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As we look closer at the global telecom industry and how it aims to monetize network investments and effectively overcome any future challenges, the GSMA’s Open Gateway Initiative has garnered much global attention with the support of 21 MNOs, representing a significant shift in telcos’ design and delivery services. In this article, e& enterprise explores the impact of the GSMA Open Gateway, how it enables new business models and the scale at which it is being implemented by industry leaders, demonstrating the strong business case it offers.

The GSMA Open Gateway is essentially a game-changer, allowing direct interaction between applications and the network through APIs while enhancing communication performance. With the GSMA Open Gateway, service providers can reach a wider audience and offer services to subscribers of different mobile networks without integrating each network individually. At the same time, mobile operators can offer their subscribers a broader range of services, thus increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The GSMA Open Gateway initiative launched 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).

This profoundly changes how our industry designs and delivers digital services. To put it into numbers, the Initiative will provide access to 3.9 billion users with eight universal network APIs (and more to come) with the support of 21 key operators. These 21 operators are responsible for 45% of the world’s mobile connections. This means faster innovation, a wider global reach, improved services, better access to enriched network functionalities, simplified multi-network global deployments and single points of access to multiple MNO network capabilities. We can foresee this bolstering growth and development of new services in key industries such as fintech, Gaming, Web3, digital identity and smart mobility.

A lot of this is already in motion as key industry players, such as AT&T, China Mobile, KDDI, Orange, Telefonica, Verizon and Vodafone, throw their weight behind the Initiative. Currently, GSMA has an Early Adopter Programme for developers as it promotes the uptake of its APIs. In addition to that, big tech players, including Microsoft, Google Cloud and AWS, are working to showcase their real-world use cases. At the same time, operators like Telefonica have already leapfrogged ahead by validating the integration of their network APIs with the Pilot AWS Wavelength Zone in collaboration with AWS to provide developers with the ability to combine AWS edge services with quality on-demand (QoD) specialized services from Telefónica, showcasing an example of new business models that can be developed.

While this Initiative opens doors to developers to create premium services, what we foresee at e& enterprise is the opportunity to create new business models. The business and commercial models that can be enabled are crucial, and it’s important for operators to clearly define these at the very onset to ensure that the APIs integrated deliver sustained success and engagement.

One example of a new business model enabled by the GSMA Open Gateway is the provision of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services. M2M services allow devices to communicate with each other over a mobile network, enabling a range of applications such as smart homes, connected cars, and industrial automation. By sharing their network infrastructure through the Open Gateway, mobile operators can offer M2M connectivity to third-party service providers, who can develop innovative new applications and services.

Another example is digital payments. By sharing their network infrastructure, mobile operators can enable third-party service providers to offer mobile money services, creating new revenue streams and increasing financial inclusion for consumers.

Finally, the exposure of advanced 5G functionality through common application programming interfaces will leverage new ways to monetise 5G and quickly deliver new services on a global scale with speed. It can be used to develop and test new 5G applications and services, leveraging the capabilities of the 5G network to deliver unique experiences and value to customers.

This is only a tiny fraction of the potential of the Open Gateway, as it offers a wide range of use cases for mobile operators, enterprises, and developers. Enabling these new business models presents an exciting opportunity for operators and can bring transformative benefits to consumers and enterprises in a way we probably last experienced three decades ago.

However, this isn’t the first time an API initiative has been introduced, and there have been several such industry movements in the past with little success. This effort overlaps with other industry API initiatives, such as T-Mobile and Deutsche’s T-DevEdge, so skeptics may argue what makes this different. The API space has always been competitive, and just because developers can access network features doesn’t guarantee new business models or revenue growth for telcos. The attention and participation this Initiative has garnered from the wider industry, including cloud developers, make it intriguing, and it holds promise for new avenues of opportunity. Moreover, the sentiment around operators this time around has been to strongly focus on meaningful, monetizable APIs that create new business models.

So, if implemented correctly, this Initiative offers a robust and flexible platform that can support a variety of use cases for mobile operators, enterprises, and developers. We will be watching this space very closely to unlock the potential of this new digital ecosystem. Stay tuned.

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