GSMA Sees an Open Future for Mobile Networks

Mats Granryd, director general of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), in a keynote address at MWC Las Vegas last week, laid out a vision of future mobile networks that he expects will transform the way that people and businesses communicate and interact by incorporating emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Web 3.0 and quantum computing.

GSMA is relying on its Open Gateway initiative, announced at MWC23 in Barcelona. Open Gateway is a platform for accommodating development of new uses and applications on mobile networks by third-party software developers using Application Programming Interfaces or APIs, similar to those used in IT applications.

“As 5G matures into the next stage of digital transformation, we need to create scalable, interoperable and commercially viable solutions that will benefit carriers, industries and consumers everywhere,” Granryd explained.

At the end of 2022, GSMA reported over 230 operators in more than 90 markets launching 5G commercial services. Even with the rapid rate of 5G deployments, he stressed a need for greater investments in network infrastructure and services to reach the goal of a digitally connected world.

Granryd said that Open Gateway has participation from 35 MNOs that account for more than 60 percent of global mobile connections. He pointed out that a number of APIs are in the proof-of-concept stage and that the first commercial 5G network API is already available.

The challenge to scaling widespread API use is for MNOs to open portions of their networks to software developers.

According to Henry Calvert, GSMA head of networks, the Open Gateway goal is to make it easier for developers to create applications that span multiple MNO networks. To that end, the Open Gateway initiative is working with its MNO partners to standardize commercial agreements with the same terms and conditions for all developers. “We want to reduce the complexities that they have,” Calvert said.

An Open Network API showcased in Las Vegas involved three MNO members of the 5G Future Forum, working with developer Matsuko. The application hosted a real-time trans-Atlantic holographic meeting that connected multiple people as holograms in a network collaboration among Verizon in New York, Bell Canada in Toronto, and Vodafone in London, Inside Towers reported.

Open Network APIs can be used to develop new network services or applications just as ‘apps’ are developed for smartphones and laptops. Calvert adds that Open Gateway is currently working with cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services to act as marketplaces where MNOs can publish their network APIs for easy access by software developers.

By John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor

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