Alcatel-Lucent today is launching a group of products and services aimed at bolstering the service side of its business as well as helping its carrier customers feel better about their prospects in an increasingly open world. The telecommunications equipment maker is introducing its Application Exposure Suite, an Open API Service and consulting services that it envisions becoming the bridge between apps developers and the carrier networks.
However, to make that bridge a viable market opportunity, it has to convince app makers that carriers have something to offer them, as well as overcome years of proprietary behavior and code that has dominated the telecommunications industry. Johnson Agogbua, VP of global application enablement solutions, says 73 percent of carriers are willing to allow access to their network for API calls, so he believes carriers are ready to open up their networks selectively behind the Application Exposure Suite. He added that the Open API service will allow developers to build and test their apps so the code will work with the information from the wide variety of different operators which may be using non-Alcatel-Lucent gear in their networks.
To handle the fact that not all operators use Alcatel-Lucent’s equipment, the company is trying to sign partnerships with other equipment vendors as well as service providers to ensure an app works across the whole telecommunications infrastructure, from wired to wireless. However, it’s not clear how far along Alcatel-Lucent is when it comes to those partnerships.
Even as Agogbua assured me that carriers are willing to open up their networks to API calls, and have great information to share, I’m not convinced that carriers are ready or able to become like the big web firms such as Twitter or even Salesforce.com and provide access to their data. Also, that data won’t be free. Carriers will expect to be paid for their intelligent pipes. Location data is the only thing carriers are offering at the moment. Agogbua says in the future they will make billing information, content delivery across multiple devices, voice mail info and intelligent presence available to application developers. If they do it soon and well, it could be compelling enough for big apps developers to use, but a lot has to go right before we reach that point.