How the API Movement is Transforming the Telecom Industry
Writing an article on APIs within the telecom industry could very easily turn into writing a lecture on computer science. So, for the sake of not dismissing interest, this article will be focused on highlighting the recent importance and implementations of APIs surrounding telecommunications, rather than attempting to wax technological about HANCOCK – AT&T's deviation of C meant for handling massive data.
No no, not today. Today we will focus on the more tangible uses and advances of APIs for mere mortals, while still staying on the topic of an industry that invented information technology.
The annual Mobile World Congress recently convened in Barcelona for 2013. Needless to say, APIs were the talk of the town. Of particular interest are the array of new tech-based companies and initiatives of current telecom leaders designed for implementing networks into current applications in order to provide solutions for businesses and consumers.
And then there are the companies who are targeting the API itself, looking to score off the development of the solution by helping telecoms get on board, because everyone knows that they're going to anyway.
As just mentioned, many companies are offering their own APIs in order to allow integration of their own services into the applications and programs of developers. Twilio is a company that offers an API to integrate its own cloud network into developer's applications. Twilio is not a telecommunications operator, per say, but they utilize their own geographically distributed datacenters to piggyback off local providers. They accomplish their task by then routing calls to the confirmed phone number of your choice; a novel concept that app developers will quickly take advantage of. Bluevia is the global developer platform from Telefonica used to assist developers in creating programs that access their own global communications infrastructure.
Another incredibly exciting advancement involves the collaboration between AT&T, Ericsson and Mozilla. These three are coming together to develop a Web browser integration of telephone service. This API would provide a plethora of useful features: push through call and SMS notification, click-to-dial-in browser capabilities and history of recent contacts, just to name a few.
The other area of movement involves the creation of the API itself for telecommunication purposes. Aepona is a company that is offering an API foundation platform used to create, implement and monetize APIs, particularly within telecom. Presenting the 'NaaS' business model (network as a service), they aim to encourage and assist network service providers in distributing their products through the use of APIs.
OneAPI is a program by GSMA, which aims to reduce conflict and increase simplicity regarding development that involves the use of multiple APIs from multiple service providers. For example, One API seeks to ensure that the API of one given telecom operator within an application will not conflict with the compatibility of APIs from other telecom operators. One final noteworthy innovation in this area is that of Apigee.
Apigee is introducing an API exchange platform that allows the interoperability of APIs within an industry. This is accomplished by a standard infrastructure allowing for the exchange of data between players with a reduction in fragmentation. The Apigee API exchange platform will make its debut in the telecommunications industry.
If you are a developer of APIs for telecom then you are already familiar with the burden riding upon your industry. The usual suspects such as up –time, security, load capacity and scalability are all concerns to be considered when developing and testing APIs within telecom, but now they should be considered to yet an even greater extent. The world depends on telecom; if telecom halts the world halts. Once everything else is in order then you can worry about being competitive. As you can conclude from the aforementioned text, competitive translates into innovative, and it always has for the telecom industry.
As a disclaimer, this is obviously not an exhaustive list of all things API related in telecom and, needless to say, there are tons of other usage-specific APIs from just about any given telecom company in the business. The telecom industry has and always will be an industry of innovation and subsequently it is also an industry that is leading API innovation. The bottom line, APIs within telecommunications are huge. Create them, use them or abuse them but just don't try to ignore them.