Sue White, Alcatel-Lucent's senior director of advanced communications marketing, told iTWire: "This is all about helping service providers really innovate with their new [IP-based] communications networks...and to significantly speed up that innovation process."
The APIs are designed to work via an IP Multimedia Subsystem - supplied by Alcatel or another vendor. The IMS is an architectural framework for delivering IP multimedia services, originally designed by the mobile communications standards body 3GPP but now applicable to fixed and mobile networks.
Alcatel-Lucent is positioning the APIs as "making it much easier for application developers to tap the full capabilities of 4G LTE networks." However they can be used across any IP network with an IMS. White said: "The reason we emphasise LTE is because that is where we see large volumes of IMS. As operators transition to LTE IMS will be a key piece that provide all their communications services."
ABI Research is forecasting mobile networks' share of the IMS market to rise from 14 percent in 2011 to over 50 percent by 2017. "[Because] voice services are elegantly handled in 3G, there has been little desire to invest in IMS for mobile voice till now," ABI says. By embracing GSMA VoLTE, mobile operators will maximise the efficiency of their assets, including spectrum when refarmed for [LTE]."
According to White, the APIs can be used by service providers in three ways:
- they can be offered wholesale to web developers so they can easily incorporate communications features in their applications;
- they can be used by web developers to produce applications incorporating voice, video or messaging functionality that will then be sold by service providers to their customers;
- they can be used by service providers to accelerate development of their own applications.
Commercial launch of the APIs follows six months of trials with service providers and developers, mostly in North America.