDDI, the Japanese telecommunication operator, showcased some real-life API-driven case studies in messaging, broadcast, and sports businesses. For example, enterprises in the broadcasting industry can use Edge Discovery APIs to provide features like 5G network slicing for bandwidth assurance and connectivity to nearby MEC servers, facilitating wireless video broadcast and real-time editing operations. Enterprises in the sports industry can use value-added APIs to offer personalised services to spectators.  

Orange has deployed Number Verification and SIM Swap in France and Spain and is exposing the beta versions of other network APIs like Quality on Demand, Device Location Verification, Device Location Retrieval and Device Status. At MWC, the operator showcased a demonstration of the Geofencing API across use cases like logistics and theft prevention.

Most operators have initially launched APIs focused on security and subscriber identity, particularly SIM Swap and Number Verification. To summarise the current progress of telco operators:

  • Three operators (Claro, TIM and Vivo) have launched three network APIs – Number Verification, SIM Swap and Device Location in Brazil.
  • Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone have launched Number Verification and SIM Swap in Spain.
  • Three operators (Deutsche Telekom, O2 Telefónica and Vodafone) have launched Number Verification and SIM Swap in Germany. They are also working with Siemens Energy to use the Quality On Demand API to perform virtually assisted remote maintenance using augmented reality.
  • Bharti Airtel Lanka, Dialog Axiata, Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka, and SLT-Mobitel have launched One Time Password (OTP) Validation, Device Location and Carrier Billing in Sri Lanka.
  • Telkomsel, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison, XL Axiata, and Smartfren have launched Number Verification, SIM Swap, and Device Location in Indonesia.
  • Cell C, MTN, and Telkom have launched Number Verification and SIM Swap in South Africa.

Now having launched these initial APIs in different countries, operators and enterprises are focusing on ramping up their efforts to engage more developers in 2024. Since launch in early 2023, it is clear that the GSMA’s Open APIs initiative has been successful in maintaining some significant momentum over the past year. Whilst it is still early days for the concept of standardised APIs for cellular networks it is clear that this approach has the potential to unlock significant benefits for enterprise users of cellular networks, and to enable new and innovative applications and digitally transformative solutions.

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