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US Carriers Team on App Interface Initiative

Carol Wilson

As promised earlier this year, ATIS has launched a new initiative to make it easier for network operators to work with apps developers and provide access to network capabilities, even in advance of open applications programming interfaces.

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) Device Solutions Initiative, led by Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), will eliminate the need for carrier-specific coding that apps developers need to add real-time communications capabilities to their apps, such as call signaling or network control. It will create tools that let developers write code once and run it on any carrier network.

The first DSI project was actually announced last July. Project ORCA for Open Real-Time Communications APIs, created code, called orca.js, which app developers could incorporate into their APIs in order to gain access to transport libraries built into the service provider networks. (See Killer Apps Meet Killer Whale: ORCA Opens Up.)

All of this is intended to be mutually beneficial to service providers and application developers. Service providers are already working with app developers to try to expose their network capabilities and get a piece of the action when WebRTC applications take off, and the DSI will make that process easier. App developers get easier access to advanced networking capabilities already built into carrier networks without having to develop carrier-specific codes.

The DSI is also an effort to bridge open source, typically built on royalty-free intellectual property rights, with more traditional ICT standards, which use reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) licensing, says Jim McEachern, who heads technology development for ATIS.

"DSI will have operating procedures that will be flexible enough to embrace open source and royalty-free but also traditional RAND programs associated with standards," he says. "It has to be flexible enough to support both of those and lightweight enough not to get in the way of open source projects and innovation, because the people involved with those don't want to get bogged down in bureaucracy. Balancing those two needs was a key part of it."

Both M2M and software-defined networking are expected to generate demand for applications needing real-time communications functions, McEachern says.

The DSI's work formally begins November 21 and is expected to bear fruit beginning next year.

—Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
11/9/2013 | 9:57:52 PM
Re: Adoption
and in those magical words lies the failure of nearly all telco developer initiatives.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
11/6/2013 | 2:00:02 PM
Re: AlcaLu?
i think everyone agrees that service providers need to be able to expose certain assets for use by apps developers and they'd like a process for doing that which enables them to be part of the process and monetize it.  It makes sense for any major vendor to be engaged in this process, if they want to help their service provider customers try to solve this problem. 
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
11/6/2013 | 11:05:01 AM
Re: AlcaLu?
That's true, but AlcaLu's message at the time was that the operators' didn't need its intermediary help, so I'm surprised it's back in the mix.
User Rank: Lightning
11/5/2013 | 10:45:49 PM
Re: AlcaLu?
Will be interesting to see who in AlcaLu is spearheading this initiative ...
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
11/5/2013 | 5:05:37 PM
Re: AlcaLu?
The goal here isn't a set of carrier APIs so much as a framework for how to work together. If you look at ORCA, it's not an open API, it's a bit of Java code that can be used by developers in their APIs to access what each carrier has built. 

One of the issues around open source code is a very different way of handling IPR and this is an attempt to address that. 
User Rank: Light Beer
11/5/2013 | 4:42:52 PM
Interesting move given the move to SDN/NFV within the operator community...But who will be driving adoption within the developer community?? 
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
11/5/2013 | 3:18:30 PM
hmm I thought Alcatel-Lucent gave up on carrier APIs, or at least sold off its repository, making it far less useful to the operators. http://www.lightreading.com/spit-(service-provider-it)/service-delivery-platforms-(sdps)/operators-cut-alcalu-out-of-api-equation/d/d-id/702519
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