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Ericsson wins Verizon's API biz

Verizon offers a number of networking APIs, including ones for voice, enterprise messaging, network monitoring, IoT services and edge computing. Now it will also work with Ericsson's Vonage platform.

Mike Dano

February 8, 2024

4 Min Read
World map with communication network on server room background
(Source: Aleksey Funtap/Alamy Stock Photo)

Verizon announced it will use Ericsson's Vonage API platform to more broadly expose its network to developers. The announcement appears to indicate continued momentum for the GSMA's Open Gateway initiative, as well as Ericsson's efforts to profit from its $6 billion acquisition of Vonage.

Interestingly, Ericsson's new Vonage deal with Verizon comes eight days into the tenure of Niklas Heuveldop, Vonage's new CEO. Heuveldop previously headed Ericsson's business in North America and also landed Ericsson's recent $14 billion supply deal with AT&T.

"Vonage's collaboration with Verizon will represent another key milestone in the execution of Ericsson's strategy to create a global network platform business by enabling the company to offer network APIs in the US market," explained Seckin Arikan, a top executive in Ericsson's Vonage business, in a release.

Verizon joins Deutsche Telekom – Europe's biggest operator – in using Ericsson's Vonage API platform for network services.

The details

"As we evolve our API journey, we welcome collaboration with companies like Vonage who share our passion to make network capabilities available to developers for the advancement of the connected world," said Verizon's Srini Kalapala, SVP of technology and product development, in a release.

Verizon said it has been offering network-level application programming interfaces (APIs) "for several years," and that it would make "some of the most creative and versatile of those network APIs" available globally through Vonage.

On its website, Verizon lists a number of networking APIs including ones for voice, enterprise messaging, network monitoring, IoT services and edge computing. The company also recently announced it would use Google's Jibe messaging platform in part to offer RCS business messaging.

According to Ericsson, telecom research and consulting firm STL Partners predicts that the revenue opportunity created by mobile network APIs will grow to over $20 billion globally by 2028.

The background

To be clear, operators for years have discussed the possibility of opening their networks to developers. But that discussion picked up steam roughly a year ago when the GSMA trade association announced its "Open Gateway" effort. Another player in the space, the TM Forum, has also said its APIs and Open Digital Architecture (ODA) effort will work alongside the GSMA's Open Gateway initiative.

According to the GSMA, 41 global mobile network operators – from Verizon to AT&T, Liberty Global, China Unicom, Vodafone and SoftBank – support its Open Gateway initiative. But only three countries – Brazil, Germany and Sri Lanka – have so far publicly launched the technology.

Presumably the GSMA will provide an update on its efforts during its upcoming MWC Barcelona trade show later this month. At that conference, officials from Vonage, Nokia, Telefonica, Microsoft and others are scheduled to discuss the topic.

According to the GSMA, Ericsson, Microsoft and Nokia are among the vendors offering API platforms. Nokia has announced two customers so far for its own API platform: Dish Network and BT.

The opportunity 

For its part, Ericsson has admitted difficulties in quickly building a business around Vonage and network APIs.

The company closed its Vonage acquisition in 2022, and a year later it took a $3 billion impairment on the purchase. Heuveldop, previously head of Ericsson's North American business, took over as Vonage CEO on February 1. Heuveldop replaced Rory Read, who had been the CEO of Vonage since 2020.

In its most recent quarterly report, Ericsson disclosed that Vonage's sales rose just 2% year-over-year, amounting to around $390 million.

During Ericsson's quarterly conference call, analysts fretted over the 2% figure as too sluggish.

Börje Ekholm, Ericsson's CEO, argued that Vonage will need to develop and expand its existing  businesses around unified communications and contact center services.

"But the real strategic area that we're actually working on is to develop the market for network APIs and with the ability to expose the capabilities of the network in a new way," he said, according to Seeking Alpha. "That is where we are 100% focused on while trying to maintain the existing business."

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About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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