Just The Doc, Please

OK, I lied. I said I wouldn't rant again about wireless freedom or developer rights anymore on my new blog. Sorry, but I must again.

I'm helping a start-up figure out how to build atop a carrier, network-initiated location vs. a client location architecture (there are business reasons to architect the solution this way, not technology reasons!) and I just went over to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mo, and Verizon developer sites to gather API docs. It's been about 3 years since I've even looked, and I assumed that by now (and in the open era) that docs would be readily available. Instead, here's what I found. 

AT&T gives me a lecture about LBS' and points me to NAVTEQ and ESRI - the last thing I need. There are no docs, no test environments, no nothing. It seems I need to kick off an NDA process with them to get access to the GMLC, so I've now got an email into a friend there to get this process started. I just want location access via MLP or similar RESTful or SOAP XML API. We can talk about provisioning, privacy, and billing later. 

I then went over to Verizon, where I get the same kind of educational information, and no indication that the now 4-yr-old Autodesk BREW implementation is open to anything beyond what's supported today for private labels. I'm hoping the information is just outdated and that I'll learn more tomorrow on the VDC conference call. I have also asked an old friend at TCS (who now owns the Autodesk user plane MPC and installation at VZW) if he can help me source the network-initiated API doc.

Next, I went over to T-Mo. Nothing has changed. There's nothing at all.  There never has been. So, I've sent an email into another old friend who deployed their initial 911 GMLC. I hope he can deliver something, because this is all I found:

Last, I went to Sprint. I went here last because I know what's there and how to use it. Yes, the IBM-AePONA-Openwave BMF is alive & well, and a sandbox has now been set up to test individual phone numbers without using the SOAP or REST API directly. Pretty cool Mr. Nelson! 

After this mornings experience, it's no wonder most mobile app providers only use handset-based location. In a time when service delivery platforms are in every network and network-initiated web services APIs are standardized, the difficulty to source documentation proves that network resource access is more about business relationships and a lot less about underlying location technology.  I'm glad I understand both and what carriers expect from an engagement. Those that don't have no chance, even in the open era...