Back in September, Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) launched a new consulting and professional services practice that is part of their Applications Enablement initiative that is based on open applications programming interfaces (APIs). It is built on their lifecycle methodology for APIs. In the process, they announced their apiGrove API management platform an open source-based software engine designed to give SPs, cloud services and enterprises a standardized “try it you will like,” way to test the API exposure experience, and promised more on the API front would be forthcoming soon. They did not disappoint.
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) has now unveiled a suite of APIs to accelerate the creation of compelling mobile broadband services of 4G LTE networks. The nine “New Conversation APIs” are designed to give developers easy access to communication capabilities in service providers’ IP Multimedia Subsystem (News - Alert) (IMS) infrastructures that are at the heart of 4G LTE and IP networks. For the uninitiated, IMS capabilities include high definition voice and video, audio/video conferencing, interactive voice, messaging and call control, which can be used to build services for both consumers and businesses.
ALU is leveraging the experience of its ngConnect program which brings together service providers and apps developers as well as offering easy access to the APIs along with a fast prototyping environment provided by the New Conversation APIs developer portal.
Giving developers a leg up on 4G LTE through New Conversation APIs
As noted in the announcement of the API availability, the APIs are based on REpresentational State Transfer (REST) technology. This is a popular, easy-to-use software architecture used to create applications for the Web.
Brian Partridge, vice president of research at Yankee Group stated that, “Opening the network up in a way that is friendly to web developers creates new retail and wholesale revenue opportunities for telecom operators. By exposing the full breadth of IMS via RESTful APIs, Alcatel-Lucent can offer their core customer base a new way to create and monetize innovative applications and recoup their investment in IMS infrastructure. In an age of increasing OTT competition, service providers are eager to find innovative ways to add value to the Internet eco--system and this solution is clearly a step in the right direction.”
ALU provided examples of proof of concepts that have been developed in its ngConnect program that have used the New Conversation APIs for developing capabilities to be run on 4G LTE networks:
- Anana has created an app that allows subscribers to convert their last tweet into a speech ringback greeting or initiate a call with multiple participants through their Facebook wall, making group voice or video chat easy
- Camka has replaced costly maintenance travel with faster, more efficient problem resolution through a video assisted maintenance call
- Aricent (News - Alert) has expanded the scope of security alerts for their smart home solution by notifying multiple contacts through video calls when a home intrusion or emergency is detected as well as using alternative means of contact like SMS, e-mail or even social networks like Facebook depending on peoples’ preferences
- Alten, in just four weeks, ported a traditional Intelligent Network (IN) service to a web-based application that provides advanced anonymous call features and call control capabilities
Dave Tidwell (News - Alert), COO of Anana said, “The New Conversation APIs enable third party application developers to focus on the creation of rich consumer experiences across a wide range of devices – from phones to mobiles to tablets to PCs - without having to deal with the complexity of directly interacting with the network. This rapid applications development capability and common interface reduces the time required from years to weeks and allows the service provider to quickly open new revenue streams."
Sandip Mukerjee, president of Advanced Communications (News - Alert) at Alcatel-Lucent said, “Today, no one else in the marketplace is offering service providers what our New Conversation APIs offer. They enable service providers to fast-track 4G innovation – turning IMS into a real engine for rapid creation of new services. We make it easy to access the rich features supported by service providers and thereby attract more developers. New applications using IMS-based APIs can be built very quickly, in turn allowing the rapid introduction of more services, and a growth in revenue that comes from our customers being able to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.”
First to market, fast to market and fast in the market
It may seem almost like a broken record at this point, but it is significant to point out for service providers in general, and mobile ones in particular, that to maintain their centrality in evolving ecosystems and maximize the profit potential of network investments in physical infrastructure and IMS, engaging the developer community that is the cutting edge of next generation value creation is critical. This means enabling developers to not only have access to key network components to create their apps through open APIs, but also the ability to fast-track app creation, testing and deployment.
In speaking with TMCnet, Sue White, an ALU senior director of advanced communications marketing, explained that the announcement highlights the fact that this is, “more than about APIs.” What ALU is bringing to the table is a:
- Platform: IMS as a real engine for rapid innovation with easy-to-use APIs
- Partnership: a dynamic ecosystem of app partners using the ALU brand along with the portal of fast-tracking and testing new apps
- Process: a repeatable methodology for defining, designing and deploying APIs
As noted above, experience has shown that the APIs are easy for developers to use, and that from concept to validation is typically just a matter of weeks.
White added that, “There are three tangible benefits of our approach to enabling developers to embed communications easily in their apps for 4G LTE. First, ALU is opening up IMS and making it accessible for fast innovation which is good for SPs seeking to monetize their investments in IMS and VoLTE. Second, it is about embedding comms as a feature in the apps. And, importantly it is about much more than APIs. The availability of the portal, the ngConnect community and examples of service concepts is a winning combination for the entire ecosystem.”
White said the goal is to generate interest in the fact that now developers have a place to go and tools to use to easily explore their ingenuity and leverage the possibilities of communications-embedded functionality. It is also to enable service providers to work with entities that can help them leverage their assets and create the future and kick the tires of tangible examples.
Alcatel-Lucent likes to cite the fact that their service provider customers are demanding and driving API initiatives in recognition of the above, and that ALU with 15M VoLTE licenses, 50M IMS subs and 100+ service provider customers is a global leader in exploring the potential of IMS and VoLTE.
At the end of the day the real objective here is to arm developers with the tools they need to partner with mobile service providers (SPs) so together they can be first to market, fast to market as well as fast in the market. The APIs are a reflection of the importance ALU places on helping developers and SPs, and as the ngConnect program demonstrates, being well-armed can produce impressive results.
In what I have characterized in the past as “The Age of Acceleration,” speed is critical to success and this certainly puts new service creations for 4G LTE on the fast track.
Edited by Brooke Neuman