API Management

Telstra & Apigee: Powering Up an API-driven Transformation

How an API platform accelerated internal innovation and led to Telstra’s first public API


For Telstra, transforming from a telco to a technology company was always going to be a big challenge. After all, we’re a large, well-established telco that has been in the Australian mindset for all things communications since 1975.

As we worked through this evolution, it was particularly important for us to drive an internal culture of faster, more agile operations.

This required building a more cooperative approach, one that created connections across departments. Ultimately, this led to the creation of a single collection of API-driven resources that enabled us to quickly offer more interchangeable service offerings.

This enabled us to push for a broader, more unified API approach to innovation, one that set the stage for us to offer tools and services to the wider developer community.

Moving from inside out

David Freeman, Telstra’s head of API enablement, has been one of the strongest advocates within the company for API adoption. Having been around since the early days of the first public release of Telstra’s SMS API, he has helped build the efforts to implement a companywide approach to our API strategies and a developer platform that can be used in a companywide approach.

We approached the first API release in 2015 as a minimum viable product or pilot program, as it was geared toward testing the waters and gauging what was needed internally for publicly available APIs and services. The target for this phase was to gauge developer interest.

It turned out to be impressive—within a few months, over 3,000 developers had registered and were trying out the basic messaging API in their apps.

“With all the groundwork and a solid foundation set in place, we are now in a really good position to start ramping up our public API portfolio,” David told me during a recent chat.

A platform for API products

A major partner for the activities in our transformation, Apigee has helped create a unified platform to connect all the pieces and helped make a standardized internal API portfolio possible.

The platform enabled us to quickly and easily deploy the resources needed for our public-facing APIs and help shape and define a series of API product roadmaps.

With the wide variation in the API products we plan to have on offer at Telstra, the Apigee platform and its monetization features provide a robust yet simple, flexible, and dynamic approach to how we define the plans associated with each.

The new Telstra Messaging API

The first API we’ve released with the new portal (dev.telstra.com) is our Messaging API. It incorporates some of the learnings from the earlier feedback as well as lessons learned from the experience with our SMS API.


For developers building on the new API, the first step (after authentication) is provisioning a number to send messages from. This is an account-specific number and also has the added bonus of having a notify URL with attached call-back data.

It’s basically a webhook; when a response comes in from a user to a provisioned number, it will automatically send to the nominated URL and handle the request automatically.

“Send message call” has more options as well, which will grant users more interesting options when sending a message, including scheduling delivery, prioritizing, and adding a validity timeout with all messages joining a queue for processing.

Developers can even send multiple messages all in one go—meaning fewer API calls and a lot more functionality.

This functionality was built through close and regular communication with developers—it’s how you build a simple, easy-to-use, and valuable API like the Messaging API.

Tell us what’s next

Having a strong relationship with developer communities is vital to our growth into the technology space. With such a vast array of technologies at Telstra, we are very keen to understand how developers want to use our services and offer new and innovative applications and experiences to customers.

Now that our new developer portal (dev.telstra.com) is released into the wilds of the internet, we’d love to hear what you think.

Steven Cooper is the API and platform evangelist at Telstra. He focuses on ensuring that Telstra has the right tools and resources in place for developer communities globally. Steve previously ran developer relations at PayPal and Xero, and was CTO at a fintech.