Femtocells: SIG formed to push for open apps

Having seen Vodafone announce that it will launch a femtocell service with no applications, the Femtocell Forum has rushed out an announcement detailing the formation of a Special Interest Group (SIG) to promote and develop a wide range of apps.

The objective of this new SIG is to develop a framework to speed the development and deployment of femto applications that provide services other than simply improving indoor coverage. In an attempt to highlight the opportunity, the Forum used a conference in London to demonstrate potential apps, such as alerting the user's phone when they return home and triggering automatic services such as a change to the handset's UI, or instant homescreen access to home media files.

However, the main effort of the SIG would seem to be the development of a common application environment to support multiple vendor and operator platforms. This will include a standards-based open API to allow developers to run their software across all supporting devices.

While the formation of a SIG focused on innovative apps could provide a fast-track route to help promote femtocells outside of improving coverage, these industry groups also have a track record of becoming political battlegrounds as rival vendors promote their solutions over those from other members.

Airvana, ip.access and Ubiquisys are three femtocell vendors that are early members of the SIG.

Separately, Airvana and VeriSign have announced that the two firms are co-operating to deploy device certificates for Airvana's HubBub UMTS femtocell. The certificates will be embedded into the HubBub femtocell allowing operators to authenticate these devices before allowing access to the core network and services.

For more on this story:
Rethink Wireless and Mobile Europe

Related stories:
Femto Forum and WiMAX Forum to co-operate on specs
Sony and Toshiba join Femto Forum; femtocell business case outlined
Femtocells-good news on potential interference problems
3G femtocell with embedded Wi-Fi support unveiled

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