GSMA announces Open Gateway with 21 carriers, Microsoft Azure and AWS

Today,  GSMA (the association representing the world’s major mobile operators) announced a new initiative called Open Gateway, a framework to provide universal, open-source-based APIs into carrier networks for developers to access and use a variety of mobile network services.

GSMA Open Gateway is a framework of common network Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs) designed to provide universal access to operator networks for developers. Launched with the support of 21 mobile network operators, the move represents a paradigm shift in the way the telecoms industry designs and delivers services in an API economy world. GSMA Open Gateway will help developers and cloud providers enhance and deploy services more quickly across operator networks via single points of access to the world’s largest connectivity platform.

Applications like location or identity verification and carrier billing, previously would have been more complicated or more expensive (if not impossible) to integrate and use. The plan is to be able to kick off more development using APIs in applications like immersive mixed-reality experiences and web3 applications that will in turn give more 5G business to the 21 mobile carriers that are part of Open Gateway.

The 21 carriers that have signed up for Open Gateway are: America Movil, AT&T, Axiata, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, e& Group, KDDI, KT, Liberty Global, MTN, Orange, Singtel, Swisscom, STC, Telefónica, Telenor, Telstra, TIM, Verizon and Vodafone. These carriers have signed a memorandum of understanding, and the plan is to build and work on these APIs by way of CAMARA, an open source project co-developed by the Linux Foundation and the GSMA for this purpose: to help developers access “enhanced” network capabilities.

The carriers have invested billions in new networking technology, but they don’t really have a lot of usage on those networks. This move is being driven in part by them trying to kick-start activity on them.

GSMA Open Gateway APIs are defined, developed and published in CAMARA, the open source project for developers to access enhanced network capabilities, driven by the Linux Foundation in collaboration with the GSMA. Working in CAMARA, APIs between telcos and developers can be delivered quickly, using developer-friendly tools and software code.  However, no details were provided about which services we might see rolled out first.

José María Álvarez-Pallete López, GSMA Board Chairman and Chairman & CEO of Telefónica, said: “GSMA Open Gateway will enable single points of access to ultra-broadband networks and provide a catalyst for immersive technologies and Web3 – giving them the ability to fulfill their potential and reach critical mass. Telcos have come a long way in developing a global platform to connect everyone and everything. And now, by federating open network APIs and applying the roaming concept of interoperability, mobile operators and cloud services will be truly integrated to enable a new world of opportunity. Collaboration amongst telecom operators and cloud providers is crucial in this new digital ecosystem.”

“By applying the concept of interconnection for operators to the API economy developers can utilise technology once, for services such as identity, cybersecurity or billing, but with the potential to be integrated with every operator worldwide. This is a profound change in the way we design and deliver services,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA. “In 1987, representatives from 13 countries worked together to harmonise mobile voice services and enable roaming, and I believe that 35 years on, GSMA Open Gateway has the potential to deliver a similar impact for digital services.”

GSMA Open Gateway will help developers and cloud providers enhance and deploy services more quickly via single points of access to operator networks. This is achieved via common, northbound service APIs that simply expose mobile operators’ network capabilities within a consistent, interoperable and federated framework.

Ishwar Parulkar, Chief Technologist for the Telco Industry at Amazon Web Services (AWS), said: “GSMA Open Gateway is a significant step in enriching the cloud developer experience. Developers using AWS’s more than 200 services will also be able to leverage APIs from telco operators. This allows the developer community to create new applications, and for telcos to open up new models of consumption and monetisation for their networks. We believe this will help accelerate innovation in the telecom industry.”

Erik Ekudden, CTO & SVP, Ericsson, said: “Together with Vonage, we enable operators to take their advanced mobile network capabilities to developers via easy-to-use APIs. The QoD API that we are demonstrating at MWC Barcelona 2023 – live on the networks of Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone – shows how GSMA Open Gateway APIs are highly scalable across operators and with different app developers. This places 5G as an innovation platform at the heart of digital transformation and we are excited to be part of the GSMA Open Gateway initiative.”

“At Microsoft, we are focused on extending a distributed computing fabric from the cloud to the edge, together with our operator partners,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We look forward to bringing the GSMA Open Gateway initiative to Microsoft Azure, to empower developers and help operators monetise the value of their 5G investments.”

