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Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have emerged as essential digital connectors for modern enterprises, fueling innovation and enhancing the capabilities of their operations, products and services critical for both local and global business growth strategies.

APIs allow enterprises to integrate their functionalities, services, business processes, competencies and resources into a digital framework that can be consistently leveraged through software.

The introduction of APIs has contributed immensely to the acceleration of the digital transformation journey. Diverse industries, including retail, healthcare, education, and finance are growing their customer bases by exposing their services as APIs.

Moreover, APIs enable innovation by allowing the composition of APIs from different providers, adding new business benefits and opportunities that stand to contribute to emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain technologies, wearable technologies, and so on.


Timeous Integration

As expected, the telecommunication sector stands to gain advantageous strides through the adoption of APIs, particularly in light of the rapid uptake of artificial intelligence–backed service offerings across business sectors and industries.

Globally, over 80% of market survey participants are aware of generative AI (GenAI), with a quarter actively using it. Younger individuals under 35 have displayed higher engagement and interest, with 86% being aware of the topic and 32% actively using it. In comparison, only 80% of those over 35 are aware of the topic, and just 20% use it.

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The UAE demonstrates more robust engagement and nuanced sentiments towards GenAI. In the UAE, 91% of consumers are aware of GenAI and 34% utilize these technologies.  A recent Gartner survey revealed that 83% of TSPs have started deploying GenAI within their organizations. According to Gartner, over 80% of independent software vendors are expected to integrate GenAI capabilities into their enterprise applications by 2026.

Additionally, market analysts note that technology service providers (TSPs) leading the way in GenAI adoption will drive increased demand for APIs supporting LLM- and GenAI-enabled solutions. As TSPs assist enterprise customers in advancing their GenAI capabilities, they will need to move faster than ever to meet this growing demand.

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Digital Enablers

Operators can leverage 5G capabilities for network APIs to support developers in creating new use cases for consumers, enterprises and industrial customers. For instance, Nokia’s Network Exposure Function (NEF) helps operators provide developers with access to its 5G network capabilities. These capabilities include precise device location, enhanced notifications based on connectivity status, edge discovery, and more, which collectively enhance the developers’ capacity to build new applications and drive new service APIs for the industry.

Moreover, Nokia’s Network as Code platform and developer portal brings together networks, systems integrators and software developers into a unified ecosystem that provides developers with a simple way to integrate advanced 5G capabilities into their applications, bypassing the need to navigate the complexity of the underlying network technologies.

Similarly, Ericsson's Exposure Server enables Communication Service Providers (CSPs) to add value within the edge ecosystem for application developers, system integrators, public cloud providers, and device OEMs. It supports APIs and API harmonization across both 4G and 5G networks.

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Leading 5G equipment manufacturer, Huawei, has been a long-time proponent of API-based digital transformation in the telecom industry. The company has been collaborating with strategic partners such as the GSMA to streamline the API processes worldwide. It notes that to be profitable, CSPs need to identify APIs that can add value by enabling new applications and services and exposing them to the developer community. Bundling them into different business models and offering them at the right price are notable features to bear in mind.

MEF, a leading industry association focusing on network, cloud, and technology providers, has introduced a suite of new APIs aimed at empowering enterprise digital transformation. Over 23 companies, including giants like AT&T and Verizon, have integrated LSO Sonata APIs into their operations, showcasing the widespread adoption and implementation of API-driven solutions in the telecom sector.

Also Read: e& UAE Joins MEF Ecosystem to Elevate Digital Connectivity


Netcracker's Digital Satellite Solution is another testament to leveraging APIs, utilizing a robust API Management Platform that supports MEF LSO and TM Forum Open APIs. This platform streamlines ecosystem integration across various domains and enables automated Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) engagements, demonstrating how APIs facilitate agile and efficient service delivery.

Additionally, NexNet Solutions is pioneering data monetization services through open APIs, highlighting how telecom companies are innovating and generating revenue by opening up their platforms to broader ecosystem participation.

Some of the domains where telcos can leverage API capabilities include:

  • Integration IoT Devices
  • Mobile Gaming
  • In-App Payments
  • Identity Aggregation
  • Access to Legacy Systems
  • Network Monitoring and Control
  • Speed on Demand, Speed Tiers, and Low Latency
  • Remote Monitoring and Control
  • Rich Communication Services (RCS)

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A Forward-Looking Agenda

Adopting the appropriate API monetization strategies can increase developers' utilization of the exposed APIs, enabling API providers (enterprises) to expand beyond their current business models and tap into new market segments. CSPs are drawn to standardized APIs because the cost of proprietary APIs is too high. Moreover, standardization is slow and current offerings do not represent the newest, most innovative ideas due to this imbalance.

“Standardization of APIs and aggregation across telcos will be crucial to scaling the network API opportunity. Alongside the development of their direct models for API monetization—to drive initial developer engagement and adoption of network APIs—telcos must work towards a more federated approach with their peers and technology partners/aggregators,” noted Amy Cameron, Research Director at STL Partners.

GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative provides a transformative platform for the telecoms industry to design and deliver services in an API economy. It provides a framework of common network APIs designed to provide universal access to operator networks for developers and cloud providers to enhance and deploy services rapidly across operator networks.

Related: GSMA Open Gateway: Mapping the Scale, Significance and Strong Business Case It Offers


APIs unlock numerous opportunities for the telecom industry to utilize its vast data pool to better serve enterprise businesses. However, there have been significant instances where nefarious actors have managed to exploit the API stage to break into the system. Hence, API security must factor prominently into telcos’ growth strategies. As the 5G revolution continues to evolve, APIs promise much-needed network monetization opportunities for the telcos.

“Our collective job for 2024 is to nurture and grow this opportunity and provide ubiquitous access to enterprise developers and cloud providers, so they can do what they do best, which is launch game-changing new services that can maximize the benefits of 5G networks,” opines Mats Granryd, Director-General at GSMA.

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