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AI, APIs and Mobile World Congress 2024: insights from Ericsson CMO Stella Medlicott

  • It was clear at Mobile World Congress 2024 that the telecom industry is evolving, with a focus on 5G innovation, the importance of network APIs and fostering an open network ecosystem.
  • The event also highlighted the importance of embracing AI, implementing performance-based business models and building strong relationships with developers.

Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Ericsson CMO Stella Medlicott talks AI, APIs at MWC 2024

If I had to choose one word to describe Mobile World Congress 2024, it would be "evolution."

Our entire industry is evolving as we take advantage of the innovative power of 5G. It is an evolution towards high-performance, programmable and differentiated networks.

Three main topics dominated the conversations I was involved in at MWC this year: AI, performance-based business models and network APIs.

I’m particularly energized by the progress we have made with network APIs. Last year at MWC, the buzz around network APIs was starting to build. This year, network APIs have been front and center. When we completed our acquisition of Vonage in 2022, few people understood why we were making such a bold move into a relatively unknown area. Understanding of our strategy and our first mover advantage in this market now has real momentum behind it.

AI is the talk of Barcelona


At MWC and beyond, everyone is talking about AI. In a keynote, Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges called it the “biggest elephant in the room,” urging caution about blindly trusting AI systems yet also saying DT “stopped counting” their uses of AI after 400 cases – with his examples of security and energy efficiency standing out.

Tim urged CSPs to invest seriously in AI at every stage of their value chain. DT is certainly being inventive with AI as they showcased a futuristic smartphone that uses AI instead of apps to meet user needs.

Elena Fersman, the head of Ericsson’s Global AI Accelerator, also spoke in a MWC keynote on whether telcos can afford not to be part of the AI race.  You can listen to Elena in the video above or watch her talk about our industry at a turning point in the keynote.

At Ericsson, we already build AI into every part of our portfolio where it makes sense, from baseband to centralized clouds.  And in the days before MWC, we launched an Explainable AI feature, which gives our customers full explainability on actions recommended by our AI solution.  

AI presents a plethora of opportunities; however, it is crucial that we implement robust governance and ethical guidelines to ensure its responsible use. In this rapidly evolving landscape, security must be our paramount concern, acting as the bedrock upon which we build these innovative solutions.

Performance-based business models will hit the CSP sweet spot


It is no secret that - after the rollout of 4G which helped create the app economy and digitalized the consumer – communications service providers (CSPs) have not seen the revenue growth they wanted.  More recently, surging inflation has increased operational costs. It’s a complex market situation in an uncertain economic climate in many countries.

A new way of delivering and charging for connectivity is needed, one where cost and performance can be balanced flexibly. Some leading service providers have already taken the first steps towards capturing true 5G value – reaching beyond mobile broadband first to fixed wireless access and now to differentiated connectivity business through, for example, network slices and network APIs.  

We believe that what we call performance-based business models will hit the sweet spot for delivering the right level of performance at the right cost and price, particularly for enterprises. Enterprises and the public sector need access to more advanced network features to take the leap towards full digitalization. With 5G, the networks are equipped with these features, but we need new ways of monetizing them.

Everyone is talking APIs at MWC 2024


As I said above: network APIs are one of the hottest topics at Mobile World Congress this year.

We see network APIs – through which developers can call up specific network features – as the key enabler in creating performance-based business models and something that could have a real network effect for the full industry, as illustrated in our latest Ericsson Perspectives article.


Last year, we announced a landmark deal with DT, and we have more recently announced collaborations with AWS, Verizon and AT&T to provide network APIs to developers. We teamed up with both Sony and Toyota at our stand to show off the power of network APIs for live media production and 5G-enabled cars respectively.

Here at MWC, one of the most interesting insights on developers came from Nick Venezia of  In a keynote discussion, he asked where the advertising is within telco industry apps.  Ads can be a major revenue driver within telco, he said, just as they are within free consumer apps.  But for this to happen, we need to empower brands with, among other things, better measurement and consent.

It’s exciting to think about the global reach of our network APIs. In a keynote on Tuesday, Derrick Ashong of TBTM (Take Back the Media) gave a compelling talk on how his company’s digital reward token can help level the digital playing field by giving artists and musicians in the global south and diaspora the power to earn real money from digital advertising. 

We see a similar effect with innovators and entrepreneurs who will gain the power to develop new applications wherever they are on the planet. As our President and CEO Börje Ekholm says, the global reach of our network APIs can democratize the creation of new companies and make value creation less centered on established technology hubs like the American west coast.

Building relationships with developers

A strong developer community has the potential to drive the next wave of innovation and application development on global scale. Engaging with this community is really important, and Vonage had a significant presence in the dedicated developer-focused hall here at MWC.

Vonage demo at Mobile World Congress 2024 network APIs


Developers expect our network APIs to be user-friendly and as easy to access as communication APIs, which right now takes just minutes. We need to meet their expectations.

It all depends on an open network ecosystem

MWC 2024 - It all depends on an open network ecosystem


The best thing for me about MWC is the collaboration and discussion, which has never been more crucial.  We need real cross-industry collaboration across the greater information and communication technology (ICT) industry to form an open network ecosystem – including leading industry players from devices and chipsets to the cloud and application developers.  If we come together, we can truly capture the value of 5G, and I’m excited to be on that journey!

Want to explore more about the ideas from this post? Check out the following insights:

Ericsson at MWC 2024

This is how we capture the full value of 5G - blog post from Ericsson President and CEO Börje Ekholm

Ericsson Mobility Report Business Review 2024

Spurring innovation and collaboration: our view on a shared vision

Monetize Network APIs: Learn more about API monetization models

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