Research Notes

One API is good news

but the underlying business models reveal that there are still people in the industry that believe that a walled garden strategy is the path to success.

The GSMA has been working together with a number of the world’s largest and most innovative operators and a number of technology providers for quite some time, to create a standard that will enable operators to open their network services, allowing IT companies and other service providers to implement network functionality into their services and applications.

With the introduction of One API, the mobile industry is introducing the most important new product since the introduction of premium SMS – a tool that will allow service providers to do business by developing, marketing and selling services that will create traffic in operators networks.

Simply put, One API is the closest one currently can get to a standard regarding which functionality and services on mobile operator’s network that can be commercially utilised by a third party.

In practice a mobile network has a combination of information, functionality and the possibility of invoicing services, which will allow service providers to partly create more intelligent services, while at the same time using the customer’s existing mobile bill to receive payment for these services. We are talking about functionality defined by the Parlay Group like:

  1. “Common” – All definitions are reused across all Parlay X specifications. This makes it easier to develop services.
  2. “Third Party Call” – Handles calls made by an application. Ensures that all applications can make calls regardless of the underlying network.
  3. “Call Notification” – Handles calls made by network subscribers. Receives and sends SMSs and sent receipts.
  4. “Short Messaging” – sends and receives SMSs and sent receipts.
  5. “Multimedia Messaging” – Sends and receives MMS’s.
  6. “Payment” – Handles payment reservations, both prepaid and postpaid.
  7. “Account Management” – Account enquiries, direct topping up or via scratchcards.
  8. “Terminal Status” – Shows mobile phone status, i.e. whether it is connected to the network, being used for calls etc.
  9. “Terminal Location” – Location of the mobile phone.
  10. “Call Handling” – Specifies how calls are handled for a specific phone number. There is no interaction during the call as in “Call Notification”.
  11. “Audio Call” – Gives MMS functionality and handles the media being used during the call.
  12. “Multimedia Conference” – Starts a multimedia conference and handles the involved participants..
  13. “Address List Management” – Handles groups of subscribers.
  14. “Presence” – Information regarding the status of calls etc. for instant messaging
  15. “Message Broadcast” – Sends messages to all fixed line- or mobile phones in a predefined area.
  16. “Geocoding” – Gives the location of a subscriber, i.e. country, city and address. 
  17. “Application-driven QoS” – Adapts QoS to the end users’ network connection.
  18. “Device Capabilities and Configuration” – Gives information about the mobile phones functionality and possibility to push configuration data to a mobile phone.
  19. “Multimedia Streaming Control” – Handles multimedia streaming to an end user.
  20. “Multimedia Multicast Session – Handles a multicast session.

Here at Strand Consult we view these elements as Lego bricks – elements that can be used to make the applications one offers more intelligent and more exciting to use. Basically, service developers face the choice of whether to try to make their applications more intelligent themselves, or whether they want to use the operators’ intelligence to reach this goal.

Operators like Telenor are offering access to these Lego bricks via Play Ground, Orange via Orange Partner and Vodafone have christened their service provider offering Smart Pipe. There are currently over 300 operators worldwide that have joined One API and that are in the process of opening their networks.

Having taken a closer look at the steps these operators have taken, we believe that this is a good initiative, on the other hand there is still a great deal of evidence pointing towards the fact that these operators have not taken into account the experiences they have gained on the premium SMS market and the success of that market – in other words the basic significance of an open garden strategy.

At the end of the day, the operators are implementing One API in various different ways and to a lesser or greater extent. If you look back at the premium SMS market, it was the open garden strategy of having one short code number across all operators on a market that was the whole foundation of premium SMS becoming so successful.

In our report OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry  we have dissected One API and the possibilities that operators and service providers will have on the future Telco market. We not only examine the actual standard, but also put forward a number of suggestions on how operators and content providers can optimise their business models.

Strand Consult was the first company in the world to analyse and publish information and reports about premium SMS. It was our recommendations in our initial premium SMS reports, published between 1998 and 2003, that are the foundation of the business models that mobile operators across the world have since implemented for premium SMS.

We believe we have now created the same knowledge and underlying business models that will enable operators and content providers to create a healthy business case based on Open API and an open garden strategy.

In our new report OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry you can read and learn more about the opportunities available to you on this market and get inspiration on how you can create an exciting business based on Open API.