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API-First : Automating and Accelerating Carrier-to-Carrier Interconnection

Artur Ostrowski

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API-First Automating and Accelerating Carrier-to-Carrier Interconnection

Network-centric businesses across the globe are adapting how they consume connectivity and transforming the way their partners interconnect and grow through network Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Control is being placed back into their hands allowing them to create a solid foundation for faster, more agile and friction-free networking models that no longer limit innovation.

Legacy models for carrier interconnection are time-consuming, manual and error prone. Manual businesses are vulnerable to loss of control, service quality drops, as well as revenue leakages. They are not scalable in the long term. When a network API is available, partners can immediately increase the reach and depth of their services and offer their customers new capabilities. The challenge is that developing a network API internally is resource-intensive and limited to only a few of the largest players.

Businesses need to become more agile and efficient as customer demands increase, allowing their operations to run smoothly. If businesses want to transform not only their internal operations, but how they partner, procure connectivity and create solutions of the future, they need to understand the potential of network APIs.

Delivering Friction-Free Interconnection

For any network-centric businesses looking to not only thrive but to grow in a rapidly changing market, network APIs are the solution. Carriers need to rapidly meet the demands of their new customers and offer comprehensive network solutions with agility.

Not only are they solving critical challenges, but they are creating new opportunities. Network APIs allow business partners instant access to service catalogues, locations and inventories, as well as making service assurance processes easier. An API framework improves business control and service levels, as well as revenue assurance

At the same time, they need to increase efficiency and productivity while removing unnecessary costs from the procurement and delivery processes. Interoperability between telecom service providers is still a challenge. Legacy network interconnection is too complex, time-consuming and really doesn’t move at the speed that a cloud-centric, on-demand ICT ecosystem demands. However, if the industry has robust open standards, then rapid carrier-to-carrier interconnection can be a reality. As an industry, we need to work together to make standardisation a priority, as it will give providers unprecedented control over network resources and service capabilities.

While many of the commercial contracts and manual ordering processes still exist, the technical aspects, especially the data exchange model of processes, are not fully automated. They are manual or semi-automated. Network APIs are able to drive service availability and orchestration, allowing the provisioning of connectivity to become faster, seamless, and far more cost-effective. They also allow carriers to gain full visibility into the state and health of a partners’ network.

If carriers have a network API deployed, they can remove the complexity from interconnection and make it simple for partners to sell new services across their infrastructure. As an industry, it is key to prioritise the creation of such standards to give service providers unprecedented access and control over their network assets and services. Through refining internal processes with APIs, carriers can support their partners with new levels of automation, integration and access to global destinations.

Having a secure network API is the starting point for supporting product ordering, trouble ticketing, appointments, and service issues management for partners with an efficient model. It goes beyond just meeting customer needs and supports the automation of processes and rapid provisioning of new services.

APIs also provide a new and efficient way for the networking community to partner and interconnect. They’re helping to evolve global networking into a more platform-driven and software-defined ecosystem, which can boost efficiencies and user experiences.

Taking an API-First Approach

Carriers that are taking an API-first approach are starting to see the integration of APIs as integral to how they develop and grow within the industry. An API-First approach enables carriers to present out their network infrastructure to partners in a more comprehensive way. API-first carriers gain an unprecedented opportunity to get more deals.            

By integrating new services and capabilities into their existing platform and offering their customers solutions that go beyond basic connectivity, they are able to expand their partner ecosystem and shape it to meet the needs of their customers. The control is really in their hands. In times that are rapidly changing it is about having a responsive platform and providing a global ecosystem with agility.

There are a few things that are certain in the future. There will be more change, there will be more unexpected events, and there will be more partnerships required as the ecosystem becomes more complex. It’s all about listening and empowering partners. To create new opportunities in the digital world, carriers have to focus on creating a solid foundation. Businesses can evolve their platforms to meet changing demands or pivot based on unexpected events, such as COVID-19.

