HomeDigital Platforms & APIsOrange preps next set of network API launches

    Orange preps next set of network API launches


    Group CTO Laurent Leboucher talks to Mobile Europe about building industry momentum for Orange’s telco platform offerings after launch of two APIs this month

    Orange is working on the next tranche of application programming interfaces (APIs) to make available to developers following the launch of its first two API services this year as it looks to build industry momentum for its telco platform offerings.

    In Spain, Orange teamed with Telefónica and Vodafone to introduce two network APIs earlier this month, Number Verification and SIM Swap, which are aimed at fraud prevention and detection use cases as part of the GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative.

    The APIs are commercially available in Spain for developers to use. The operators worked together in order to “expose APIs in a consistent manner,” said Laurent Leboucher, Group CTO and Senior Vice President of Orange Innovation Networks.

    Orange has also made these APIs available in France and is working with other operators in its home market to get them more involved in the initiative.

    Turning attention

    Now, the operator is turning its attention to geofencing and quality-on-demand APIs for new use cases, which were some of the demos on its stand at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

    “We started with APIs that are easy to expose. Our plan is to go commercial … with some other APIs where we need to [work] on the technical aspect – the network exposure function,” said Leboucher.

    He explained that the geolocation API “is probably the easiest one that will come very soon,” but “quality on demand will need a bit more time to understand where it makes a big difference.”

    For the quality on demand API, Orange is interested in exploring gaming and B2B industry use cases, “where there is a need to guarantee a certain quality for some traffic,” such as to control industrial robots in factories.

    The operator currently offers beta versions of network APIs for quality on demand, device location verification, device location retrieval, and device status.

    API boost for B2B and private networks

    Orange hopes leveraging Open Gateway and the network APIs defined by the Linux Foundation’s CAMARA project will enable it to pursue “more interesting use cases in B2B services” and to industrialise its mobile private network offerings.

    Currently, Orange provides mobile private networks on a “project-by-project basis,” said Leboucher. In future, the operator wants the capability to offer private networks as a service on demand, which would enable customers to set up and control the traffic on their networks.

    Leboucher is positive about the progress Orange and other operators have made to make the first network APIs commercially available since the GSMA launched Open Gateway at MWC last year. And he sees the industry groups involved “working quite smoothly together” – that is, the GSMA, Linux Foundation CAMARA project, and TM Forum.

    But he said this is “not enough” and the industry needs to “create more momentum” and “scale.”

    Standards need scale

    “It’s not just about standards. Standards are key, but it’s also about customer intimacy and how we can test new use cases and get feedback from developers to get the APIs simple enough and appealing for them to use,” he said.

    Here, he said he expects to work closely with partners like hyperscalers Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure, to “help us create awareness through their marketplaces.”

    “It will take a bit of time to create the momentum. But we have very strong expectations that it will create not only new revenues but also help us to create an ecosystem where connectivity is not just a commodity.

    “[Rather,] it is part of a complete set of assets and tools that we provide to enterprises to help them to digitise their own business and use the network as they use the cloud…  It’s not only a question of direct revenue [from] each API, but how you create the platform ecosystem in which we want to play a big role. We call that telco as a platform,” he said.

    Open Gateway is a year old

    Orange was not alone among operators showcasing network APIs at MWC this year, and the GSMA touted operators’ progress on Open Gateway initiatives. Indeed, many operators featured network API use cases and demos on the stands, including Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica.

    More than 40 mobile operators around the world have launched a total of 94 network API services to developers in 21 countries around the world, according the GSMA.

    The mobile industry body launched Open Gateway a year ago with the backing of 21 network operators in a bid to “unlock 5G’s full potential”. Today, 47 operator groups have joined the initiative.

    The APIs are defined by the CAMARA project while the TM Forum provides its open APIs and Open Digital Architecture framework needed to help monetize the APIs.