The Femto Forum has finally published a set of APIs, which can be used by third party software developers to build services and applications for femtocells. The idea is to have applications access a mobile's location and presence information while it is in a femtozone. This information can then be used to trigger services such as alerts, content synchronization, etc.
There are two kinds of APIs that have been defined
- Reusing existing ParlayX APIs part of GSMA OneAPI such as RESTful and SOAP WSDL which allow for access to SMS, MMS, location or payment information on the mobile network
- New API for ‘Femto Awareness’ which notifies application when user enters, exits or moves within a femtozone. This is also implemented using ParlayX authentication
The Femto Forum approach has been to build upon available APIs and utilize existing frameworks rather than invent APIs from scratch. ParlayX (now part of GSM OneAPI) are standard web service APIs built for accessing fixed or mobile network capabilities.
The hard work for the Femto Forum and femtocell vendors begins now . This includes educating application developers about these new femtozone APIs. While the possibilities and use cases for femtozone applications are endless (covered in an ABI Research report ‘Consumer Femtozone Services’), the litmus test will be building an ecosystem of developers. The one place I would start would be the Apple iOS and Google Android developer events.
This could also turn out to be a classic ‘chicken and egg’ situation where developers wait for operators to get behind femtozone services, while operators wait for an ecosystem of developers to form.