OTA (Over-the-Air) platforms update and maintain the software and data, ensuring that all information and applications are up to date. In the past, OTA use cases have been limited by the shortcomings of the SMS bearer, for example by low download capacity. As the IP-based UICC becomes a more central and integral part of the Internet world, the possibilities for creating new services will improve drastically.
OTA platforms therefore have a key role to play in getting the most out of the LTE investment. By upgrading their OTA platforms with the capability to perform remote management over wireless IP, MNOs get the capacity and prerequisites they need for implementing new OTA use cases such as NFC and M2M. They can also improve existing use cases.
Mass updates in particular benefit from IP-based OTA, due to their size and volume. If the number of subscribers or the size of the update is large, the number of SMS messages will begin to burden the network and the probability increases that transmissions will fail due to the sheer volume of messages sent. An IP-based system/bearer is a better fit for such large operations and can use delivery channels already designed for data downloads. This approach also provides a better way to manage temporarily unavailable subscribers.
For MNOs, it is of strategic importance that the OTA platform is compatible with all the multi-access-technology networks in use, because subscribers are normally distributed between the LTE, 3G, and 2G networks. The OTA system should also work independently of the secure element, regardless of whether UICC, microSD or trusted environments.
In mobile networks, the handset normally initiates the data connection based on client-server architecture. This is true not only of the SIM OTA but also for mobile email and many other smartphone applications. While SMS-based OTA is pushed by the server to the card, a different architecture is used for IP-based OTA. Its client-server architecture is therefore better suited to data connections. Even if NFC applications will require push updates via SMS in future, a fully IP-based OTA platform offers numerous advantages in pull and poll scenarios.
End-to-end solutions including remote management over wireless data bearer often involve applications on the SIM. One example of such a pull scenario is a terminal switch detection applet, triggered when the SIM is inserted in a new handset, which downloads a remote management update to the SIM.