Brazil goes nuts for network APIs

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Nov 29, 2023

  • Network API-based applications are seen by many as key to enterprise services growth for telcos
  • The GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative is fuelling operator engagement and R&D
  • Now Brazil’s three main mobile operators have launched network API services focused on security

Brazil’s three main mobile operators have collaborated on the upcoming launch of three network API (application programmable interface)-enabled services focused on combating digital fraud in a move that provides further impetus to the GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative that was launched earlier this year

Claro (part of the América Móvil group), TIM Brasil (part of the Telecom Italia group) and Vivo (Telefônica Brasil) are all set to offer the trio of network API services – Number Verify, SIM Swap and Device Location – by the end of the year. You can find a full description of the APIs, which have been designed to improve digital security, in the GSMA’s press release about the launch.  

The services have been created using the specifications of the Open Gateway initiative, the aim of which is to develop network application programmable interfaces (APIs) that can provide universal access to operator networks for application developers. The APIs are defined, developed and published in Camara, the open-source project driven by the Linux Foundation in collaboration with the GSMA. 

When the initiative launched in February, eight universal network APIs had already been developed, with Number Verify, SIM Swap and Device Location among them. Now those APIs have been integrated into the Brazilian operators’ networks to enable new services to make use of those mobile network attributes. 

That integration process has required the support of two main service delivery platform partners, namely communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) specialist Infobip and cloud giant Microsoft Azure. “The launch of the Camara-compliant APIs in Brazil marks an important step for Infobip, helping to democratise the messaging ecosystem globally, hand in hand with telcos,” noted Mijo Soldin, VP of telecom strategy at the CPaaS firm. 

Ross Ortega, VP of program management at Microsoft, said: “Microsoft is proud to continue building a strong relationship with GSMA Open Gateway, embracing a future where modern connected applications and advanced networks seamlessly converge. Our commitment to standardisation simplifies the software developer experience. Developers can take full advantage of the network without the need to customise their applications for a given network or [for] themselves to become networking experts. 

“We’re committed to working with GSMA Open Gateway and operators to expose networking capabilities enabling a new generation of applications,” he added. 

And the impending launch of the APIs has attracted further support for Open Gateway efforts in Brazil, where enterprise services specialist NTT Data and Vonage, the CPaaS division of Ericsson, are set to join the throng to help develop and enable network API-based services in the country.  

The mood of Brazil’s three operators was summed up by Debora Bortolasi, B2B executive director at Vivo, who noted: “The Open Gateway initiative is a milestone in the transformation of the telecommunications sector, with a positive impact on the security of several industries in the market, as it enables the conversion of communications networks into programmable digital platforms through global and standardised APIs, benefitting a large digital ecosystem from startups to large companies.”   

While Open Gateway is a worthy initiative, it will only really have an impact if the mobile operator community gets behind it en masse, but there is evidence that this is happening in countries such as Brazil: With all three major operators on board, any resulting applications will have a broad reach and the scale across Brazil’s large mobile user base to make it worthwhile for the developer community.    

And, of course, the APIs are not just relevant to Brazil. As the GSMA notes, as part of the Open Gateway initiative, “these APIs will be locally and globally federated, meaning that as well as Brazil’s 145 million mobile customers, developers can also reach new customers outside of Brazil as the initiative grows.”

And growing it is: The initiative is now supported by almost 40 mobile operator groups worldwide that represent 228 mobile networks and 64% of global connections, according to the GSMA. The launch in Brazil, which comes on the heels of a similar multi-operator development in Sri Lanka, will only spur mobile operators in other markets to follow suit. 

“Through the GSMA Open Gateway initiative, Brazil’s mobile operators are leading the way, helping enterprise developers and cloud providers launch new services to tackle fraud and improve digital security,” stated the GSMA’s director general, Mats Granryd. “By taking this approach we can ensure new digital services not only work seamlessly across all of Brazil’s mobile networks but also hundreds of others around the world. Next year we will see more and more Brazilians benefit from the launch of these APIs, making them feel more at ease knowing their mobile services are more secure,” he added, hopefully. 

Expect to hear of further Open Gateway developments in 2024, especially in markets where some of the more enthusiastic supporters of the initiative, such as Telefónica, have operations. 

Not only is Telefónica one of the operator groups to have supported the development in Brazil, its executives have been talking up the importance of the Open Gateway and Camara since February, none more so than Juan Carlos Garcia Lopez, SVP of technology innovation and ecosystem at the giant telco, who highlighted the importance of network APIs to the digital service provider (DSP) strategies of the world’s telecom operators during a DSP Leaders World Forum address earlier this year.

He noted that Kernel, Telefónica’s home-grown API exposure platform, is at the heart of both the telco’s efforts to expose its network APIs and its contributions to the Open Gateway initiative. Garcia noted that Kernel is “ready to expose APIs. We have already used it to expose [our networks to] other data service providers in order to integrate their services on our platforms. I’m talking about our TV platform, our IoT [internet of things] platform – they are already amplified and our partners can get access to them through APIs.”

With Telefónica already so advanced with its own R&D and experience of such network API exposure, as well as its involvement in the Brazil initiative, it’s likely to be only a matter of time before such efforts are replicated in other Telefónica markets across Latin America and Europe.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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