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    Give us the tools and we’ll finesse 5G, African and Middle East telcos tell Nokia


    API days, according to Analysys Mason

    The vast majority of mobile network operators (MNOs) are struggling to craft 5G networks into something serviceable for want of a decent network application programming interface (API), according to researcher Analysys Mason’s Caroline Chappell. On behalf of network system vendor Nokia the analyst quizzed MNOs and found the quest for APIs is a top priority for 73% of them.

    The study found that service providers are turning to open APIs and software development kits (SDKs) so that software developers can create programmes that will entice customers to spend money on new 5G services. The research also found that 60% of software developers are keen to write software programmes that let developers tailor existing applications for customers with new services, such as improved quality on demand.

    Programmable network

    The research surveyed 44 CSPs and 67 software developer firms around the world and assessed their attitudes to the concept of the programmable network (AKA Network-Platform-as-a-Service (NPaaS) and Network-as-Code).

    The market for these API-led services will grow from $12 billion in 2022 to $34 billion by 2026, according to Nokia’s estimates. Enlisting software developers en masse is increasingly essential to the creation and delivery of 5G services, Nokia said. Telecom service APIs have a significant role to play in financially exploiting 5G because they can expose the depth of functions and data within telecom networks. This lets developers develop new use cases for their customers, both enterprises and consumers.

    While CSPs and software developers are broadly aligned in their assessment of the most important network APIs, it’s not always foremost in their minds. Half of developers quizzed cited network issues as more pressing. The need for more insight how network quality affects the performance of their applications and the control of the network are more immediate concerns.

    This is because these present a major challenge when trying to use cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) services. A large majority 76% of software developers said that network APIs must be easy to use. The developers complained that complexity and the lack of API documentation from their CSPs andMNO clients dissuades them from using network APIs.

    Larger ecosystems, incremental revenue

    “CSPs could generate incremental revenue [if they collaborated] with developers and other CSPs to create a larger ecosystem,” said Caroline Chappell, Partner at Analysys Mason. They should think about offering their APIs to a third-party, network-platform-as-a-service (NPaaS), engage with developers and building a more embrasive ecosystem, said Chappell. If they include others, even CSPs, they be avoid being hindered by fragmentation, which could jeopardise their chances of exploiting the commercial possibilities of 5G.

    “In the 5G world a new digital ecosystem is emerging, with multiple service chains of hyperscalers, infrastructure, networks and applications being created on a case-by-case basis to create end-user value,” said Shkumbin Hamiti, Nokia’s Head of Network Monetization Platform, Cloud and Network Services. Their spirit wants to drive this ecosystem forward but the flesh is weak, according to Hamiti. “This research highlights the work to be done to create a deeper understanding between CSPs and developers and the required work between them.”