OneAPI Gains Momentum as GSMA Announces Commercial Pilot with Leading Mobile Operators in Canada

The GSMA today announced the launch of a commercial pilot in Canada as part of its OneAPI (Open Network Enabler Application Programming Interfaces)  initiative, working with the country’s leading mobile operators Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and TELUS to demonstrate the viability and benefits of providing developers with standardised application programming interfaces (APIs) for mobile networks. Through the OneAPI initiative, the GSMA is promoting the adoption of a common, lightweight and web-friendly set of APIs to provide application developers with easy access to mobile operator network capabilities. The pilot in Canada marks the first time developers are able to gain commercial access to the network assets of multiple operators, from a single gateway, in a consistent and simple way using OneAPI.

“A common set of APIs will benefit the entire mobile industry by making it much more attractive for developers to create innovative applications and services by utilising the capabilities and information provided by operators about their networks,” said Michael O’Hara, Chief Marketing Officer at the GSMA. “Our OneAPI initiative will help eliminate fragmentation and aid the growth of the mobile applications ecosystem, resulting in a larger addressable market, encouraging innovation, enhancing the customer experience and creating new revenue opportunities for mobile operators and developers alike.”

Nauby Jacob, Bell Mobility’s Vice President of User Experience and Content, said: “OneAPI helps wireless providers and developers alike in the overall ecosystem by enabling developers to deliver innovative apps faster to wireless clients across all carriers.”

“Multiple operating systems, various network interfaces and fragmented technologies make application development far too complex for any developer,” said Upinder Saini, Vice President of New Product Development, Rogers Communications. “The standardised approach of OneAPI not only reduces these barriers to extend opportunities to the wider developer community, but also equips developers with flexibility, added relevance and significantly reduces time-to-market.”

“TELUS is proud to bring our network and business capabilities to the GSMA’s Canadian OneAPI pilot. We’re excited to see how application providers are already taking advantage of the simplicity of OneAPI to create real, mobile-enabled, commercial application and service offerings,” said Ibrahim Gedeon, Chief Technology Officer at TELUS. “This pilot has demonstrated the value to partners of our ability to abstract our billing and network technology capabilities, including full support for our recently launched national HSPA+ high-speed network.”

The GSMA’s OneAPI initiative initially focuses on exposing mobile network capabilities such as payment, messaging and location. These capabilities are largely underexploited by web-centric developers because each operator uses different APIs to expose their network assets, making it difficult for developers to create applications that work seamlessly across different networks. Utilising a common set of network APIs and tapping into these capabilities will enable developers and enterprises deploying applications to provide a much richer customer experience.

Monetisation is also a major focus of OneAPI, and the payment API allows developers and enterprises to leverage existing commercial relationships between operators and their billions of customers worldwide, increasing the market potential for applications without needing to establish new, commercial relationships with each individual customer. By collecting payments for applications and services via operator billing systems, developers will be able to increase the size of their customer base as well as capitalise on the resources and expertise in customer billing offered by operators.

For the pilot, the GSMA is collaborating with Aepona, who is providing its Universal Service Platform (USP) together with managed services to connect to the three operators in a hosted environment. Aepona’s USP provides the essential functions for an aggregated commercial API service, including harmonised exposure of network and payment APIs, partner portal, multi-party settlement, centralised partner management, policy control, routing and privacy management. The GSMA will offer a single contract and common pricing for the use of OneAPI across all three Canadian operators as part of the pilot, and will also provide the billing and payment services between the developers and the operators.

The Canadian pilot will also use the GSMA’s number translation service, PathFinder, to determine which operator to send the OneAPI call to while allowing for number portability. PathFinder represents a simple, convenient and repeatable way of supporting number portability in any OneAPI deployment, and because it is a global number registry, PathFinder will enable the rapid rollout of OneAPI to different markets around the world.

The specifications for OneAPI are in the process of being adopted by the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA)**, the industry forum for developing market-driven, interoperable mobile service enablers, helping to reduce industry fragmentation and enabling developers to be able re-use the same application code across more than one operator.

The results of the Canadian pilot will be analysed and used as a model for further pilots around the world over the coming year. The GSMA is also showcasing OneAPI in the ‘App Planet’ area of its Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona this week.

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