This morning, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a number of major telcos announced their involvement in developing an industry-wide initiative called Open Gateway, a way in which telco companies can utilise their mobile networks to drive innovation and meet the rapidly evolving needs of consumers, businesses & wider society. The project has been championed by the global mobile industry organisation GSMA, with Liberty Global among 20 operators who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to play their part in helping to develop the ecosystem.

The initiative provides unified interface access across network operators for software developers and hyperscalers – the industry term for the world’s biggest providers of cloud services – through Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs). This universal access can be used to accelerate the development of immersive technologies and services in cutting-edge areas such as smart mobility, gaming and the world of Web 3.0.

The Open Gateway initiative is an exciting moment for the telco industry as we work together to drive innovation to accelerate technology benefits for businesses and society. Having worked in the sector for the vast majority of my career, I’ve seen time and time again how collaboration has delivered innovations – such as 3G and 4G – where standards implemented worldwide have accelerated adoption and enabled myriad applications that encourage collaboration, improve productivity, enhance competition and optimise the utilisation of scarce resources.

Let me give you just two examples of how Open Gateway can be applied, choosing from a huge range.

For instance, many people are aware of the problem of emergency services needing high quality and reliable communications in delicate situations. The initiative means that in so-called ‘blue lights’ situations, the technology could be used by emergency services to guarantee quality of service so that cameras fixed to drones or on crew uniforms can relay back crystal-clear images without buffering or delay. This can help both crews prepare before they arrive at the site of an emergency and improve the effectiveness of the actions they take once they get there.

Alongside this, there are also benefits for existing services provided to customers. At VodafoneZiggo, Liberty’s Joint Venture in the Netherlands, network automation is made possible thanks to this same API-based approach, meaning that their B2B team can activate or reconfigure some products in a matter of minutes, rather than days or weeks as was often previously the case.

We are working across our operating markets to bring to life more cases that will prove the benefits to customers – such as helping employees work from home, ensuring seamless and transparent verification on transactions to help tackle fraudulent activity, or enabling fully immersive entertainment experiences. With this framework in place, we look forward to seeing all the potential applications of it in our businesses and beyond as we do our bit to help unlock the next wave of innovation in digital services and mobile apps.