There are certainly a few good examples of standardisation and API in-the-box solutions available for fast implementation in existing BSS stacks. Apart from operational benefits, the API-ready architecture supports partner onboarding, integration with network management systems, integration with ERP systems, and hardware virtualisation (ESB).

By ingesting APIs and delivering new capabilities to customers, service providers can create partner ecosystems that emerge as key differentiators for their offerings. In uncertain times, they’re ready to transform and change, creating a long-term competitive advantage. We don’t know what will happen in the future, but thanks to network APIs, businesses are able to adjust their systems to requirements that are unknown today.

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Regulators must look past politics when banning Huawei, report warns

Inside Telecom Staff

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Regulators must look past politics when banning Huawei, report warns

The exclusion of Chinese tech companies from Western countries’ fifth generation rollout efforts due to alleged security concerns will negatively impact the progression of the technology for years to come, a recent report highlighted. 

According to a new report by global tech advisory firm ABI Research, phasing out vendors could hamper worldwide deployment by several years and overload network operators with bank breaking costs to replace already existing infrastructure.

“Our research shows that banning Huawei and ZTE from 5G deployments and restricting their access to silicon and semiconductor supply chains will have severe implications on economic performances. Furthermore, banning these Chinese vendors will hamper 5G and 6G R&D,” Leo Gergs, Research Analyst for 5G Markets at ABI Research, said in the report.

Gergs explained that banning Huawei and ZTE not only imposes additional costs for operators having to replace Huawei equipment from existing network deployments but also restricts the vendor landscape, reducing the degree of competition within the market.

“This imperfect competition inevitably decreases downward pricing pressure, forcing network operators to pay higher costs for network equipment than if they were under perfect competition conditions,” he added.

Matters have even escalated further.

Reuters reported that the outgoing Trump administration notified Huawei suppliers, among them chipmaker Intel, that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese company and intends to reject dozens of other applications to supply the Chinese tech giant.

This restriction can easily prove to do more harm than good, especially for the American economy, as Huawei plans to start manufacturing their own chipset in a newly built factory in Shanghai, the ABI report explained.

“Even though Huawei will produce 5G chipsets for its products only, Huawei’s long-term ambitions will be to serve the entire Chinese market,” Gergs highlighted, adding that Chinese demand for U.S. chipsets will continuously decrease.

“American semiconductor companies generate a substantial portion of their revenues from China. The impending demand erosion will impact the U.S. semiconductor industry severely,” the report further emphasized.

It is also worth mentioning that phasing out these companies can result in negative implications on 5G standardization.

The report stressed that Huawei and other telecommunications companies are among the top contributors to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) – which is a program that unites telecom companies to develop protocols for mobile telecommunications.

Gergs noted that stripping Huawei from the opportunity to monetize this R&D investment will cause Huawei to reconsider and decrease their efforts. As a result, rollout, and evolution of 5G will suffer not only on a national level but also globally.

“Regulators need to be very careful and avoid taking a politically motivated decision on economic and technology matters,” Gergs warned. “To ensure that 5G can unveil its true transformative effect to the world, regulators and political bodies need to prevent the 5G rollout from becoming a bargaining chip for geopolitical interests.”

Thus, regulators and politicians need to fully access the consequences of what’s a stake when deciding to ban these vendors and look at the matter not only from a political perspective, but also from an economic and technological viewpoint.

“If certain network equipment were found to be insecure from a technology point of view, a healthy and unrestricted economic market would naturally move away from these infrastructure components. This would happen without the political intervention, which is harmful to the economy and will jeopardize the immense value that 5G and future generations of cellular connectivity will bring to societies around the globe,” the report concluded.

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Deutsche Telekom, Cellnex team up in tower and investment deals

Karim Hussami

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German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom has partnered up with Spanish cell phone mast operator Cellnex to combine their tower business in the Netherlands, laying the ground for investments in a newly established Digital Infrastructure Vehicle (DIV).

