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The network platform is redefining telecom – here’s how

  • We need to redefine how the telecom industry deliver and captures value
  • One way our industry can do that is by presenting advanced features of the network through APIs
  • We have achieved a world-first in the commercialization of network APIs with a new commercial partnership with Deutsche Telekom

President & CEO of Ericsson

Börje Ekholm CEO Ericsson writes about 5G, APIs, CPaaS and the network platform

President & CEO of Ericsson

President & CEO of Ericsson

Wireless networks were key in digitalizing consumers. With advanced 5G connectivity, enterprises now have the potential to fundamentally transform their businesses. For this to happen, the telecom industry must first redefine how it delivers and captures value.

Today, we have near ubiquitous connectivity, thanks to mobile technology. There are 8.5 billion subscriptions globally, and we can travel just about anywhere in the world and remain connected with just one device. Digitalization is a driving force in every sector and has become a crucial tool for solving society’s biggest challenges, including the climate crises and social inclusion.

Wireless networks offer unparalleled flexibility compared to fixed. That’s why consumers digitalized in large numbers and now enterprises have the same opportunity. The next wave of technology acceleration, however, will require even better performing networks. If enterprises are going to capture the benefits of a mobile-first world, they need more predictable and reliable connectivity, with pre-determined SLAs. This is why 5G is so pivotal.

The network as a platform

With 5G, we have a technology that is 10x more powerful than previous generations. But more importantly, it was designed with advanced capabilities like lightning-fast speeds, extreme low latency, and the ability to offer differentiated Quality-of-Service.

This makes 5G probably the greatest innovation platform we have ever seen, with the potential to revolutionize society as we know it. But to seize on this potential, we need to redefine how the telecom industry delivers and captures value.

One way our industry can do that is by presenting advanced features of the network through APIs. These are standardized interfaces that enable mobile networks and applications to talk to each other.

Most of you are probably familiar with SMS for two-factor authentication. That is powered by APIs. But going forward it is going to be possible to do much, much more.

Next, there needs to be an easy way to consume and pay for network APIs, with a global developer community working on the next wave of innovations. This is why we acquired Vonage – a leader in the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) based on ability to execute and completeness of vision, with a community of developers that’s 1.4 million strong and counting.

The combination of Vonage’s platform and our deep network knowledge means that we now have the building blocks to launch a Global Network Platform — making it easy to expose, consume and pay for network APIs.

For developers, we are literally putting the power of 5G networks at their fingertips. And for network operators, we are enabling them to expand their reach beyond traditional mobile subscriptions.

A new opportunity

Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress, we partnered with Zoom and Blacknut to show Quality-on-Demand and real-time device location, building upon established business models from CPaaS. Now we have reached a new milestone in this journey – a world-first in the commercialization of network APIs.

At the recent DigitalX conference in Cologne, we announced a new commercial partnership with Deutsche Telekom (DT) in which they will offer communication and network APIs to developers and enterprises.

Through the Vonage Communications Platform, DT will offer a globally scalable, one-stop shop for communications APIs such as voice, SMS, two-factor authentication and enhanced security. Through the platform they will also be able to offer entirely new use cases such as Quality-on-Demand video for better remote doctor visits, point-of-sale validations using device location or fraud prevention using device status and data.

It’s still early days, but network APIs are forecasted to be a USD 20 billion revenue opportunity by 2028. But the greater potential lies in unlocking the wireless enterprise opportunity, which could add hundreds of billion dollars in new revenue by the next decade. This in turn will fuel network enhancements in order to meet growing demand for more advanced capabilities.

This ecosystem is taking shape and we are excited to lead the creation of network APIs together with leading CSPs. But this is only the beginning.

Limitless possibilities

Wireless networks are truly transformative. They have the power to positively impact the daily lives of billions of people. We believe that by exposing them in an easy, scalable way, millions of developers and thousands of businesses worldwide can use and build meaningful applications, making wireless networks the center of enterprise digitalization and transformation.

Ericsson is making networks fully programmable and globally available to accelerate the benefits of widespread digitalization. And unlike 4G, where OTTs and hyperscalers captured most of the value, we're ensuring that we all prosper together.

Imagine validating your identity simply with your phone number, or giving remote technicians guaranteed, fast connectivity to safely do their jobs, or allowing logistics companies to track the exact location of all of their inventory, without the need for power-hungry apps.

All of this is possible with the power of the network. Let's seize on this opportunity together and drive a transformation of the entire telecom industry!

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