According to a study by Nokia and Analysys Mason, network application programming interface (API) exposure is among the top five priorities for 73 per cent of communication service providers (CSPs), who are turning to open APIs and software development kits (SDK) to enable software developers to create programs that offer new 5G services to customers. In addition, the research found that around 60 per cent 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.
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.
According to the study, 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 monetising 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. While CSPs and software developers are broadly aligned in their assessment of the most important network APIs, around half of the developers cited network issues, such as the need for more insight and control of how network quality affects the performance of their applications, as a major challenge when trying to utilise cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) services. Further, around 76 per cent 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.
Commenting on the study, Caroline Chappell, partner, 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, 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.”
Meanwhile, Shkumbin Hamiti, head, Network Monetisation Platform, Cloud and Network Services, 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.”