Much like the unique digital identification process used by VeriSign-secured web sites, certificates will be embedded into Airvana's HubBub UMTS femtocell, allowing operators to authenticate devices before allowing access to core networks and services.
The companies believe that the ability to offer strong authentication and encryption is key to the adoption of femtocells by enterprises, and the use of device certificates eliminates the need for complex passwords or other log-in procedures.
As a result, network operators can ensure that only trusted devices will be authorised to make connections, while rogue devices will be identified and blocked.
"Collaborating with Airvana will allow VeriSign to implement security into a device-driven network at the earliest stages of development of a technology ecosystem," said Adam Geller, vice president of Public Key Infrastructure solutions at VeriSign.
"As with other network access technologies, security is of critical importance to the long-term prospects for widespread adoption. Operators need to know that their deployment of femtocells will not compromise their core networks, and subscribers want assurance that their home networks are secure."
The work builds on efforts currently taking place within the Femto Forum and the 3GPP SA3 security standards group, and this new effort is expected to help establish an implementation standard for network authentication for femtocells using a certificate-based model.
"Operators and subscribers must be confident that femtocell technology is highly secure in order to embrace it fully," added Glenn Laxdal, vice president of femtocell product management at Airvana.
The company has already made significant strides in helping tackle other implementation issues, including radio frequency interference and femto service management, and trusted authentication is one of the few remaining hurdles.
Airvana showed at the Femtocells World Summit in London how this type of technology could be used to help remotely check on children in the home (dubbed the 'boyfriend buster') by providing a text message to parents when a child enters the house, as well offering better media synchronisation, home automation and security.
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