Telenor and Cisco target telco innovators with “Android for operators”

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Telenor has launched a new platform which it is billing as the Android operating system of network infrastructure.

WorkingGroupTwo aims to build an "innovation ecosystem" for the telecoms sector, allowing operators to open up their networks to offer new services more quickly.

It comprises a virtualised core network that can be installed on any service provider’s infrastructure as well as associated tools for developers to build universal services, such as voice assistants or Internet of Things applications.

Featuring built-in billing capabilities, it offers a range of APIs for developers such as real-time voice to text conversion.

Service providers pay a single installation fee as well as a monthly rate. The system is integrated on a host network by WorkingGroupTwo through the same standard interfaces which are used to host traditional MVNOs.

Developers can use the platform to launch services directly to customers or partner with operators.

The platform is already live on Telenor’s Swedish and Norwegian networks, although WorkingGroupTwo did not disclose specific examples of how it is being used.

According to WorkingGroupTwo CEO Erlend Prestgard, the unit has signed up a consumer-facing European operator as a customer, which will use the platform to develop services for a sub-brand. However, he declined to give further details about the company or the services that will be offered.

Prestgard told Mobile Europe the main target is MNOs and MVNOs which wish to differentiate themselves through innovative products rather than price.

[Read more: Vodafone Group signs up to ONAP, pledges devotion to virtualisation]

The project has been four years in the making and was driven by Telenor, which developed the software and tested it in a lab environment. It spun it off as a separate business unit today (5 October).

Cisco partnered on the project, contributing parts of the technology stack, including the packet core, as well as collaboration and security software features.

It also brought in investment from long-standing partner Digital Alpha, a private equity firm.

Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor Group, said: “I am proud that we as a company are able to leverage new technologies to make a pioneering telco platform with the potential of bringing the whole industry forward.”

“We are firmly committed to supporting WorkingGroupTwo, and want to give the entity the freedom to unleash wider industry ecosystem dynamics.”

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, said: “Cisco’s partnership with Telenor to launch WorkingGroupTwo demonstrates how we are driving positive change for our customers. Our joint efforts will help mobile operators automate the delivery of mobile cloud services and deliver innovation at a faster pace.”