How Telco APIs Power Digital Transformation Like The Infinity Stones Powered Thanos

How Telco APIs Power Digital Transformation Like The Infinity Stones Powered Thanos
Chilan Mevinda Perera, Tech Evangelist

Let us take a journey through the cosmos. Grab hold of the green time stone (if you dare say it's the soul stone, I suggest you flip a few comics) and rewind a whopping 13.7 billion years to the singularity; or for us normal folk, nothing, just before the big bang happened. Something then expanded to create the place 7.53 billion humans call home.

Be it the six infinity stones, Georges Lemaître's expanding model in 1927 [LI1] or the bible's genesis in six days; you must be thinking by now that Apigate's next KPI is to start a holy war between scientists, Christians and Marvelites.

Giving you my word that it isn't, we who utilize telco APIs immensely, value the capability of them as much as, the six days of genesis to Almighty or the infinity stones to Thanos. Of course, that doesn't mean none of us are going to push a family member down a cliff; we like to think we're on team Stark, or Captain; no geek wars too please!

Without further ado let's plunge right into this mysterious telco six.

SMS API (Soul Stone)

I see SMS services the same way I see fire. On a camping trip up in the mountains, I'd still huddle around a primitive fire to keep myself warm; but only because I don't have convenience of the electric heating system I’ve got at home. I usually use an old truck to get up to this hill. If you peek at the heart of the truck, it still uses the same fire at the very core to drag my bottom around (too poor for a Tesla). Even if the stripped-down SMS API is primitive and crude as an uncontrolled naked flame, it could be manipulated by technology to provide a vastly appreciated service.

The SMS API is twofold. MT (Mobile Terminated) and MO (Mobile Originated). Same terminology: A2P (Application to Person) and P2A (Person to Application) respectively. MTs are messages sent to the subscribers of a mobile application. MOs send instructions by the subscriber to the application. The app in the back-end can be programmed to recognize various strings generated by the user and respond accordingly. Apigate gives you the flame, you get to do the fun part of getting your fingernails dirty and coming up with the engine. Don't think it's fun? Well this might be the wrong place for you, the door is red, up top to the right with a X on it you know. Don't let it click you on the way out ;)

The SMS messages are communicated using a HTTP based API. You can initiate a MT from your app to the user with a POST HTTP request. To improve the user experience a tad bit more, the SMS API enables the developer to log the delivery status of each MT.

USSD API (Time Stone)

If you're a person who gets irritated when the message log gets cluttered, USSD is the way to go. The app initiates a session with the user by dialling numbers on the keypad to instruct according to the affiliated text. A pre-paid user checking the balance by dialling a number with *'s and/or #'s and viewing it as a small pop-up notification is utilizing USSD. Just like the previous API, this is based on HTTP while A2P (MT) communication is via POST.

DCB API (Space Stone)

Quite simply the one time payment/charging enabler in the stack of stones. I've addressed just this API in an entire blog post a few months back. Charge over there.

LBS API (Mind Stone)

Location Based Services are my favourite API simply because it adds a smattering of 007-ness to the whole tracking process. I mean the mere methodology used is called "cell tower triangulation". I don't know about you but it's enough to get my excitement "shaken not stirred". Dive into how it's done really gets the martini shaken AND stirred.

To hell with GPS and internet, Mr. Bond can't use them because the baddie has turned data and location services off on his phone. But Miss Moneypenny has a trick up her sleeve that the baddies have no idea about. 

You see, antennas on a telco tower is always arranged in a triangular (looking at it from above) form, one of the three antennas address 120 degrees of the area the tower is responsible for. The antenna can measure how far the device is located. So with a single tower Bond can see that Goldfinger is at a certain distance from the tower residing in a 120 degree section of an imaginary arc of about 1/2 a mile wide, something like the diagram below.


If it were me, I would thank Miss Moneypenny, floor the Aston Martin and scour the area for Goldfinger but luckily for the world, the MI6 is slightly more intelligent. If they're to use three towers to locate the device, Goldfinger could be pinpointed to about a little over one square kilometre. Good, because Mr. Q would like to save some petrol, it's a V12 after all. How much better it is with three towers is shown below,


I bet you can't show that there's a better telco API out of the six. Let's check out the remaining two and you be the judge yourself.

Subscription API (Reality Stone)

People inherently judge others by using themselves as the baseline. Going by that assumption, I strongly suspect that you haven't read the DCB blog post. Sorry to say, it's needed here as well guys. Because this in coding terms is, while (user == reg) { do: DCB; }

You might develop an app where services are continuous so that you'll need small repetitive payments, usually daily or monthly. All you got to do is, initiate subscription API, define charge amount and frequency.

MTs go hand in hand with subscription so that at minimal, subscription notification could be sent when the user is subscribed. Also true for MO since SMS usually initiates a subscription to an app. Two additional data shared in JSON are Subscription status (if a specific user is subscribed or not) and subscription base size (number of registered users to your app).

IVR API (Power Stone)

Let's not beat around the bush with IVR. I hate this API in use, and you do too. Let me tell you why you hate it. If you've ever phoned a company on the larger end of the scale, you'll most likely hear a polite lady saying something like, "Please press one to continue in English, tekan dua untuk meneruskan bahasa Melayu, ...." this follows another menu leading to another, which then... blah blah blah... at the end it's a good 10 minutes before you actually talk to a person. Enough said?

I'm sorry for the rant, but am I wrong about the level of irritation with this one? Anyway, what it stands for is Interactive Voice Response and this is what it does; use it wisely.

This entire stack of APIs are RESTful APIs. The usual data-interchange format used for RESTful web services are JSON. Doesn't mean RESTful doesn't support others such as XML. JSON is utilized more commonly because it's way lightweight compared to others. Let's take a scenario where our username is to be communicated with JSON and XML, follows acceptable formats,





  { "username":"apigateDeveloperXyz"}


JSON performs even better with larger data sets comparatively.

That there were the six infinity stones of a telco. Apigate has many telco integrations. The day I'm writing this blog it's 110+ covering 4 continents and growing. If all the telcos are to open all 6 APIs, you do the math of just how many telco APIs you can play around with. Mingle them with the wealth of merchant APIs open to the Apigate hub, you can build an app with the power of united infinity stones.

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