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Network as Code

Unlock your network’s value



Network as Code is Nokia’s concept of extreme simplification of network capabilities to make them part of applications. Network as Code brings a paradigm shift for value creation in our telecommunications industry behind 5G. It enables the building of a new business and technology framework, elevating the concept of distributed service chains to the mainstream in telecoms. This facilitates the inclusion of developers and the vertical technology partner ecosystem that is foundational for value creation. It brings new business value creation to 5G cloud-native adoption, openness, and the programmability momentum in today’s telecommunications domain.

How to monetize 5G, successfully

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have invested over $100bn in their 5G networks and are looking for a return on that investment. The growth of traditional communication services is limited, and new revenue streams are imperative. To energize and catalyze new revenue growth, the 5G networks need to build closer tie-ins to applications that will utilize the 5G capabilities in ways previously not possible.

How to foster innovation and stimulate innovation scale-up with Network as Code?

To monetize their 5G network successfully, CSPs seek ways to enable a wonderfully frictionless exchange of services and experiences; stimulate innovation scale-up, foster innovation, network usage, and business growth; deliver at speed; and enable users to create and derive value.

The newly deployed 5G networks have numerous features that cater to the requirements of Industry 4.0 applications, including remote inspection using drones, public safety, automated terrestrial vehicles, supply chains driven by digital twins, adaptable manufacturing systems, and maintenance utilizing mixed reality.

This is where a network-powered ecosystem comes into play.

Network-powered ecosystem: driving new revenue in telecom ecosystem

A network-powered ecosystem that involves CSPs, app developers, and enterprises is crucial for driving new revenue from Industry 4.0. All stakeholders in this ecosystem aim to benefit: CSPs by providing developers access to their network properties, developers by delivering new application experiences, and enterprises by offering new products and services.

However, such an ecosystem faces major challenges for developers and CSPs alike.

How can developers use Network as Code

Developers are not network specialists so they need simplified network APIs that they can consume through familiar tools and processes, but which nevertheless provide them with access to a powerful range of network capabilities.

How common network APIs can drive developer adoption of Network as Code

If the ecosystem is to attract a critical mass of developers, it must also provide developers with a common set of network APIs that work across multiple networks. Developers expect to develop once and have their applications work across any network. If an individual enterprise (or CSP)  provides network APIs in a ‘walled garden’ model that does not follow industry standards, it will limit the number of developers prepared to use its APIs. 

In addition, the current solutions limit what developers can do with the network as they focus only on a narrow set of communication services APIs whereas developers will need access to a much broader set of network capabilities.

Emerging technologies are taking 5G industry industrial applications to the next level

Developers working on industrial and enterprise applications are aiming to enhance business efficiency, customer engagement, sustainability, and safety by optimizing the building, visualization, operation, and management of physical objects and processes. 
Several new technologies are emerging to take the data-driven 5G advanced industrial use cases, such as robotic production lines, logistics hubs, drone highways, smart cities, and virtual workplaces to a higher level of virtual reality. 

These technologies include AI/ML, haptics, motion tracking, volumetric video streaming, photorealistic rendering, hyper-accurate positioning, and virtual reality.

Telecom API as ROI for Communication service providers (CSPs)

CSPs need a return on their substantial investment in 5G and the valuable properties they are building into their cloud-native networks. It is expensive to build feature-rich 5G and 5G Advanced networks and CSPs want to maximize their revenue gain from the increasing number of features their networks provide. CSPs need a way of providing developers with the common set of APIs they need without having the value of those APIs stripped away from them by a third-party aggregator.

CPaaS (Communication Platform as a Service) as the first steppingstone in Network as Code

CPaaS (Communication Platform as a Service) has set the direction for this concept by opening access to messaging, voice, and video capabilities through programmability in various digital ecosystem applications. For example, an Uber passenger can now text or call their driver directly via the Uber app.

However, while CPaaS is a strong start in the right direction, it restricts CSPs’ revenue-earning potential from the voice, video, and messaging services that underpin CPaaS provider APIs.

New capabilities and applications with Network as Code

The next step is to go beyond CPaaS and expose new capabilities within these modern networks, such as real-time broadcasting of immersive video, edge processing offloading, and control for autonomous vehicles or robots. Applications will be able to interact and adjust in real time, which has never been possible before.


As shown in the figure above, we categorize advanced use cases in two layers:

  • Capabilities beyond CPaaS available in networks today
  • 5G values: capabilities that are unique to 5G networks

The role of developers

Programmable networks embrace developers within enterprises, communications service providers (CSPs), and 3rd party independent developers. This provides a win-win proposition for the developers, the CSPs, and their enterprise and consumer customers.

Developers will be able to write applications that can leverage many different networks across the world without needing to understand how they differ 'under the hood'. In turn, CSPs will be able to expose their networks to the marketplace and be accessible to app developers for all markets in which they operate.

What industry analysts say about Network as Code?

caroline chapell

What are the benefits of Network as Code?

Network as Code (NaC) will allow CSPs and enterprises to achieve a key objective as they deploy their 5G networks, which is to monetize the rich, software-based functionality network. 

It will also enable CSPs to collaborate with developers, unleash the potential of network-critical operational applications, and drive new value from their networks.

What are the success factors of deploying Network as Code?

  • A wide range of simplified network assets that give developers choice and flexibility over the network functionality they can build into their applications. 
  • Ease of network API use including different levels of access to network capabilities depending on the level of developer knowledge to capture as much of the developer ecosystem as possible. 
  • Resilient performance at scale.
  • Sandbox environments that allow use cases to be tested and proven out rapidly at low cost.

Above all, a programmable network should demonstrate a future-proof, telecom SaaS-driven architecture that can support the leading-edge capabilities that are beginning to appear in 5G now and will continue to be rolled out toward 6G networks in the future.

Explore the endless possibilities with Nokia

Nokia will leverage its proven telecom SaaS platform, technical expertise and understanding of the underlying network complexities, and Nokia's ecosystem relationships to help create the marketplace for programable networks.

Nokia will also use its long-standing status as one of the world's most ethical companies to embed trust, ethical practices, and positive social impact to enable this marketplace to bring transformational benefits to the telecom industry and its enterprise and consumer customers.


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