Ericsson plans to turn Vonage into a 5G app powerhouse

When Ericsson revealed nearly a year ago that was acquiring New Jersey-based Vonage Holdings for about $6.2 billon, the company said it planned use Vonage’s developer ecosystem to help wireless operators better monetize their 5G investments by developing stronger 5G use cases.

That’s still the premise for the deal, but now there are a few more details about how Ericsson plans to make this happen. According to Savinay Berry, Vonage’s EVP of product and engineering, one of the big obstacles that application developers run into with 5G is that there no standard interface. Instead, developers have to deal with different siloed functions in the 5G network for everything from network monitoring to device authentication to quality of service.

Berry equated that existing scenario to a bunch of small LEGO blocks that are hidden and need to be unlocked before they can be used to develop applications. “Most web developers are not 5G developers,” he said. “We need to make it easier for developers to create things by having a standard interface.”

With Vonage, Ericsson believes it can come up with that standard interface for 5G application development by tweaking Vonage’s communications platform and using it to create a suite of network functions with open APIs. Developers would then be able to use the platform to more easily create applications.  

“We can bring it all together into a single platform,” Berry said. And although many people equate Vonage’s platform as being applicable to primarily enterprises, Berry said that the vision includes consumer applications as well. “Having a function that allows quality of service that can be embedded into a cloud gaming environment will make it easier,” he said. “Cloud gamers want the real-time experience of gaming.”

5G network slicing, which has yet to really take off, is another example of a network function that could be streamlined with open APIs through the Vonage platform.  This would then make it easier for enterprises to access and purchase network slices. “We have 120,000 enterprise customers that we serve today and many of these customers are interested in sharing video feeds at scale during live events,” Berry said, adding that one way for them to do this efficiently is to purchase a network slice.

But how quickly can Vonage adapt its platform to the 5G world?  Berry said that the process is in the “early stages right now” but the platform has all the necessary capabilities to make the transition. He added that Vonage is currently working with some early enterprise customers on developing applications to showcase the platform’s capabilities. “You will start to hear more about this in the coming quarters,” he said.