TM Forum is supporting the goals of the GSMA Open Gateway initiative, announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023, as the industry looks towards new ways of exposing and monetizing the capabilities of programmable networks.
Launched with support from 21 operators, GSMA Open Gateway aims to drive universal adoption of APIs designed to expose network capabilities, without the need for end-user developers to understand telecoms network technology or terminology. The APIs are being developed in the CAMARA open-source project in association with Linux Foundation, launched in February 2022.
“We believe industry-agreed, open-source APIs are one of five key elements we need to get right as an industry to reignite growth,” says Nik Willetts, CEO of TM Forum. “We welcome GSMA’s influence and support on this important topic, which directly supports our mission to get the industry back to growth.”
“The industry needs Open Gateway working with the TM Forum’s widely adopted Open APIs and Open Digital Architecture (ODA), as well as a few other elements to successfully monetize Network-as-a-Service and related network capabilities,” says George Glass, Chief Technology Officer, TM Forum.
In the past year, CAMARA has created eight network APIs, including SIM Swap, Quality on Demand (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). Further APIs are expected to be launched throughout 2023.
Henry Calvert, Head of Networks at GSMA, noted that with QoD, for example, the aim is to enable network capabilities consistently from every operator that’s providing connectivity, “so there’s a standard northbound to the developers … We’re trying to standardize that northbound to ensure that there is that consistency.”
Glass stresses the importance of “the industry coordinating and aligning on a clear target architecture and set of standards spanning network, service and operations and management APIs.”
He also points out that TM Forum’s suite of more than 70 Open APIs already provide many of the capabilities that will be needed to monetize Open Gateway services. “We are working closely with our members and directly as part of CAMARA to prevent duplication of standards and ensure the TM Forum and CAMARA work evolves in harmony,” he said.
In addition, he notes that TM Forum’s Open APIs have been designed for external exposure to third-party developers.
“TM Forum’s Open APIs are specifically designed for cloud-native software to enable any kind of digital services – with ecosystem partners, SaaS providers, or internal capabilities,” he says. “For example, our suite of Zero Touch Partnering (ZTP) APIs are designed to simplify on-boarding of partners, set up contracts automatically, establish revenue share agreements and invoke SLAs between the partnership, as well as internal integration of existing IT and network systems within a CSP’s estate.”
TM Forum is already supporting Open Gateway through its direct engagement with the CAMARA Steering Committee.
“A sub-team of leading TM Forum members have been working with the CAMARA team for several months to help design and specify the patterns for the APIs, leveraging our extensive experience with our widely-adopted Open APIs to address operations and management needs, and to leverage our experience,” adds Glass.
Furthermore, TM Forum is taking a hands-on, practical approach, testing and developing Open APIs and CAMARA APIs through its Catalyst rapid-development program. The first CAMARA Catalyst project was launched in December 2022, supported by 20 TM Forum member companies, including the leading players in CAMARA and Open Gateway. The results of this Catalyst will be shared at TM Forum’s DTW Asia conference 14-17 March, demonstrating TM Forum Open APIs and CAMARA APIs being used together to deliver new customer solutions.
Glass says next steps include publishing a technical white paper based on the Catalyst work, created with input from the most proactive CSPs supporting Open Gateway.
“All of the CSPs supporting Open Gateway are very strong advocates for ODA and Open APIs. We see this as a win-win. We’ll be following up this first Catalyst project with a phase II of the Catalyst, exploring other use cases that will make use of other CAMARA network service APIs as they become available,” he explains.