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4G Mobile Device Management – Challenges and Solutions for Carriers

14 января 2010

Establishing a “mobile device management” (MDM) program has become an essential element of business strategy and technology implementation for both existing and green-field communications carriers.  This article presents key MDM challenges and business requirements that carriers need to formulate to compete in the new “Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device” Internet connectivity world. 

This is a world enabled by high-bandwidth next generation mobile technologies, “walled garden” to “open access” models, expanding mobile device/service categories and pervasive IP technology deployments.  Leading 4G carriers have addressed some of the key MDM challenges and there are lessons learned that are applicable to future 4G technology implementations.

1. What are the functions/features of Mobile Device Management that carriers should consider deploying?
Historically, MDM entailed providing “firmware over the air” support.  However, to respond to industry trends, MDM has evolved to encompass many other functions  such as activation/provisioning of devices, configuration/management of device settings, application management, device diagnostics (both real-time and ad-hoc), mobile security and device capability management.  Carriers choose to deploy them selectively and in varying degrees of capability sophistication based upon their business needs and requirements.  Carrier business requirements range from delivering superior customer experience (device activation, provisioning and FOTA updates) to efficient customer care (troubleshooting device related issue).  A few carriers also focus on device security and fraud management to enable their market positioning, and others may leverage MDM solutions to enable their business strategies and business models, in light of the upcoming mobile Internet tsunami.

2. What MDM challenges might carriers encounter in preparing for “Open Access”?
The vision of “open access” is one where consumers will be able to connect any device to any network and use the network for accessing any application, service and content.  This is a bold vision and surely there are various interpretations of what “open access” means that various ecosystem players are working under.  Inherent to the definition of “open access” is the business requirement that devices shall be allowed to seamlessly connect to any network using the “activation and provisioning” process that is consistent and standardized across network carriers, and that device OEMs do not need to implement any carrier specific device activation/provisioning mechanisms for on their devices.  That is, carrier networks should be able to in a consistent fashion, detect, discover and activate/provision devices that a carrier may know or may not know of in advance.  This is a challenging requirement especially for existing carriers with legacy deployments.  Leading 4G carriers, such as Clearwire/XOHM, have addressed this challenge effectively by adopting an industry-wide OMA-DM standard and influencing WiMAX standards development to standardize across the industry OMA-DM tree parameters and activation/provisioning flows that support devices both known and unknown to WiMAX carriers.  Future 4G technology camps and carriers should consider similar strategies to prepare for “Open Access.”

3. What are some of the key MDM business requirements for managing a diverse set of device/service categories?
Wireless carriers deploying 4G technologies are envisioning enabling and supporting wireless connectivity for a slew of devices that were previously not designed for full-blown wireless access.  These include PC cards, USB modems, basic modems, PMPs, UMPCs, netbooks, embedded laptops, Internet tablets, PDAs, gaming devices, video phones, Machine to Machine devices, consumer electronic devices (cameras, camcorders, wearable devices, eBooks, navigation and in-vehicle entertainment systems) and many others.  Amazon launched the Kindle 2 eReader in collaboration with Sprint that allows users to discover, buy and wirelessly download a book to an electronic reader.  There is a strong momentum toward mobile devices in the M2M category and some industry estimates project 229 million M2M mobile devices in 2013.

Some of the key high-level MDM business requirements for a typical carrier to seamlessly support all such devices are very clear and they are as follows:

Reduce integration complexity and costs so as to enable expeditious implementation of a business model in collaboration with device OEMs and other third-party application/content providers.

Ensure consistent quality of service and customer experience across all device categories and access methods so as to improve customer satisfaction.  This will require carriers to implement device capability inventory systems that can be accessed in real-time to obtain pertinent capability information about a particular device so as to adapt/render content appropriately.

Enable a shift from device centric models to user centric models.  Historically a customer is associated with a specific device and user or device authentication are synonymous.  However, because a user may use diverse device categories and choose to use a device that may not be in his established service plan, a user may need to be associated with multiple devices and needs to be identified and authenticated independently of the device that is being used.  This will require carriers to not only authenticate the device and the users independently but also to have the capability to associate the device and the user on a per-session basis.

Today the key MDM requirements are FOTA and activation/provisioning.  In future mobile security will become more important for devices, specifically for enterprise/corporate segments, and remote diagnostics will become important, especially for M2M devices.


This article highlights key high-level business requirements that carriers should adopt to prepare for the upcoming mobile Internet tsunami.  These business requirements include:

  • adopting industry dominant device management standards
  • implementing consistent activation/provisioning flows and device/service provisioning payloads as much as possible across carriers,that support consistent quality of user experience across various devices and access methods
  • establishing device capability/parameter inventory systems to be accessible by application and content providers for appropriate content/service delivery to various device categories
  • leveraging a device management platform for strategic benefit in the context of mobile Internet value chain
By Sandeep Shah, Consulting Manager, inCode Telecom


Источник: 4G Trends

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