Is the industry making much progress about enabling femtocell applications? There's been a lot of focus on the so-called greater femtocell - expanding the vision from residential to enterprise, rural and metro environments. But is that at the expense of femtocell applications?
I asked Dr. Mustafa Ergen, Director of Research and Technology at Argela, about their market positioning, which centres on open standards both for the Iu-h interface and for femtocell applications.
Argela is one of the new breed of femtocell vendors, entering the market by building on the picoChip reference design and Continuous Computing software stack. One of their advantages is that they are 100% owned by a fixed and mobile network operator – Turk Telecom – who has already selected them as a femtocell supplier.
They also supply application and mobile advertisement solutions including IPTV. Their customers include several other network operators in the region
Bringing down the cost of femtocells through competition
Argela is keen to bring down the cost of femtocells by encouraging operators to persuade their System Integrators to open up their solutions to include 3rd party femtocells. Argela fully complies with the Iu-h and TR.069 femtocell standards, believing their adoption will enable more opportunities for new vendors.
They believe there are several niche applications in the femtocell space, and that network operators will enjoy a faster RoI (Return on Investment) if they invest in novel femtozone applications. There are many innovative services already on paper, and these could be reused between different operators.
What’s preventing femtocell applications succeeding today?
The blocking issue for femtocell applications is the lack of a common framework, message set and standards across the femtocell industry. Although there is a special interest group within the Femto Forum, it needs more open participation. Operators need to share their interfaces – if they only work with a single vendor, then they may be locked into that same vendor for application servers, etc. This means they need to share open API’s from an early stage.
What do you think of Femtocell Applications as a Managed Service?
Initially, operators will have their own, unique and different services. In the future, if these can be virtualised, then they might be offered as a managed service reducing the investment for smaller operators.
Opening up to the mobile application development community
The best approach will be to open up to 3rd parties, such as those already developing for iPhone and Android platforms, by using a standard gateway and API set. This will encourage more developers to signup and link with other applications.