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the key to network
relevance and innovation
Operators can continue to improve the relevance of their networks by adopting an
architecture customized for innovation. Service exposure enables integration of
network assets into enterprise business processes, making it possible for operators
to develop their position in the value chain and to create new innovative offerings.
ericsson White paper
284 23-3213 Uen | July 2013
Service exposure • the changing landscape 2
The straightforward view of the world used to be one where devices and networks provided consumers
with services. However, a more complex world has emerged where third-party developer ecosystems
and the apps they build are just as important in shaping the consumer experience, as Figure 1 shows.
In this paper, we would like to balance this view by bringing forward recent advancements, with the
adoption of an architecture where the inherent assets of the networks are made available for innovation
and co-creation by enterprise and consumer developers.This paper explores how operators can be
active, relevant and appreciated as essential contributors to this rapidly changing landscape.
Emerging web world
The web world has radically changed how we
expect to find, use and consume all kinds of
content, such as news, information, films, music,
commerce and banking. Web technology has
moved from just supporting the consumer using
a browser, and has transformed into a toolset that
supports a truly distributed way of implementing
of functionality, not just a web of linked pages.
This is a real game changer. The web space is
where we have seen explosive growth of
innovative services in recent decades, with no
end to the flow of new ideas in sight. However,
many operators are struggling to find their roles
in this space.
Another important aspect is the emergence of
the mobile device as a computing platform close
in capability to the desktops and laptops that
used to dominate the developer focus. All these
platforms are also embracing web technologies
when interacting with the rest of the network,
aligning technology for connected devices and
widening the field of innovation.
However, even though the device platform can
take over a number of functions close to the
consumer interaction, the network still has a
major role to play. The enterprise scenario in
particular has a clear need for network-side
backend systems that run the actual applications
– for example, coordinating workflows,
managing information and guaranteeing
consistency. In addition, the increasing use of multiple devices in different situations – but accessing
the same services – leads to scenarios where the network is the only entity that can solve the problem
of managing multiple devices.
An illustration of how services can be developed in this context can be seen in Figure 2.This is a
complex and varied space because:
>> App developers are providing new services.
>> Service providers (part of the operator or independently) are deploying the services.
>> Enterprises are using all these capabilities plus their own infrastructure.
>> Device manufacturers are providing device hardware and software, as well as development tools.
Figure 1: The changing landscape.
Service exposure • the changing landscape 3
The service provider
Many players can assume a service-provider role. An operator can take on this role; alternatively, it can
be adopted by a business partner, or even by an independent over-the-top (OTT) provider signed up
on a self-service portal. In the first case, we talk about internal service exposure; the other two cases
are referred to as external service exposure.
In many cases, an operator would like to bring onboard the talents of developers skilled in their
specific application domains. This can make internal service exposure a powerful tool to allow the
the intricacies of the network.This means that operational staff can feel assured that the stability and
integrity of the network is protected, while the marketing department benefits from the time to market
for new services – or new adaptations to a new enterprise vertical – being on a web-style timetable.
What has changed?
Until now, many operators have exposed assets through APIs, typically supporting SMS, payment and
location-based solutions, targeting mainly developers and service providers with knowledge of the
telecom domain.These initial ambitions of broadening their business reach in B2B value chains with
wholesale network assets have in general not been as successful as the operators had anticipated.
Two main factors that have changed drastically in recent years affect exposure for operators: the
market situation and the available technology.
Overall, the market drivers and business priority for operators exploring wholesale revenue streams
have changed. From the perspective of capability exposure, this means moving from silo capabilities
exposed to a few service providers and mass-market developers, to exposure of customized assets
addressing enterprises’ specific business needs. Operators have had limited success in their attempts
is much more interested in using these capabilities as part of its own processes.
Regarding available technology, traditional network capabilities are being made available more and
more over easily accessible APIs. Examples here include network policy control, network and subscriber
data, and OSS/BSS capabilities, such as subscription management, order management and assurance.
This opens up opportunities for operators to improve their time to market by developing their own
services faster and more easily. However, it also means there is a need for operators to control how
these APIs are used in order to protect service delivery quality and availability: this is certainly true for
exposure to external parties, but it is also relevant internally. For example, consider the case when an
external consultant – not necessarily a telecom specialist – writes an application on commission from
(internal or independent)
Figure 2: The service exposure context.
Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit 4
Current fixed and mobile networks are viewed as static and closed, with little ability for service
providers to leverage the inherent networking assets, which are normally under the operator’s
control.Transforming the network to an open and dynamic environment creates an architecture
for innovation. Exposing operator assets offers mutual benefits for operators and users (enterprises
as well as consumers). The user experience expands to allow connections to people, content
and collaboration that are fragmented and technically complex today.
