Dish hints at the capabilities of its network APIs

Dish Network, which is developing APIs into its network, suggested such efforts could create 'personalized marketing strategies, targeted product recommendations, and optimized customer support.'

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

September 18, 2023

4 Min Read
Dish Network Riverfront HQ
Dish's main 5G headquarters are in Denver, Colorado.(Source: Dish Network)

Dish Network suggested that enterprise customers on its new 5G network would be able to obtain a wide variety of information on their users. The company's comments on the topic are noteworthy considering a wide variety of other companies – from AT&T to Ericsson – are working to develop similar insights into other networks.

Dish, for its part, has been clear on its efforts to build application programming interfaces (APIs) into its network. As Light Reading reported last year, the company's developer website offers a look at some of the APIs the company has already released or has in development. A cursory check of the website this week showed that Dish is offering a number of subscriber provisioning APIs including ones for subscription balance management ("the ability to setup buckets, switch primary bucket, cancel bucket, query balances, update balances," according to Dish); subscription profile management ("the ability to update subscription bill cycle and start date," according to Dish); and subscription SIM management ("the ability to validate SIM and query SIM details of a subscription," according to Dish).

In a new Medium post promoted by some Dish executives on LinkedIn, Dish executives outlined some of the capabilities that Dish enterprise customers might derive from the company's network and its APIs. Specifically, the Dish executives wrote that the company's enterprise customers might be able to segment their users into "domains" that then allows them "to group customers by their communication habits, such as frequent callers, data-heavy users, or occasional users, enabling targeted marketing strategies and personalized service offerings."

Continued the executives: "The insights gathered from each domain now serve as a solid foundation for crafting personalized marketing strategies, targeted product recommendations, and optimized customer support. With this data-driven approach, we aim to not only exceed customer expectations, but also foster long-term relationships and sustainable business growth."

Dish's Brian Mengwasser, VP of the company's MarketPlace and Apps Design, is leading the company's work with developers and the Dish developer portal. Mengwasser was the co-founder of Aurora Insight, which was recently acquired by Maxar Technologies.

Dish's big strategy

Dish's API push is an important part of the company's overall 5G story. Dish entered the US wireless industry in 2020 with the purchase of around 10 million Boost customers from T-Mobile. At that same time, the company started construction on its open RAN 5G network. That network leverages cutting-edge cloud-native designs, largely running in the AWS cloud, which Dish officials argue gives the company the software nimbleness unavailable to companies like Verizon that operate legacy, hardware-based wireless networks.

Broadly, Dish executives have argued that it plans to chase both the consumer and the enterprise sectors of the US wireless market. Among consumers, Dish ultimately hopes to operate a wholesale network that would support a variety of brands including its new Boost Infinite offering. And on the enterprise side, the company said it hopes to offer enterprise customers the ability to more carefully control their wireless connections via APIs.

"One of the dividends is that our data is going to be in the cloud where you can now automate, analyze and do things that perhaps others can't," Dish chief Charlie Ergen said recently.

However, Dish has faced a number of struggles in recent months. The company's share price has fallen significantly, and to address its funding shortfall it has proposed a merger with EchoStar. Dish has also hit the pause button on its 5G network buildout after covering roughly 200 million people.

The broader context

Of course, Dish isn't alone in the pursuit of networking APIs. Indeed, the creation of such APIs was one of the main reasons Ericsson acquired Vonage.

Further, the GSMA's new "Open Gateway" effort is intended to create a "framework" of universal network APIs that would then be accessible by the world's software developers. Unifying 5G network APIs would then presumably make them more useful, and valuable, to developers, according to the trade association.

And Dish is facing some substantial competition in the US market in terms of networking APIs. For example, T-Mobile recently announced that software developers can use network slicing on its standalone (SA) 5G network to build video calling applications with more consistent uplink and downlink speeds and lower latency. The result, the company said, could be more reliable video calls that may not freeze or skip.

And AT&T's new network CTO, Igal Elbaz, this week suggested the company is planning to release a wide variety of networking APIs.

"We want to place the power of the network in the hands of developer communities, the people closest to the use cases customers have been dreaming up since 5G was barely on the horizon," he wrote on AT&T's website, specifically pointing to areas including security, messaging and network usage. "We plan to scale our capabilities by exposing them as APIs on various hyperscaler and aggregator platforms."

But the value of such APIs remains unclear. Already companies like Twilio have built businesses around the aggregation of messaging and networking APIs. But whether individual network operators will be able to create the same kind of opportunity remains to be seen.

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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