Meet with SEVEN Networks at Mobile World Congress 2014

The Mobile World Congress Conference for 2014 is nearly upon us. Running from February 24-27 in Barcelona, Spain, this year’s event promises to be a perfect venue for attendees to speak to mobile industry product and service providers, and learn more about the latest technology developments, current trends, and strategic growth initiatives.

SEVEN Networks will be there – meeting with mobile carriers and prospective partners, and discussing the latest developments related to SEVEN’s Open Channel product line. These include Signaling Optimization, Policy Enforcement, Seamless Mobility, and Wi-Fi QoE. Open Channel products provide intelligent on-device mobile traffic management and optimization for wireless carriers.

Members of the SEVEN Networks team will be available in our meeting room throughout the four-day event. If you would like to schedule an appointment to meet with us, please email us at sales@seven.com.

We hope to see you there!

Posted in Industry Trends, Mobile Events, Mobile Technology, SEVEN News | Leave a comment

How Chatty Apps Shorten Smartphone Battery Life

Will longer battery life become the next feature battleground for smartphones?

Antony Leather writing on Forbes.com believes it should be because mobile subscribers are growing frustrated with constantly recharging their phones – to the point that they would accept thicker phones just to have longer battery life.

The problems that he identifies are antiquated battery technology and increasingly heavy usage: “The trouble is, few if any manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to just how much each of us uses our smartphone.”

Another very important issue is how much battery power is being consumed when users are not actively using their phones. Even when a phone is to all outward appearances idle, there is a lot going in the background that drains battery life. Smartphones are not connected all the time; rather they repeatedly connect and disconnect during the day as they sit idle on a table top, in a pocket, or in a briefcase.

It’s intuitive and obvious that when the screen is on, it leads to higher power consumption than when it’s off. What’s less obvious is that the activity of the phone’s radio is another driver of battery drain. When the radio is on, the device consumes power at a higher rate that when it’s off. And when the radio state changes frequently – moving from off to on and back again repeatedly – that also leads to higher power consumption and faster battery drain.

Mobile subscribers typically have a few dozen apps installed, and most of those apps frequently check for new data. Frequent updates are intrinsic to the always on nature of the mobile experience. However, a large portion of this constant checking for updates is unnecessary, because no new data is available. Even so, those chatty apps keep checking. This background activity causes the device to be connected for longer than it needs to be, and it also causes more frequent changes in radio state. This in turn leads to accelerated battery drain.

Signaling optimization reduces both the time the device is connected to the mobile network and the number of connections. The immediacy of the mobile experience for the subscriber is not adversely impacted, because it’s the unnecessary background activity that is optimized away. By reducing both the time that the device is connected as well as the number of changes in the radio state, battery life is significantly improved.

Posted in Longer Battery Life, Open Channel Signaling Optimization, Unnecessary Signaling | Leave a comment

Come See SEVEN Networks at LTE North America 2013

The issue of mobile network signaling will be the focus of an entire day at the upcoming LTE North America 2013 conference (November 20-22 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas, Texas), and the SEVEN Networks team will be there.

The Signaling Focus Day at the conference, on November 20, will give attendees the opportunity to participate in interactive learning sessions to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges of mobile network signaling.

SEVEN Networks will be addressing app-related signaling in an afternoon panel discussion titled “Managing the Impact of ‘Chatty’ Apps and Devices Upon 4G Networks,” which features Ross Bott, CEO of SEVEN Networks and Monica Paolini, President of Senza Fili Consulting among the panelists. Additional panelists will be announced shortly.

The panel discussion will explore the issues and ramifications stemming from excessive mobile signaling traffic, which stresses network resources, increases operator costs, and adversely impacts the subscriber experience.

Ross will discuss the advantages of stopping unnecessary signaling at the source – the mobile handset. Compared to other solutions that manage mobile data traffic from inside the core network – a software presence on the handset enhances network efficiency by optimizing signaling before it can impact the network.

A variety of SEVEN team members will be on hand during the entire three-day event to meet with wireless carriers and potential partners. Please be sure to email us at lte-na@seven.com to schedule a meeting time with SEVEN Networks during the conference. Those interested in speaking with SEVEN Networks more informally are invited to stop by our exhibition pod on Signaling Focus Day.

If you have not yet registered for the conference, but would like to attend, we can provide promotion codes for a limited number of free (for carriers) and discounted (for partners/potential partners) conference passes. Availability is limited, so if you are interested in this offer, please contact us as soon as possible.

We hope to see you there!

Posted in Network Congestion | Leave a comment

Taming Mobile Signaling Shown to Reduce Wireless Carrier Costs

Carriers have long known that unnecessary mobile signaling increases their costs, because it forces them to add capacity to maintain service levels. Many carriers are aware of potential countermeasures, such as signaling optimization, but have been uncertain about how much they stand to save. A new white paper available on the SEVEN Networks website titled “The Taming of the App: Measuring the Financial Impact of Mobile Signaling Optimization” answers that question.

