Device Management for Femtocells

Mass deployment of millions of consumer self-installed femtocells will require device management that is extremely easy to use and fault tolerant. Many residential and enterprise small cell vendors have adopted the TR-069 standard originally developed for DSL modems by the DSL forum to address this solution. This has now been embedded in the Small Cell Forum approach to large scale small cell deployment.

The TR-069 standard was originally developed to manage and configure DSL modems. This specification has been adopted by mainstream DSL modem vendors and mandated by a number of large broadband DSL operators. The standard includes functionality for a consumer device to register securely with a central server (called the Auto Configuration Server - ACS). Auto-configuration, firmware updates, diagnostics and performance control functions are then automated.

The standard is continuing to be developed and will encompass other IP enabled devices in the home, so that a complete home network can be automatically "discovered" and configured by the main home hub. Several vendors supply components for the standard, including clients to embed in devices and ACS servers. It has also been adopted by the Home Gateway Initiative and DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) standards.

This standard has been adopted by almost all residential and enterprise small cell vendors. For example, Cisco's Small cells are shipped to customers (optionally fitted with an active SIM card). Once connected to a customer’s home network, the access point will first authenticate with the wireless carrier, and then connect to the ACS management server hosted by the mobile operator. Based on the customer’s service profile, the appropriate configurations will then be automatically downloaded to the small cell. Finally, the small cell will be tuned to the optimal settings for the particular home or enterprise environment, and the customer’s individual account will be activated. This all occurs without the intervention of either the mobile operator or the customer.

Small Cell vendors who also make DSL modems (eg Alcatel-Lucent) may have found it relatively easy to adopt this same standard for their small cell products, although each is typically managed separately.

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