The demand for better network services and faster innovations have presented operators with a distinct opportunity to look towards end-user network gateways such as Wi-Fi routers as a platform to unlock a myriad of third-party applications and services.
The app-enabled services gateway project from Broadband Forum helps service providers effectively deploy, activate and manage third party applications such as parental controls, Wi-Fi analytics, streaming services and security solutions to consumers on a centralized Internet gateway device or other Customer Premises Equipment (CPE). Service providers can also differentiate and scale their business models to provide a more customizable offering to each subscriber.
Broadband Forum’s WT-492 ‘Software-Based Architecture for the App-Enabled Services Gateway – Design Principles’ will provide stakeholders with the tools they need to realize this secure, services-based app-enabled ecosystem for the end-user network. This also presents an opportunity for “app-store-like” or “install on-demand” functionality for end-user services, deployment of secure and trustworthy applications, and the formation of adaptable and powerful platforms to support new and innovative cloud services.
“As networks and consumers move into a post-sufficiency bandwidth world, there is an emerging opportunity to leverage the potential of the CPE as a platform for serving the needs of end-users and suppliers,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO at Point Topic. “The exploitable functionality, properly managed and integrated, of an additional app like service layer right at the edge of the network will allow more control and better resilience for all the players in the ecosystem and improve choice and the overall experience for customers, the ultimate arbiters of any change.”
The WT-492 specification work will benefit a host of players in the broadband sphere. This includes product manufacturers that can adopt new design principles to introduce technologies and feature enhancements through simpler and faster cycles and make efficient use of open-source gateway solutions. Subscriber management solution suppliers can adopt standard interfaces and management capabilities to seamlessly operate and deploy any vendor’s products, and application suppliers can build an ecosystem of value-added applications. Service providers will be able to serve all types of access technologies from multiple vendors and seamlessly integrate a mixture of services into their operational and business workflows.
App-enabled services gateways could, for example, monitor and troubleshoot regimens that support unloading bad applications and isolating bad network devices to protect the end-user when needed. These innovative gateways will be hardened against cyber-attacks, be able to operate over a broader range of environmental conditions and be robust to changes in technology and equipment failures by upgrading and migrating customer applications and data on-demand. Expansion and operation with all networked devices to extend connectivity and support IoT services is also enabled through the new gateways.
The Broadband Forum’s Broadband User Services (BUS) Work Area is well-known in the industry for developing interoperable and open standards such as TR-069, TR-181, and its flagship revolutionary protocol, the User Services Platform, a.k.a. USP (TR-369). These standards have already laid the foundations for the realization of a standardized, app-enabled services gateway.
“Service providers’ customers have confronted them with unprecedented demand on their networks and app-enabled services gateways will help unlock a plethora of third-party applications and services,” said Jason Walls, of QA Cafe, Chair of the Broadband Forum Connected Home Council and BUS Work Area Director. “Our work pulls together industry leaders from multiple Standards Development Organizations and the open-source community to create quality, interoperable, open standards. The adoption of faster access technologies and resulting exponential growth in bandwidth opens up new ARPU opportunities for service providers to capitalize on.”
Broadband Forum works closely with open-source groups such as the prpl Foundation and other SDOs to develop these standards. Broadband Forum members can participate in this work by submitting contributions via the Broadband Forum’s Jira issue tracker, attending virtual interim meetings, and attending Broadband Forum quarterly meetings. Those who are not yet members of the Broadband Forum can attend quarterly meetings as a guest to gain a better understanding of its work.