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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Femto provisioning - what else is needed?

Interesting to see the Femto Forum look to standardise on a protocol called TR-069 for remote provisioning and management of femtos last week. This doesn't come as a huge surprise to me on a number of grounds, especially as the same approach is used for management of many existing broadband home gateways and modems.

A discussion I had in the past with a remote-management vendor highlighted the possibility of being able to "daisy chain" a number of devices using TR-069. Given that most femtos over the next few years will be standalone, and need to be plugged into the ethernet port of a separate router or gateway (possibly provided by a separate service provider), that is a very important consideration.

It also raises the possibility of outsourced management/provisioning. For example, I have a BT Home Hub gateway attached to my BT ADSL line - given that I'm unlikely to churn to a triple/quadplay provider just to get a femto, I could quite imagine BT offering wholesale "pass-through" device management services to Vodafone or O2 or another licenced-spectrum operator.

However, one aspect is left unclear - and is perhaps for "future development". I believe that it will be important to manage (and reconfigure / download in some cases) software on the handset to enable it to work better with the femto. This is especially the case if the operator wants to enable any new "connected home" services on the phone. While such changes could be done "over the air" or using approaches like OMA DM, it may also make sense to tie these in with the femto provisioning itself.

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