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Network transformation for digital experiences.
The CAMARA APIs evolution

Deepak Gunjal
Sep 28, 2023

Learn how software-defined systems and APIs will transform the mobile network landscape, and what you can do now to take advantage of this change.

The modern economy runs on data, and even more of it is delivered via mobile networks to phones and IoT devices. The applications that run on these devices – from video streaming, to predictive machine maintenance, to drone piloting – increasingly want more functionality from mobile network providers.

Application providers may want to adjust levels of service dynamically, e.g., a sports streaming service may want more bandwidth during big matches, or a crop inspection drone may want short periods of stable data throughput and low latency during flyovers. Others may want more data about who is trying to connect and where they are, e.g., to optimize services, prevent fraud, or geofence services.

Modern mobile networks are increasingly able to serve these needs. As they move from physical hardware to software-defined systems, networks gain greater ability to adjust their complex network setups in real-time. That could be very useful for application providers.

Doing so is a win-win. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) can monetize their network’s increasingly sophisticated capabilities, whilst application providers get more bespoke services, and so can build better products that users will pay for.

The challenge is getting mobile applications and networks to talk to each other.

Unlocking the Potential of APIs

Enter LF CAMARA, a joint initiative between telco operators, vendors, and hyperscalers, which aims to develop APIs that can expose network capabilities to application developers.

The project launched in February 2022 and is an open-source project in the Linux Foundation with a legal framework and terms of reference to the GSMA OPG group. It is a serious collaborative attempt to solve a problem that has proven tricky in the past.

As network technologies have undergone rapid evolution, so have the capabilities they can provide to consumers. Advancements from 4G to 5G have brought new network functions, such as the Service Capability Exposure Function (SCEF) and Network Exposure Function (NEF), which are designed to expose certain network capabilities – such as prioritizing traffic flows, monitoring device status, and verifying locations etc – to external applications via 3GPP defined REST APIs (also known as RESTful API).

The LF CAMARA project is creating open, global, and interoperable REST APIs (the Service APIs), that grant access to network capabilities across various networks, irrespective of the network that customers use. The APIs serve as abstractions of the network capabilities, sparing application developers the need to understand the complexities of network technologies.

This combination of ease-of-use and cross-network collaboration empowers applications to easily add new functionality, but also to deliver that functionality consistently across different telco networks and countries.

Digital Everywhere

A common goal of digital services is to be accessible on user devices regardless of location. Maintaining a consistent quality of experience (QoE) is key.

Within LF CAMARA, the evolving Open APIs are designed to embed these capabilities directly within communication networks. They empower application providers to monitor changes in user experiences when connected to the network, to interact programmatically with the network through Open APIs, and adjust their application’s behavior accordingly.

As an example, consider a video streaming application provider. Using the Device Location API, they can subscribe to updates on when users change location. Depending on the location, they may want to change the way the user connects, for example using the Traffic Influence API to request the network connects the user’s application to a local low-latency edge service. This can enhance the user experience, but the application can also take it a step further by utilizing the Quality on Demand API to request specific quality of service for its application traffic, to ensure the desired QoE.

In essence, Open APIs enable application providers to proactively adapt their services based on real-time network insights, ensuring users consistently enjoy high-quality digital experiences, regardless of their circumstances.

The API Platform

Delivering on the potential of LF CAMARA necessitates an API platform which can translate application requests into the right network responses.

Such a platform must serve a dual role. On one hand, it should provide northbound API exposure capabilities, i.e. allow application providers to talk to the network. On the other, it must implement transformation functions to effectively carry out the instructions expressed through the APIs.

Transformation encompasses the translation of CAMARA API resource abstractions into 4G/5G network APIs, such as 3GPP SCEF/NEF northbound APIs (among other standard interfaces and APIs). This includes handling associated parameters and managing communication with 4G/5G network functions.

Engineering the Future of Networks

Implementing an end-to-end API solution requires a comprehensive understanding of all elements, including familiarity with 3GPP specifications, technical expertise in network infrastructure organization and protocols, procedural knowledge, and security compliances. These factors are critical when integrating an API platform with 4G/5G networks. The API platform must adeptly manage these complexities to offer a simplified LF CAMARA API exposure to its consumers.

From the start of the LF CAMARA project, Capgemini has been an integral part, actively contributing to the EdgeCloud subproject. Our involvement focuses on evolving the APIs necessary to expose edge computing services within the telco environment. Capgemini’s edge service platform, the Intelligent Edge Application Platform (IEAP) already provides CAMARA APIs for Device Location, Device Status, and Quality on Demand (QoD), complete with the required transformation functions. And, it is continuously being evolved to support the other APIs, like Traffic Influence, Edge Sites Selection and Routing, and more.

Furthermore, the successful integration of these APIs with the 3GPP-compliant Network Exposure Function (NEF) has been rigorously tested within a 5G Standalone (SA) core network.

APIs that expose network capabilities could offer significant business benefits, to both application providers and networks themselves. But, getting it right is technically complicated. Thanks to our involvement in LF CAMARA, combined with our deep historical expertise in the area, Capgemini is now in a leading position to help both sides take advantage of this new opportunity.

Contact us to explore CAMARA APIs for Edge

Meet our expert

Deepak Gunjal

Senior Director – Advanced Connectivity
Deepak currently serves as Senior Director, CTO Connectivity office, at Capgemini Engineering. He represents Capgemini engineering in various standardization bodies, mainly GSMA Operator Platform Group (OPG), Operator Platform API Group (OPAG) and Linux Foundation CAMARA Project. He also contributes to the architectural evolution of Capgemini cloud native platforms for supporting edge computing, network API exposure etc. in mobile networks. He has over twenty-three years of experience in the telecom and software industry