The GSMA Open Gateway initiative launches with eight universal network APIs, including SIM Swap, QoD, Device Status (Connected or Roaming Status), Number Verify, Edge Site Selection and Routing, Number Verification (SMS 2FA), Carrier Billing – Check Out and Device Location (Verify Location). The initiative plans to launch further APIs throughout 2023.

Examples of services supported by the introduction of GSMA Open Gateway include Edge Site Selection and Routing to support autonomous vehicles and Verify Location for fleet management and incident reporting; SIM Swap to combat financial crime and QoD for drones, robotics, eXtended Reality (XR) and immersive online gaming.

The GSMA Open Gateway demonstrations available to see at MWC Barcelona 2023 include:

  • At the GSMA Pavilion, Axiata is showcasing its first ever immersive music concert on the Axiata Digital Concert Platform, powered by Dialog and Axiata Digital Labs’ Axonect, designed in association with GSMA Open Gateway APIs for Number Verification (SMS 2FA), Device Location and Carrier Billing.
  • At MWC’s startup showcase, 4YFN, Deutsche Telekom (DT) will announce details of its developer marketplaces and Early Adopter Programmes for CAMARA APIs in association with GSMA Open Gateway. In addition, DT will be demonstrating applications of APIs, including QoD, alongside Matsuko and Orange in Hall 3 on stand 3M31.
  • The 5G Future Forum (5GFF) will take collaboration to the next level across three operator networks – Rogers, Verizon and Vodafone. Musicians from around the world will jam over 5G, using Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) and the GSMA Open Gateway’s Edge Site Selection API. See the show on Wednesday, 1st March at 12pm in Theatre 1, Hall 6.
  • At the GSMA Pavilion, KDDI, Telefónica, Mawari and Sturfee will showcase a revolution in online shopping with the 5G MEC powered XR Digital Twin Store. This allows shoppers in a physical store, and online shoppers in its Digital Twin, to share an immersive retail experience together. This project will explore opportunities based on the GSMA Open Gateway QoD API.
  • On stand 4A60 in Hall 4, KT will be showing a demonstration of B2B use cases – built on the GSMA Open Gateway APIs for Edge Site Selection and Routing – with MEC. Titled ‘5G Connectivity & Cloud Federation’ this demonstration enables enterprise customers to receive the best service experience anywhere in the world by discovering optimal edge resources.
  • OrangeTelefónicaVodafoneVonage and Ericsson are showing how user experience in mobile cloud gaming – and interactive high definition video applications – can be significantly enhanced by leveraging advanced network functionality through global network APIs. Application developers from Blacknut, Zoom and Vonage utilised the GSMA Open Gateway QoD API to add innovative features and enhance the mobile experience.
  • Singtel, AIS, Summit Tech and Bridge Alliance will be showing their live broadcast demonstration at the GSMA Pavilion, leveraging 5G and MEC to provide a hyper-personalised view in 8K resolution. Participants are able to interact in real-time within live events across different country networks.
  • Demonstrations at Telefónica’s booth will show GSMA Open Gateway API availability in Telefónica Kernel, in collaboration with Microsoft. Microsoft will also be announced as a partner in Telefónica’s Early Adopter Programme for developers and experience creators, which also features AWS, Google and Vonage.
  • In addition, at its booth, Microsoft will present a solution for developers to build network-aware applications through a unified interface across operator networks.

Over the next 12 months the initiative will support engagement via Early Adopter Programmes for developers and it will promote GSMA Open Gateway APIs via significant developer channels, including Microsoft events such as Ignite and Build; and AWS’ re:Invent.



Mobile Industry Deploys Open Network APIs and Prepares for New Era of Digital Services and Mobile Apps

Mobile carriers team up with AWS, Microsoft to launch Open Gateway, a set of Twilio-like APIs to tap network services

GSMA Open Gateway


2 thoughts on “GSMA announces Open Gateway with 21 carriers, Microsoft Azure and AWS

  1. It will be interesting to see if this is the catalyst that helps mobile operators create more competitive offerings relative to landline broadband operators Of course, most landline operators are probably going to become mobile operators via MVNO deals (especially if NCTC finalizes an MVNO deal for it’s rural operator members), so this will probably make them more competitive as well

  2. Mike Dano, LightReading:

    In 2010 GSMA operators announced the “Wholesale Applications Community” (WAC), an alliance that would “build an open platform that delivers applications to all mobile phone users.”

