China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom will join the fold of 29 operators looking to develop a common framework to open up their network resources to application programming interface (API) calls.

The initiative launched with eight initial APIs focused on areas like device location, SIM verification, carrier billing and more. Five months on and the working group still sits at eight APIs, but has grown from 21 operator participants to 29, including the largest mobile operators in the world from China.

Following the GSMA’s initial announcement of the Open Gateway Initiative at its flagship show, Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona earlier this year, it has led off its Asia focused edition, MWC Shanghai, with this Open Gateway news.

This is positive growth for the GSMA and its partner because a platform grows in value by adding more participants and opening up to more markets.

China will add value

China, the largest mobile market, will help add value to the initiative both by increasing the value of the APIs themselves through enrichment of the data that they will access, as well as encouraging the developer community within China to innovate applications using the GMSA service.

The more operators that come on-board the more platform value for both developers using the APIs and operators supplying them. However, the GSMA has yet to make any further announcements towards commercialisation of the initiative and need to better address how operators should seek to monetise the opportunity. API monetization is a challenge, even for the most born-in cloud digital native companies, and the Open Gateway teams should establish how they want to approach these challenges, and develop an appropriate framework for each API to become opportunity for the participant operators.

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By GlobalData

APIs offer a massive opportunity

Increase use of network APIs can drive increased use of operator services, but the networks and business systems need to be aligned. For example The “Quality On Demand” API is a massive opportunity to unlock the value of network slicing, by providing individual applications differential network service levels. However, not every 5G network deployed today is capable of network slicing, and even among operators who have deployed capabilities, each have different use cases, charging methods and target markets for these slices.

It will take a massive effort to align the networking and businesses systems across different operators before finding an appropriate model to charge developers for this kind of call. Each of the APIs listed so far have these challenges.