In part 1 of this post last week I described the way our Activation System is changing the way femtocells are manufactured and delivered to customers, how this is enabling a more diverse supplier ecosystem by reducing barriers to market entry, and how the supply chain risk to operators is substantially reduced by delivering software and certificates only when the consumer first plugs in their femtocell. All in a system that can handle millions of activations every day.
This week I’d like to explain the Activation System’s important role once femtocells are up and running.
Reducing the number of customer returns with a self-healing femtocell
Femtocells are inherently reliable devices. There is no set-up screen, no buttons to learn, and they adapt to changing conditions to provide the best user experience. But unlike other home devices, they don’t stand alone but are parts of a complex and secure mobile network. This can cause problems, because the femtocell must have current security credentials to maintain a connection with the network and its management systems.
One of the most common reasons for customers to return a femtocell is that it just stops working. Perhaps a certificate upgrade took place when it was switched off, or there was a minor data corruption during normal processing. If your set top box stops working you can just reset and start again. But with a femtocell, once the connection to the network is lost, there is nothing more that can be done. Support can’t help, because the TR-069/196 management systems can only see connected femtocells. So the consumer gets a bad experience and the operator, working on tight margins, has to replace a perfectly good product. Not a good outcome.
The Ubiquisys Activation system changes all that. When the femtocell works out that it is failing the network authentication, it automatically starts a recovery process. Using a tiny fragment of code which never changes, it contacts the activation system, which after the usual checks downloads new software and security credentials. The femtocell then reconnects to the network and resumes normal operation.
If there has been a very serious corruption, the femtocell may not be able to start self-recovery. In this case, the user can turn it off and back on again to start the recovery process.
Providing the real-world flexibility that matches the potential of Iuh
Iuh is a standard interface between femtocells and the gateway systems that allow secure entry into the core network. A standard interface means an operator can choose a mix of different femtocell models from different vendors. But what if an operator wants to transition between gateways, or wants to run with different types of gateway in different areas of the network? That’s more of a problem, because the management systems that could manage such a change are securely located behind these gateways.
The Ubiquisys Activation server has another trick up its sleeve by virtue of being independent of femto-gateway-network communications. It can instruct deployed femtocells to connect to the new gateway, and provide the security certificates to do so. And it can do it in the multi-millions, providing a mass transition that is seamless from a consumer’s perspective.
Another situation where this capability is useful is where not just the gateway but the operator is being changed, for example in a merger or acquisition process.
I hope you can see over these two posts that this is much more than a massively scaled activation system. From making it easier to manufacture femtocells and delivering them with a more secure supply chain, to providing a better user experience and a more flexible operation – the Ubiquisys activation system provides major benefits throughout the femtocell lifecycle.