    That effort failed in 2012. The next year, the GSMA tried again with its new “OneAPI Exchange,” which it said would “deliver network capabilities to mobile apps.” That too didn’t really go anywhere.

    “We’ve failed in the past because we haven’t considered the interoperability,” said Enrique Blanco, Telefónica’s CTO, during a panel discussion here.

    “The difference now is the level of attention,” agreed Verizon strategy chief Rima Qureshi during that same panel.

    Qureshi added that the companies participating in the GSMA’s new API effort, like Verizon, are giving it attention “from the highest levels.”

    But, like cats, not everyone is onboard. “We are part of CAMARA but not the specific GSMA initiative,” wrote a representative from T-Mobile in the US in response to questions from Light Reading about whether the company was participating in the GSMA’s newest “Open Gateway” effort.

    CAMARA, by the way, is another API alliance by the GSMA, announced last year. Officials participating in the new “Open Gateway” effort said it’s based on the work already done by CAMARA. But apparently the formation of a new organization is required for progress (or at least necessary to generate more buzz).

    Regardless, T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom announced what would appear to be a rival API effort, called T-DevEdge, that’s designed to “make it easy and simple for the global developer community to create new, connected solutions. These APIs will give developers a direct and simplified entryway to connectivity and other core network services on both sides of the Atlantic.”

    Another company not listed among the 21 operators signed on to the GSMA’s new “Open Gateway” initiative is Dish Network. That’s noteworthy considering last year Dish began publishing some APIs into its new cloud-native, open RAN standalone 5G network.

    And yet another company absent from the list of GSMA API participants is Rakuten Mobile, which also operates a cloud-based open RAN 5G network.

    “The concept of API exposure is extremely valuable,” said Tareq Amin, the head of Rakuten’s mobile business, during a Rakuten event here. Amin argued that operators need to focus on “meaningful, monetizable, APIs.” Specifically, he pointed to an API published by Rakuten Mobile in Japan that provides developers with access to its text messaging services. That API is “amazingly profitable,” according to Amin.

    “While it’s easy to point to innumerable failed telco API initiatives in the past, this time there seem to be some lessons learned,” wrote Dean Bubley, of Disruptive Wireless, in a brief LinkedIn post on the topic. “Firstly the hyperscalers are there as partners/channels on day 1. Secondly I’ve seen references to telcos using the APIs for inhouse use-cases, which is essential in my view.”

    Indeed, during a presentation here, Ishwar Parulkar of Amazon Web Services (AWS) said the company would help “Open Gateway” operators by sharing some of the lessons it has learned in selling hundreds of its own cloud computing APIs.

    That’s not a surprise, wrote Bubley: “For AWS, [Microsoft] Azure and [Google] Gcloud, this looks like just another set of APIs to add the 100s they offer developers. If it works, great. If nobody uses them, then no worries either,” he argued.

    Other analysts agreed. “It will be interesting to see the layers and partnerships each carrier will have when it comes to developer programs. Some may opt to have an AWS or Azure manage it for them. Others like Telefonica have created their own program,” wrote analyst Lynnette Luna, of S&P Global, in response to questions from Light Reading.

    So why is this year’s Open Gateway API initiative different from those in the past?

    “The network is different now,” Parulkar of AWS said. New 5G networks can give developers a much deeper level of control than previous versions.

    Similarly, Gabriele Di Piazza, an executive with Google Cloud, called the GSMA’s new API effort “promising.” However, he cautioned that “we are really at the early stages.”

    Di Piazza argued that operators will need to deploy standalone (SA) 5G technology in order to properly surface and sell APIs into their network. That has proven to be a difficult task.

    “What I’ve seen so far counts as ‘necessary but not sufficient’ for this to fly,” Bubley concluded of the GSMA’s latest API program. “Let’s see what happens.”

    If Twilio’s stock price is to be believed, investors are also taking a wait and see approach. Twilio today is worth around $11 billion in part because it developed APIs that sit on top of mobile networks worldwide. Customers like Lyft use Twilio’s APIs to send and receive texts from drivers and riders.

    Thus, presumably the GSMA’s new “Open Gateway” would represent a threat – or at least a development – for Twilio. But based on the company’s financial performance before and after the GSMA’s “Open Gateway” announcement, Twilio investors either don’t know about it or don’t care about it. Perhaps they’re not concerned about herds of cats.

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