Femto Forum to drive femto app development

The Femto Forum, the independent industry association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, announced that it has created a Special Interest Group (SIG) within the Forum, tasked to develop a framework that will simplify the development and deployment of femtocell applications.

Femtocell applications are software applications that allow mobile handsets to benefit from the cheap and fast data connections and location awareness provided by femtocells. The applications allow consumers to access a wide variety of services from home or office networks, mobile operators and the web, that make life simpler and more fun. Example femtocell applications include music synchronisation with the home PC when a customer returns home, and virtual fridge notes where a message is delivered when the recipient returns home.

The Services SIG has a number of objectives, which include the development of a common application environment across multiple vendors and operators for the simple, quick and cheap development of femtocell applications and their deployment. The group will also work in partnership with the appropriate standards bodies on the standardisation of key APIs and interfaces, required to support femtocell applications. Creating a common femtocell interface for application developers will ensure applications work across all femtocells, regardless of manufacturer, operator or radio technology, so maximising the market opportunity for developers.

Additionally, the SIG will be responsible for promoting the potential of femtocell applications and their significance to the operator, femtocell vendor and application developer communities. The group will also build a community of interest with those organisations wishing to design, implement and operate femtocell applications.

Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum, commented: “The recent success of iPhone software and the app store launches from operators and handset manufacturers is testament to how important applications are becoming to the mobile industry. Femtocells add a new dimension to application development, removing many of the constraints currently faced by mobile developers. By adding the potential to build high bandwidth and location aware applications, they allow the creation of a wide range of innovative and differentiated services.”

Femtocells have a number of attributes which can be used to create compelling new mass market mobile applications. Firstly, the location aware ability of femtocells to know when a user is home can be used to create presence-based applications that automatically trigger when a consumer enters, or leaves, the house. The fast and cheap data connection provided by the femtocell 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 for media sharing, enabling 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.

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