Until recently, services were either confined to the operator domain (fully controlled, optimized
and interoperable), or delivered OTT, carried on any IP-capable access. However, with ever-
increasing demands for bandwidth and low latency, IP-based services will also depend on good
network performance. Obviously, this can only be done by making the network aware of what
service is being delivered, in order to select the best possible delivery method.
This awareness can be created in two basic ways: either through explicit interaction between
the application providing the service and the communications/connectivity network (the classic
API-exposure scenario); or by way of the network detecting the traffic and optimizing it as required.
Networks that handle these kinds of optimization well will perform better, making it a premium
feature for the operator. A good example of the latter is smart mobile broadband, where operators
have the possibility to offer end-to-end quality of service (QoS).The result can be a positive spiral
of better quality of experience (QoE), leading to more service use and better business for
operators, in turn leading to a stickier combined offering for the consumer.
However, increasing delivery performance is just one side of the potential improvement. The
real entry into the web-paced innovation realm is when network capabilities such as multimedia
communication, presence, location, and access to network-maintained data such as user profiles
can be made available – subject to privacy and
integrity measures – as components in the
application developers’ toolbox. In particular,
the enterprise communication field is ripe with
opportunities for tighter integration of
communications with enterprise back-office
systems, such as corporate authentication
and authorization services, business
management, and sales and marketing
Service exposure for the enterprise
For enterprises, customer relations and the
possibility to address partners from other
industries to explore new revenue streams are
business-critical topics. For operators to
capitalize on this business opportunity, it is
essential they understand the unique needs
of the enterprise, similar to what operators
have been doing for a long time regarding
Figure 3 shows the relevance of different
operator capabilities for enterprises. This is
Billing and developer
Data and information
Figure 3: Enterprises’ requirements from operators.
Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit 5
based on qualitative interviews with enterprises in North America .The graph provides a clear
message: enterprises’ requirements for operator capabilities differ between industry segments.
Furthermore, enterprise needs are not related to only a single capability. There is therefore no
single “killer API,” as composites of multiple operator capabilities are the real sources of value.
With the network becoming an architecture for innovation, enterprises will be able to adapt
their own internal operations, as well as improve the service and responsiveness to their customers
by directly incorporating features of the communications network architecture.
It is a strategic decision for operators to invest in an architecture for innovation in order to keep
their relevance in the changing environment.The big picture includes both direct revenues based
on single API usage and combinations of direct and indirect revenue streams.
A. Direct revenues are revenues derived from sales of exposed network assets. Often, APIs are
published on operators’ developer sites, and a fee is charged on a per-usage basis.
B. Indirect revenues can be divided into three major areas:
›› Additional revenues from increased traffic. New types of services can be created using
exposed assets, and such services can potentially generate more traffic that can be
›› Differentiation by partnerships. By partnering with external service providers, giving
them access to operator assets, new innovative offerings can be created. QoE can be
enhanced for users by enabling interaction between operators’ infrastructure and
service providers’ applications. Operators can shift from being a pure connectivity
player to becoming a provider of services with capabilities and qualities tailored to the
buyer’s needs: a much smarter pipe. New ecosystems can be formed with close
partnerships between operators and service providers to create new innovative
services and manage the rapid pace of innovation.
›› Increased network efficiency. The ability to dynamically tailor QoE and to manage traffic
flows of specific services gives the possibility to reduce network load using dynamic
real-time analytics and policy management. This benefits operators and content
providers, as it results in both reduced network load for operators and service delivery
without interruptions for content providers. One example is to optimize video coding
based on the current network load.
Service exposure realization
There are some aspects to consider in order to realize an architecture for innovation that
addresses the enterprise business opportunities in a connected marketplace compared with
traditional silo capability and long-tail focused exposure solutions.
Business flexibility is the differentiator, not the API.
Operators do not differentiate on the exposed API level. It is what is behind the API and how
it is delivered to the customer that is the differentiator. The whole delivery chain of the service
being exposed should quickly adapt to new use cases, with new interaction and business
Adapt to new exposure technology.
Operator service-exposure solutions have so far been delivered with northbound interfaces
(NBIs) being made available for developers to leverage in device and server-side applications.
With HTML5 and WebRTC technology, an operator can also make their assets available over
a User-to-Network Interface (UNI) and over standard web technologies directly in the device.
An operator’s service exposure solution needs to be able to manage both NBI and UNI
Enterprises using operator-provided services need be ensured that the service is available
and performing according to expectations; 99.999 percent availability is required for these
Leverage internal and external service exposure investments.
Operators today make investments in improving their relevance in their own consumer
channels with, for example, enriched communication services, network policy services,
contextual information, and product offer bundles.These investments are also valuable when
addressing wholesale opportunities.
Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit 6
As depicted in the high-level architecture
in Figure 4, service enablement is the
domain that simplifies and presents
operators’ assets and the service exposure
solution. As a result, developers do not
need to understand the complexity of the
network behind the service enablement
layer. Service enablement consists of
interface control (access to exposed
interfaces/APIs), service adaptation
(executing business logic associated with
applications), network adaptation
(protocol adaptation for flexible integration
with exposable assets) and business
management (supporting business
relationships between service providers
The architecture discussed here might
suggest that the set of network capabilities
that feed into service enablement could be
anything that the network can produce.This
is, however, not normally the case. Service
exposure is not about opening up
everything to every app; strict control needs to be maintained over which services are available
and who or what can access them.
Consequently, even though the architecture provides the technical basis for doing almost
anything, there are business decisions that have to be made relating to what is actually exposed,
to whom, to what extent, how quickly and at what price.These decisions are taken on a variety
of levels: by the vendor, system integrator, operator and partner.They are then enforced by all of
the service-enablement components: interface control, service adaptation, network adaptation
and business management.
Communication and connectivity are moving from stand-alone services to becoming integral
parts of connected enterprises’ business processes. For instance, internal communication
and collaboration, interaction with customers, suppliers and partners, as well as an increasing
use of social media and Internet of Things technologies are being used to transform their
operations. The reliance on communications, and in particular the integration of mobility, is
a prime driver for most businesses.
Today, most communication lacks interaction with all other related contextual data, such as
a call to a customer support center for a product, or an inquiry for a transaction on a credit
card bill.This imposes an additional burden on the consumer and the enterprise to establish
facts and context before either party can resolve the intent of the call.
The operator can allow data from the network to be fused with data that is provided by
the user and the enterprise. The portfolio of contextual data can include information such
as identity, location and various tiers of policy management to determine the nature of the
communication. This allows the communication to be routed to the right destination (such
as a product expert) without the inefficiency and delay that is typical today. Contextual
communication enhances the user experience as well as the relationship between enterprises
and their customers.
Utilities manage power-distribution systems with a complex range of machine-to-machine
(M2M) communication, data centers, contact centers and expert repair staff backed up with
subject matter experts in different disciplines who are on call as required.
Some key performance metrics are the frequency and number of faults, time to detect a
fault, time to isolate the fault accurately to a particular set of equipment, and the time to get
crew on site to carry out the repairs, as well as customer-facing metrics on the disruption,
and safety metrics (such as injuries). All these aggregate into a total cost per incident for
each category, and eventually the total cost per distribution node or customer.
With the architecture for innovation, response to a crisis relies on contextual communications,
B2C B2B Long-tail
Figure 4: Service exposure realization architecture.
Service exposure • exposing assets for mutual benefit 7
collection of data for the post-incident analysis, as well as processing of real-time data to trigger
mobilization of the appropriate field staff, as well as expert support staff in multiple locations.
Only the integration of business processes with the assets of the telecommunications
network can provide the evolved enterprise with a comprehensive solution and workflow.
Remote patient monitoring
One commercial example of the use of network assets is in the area of health care, where
affordable quality care, without the need for the patient to have technical expertise, can address
the risks and costs of chronic diseases. The driving principle is to use technology and network
assets to provide patient-centric personalized health care.
Remote patient monitoring is offered to operators as software as a service (SaaS), and utilizes
common off-the-shelf devices, such as tablets and biometric sensors. The solution utilizes
communication enablers, such as the service enablement platform for M2M information
management and service exposure, so a caregiver can collect, monitor and act upon a patient’s
biometric readings post-discharge.
Specific user experience includes live video chats to help maintain patient-doctor intimacy,
and educational and informative videos that can be pushed to the patient’s tablet to aid them
in their recovery care at home. The doctor is able to customize the care plan specifically to the
patient, the disease or the treatment, and the plan can be updated “over the air” as needed,
while the patient can remain at home.
Service exposure • conclusion 8
The communications industry continues to grow with all the different services and devices that
are driving traffic on the networks. Operators need to consider several factors as they plan their
>> Decide on the role they want to have and take measures to move in that direction
>> Decide which network assets to expose and the underlying technology choices
>> Leverage partners, distributors and integrators, who will play an important role in reaching
Operators have an opportunity to engage proactively and aggressively in the enterprise
communications market, and to participate in larger profit pools than those available in a pure
Service exposure • glossary 9
API application programming interface
HTML5 HyperText Markup Language 5
NBI northbound interface
OSS/BSS operations support systems / business support systems
QoE Quality of Experience
QoS Quality of Service
SaaS software as a service
UNI User-to-Network Interface
WebRTC Web Real-Time Communication