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Femto Forum adopts 'field-proven' management protocol to facilitate large-scale femtocell deployments

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The Femto Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, today announces that its members have agreed to implement the Broadband Forum's TR-069 "CPE WAN Management Protocol", a worldwide standard for real-time management of customer premises equipment (CPE), as the basis for the management protocol for femtocells.

Following its definition in 2004, approximately 30 million devices now use this standard, making it robust and well-proven, with full interoperability. Management and provisioning of very high volumes of femtocells has been a major concern for carriers; adopting TR-069 and being able to re-use all the proven experience of that standard will enable femtocells to be easily deployed and configured reliably, and in high volume.

Unlike traditional cellular equipment, femtocells will be deployed in high volumes and installed by the subscriber, so the provisioning and configuration must be completely automated and managed remotely by the mobile operator. The TR-069 standard has proven it allows operators to offer simple installation and provisioning; perform advanced diagnostics and conduct remote firmware and service upgrades with millions of end devices, in an extremely cost-effective manner. Most importantly, it eliminates the need for operators to send technical personnel on-site, a practice that will be unfeasible given millions of units that are set to be rolled out. The two organizations plan to continue working closely together to define extensions to TR-069 to add additional femtocell capability to the standard.

"The remote management of consumer equipment like femtocell access points is a vital tool for operators to introduce new revenue-generating services and to consistently provide a high level of service," said Simon Saunders, the Femto Forum's Chairman. "Femtocells are sophisticated pieces of telecommunications equipment, but they are also first and foremost consumer devices and as such they have to be simple enough to be installed and used by the average consumer. Many people have been concerned about the scalability of provisioning and management for femtocells: with this initiative that concern is addressed."

"Femtocells represent a very different approach to mobile network architecture and therefore require a suitably different approach to network management.  The similarity to fixed broadband networks is obvious so TR-069, the dominant standard for the management of broadband gateways and other consumer devices, such as set top boxes, VoIP devices, and storage devices, is the natural choice," said George Dobrowski, The Broadband Forum's Chairman and President.  "With femtocells likely in many cases to be included in home gateways, this makes the use of a common protocol especially fitting."

The two bodies have been working together over recent months to ensure the protocol is able to meet the criteria of femtocells. The TR-069 protocol standardizes secure CPE auto-configuration practices and incorporates other CPE management functions, including diagnostics and troubleshooting, performance monitoring, and software/image management, into a common framework. Some Femto Forum members have already adopted the protocol into their existing solutions but today's agreement means it will become the femtocell industry's first de facto management standard.