Produced by industry analyst Monica Paolini of Senza Fili Consulting, the white paper models the financial benefits of implementing Open Channel Signaling Optimization, which is designed to significantly reduce smartphone signaling and associated bandwidth consumption.

Though transparent to mobile device users, their smartphone apps – which include games, social media, email, weather, news, etc. – constantly poll the network to search for updates. In aggregate, across multiple apps for multiple users, this background activity creates a heavy mobile signaling load, as devices must constantly connect to the carrier network.

Some mobile carriers anticipated that excessive signaling caused by chatty apps would be partially mitigated with the implementation of 4G/LTE networks. However, the proliferation of smartphone adoption, along with the explosion of free or inexpensive mobile apps, will continue to drive increased mobile signaling.

Nielsen reported that in 2012 the average mobile device had 41 apps, compared to 32 in 2011. It’s safe to say that this number will prove to be even higher for 2013 and beyond. Even though a typical user has several dozen mobile apps installed, only a few of them become frequently used favorites. Even apps that are rarely used can still generate substantial background activity.

In its exploration of this issue, the white paper examines the impact of network traffic on both the control plane (signaling/background activity) and the data plane (user-driven activity), and analyzes the cost savings that carriers can realize from using Open Channel Signaling Optimization software to manage and optimize app-driven signaling. The calculations are based upon optimization results achieved by the software in actual carrier networks.

The findings show that app-driven background traffic increases carrier network capacity requirements – and hence operating costs. At the same time, because smartphone subscribers do not directly initiate the app-related background activity, it becomes difficult for operators to monetize this activity.

The white paper concludes that carriers can realize per-device savings of $33 over the two-year life of a 4G smartphone by adopting SEVEN Networks technology to optimize mobile signaling. Significant savings can also be realized for 3G devices. We invite carriers interested in learning more to download the white paper or contact their SEVEN Networks representative.

Posted in Hands-On Carrier Control, Mobile Devices, Mobile Technology, Network Congestion, Open Channel Signaling Optimization, Unnecessary Signaling | Leave a comment

A New Way to Combat the Diameter Signaling Storm

Cisco projects a 75% compound annual growth rate for the number of 4G devices between 2012 and 2017, from 60 million to 992 million.  As 4G networks expand and customer adoption increases, the wireless industry faces a new “signaling storm” – this one related to core network signaling using the Diameter protocol.

We have written about how Open Channel Signaling Optimization dramatically reduces unnecessary radio access network (RAN) (mobile) signaling. It can also help carriers to address the challenges of Diameter signaling. To understand how, let’s examine the nature of Diameter signaling.

Diameter and SIP are the protocols in LTE networks that replace SS7, which is used in 3G networks. SIP is the call control protocol used to establish voice, messaging, and multimedia communication sessions. Diameter is used to exchange subscriber profile information and for authentication, charging, QoS, and mobility between network elements.

In 3G networks, the signaling bottleneck is located at the radio network controller (RNC). The bottleneck in LTE networks moves into the core network, at the mobility management entity (MME). However, many core network signaling events have their origin in radio access network signaling, so excessive and unnecessary RAN signaling will exacerbate the coming Diameter signaling challenge.

Diameter Signaling in Depth

The Diameter protocol exchanges information in transactions, which consist of requests from a Diameter client and responses from a Diameter server. The elements participating in the Diameter transaction include:

  • Clients who generate Diameter messages requesting information
  • Servers that respond to the request for information from the clients
  • Agents that route, process, or redirect Diameter messages between the client and the server

The Diameter protocol was originally envisioned to handle things like charging or simple policy control. However, today Diameter has taken on a much broader set of responsibilities. In today’s networks, the functions of the Diameter protocol can be broadly grouped into the following categories:

  • Registration, authorization, and authentication
  • QoS/bandwidth-based admission control
  • Charging
  • Location

It is beneficial that Diameter has been adopted for all these uses and that it has been able to accommodate them. The downside is that there hasn’t been a focus on the network-level robustness of the protocol. Congestion management, peer congestion control, and redirecting on failure were not considered part of the protocol. Nor were they designed into each network element. This has significant potential to create problems in light of the following:

  1. Increasing traffic volume: According to Acme Packet, by 2015, 44,000 Diameter transactions per second (TPS) will occur for every one million subscribers. For a moderately sized LTE deployment of five million subscribers, a mobile service provider will need to process between 220,000 and one million Diameter transactions per second.
  2. Proliferating network elements: LTE networks are characterized by more boxes and increasing complexity. This means that even more signaling is required for these boxes to communicate with each other.
  3. No network-level means of managing signaling: Carriers often deal with signaling at the level of individual network elements rather that at the network level. That breeds inefficiency and far too many point-to-point connections. As the signaling load grows, the resulting “n-squared” increase in core signaling traffic can quickly overwhelm nodes in the network.

All of the resulting signaling has resulted in network outages because the servers involved in processing various AAA, QoS, or charging functions are not equipped to deal with spikes in volume.

