Understanding The Evolution Of Femtocell Applications Computer Science Essay

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Femtocells are not there only to provide us with the basic services of providing indoor coverage and high speed data services indoor with low cost but the expectations is to create a way for value added services like different applications which can benefit the following [1] :

1. Subscribers (Residential & Enterprise)

3. Operator

4. 3rd party application providers

Fig1. Showing Taxonomy of femto services[1]

The two valid and basic reasons for the femtocell deployment are improving indoor coverage and boosting network capacity to achieve true broadband experience, apart from these two valid reasons operators should know that femtocells is expected to support and provide a plethora of new applications which is possible because of the location and presence capabilities they offer. There are three main scenarios where femtocells are going to become increasingly popular and common - in the home, in the offices and the public places like super stores and shopping centers.

In the following paragraphs some of the unique and useful applications are detailed which are expected to be seen in the coming time in near future. In our case we have focused on Home based applications ad have presented the scenarios, two other possible scenarios like office and public places have also been mentioned.

3.2 Femtocell Applications for home:[2]

In home environment, the powerful and useful applications include the capability to download and backup favorite multimedia storage to internet or to home LAN (Local Area Netwrok). There are potential services for inside the femtozone. Femtocell also has the ability to support smart grid, home automation and home monitoring and security applications. Femtocells could be programmed to detect unknown handsets and activate security camera and inform the homeowner via SMS (Short Message Service), in this way home owner could then make sure that whether it was their kids bringing friends home or an attempt to break into the house.

3.3 Virtual home number applications - through this service the calls to home number are automatically routed to the mobiles of any household member currently at home, These types of services could be bundled by an operator, with our research indicating that consumers would be prepared to pay a monthly subscription for their favorite services. In addition to these new applications, enhancements to existing applications have strong potential.

3.4 Femto apps for the office: 

There is a whole set of enterprise services that would allow employees to share business applications such as calendars and contacts between their smart phones and to use their mobiles in the workplace rather than fixed phones. The ability to handle femto-cell-to-femto-cell hand-off as the user moves around the office or building is a key feature here. Also, supporting IP PBX and Intranet features are critical for widespread enterprise adoption of Femtocells in the workplace.[2]

3.5 Femto apps for public places:

In public places like super stores and shopping centers, retailers could offer a personal shopping experience through a unique shopping application where regular customers are offered a wide range of packages and offers . Tariff- free high bandwidth services could be offered in exchange for mobile advertising. Also location based services can be delivered on a femtocell in and around shops and even in large shopping centers and departmental stores

3.6 Femtocell Applications Illustrative Situation

3.6.1 Music illustration

Jhon's coming back from work is often tedious and tired, so as he is on his way to home, he listens his podcasts and favourite music on his cell phone. Once he is in femtozone he can trun his favourite music on remotely on way to to home while being in femtozone so when he reaches home he already has that songs being played on his stereo system in his room. With femtocell the same songs collection in his PC can be played in his cell phone and collection in his mobile phone can be played in his PC easily as never before without the hassle of connecting his pc to his phone through wire or Bluetooth and waiting while the music gets downloaded on his cell phone and this sometimes its annoying when the files are heavy in Mbs.

3.6.2 Photo illustration

Sara likes shooting her birthday pics every year and likes sharing with her family and friends through email but now with the femtocell amazing service she shares her photos on the spot as she is shooting on her big screen i.e tv within seconds without waiting to upload heavy files and then email.

3.6.3 Video illustration

Pamela starts watching a football final match in South Africa while she is in home. She receives a phone call from her friends and she needs to leave home while the match is still start. She transfers the match to her mobile and keeps watching the match while she is in the cab to his friends house.

3.6.4 Monitoring illustration

In Emergency situations we can unable or disable home appliances. Suppose a person is at home watching a TV. His friends knocked the door when he comes out fiends asked for emergency assistance. He has no need to go back to room and manually switch off TV but at the main gate of his house can switch off TV through mobile phone using femtocell technology.

3.7 How femtocell application executes:[3]

The applications and general frame work for the application development under common platform is under discussion but following is the general API (Application Programming Interface) specific application working in process. Femtocell applications will be executed through information signals sent by femtocells. That information signal is received by applications in the handsets (sent by air interfaces), by Applications hosted on the local network or by applications on the internet or in the mobile operator's network.

Some of the unique and valuable pieces of information that femtocell serves are:

Presence information - when a user enters, leaves or is present on the femtocell.

Routeing information -  access to the routeing table for the local network.

Service Discovery information - the ability to discover services on the local or wide area network.

Capability information - what throughput the femtocell can support and who can use it.

Secure remote access - the ability to connect remotely to the home network from a mobile device.

To provide these information signals to applications, APIs could be present in the handsets, from the femtocell or from the Femtocell Gateway. Applications could then use this simple information and feature set to serve a wide range of services


Fig[2] Femtocells API Model[3]

Another possible way to depict the application is this:[4]

For instance when a user arrives home his mobile phone switches to femtocells and cell phone theme changes to home theme instantly . The theme not only looks differently but it also shows different icons of high bandwidth entertainment services like video streaming , social networking and home network integration, benefiting from the fast low cost data delivered by femtocells. On leaving home, the interface returns to normal, and the icons for high bandwidth applications that may not be suitable for the outside network, disappear. On arrival at office an entire new set of office applications icons appear which are specifically designed for office or business purposes. Accordingly, one flexible Android device can be simultaneously tuned for home, mobile and work.

The potential does not end at home or office but goes beyond that in other environments, for example when entering shopping center or a super store the interface could change automatically delivering different application with respect to context and location like the phone could adjust to provide latest offers and promotions. The Femto Forum has been widely promoting the idea of femto apps, going so far as to promote a standard set of application programming interfaces to help developers create applications across different vendors' femtocell platforms. Following such a model, femtocells could become a device application platform much the same way Android or Symbian have become Smartphone application platforms.

3.8 Femto Application Program Interface (FAPI) Overview:[3]

The Femto Application Program Interface (FAPI) is a platform in femto industry to promote and support competition and innovative approaches between different players working for the femtocell like platform hardware, software, and application software by establishing a common API around which these players can compete. With this approach a long term and unique engineering way of providing an interchangeability of parts could be achieved to ensure that systems vendors could take the advantage of the latest innovations in silicon and software with minimum of entry barrier and the least amount of custom re-engineering

Several APIs are defined, as follows:

P1 - the Security coprocessor interface

P2 - the Service Discovery Interface

P3 - the GPS interface

P4 - the Network Listen Results interface

P5 - the PHY mode control interface

P6 - the ciphering coprocessor interface

P7 - the main data path interface

M1 - the scheduler interface

Now it is under discussion whether to create a common API platform or different application developers work separately some of the expert are of the view that there has to be a single, common, shared API which is supported by all femtocells that claim compliance. The API may be simple in start with relatively low features and capabilities, but would be extensible so that later versions may offer new and wide range of features. Looking at the other programs, the API would need a have backup with perfect documentation, a member forum, a software development kit, some easy ways of making tests and an online application store. The future versions of API would need to be completely backward compatible.

The Femto Forum is in process of promoting the idea of femto apps, and is looking forward to becoming a standard application programming interface to help developers create applications across different vendors' femtocell platforms. In this way in a long run femtocells could innovate and make a device application platform in much the same like android and symbian have become the smartphone application platform. By featuring the femtocell into an applications platform, an operator like AT&T can do something it can't accomplish with WiFi