What is OTA

Over The Air (OTA)

OTA stands for Over The Air - Update (in German "├╝ber die Luft"), which means wireless transmission of an update. This is mostly done with smartphones or other mobile devices. The advantage of OTA is, for example, that the smartphone does not have to be connected to a computer, but can update itself.


Often there is also talk of a FOTA, which stands for Firmware Over The Air and describes the wireless transmission of a firmware update. Usually a FOTA is simply referred to as an OTA.

Transfer of OTA

OTAs or FOTAs can be transmitted via WLAN as well as via cellular network. This can be done via e-mail, MMS or WAP settings or downloaded directly from the manufacturer's website. An OTA update often takes place in two steps. First, the update is downloaded and checked during operation, often in the background. The update will not start until the update has been downloaded correctly and the device has sufficient battery power. This ensures that the update process is not interrupted in between, which could cause the device to become defective - this is also referred to as a brick.


In order to be able to use an OTA, the device or its firmware must support an OTA standard. The new firmware must be able to be received and then installed without restricting the operation of the device, changing settings or even overwriting them. The various standards are defined by the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).