Femto Forum Addresses Apps Market with Femtocell API Specification and Evolved Management Standard


22nd March 2011

Specifications have already been used to develop applications for mobile operators

CTIA WIRELESS, Orlando – The Femto Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, today announced important progress in the development of femtocell-powered mobile applications. The body has published an industry-wide agreed set of API specifications that enable advanced mobile applications based on femtocell technology. The first applications have already been built based on these specifications by the Forum’s vendor members for operator customers. Additionally, the Femto Forum has worked with the Broadband Forum to update the standard for femtocell management to ensure customer equipment can be remotely updated to support advanced applications.

The API specifications are now available to the femtocell community and the Forum is keen to see other bodies implement the completed specifications into the dominant industry standard APIs. The specifications are for network-based APIs, which will allow operators to drive the development of femtocell-powered open access, enterprise and consumer applications. The API provides femtocell awareness information so developers can incorporate enhanced presence, context and location-sensitive features into new and existing apps, and can also take advantage of the lower cost and faster data connections enabled by femtocells.

In parallel to this work, the Femto Forum has worked with the Broadband Forum to update its TR-196 Femto Access Point Service Data Model, a global femtocell management standard, to enable support for femtocell applications. This will allow mobile operators to use their standard management systems to remotely provision and configure advanced femtocell applications on their customers’ equipment as well as issue repairs and updates.

“With residential, enterprise and outdoor femtocell deployments rapidly growing across the globe, there is a major opportunity for operators to start offering unique new applications. Already in Japan, we are seeing mobile operators offering commercial, revenue-generating applications that send an SMS to parents when children arrive home from school. The number of potential applications enabled by this new and exciting API is literally endless,” said Andy Germano, The Femto Forum’s Vice-Chairman and head of the Services Special Interest Group. “However, for operators to take this opportunity seriously they need a simple means of managing the applications they offer. The new femtocell management standard is the key to delivering this capability.”

“Standards are the lifeblood that enable operators to have confidence in a new technology. The Broadband Forum’s original femtocell standard enabled mobile operators to manage their new rollouts using equipment from a variety of vendors. With this extension to the standard operators can also manage advanced femtocell applications thereby enabling a new breed of exciting services in the home, enterprise and beyond,” said Robin Mersh, The Broadband Forum’s Chief Executive Officer.

Research into global consumer attitudes to femtocells conducted by Parks Research and published by the Femto Forum earlier this year found that almost 60% of consumers are interested in femtocells. Of these, 68% found at least one advanced femtocell service either very or extremely appealing. In the US specifically, 72% of consumers who found femtocells appealing were very interested in at least one advanced femtocell service and half of these were willing to pay $4.99/month for their single favorite service or $9.99/month for a bundle of their favorite three.

Femtocells have a number of attributes which can be used to create compelling new mass-market mobile applications.They are location-sensitive so users can choose applications that automatically trigger when they enter, or leave, the home or office. The fast and low-cost data connection provided by the femtocell also provides the ideal environment for services, such as fast podcast downloads or flawless media streaming when the user is connected to the femtocell. Additionally, femtocells act as a bridge between the mobile and home networks, giving the mobile handset secure access to all other ‘connected’ devices on the home LAN, enabling media sharing and the ability for the handset to be used as a remote control for other consumer electronics devices and home automation. In addition to providing in-home access, the femtocell will also allow users to remotely connect to devices from outside their house via their mobile phone. 

The API specification document is available to full Femto Forum members and to API standards making bodies. A separate public document summarizing the capabilities of the API is now available at http://www.femtoforum.org/femto/Files/File/FemtoZone Services-R1 Overview 032211.pdf. For more information on the Applications initiative please visit: http://femtoforum.org/femto/applications.php or send any enquiries to applications@femtoforum.org

About The Femto Forum
Femtocells are low-power wireless access points that operate in licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to a mobile operator’s network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections. The Femto Forum (www.femtoforum.org) has been set up to promote the wide-scale adoption of femtocells. It has 137 members including 63 operators representing more than 1.71 billion mobile subscribers – 33% of the global total. Comprised of mobile operators, telecoms hardware and software vendors, content providers and innovative start-ups, its mission is to advance the development and adoption of  small cells via femtocells and broader applications of femto technology for the provision of high-quality 2G/3G/4G coverage and services within the residential, enterprise and public access markets.