Under the agreement, which was announced on Thursday, the companies will become anchor investors in the DIV investment fund focused on European digital infrastructure.

T-Mobile Infra

Deutsche Telekom operates its Dutch towers via an entity known as T-Mobile Infra which will be contributed to the DIV, the operator said in a statement. The investment fund will primarily focus on fiber infrastructure, towers, and data centers, with aims of delivering attractive, risk-adjusted returns.

The German operator will donate $406 million in capital commitments to the fund, while Cellnex has agreed to commit $243 million. “Its investment in Cellnex Netherlands aims to create value by gaining exposure to the growth derived from 5G adoption, as well as by realizing synergies resulting from the merger,” Cellnex said in a statement.

DIV will contribute to the T-Mobile Infra business to Cellnex Netherlands in return for a 38 percent stake, as part two of the transaction.

How many cells will the deal include?

According to the deal, Deutsche Telekom will integrate its 3,150 mobile towers in the Netherlands with Cellnex’s 984 sites.

The tower specialist firm noted that its operation of 4,314 sites – in parallel to having 180 new masts already in the pipeline – will render it to become the largest independent mobile tower company in the country.

“At the same time, DIV opens an innovative way to finance telecom infrastructure in partnership with institutional investors,” Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges said.

As the fifth-generation technology expands in worldwide rollout, telecom towers are increasingly prized by investors navigating a world of low returns thanks to their steady, inflation-linked cash flows, and prospects for more development.

To guarantee the continued investment in the sector, more connections will be needed to link up billions of devices in an Internet of Things (IoT).

Whilst customers enjoy better signals on their smartphones when new sites mushroom up, it also offers faster data and better call quality, especially when working from home.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of stable broadband connections for people to communicate and remain connected, which would lead to strengthening the digital infrastructure in Europe.

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Telecoms

Four European telecom operators deploy OpenRAN solutions to boost technology

Karim Hussami

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Four European telecom operators deploy OpenRAN solutions to boost technology

To better serve its customers, four of Europe’s largest operators– Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange S.A., Telefónica S.A., and Vodafone Group Plc– have committed to supporting and deploying OpenRAN solutions.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the operators said they are interested and committed to the implementation and deployment of Open RAN solutions that take advantage of new open virtualized architectures, software and hardware to build more agile and flexible mobile networks in the 5G era.

Important milestone

This step is considered an important milestone towards a diverse, reinvigorated supplier ecosystem and the availability of carrier-grade Open RAN technology for a timely commercial deployment in Europe.

Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) at Telefónica, said: “Open RAN is the natural evolution of radio access technologies and it will be key for 5G networks. Telefónica believes the whole industry must work together to make it a reality. I am excited to be partnering with major European operators to promote the development of an open technology that will help to enhance the flexibility, efficiency and security of our networks. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the European industry not only to promote the development of 5G but also to participate in its sustainable technological development.”

What is OpenRAN and how does it work?

 It is about network innovation, flexibility and faster rollout.

 This is why operators are committed to its promotion, development and adoption to ensure the best network experience for their customers.

Telcos plan to join forces with their leading European partners to foster a diverse, competitive and secure 4G/5G ecosystem based on open RAN solutions, in order to seize this opportunity.

Impact on telecommunication market

On the other hand, the implementation of Open RAN is expected to have a positive impact on the European Telecommunication market.

Within the traditional RAN, the networks uses fully integrated cell sites, where the radios, hardware and software are provided by a single supplier as a closed proprietary solution.

Mobile operators are re-evaluating the way their networks are deployed.

OpenRAN has the capability to drive European technological innovation through the use of the experience of expanding corporations and expanding governments.

Those RAN solutions open the market to new suppliers, leading to faster deployment of 5G, an economy of network and world-class services.

Moreover, Europe must keep the same pace as other countries in the race for the long-term development of Open RAN, instead of staying behind, especially with the progress of the US and Japan have made in this filed.  

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