Telefónica and Nokia partner to boost use of 5G SA network APIs

Telefónica and Nokia today announced an agreement to jointly explore new opportunities leveraging 5G Standalone (SA) capabilities for network APIs to support developers in creating new use cases for consumer, enterprise, and industrial customers.

Through this agreement, Telefónica will harness Nokia’s Network Exposure Function (NEF) for various purposes that enable developers to access the operator’s 5G network capabilities, like precise device location, enhanced notifications based on connectivity status, edge discovery, and more.

Having access to these capabilities will enhance developers’ capacity to build new applications and drive new service APIs for the industry.

Nokia’s NEF solution, based on 3GPP specifications, provides a process for interfacing with well-defined functions in the core network. It also enables API mashups so developers can combine multiple APIs from different core functions into a new customized API, which is easier for developers to use to create new applications.  NEF is said to be “a robust platform for creating new services by consolidating APIs and presenting unified access to the API framework for in-house or 3rd party app developers.”

  • Secure exposure of network services (voice, data connectivity, charging, subscriber data, etc.) towards 3rd party application over APIs
  • Developer environment and SDK for operator and community
  • Service mashup for creating end-to-end offering by combining any of the network assets into your application
  • Integration layer that connects your application to operator’s network.

Last week, it was announced that Nokia Network as Code platform with developer portal will run on Google Cloud. The purpose is to promote specific use cases to the Google Cloud developer community, starting with healthcare. Google Cloud stresses it developers cover “all major industries and geographies”.

Nokia’s Network as Code platform brings together networks, systems integrators, and software developers, into a unified ecosystem that provides developers a simple way for integrating advanced 5G capabilities into their applications; without having to navigate the complexity of the underlying network technologies.

Nokia has signed collaboration agreements with 14 network operators and ecosystem partners, in Europe, North America, and South America, to use the platform since its launch in September 2023.


Cayetano Carbajo Martin, Core & Transport Director, Global CTIO at Telefónica said: “We are pleased to take this step with Nokia in recognition of the tremendous opportunity we have to further empower developers with the tools they require to deliver new use cases and experiences for their customers and beyond. This partnering agreement is about steering the industry in building new APIs and more use cases over 5G SA capabilities that have been launched across Telefonica’s main operations.”

Shkumbin Hamiti, Head of Network Monetization Platform, Cloud and Network Services at Nokia said: “There continues to be a rising recognition that sustaining closed networks is a thing of the past and that embracing ecosystems is the way forward for deepening collaboration and creating new use cases; delivering better customer experiences; and generating new revenue opportunities. Our agreement with Telefónica is added proof of the much greater telco ecosystem openness that we are now seeing today and we look forward to jointly working to support developers in harnessing a broader array of network capabilities.”


Nokia, Google Cloud to help developers create 5G apps with telco APIs 

Telefónica launches 5G SA in >700 towns and cities in Spain

Telefónica launches 5G SA in >700 towns and cities in Spain

2 thoughts on “Telefónica and Nokia partner to boost use of 5G SA network APIs

  1. APIs could help operators make money off 5G but adoption has been slow.
    Network operators need to tap into hyperscale developer communities, but cloud companies don’t yet seem sold on telco APIs
    The issue of patchwork API implementation is also plaguing progress
    Telco application programming interfaces (APIs) have been heralded as the key to monetizing 5G by operators and industry groups alike. But for all the hype, APIs have thus far failed to deliver meaningful results. And there are two key reasons why: The APIs themselves are – to put it kindly – a hot mess, and, crucially, hyperscalers aren’t really hyped about them.

  2. Phil Harvey, Light Reading:

    According to a recent report by Dell’Oro, the number of 5G SA networks commercially deployed by mobile network operators remains the same as at the end of 2023: around 50 5G SA networks.

    Research firm Omdia estimates that 54 5G SA networks have been deployed so far, with both firms agreeing that there hasn’t been much growth over the last year.

    Both firms agree that roughly one in six 5G networks are standalone. Omdia said 17% of service providers that deployed a 5G RAN have also deployed the 5G core. “The 5G SA market drives market growth, and only about 15% of the 5G networks (5G SA + 5G NSA) are 5G SA,” wrote Dave Bolan, research director at Dell’Oro Group, in an email to Light Reading.

    “Without the 5G core, CSPs cannot benefit from network slicing or low-latency use cases, both of which are required for new revenue-generating use cases,” wrote Omdia’s Roberto Kompany, a principal analyst in the firm’s Service Provider Networks team.

    Slow growth in the mobile core

    The Dell’Oro data showed a 10% decline in the five-year revenue forecast for mobile core networks, indicating that service provider adoption of 5G SA networks is sluggish. The market is growing, but the new core network pieces aren’t deployed in a vacuum.

    Mobile core and other 5G network equipment spending has been underwhelming for several quarters, and the big vendors are shedding staff to keep costs down. In the last year, Nokia has cut about 6,000 jobs, around 7% of its total workforce.

    Omdia’s Kompany recently wrote that the top four core network vendors (Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE) together captured nearly 70% of the 5G core market share last year. Omdia lists the 5G core components (network functions) as packet core, policy and charging; subscriber data management; routing and selection; and, finally, automation, orchestration and analytics.

    The compounded annual growth rate (from 2023 to 2028) for mobile core networks is positive and is estimated to be between 5% and 10%, wrote Bolan. “Unfortunately, the 5G Core growth rate is insufficient to offset the negative growth rate for the 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC), estimated to be between -15% and -20%, bringing the mobile core market average growth rate below 0%,” Bolan wrote.

    5G SA is challenging for network operators. Deploying a cloud-native infrastructure in the mobile core can help telcos operate their networks in a way that’s more similar to hyperscalers. However, the architecture is relatively new and very complex. Non-standalone 5G (5G NSA), which hooks a 5G radio access network (RAN) to a 4G core, is less expensive and more straightforward.

    “There’s a lot they must get right – RAN build out, telco cloud, and the 5G core itself – before they can offer SA to paying customers,” said Heavy Reading’s Senior Principal Analyst, Mobile Networks, Gabriel Brown.

    “The other big factor is the rate at which subscribers/devices are added to the new 5G core once it does launch,” Brown added. “Even though some big operators are live with SA already, they don’t necessarily have many devices on the new core yet.”

    In the US, T-Mobile and US Cellular have already launched 5G SA, and EchoStar is still building out its 5G SA network for its Boost Mobile customers. AT&T and Verizon have also discussed their plans to move to 5G SA.

    “The customer migration strategy from 5G NSA to 5G SA is really the key swing factor,” Heavy Reading’s Brown said. “Generally, operators are being cautious because the risk of service disruption is high, and they judge it better to get it right than be fast. They want to offer something better with SA, so quality and reliability are critical.”

    “In Europe, France and Italy have been behind due to the spectrum limitations,” said Dell’Oro’s Bolan. “Time will tell if the MNOs will choose 5G SA or 5G NSA. Unfortunately, most MNOs select 5G NSA, which has the lowest cost and is the most straightforward way to meet the capacity requirements for more subscribers’ bandwidth. Once an MNO selects the 5G NSA route, it may be years before they switch to 5G SA.”

    To Brown’s earlier point, there’s a lot of background work happening but there’s no telling when it will show up in the numbers with new 5G SA network launches. New use cases and 5G capabilities are always just around the corner as technologies mature, standards advance and telcos get comfortable with the new reality of a 5G core, the use of new spectrum bands and devices and customer expectations. Overall market growth, as Dell’Oro’s numbers suggest, may take a while as the operators taking the 5G SA plunge get used to their new services at scale.

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