What is Firmware-Over-The-Air (FOTA)?

Firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) is a Mobile Software Management (MSM) technology that enables the operating firmware of a cellular device to be upgraded and updated wirelessly over the network (“over the air”).

FOTA-capable devices can download updates from service providers or manufacturers in 3 to 10 minutes on average, depending on file size and connection speed. This saves businesses the time and money spent sending a technician to have each one of their cellular devices physically upgraded or updated.

In 2016, Tesla used FOTA to update each of their cars with the ability to self-park.

Without using this technology, each car would have to either be recalled or visited by a Tesla technician for these updates to be initiated.

FOTA is particularly useful when it comes to IoT systems, especially those with hundreds of cellular devices that require frequent upgrading.

In the past, each sensor would have to be retrieved, taken apart, connected to a computer and reprogrammed with the new update. After this, they would need to be put back together together and placed where they were taken from, creating unnecessary costs and performance disruption.

Upgrading hundreds of sensors that are, for example, measuring soil moisture levels across a large farm would be a near-impossible task using the traditional method.

Ensuring IoT systems can support FOTA technology allows devices to be updated and tested in real-time even when the devices are already in the hands of the business or enterprise.

This can be crucial if there are new security protocols that need to be implemented in days rather than months, or if there is a rush on going to market with your IoT product.

Plus, FOTA provides a way for businesses to release new updates to a select group of users rather than testing their new update on their entire audience.

The seamlessness and efficiency of FOTA technology can help IoT projects sustainably scale their operations, ensuring that each IoT-connected device within the network will automatically receive the latest update available.

Sending out FOTA requires a device management system that can properly interact with each IoT-connected device’s software. An appropriate device management system can either be built, which would require extensive research on industry encryptions, compatible hardware and software, and more, or purchased.