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TDC Commits to Telco 2.0 Strategy

TDC A/S (Copenhagen: TDC) is clearly keen on next-generation telecom technology. Late last week the Danish incumbent announced plans to deploy tiny, home-based mobile base stations, or femtocells, during 2009, and now it has thrown its hat into the Telco 2.0 ring. (See TDC Joins the Femto Club.)

The carrier is joining a growing group of operators that are looking to expand their service creation and delivery offerings by combining the best elements of Web services models with their network capabilities. This approach is often referred to as Telco 2.0 or Web 2.0. (See BT Hires Telco 2.0 Expert, BT Leapfrogs to Web 2.0 With Ribbit , Infonova Tackles Telco 2.0, BT Inches Toward Telco 2.0, Telcos Waffle on Web 2.0, and LogicaCMG, Microsoft Team .)

TDC's approach is to open up its network resources, using open APIs (application programming interface) to third-party application developers so that those external developers can create new services that can efficiently and securely run across TDC's network and utilize its physical and logical capabilities.

To do this, TDC is deploying Telecom Web Services technology from service delivery platform (SDP) specialist Aepona Ltd. , which has experience with this sort of approach, having worked with Canadian carrier Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T) on a similar strategy, which the vendor is referring to generically as Network as a Service (NaaS). (See Aepona Expands for Telco 2.0 Assault.)

Flemming Hynkemejer, CTO of TDC’s Nordic Mobile operations, tells Light Reading that Aepona's technology, which provides a single point of control and simplified interaction between TDC and its developer partners, will be in commercial service by late summer, and will be used initially for existing mobile applications such as voting, buying tickets, and content deliveries.

Hynkemejer notes that TDC evaluated technology from a number of different players, mostly combinations of platform vendors and systems integrators, but that he can't identify the other vendors that were considered, because all negotiations were confidential.

Hynkemejer believes that enhancing applications creation potential by exposing the network to third-party developers is essential for the long-term survival of telecom service providers. "Young customers will expect to be able to use their terminals for a lot of various transactions, and those carriers not capable of offering that will not survive in the long run."

There is evidence, though, that more and more carriers are exploring the potential of so-called Web services capabilities and becoming more open to the idea that their network resources can be exposed without fear of security breaches.

Operators like BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) have spoken about the need for more flexible approaches to service creation, while Aepona, which counts Orange (NYSE: FTE), KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Telia Company among the carriers using its various software modules, claims there's a growing realization among carriers that an open API architecture is needed to keep pace with customer demands for new services. (See Telcos Soften Up.)

Aepona's VP of marketing, Michael Crossey, says there's "a lot of activity in the market as carriers shift from a traditional SDP model to an open network, open interface model. Operators in Europe are starting to take the open API idea seriously, though it's still in its early stages. We've won a number of deals recently, not only with TDC but also with a major North American carrier."

Crossey notes that TDC is just "one of the carriers adopting this next-generation open API model. This is more in line with what Telus is doing, making third-party access to network resources more efficient. TDC already had applications partners for services such as televoting, but the relationship was built on a vertical approach. This makes it more streamlined, more automated, and will make it easier for TDC to attract and work with more partners."

Crossey also notes that the GSM Association (GSMA) has latched on to the potential of such initiatives for its operator members, and is working with Aepona on a new initiative called Open Network Enablers API (OneAPI), which is being unveiled at next week's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona (February 16-19). (See MWC 2009 Preview and MWC: Security Update.)

"OneAPI has the potential to move things into the mainstream. Up to now, each carrier has had its own R&D initiatives on Telco 2.0, but this initiative involves a standardized interface that can be deployed by operators," notes Crossey. "There will be a reference implementation on show at MWC, but developers can start using the OneAPI portal today."

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN), Telecom Italia (TIM) , and France Telecom's Orange France are all part of the OneAPI initiative, according to the Aepona man. Expect to hear more about that next week, then.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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