Operators eager to open networks to create tools that monetize 5G: Nokia

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Research commissioned by Nokia and conducted by Analysys Mason revealed that network API exposure is a top 5 priority for 73% of communication service providers (CSPs), who are turning to open APIs (application programming interface) and SDK (software development kits) to enable software developers to create programs that offer new 5G services to customers.

In addition, the research found that around 60% of software developers are keen to write software programs that enable developers to enrich their applications for customers with new services, such as improved quality on demand.

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The research surveyed 44 CSPs and 67 software developer firms around the world and assessed their attitudes on various dimensions of the concept of network-platform-as-a-service (NPaaS), sometimes referred to as Network-as-Code, or programmable network. The market for these services that are enabled by telecom APIs is forecast to grow from $12 billion in 2022 to $34 billion by 2026, according to Nokia estimates.

Enlisting software developers, at scale, is increasingly essential to the creation and delivery of 5G services. Telecom service APIs have a significant role to play in monetizing 5G because they can expose the deep functionality and data within telecom networks; allowing developers to then develop new use cases for their customers, both enterprises and consumers.

Still, according to the research, while CSPs and software developers are broadly aligned in their assessment of the most important network APIs, around half of developers cited network issues, like the need for more insight and control of how network quality affects the performance of their applications, as a major challenge when trying to utilize cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) services.

Further, some 76% of software developers said that network APIs must be easy to use and indicated that complexity and the lack of API documentation from CSPs currently deter them from using network APIs.

The research results will be discussed by Nokia and Analysys Mason at a Telecom TV event on May 2, with the full research made public on May 4.

Caroline Chappell, Partner at Analysys Mason, said: “CSPs have the opportunity to generate incremental revenue through collaboration with developers and other CSPs to create a larger ecosystem. CSPs should strongly consider contributing their APIs to a third-party, network-platform-as-a-service (NPaaS), engaging with developers, and building an ecosystem that includes other CSPs in order to prevent fragmentation that could hinder the viability of this opportunity.”

Shkumbin Hamiti, Head of Network Monetization Platform, Cloud and Network Services, at Nokia, said: “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. This research underscores the appetite to drive this ecosystem forward, but also highlights the work to be done to facilitate a deeper understanding between CSPs and developers and the required work between them.”