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Open to new ideas: how a common 5G API exposure platform drives innovation

Extreme is a word often linked to 5G.

Extreme throughput, extreme capacity, extreme connectivity for the Internet of things (IoT) and ultra-low latency (OK, ‘ultra’ is not ‘extreme’, but it is a good alternative word).

Let’s add to the list by looking at ‘extreme openness’.


With 5G, operators have an opportunity to re-evaluate the purpose of their networks. A 5G network is not just a collection of connectivity infrastructure, but a programmable platform to create new applications based on collaboration. This then enables operators to use their 5G network programming abilities to maximize innovation, minimize time to market and create great new services for consumers and enterprises. Services that are monetizable.

For this monetization to happen, we need extreme openness. The 3GPP-compliant 5G Nokia Network Exposure Function (NEF) achieves this by exposing third-party open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to other applications. What does this mean in reality? Any telco cloud software item with an API interface can be integrated underneath our NEF - an example being 4G or 5G related API functions, which can be managed by an individual plug-in in the 5G exposure platform.

This plug-in capability is a simple way to expand the use of APIs to specific areas like IoT or analytics, multi-access edge computing, shared data layer and call management. Such technologies can be combined, or mashed up, to provide tailor-made solutions for verticals such as Smart Cities, Connected Industries, Public Safety, health and home solutions. In short, it helps to make developers’ and operators’ jobs easier.

Taking openness into the 5G era

Nokia has long been an advocate of openness and has contributed substantially in open communities, sharing innovations and using many open source components in its network solutions. An open ecosystem enables partners to bring their best innovations to the table. They collectively create something new to help all stakeholders achieve their business objectives. Our open interfaces allow third party programmers to act independently, creating new services and new software solutions.

Nokia already has some commercial examples using our open APIs. And at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019, we introduced new use cases to demonstrate the programming capabilities of the 5G core network.

One example is the in-call voice assistant Open API. To bring its capabilities alive, our MWC demo focused on how in-call voice recognition and keyword detection could play an important role in the search for a missing child in a smart city.

There is an almost unlimited range of possibilities achievable with open APIs and Nokia aims to help bring them to reality through our developer portal, API sandbox provisioning and the full commitment and support of the community.

At MWC, I had the opportunity to discuss the possibilities with several operators and many new, creative ideas were suggested to serve enterprises and consumers. We also discussed complex futuristic ideas that may be realized quite quickly when 5G core network functions become widely available and the creation-focused ecosystem gets into gear.

The discussion is sure to be continued in many other forums and exhibitions. Find out how you can contribute to help build the digital world of tomorrow in the Open Ecosystem supported by Nokia Developer Portal.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia and @nokianetworks using #5G, #cloud, #API

Zoltan Varnai

About Zoltan Varnai

Zoltan Varnai works in the Nokia Software Core marketing team. His professional passion is marketing of the core network with a special focus on 5G core programming capabilities. His personal passion is drumming – giving bands clock-like pace.

Tweet me at @VarnaiZoltan

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