Controlling Diameter Signaling

To meet such challenges, a number of vendors are offering products that they call Diameter routing solutions. These products sit at the center of the LTE core network, and are designed to centrally and intelligently help distribute and scale network signals. These new devices focus solely on managing and routing signals, and they have very powerful processing capability.

Diameter routing solutions are one way of managing the Diameter signaling storm. But it’s important to remember that a significant portion of Diameter signaling originates as RAN signaling when devices connect to the network. That is to say, RAN signaling is upstream from core network signaling.

Not every Diameter signaling event originates in the RAN, but many of them do. A complementary approach for reducing Diameter signaling is therefore to reduce the number of times that devices connect to the radio network, and hence reduce the associated signaling messages.

Chatty apps constantly poll for updates, which causes devices to generate mounds of RAN signaling that in turn drives Diameter signaling in LTE networks. Often this mobile signaling is unnecessary in the sense that no updates are available – meaning that the signaling activity yields no benefit to the end user.

It makes sense to optimize signaling at the client before it ever generates a signaling event, and this can be done without adversely impacting end-user experience.  That’s where our Open Channel Signaling Optimization comes in.

By dramatically reducing unnecessary mobile signaling, Signaling Optimization lightens the load on the MME in LTE networks. (It also lightens the load on the RNC in 3G networks). Carriers concerned about the Diameter signaling storm should consider Signaling Optimization to address this important root cause of signaling overload in the LTE core network.

Posted in Diameter Signaling, Network Congestion, Open Channel Signaling Optimization | Leave a comment

All Mobile Signaling Is Not Created Equal – Unnecessary Signaling Defined

It is well established that mobile signaling is a primary driver of congestion in carrier networks. Carriers lack control over the behavior of chatty mobile apps, and apps are not optimized to make the most efficient use of network resources. Apps constantly poll for new data, which causes devices to signal the network – even when no updates are available. The ever-increasing number of mobile devices and chatty apps combine to create what we at SEVEN Networks characterize as a “signaling storm”.

Carriers are interested in relieving network congestion by reducing their overall signaling load, and yet some signaling is necessary to deliver the always-on immediacy of the mobile experience for subscribers. It’s the unnecessary signaling that presents an opportunity for optimization.

What exactly do we mean by “unnecessary signaling”? Simply stated, unnecessary signaling is signaling associated with traffic that yields no benefit to end users. Specifically, this occurs when a device signals the network so that an app can check for updates, but there are no updates to be had.

Unnecessary signaling is precisely the type of mobile signaling that can be optimized away without adverse impact on the end-user experience. By minimizing unnecessary signaling, it’s possible to make the subscriber base better off without making any subscriber worse off. You can think of it as eliminating the waste from the system. That is the very definition of an optimization opportunity.

Wireless carriers who are interested in addressing the mobile signaling storm and making more efficient use of existing network infrastructure would be well served by considering Open Channel Signaling Optimization. We invite you to learn more by visiting the product page on the SEVEN Networks website.

Posted in Mobile Devices, Mobile Technology, Network Congestion, Open Channel Signaling Optimization, Unnecessary Signaling | Leave a comment

Open Channel Platform Now Offers Plug-and-Play In-Network Option

Software Provides Outstanding Time-to-Value for Mobile Operators

Historically, in-network deployment of software solutions for mobile data networks has been (for the most part correctly) perceived as laborious, complex, and time consuming. There are several drivers of this complexity, including the number of integration points, amount of custom code required, size of the bill of materials, and third party software requirements. The latest release of the SEVEN Networks Open Channel product family now features plug-and-play in-network deployment, minimizing these sources of complexity.

The Open Channel platform now gives mobile operators an additional option alongside hosted deployment, which was offered in the previous version of the software. Both hosted and in-network implementations include the Open Channel client, which extends mobile traffic management and optimization from the network to the handset. Managing data traffic at the client is a superior model compared to traditional approaches, because it occurs before the traffic can impact the radio access network.

The server component is what differs between the two deployment models. The in-network model enables the server component to reside in the carrier’s data center, where the product is managed with hands-on carrier control via a simple administrator interface. Most carriers will choose this model for long-term, large-scale use. In the hosted model, the server component resides in the SEVEN Networks data center, where the SEVEN technical team manages the product based upon carrier-defined parameters. The hosted model is recommended for initial device launches while in-network deployment is being prepared, and offers the shortest deployment time of all.

Our in-network deployment model is different than what carriers have come to expect from most infrastructure software solutions in that it is truly plug-and-play. It streamlines the deployment process by addressing the drivers of complexity. The software can run on two single rack unit servers for an initial deployment, and additional servers can be added to scale to tens of millions of users. It uses industry standard open source operating system and database software, and requires minimal network integration and no custom coding. As you might imagine, all of these design choices streamline the deployment process significantly.

The SEVEN Networks development team really did their homework to make this new in-network option simple to deploy, with outstanding time-to-value for carriers.

Visit the Open Channel product family page to learn more.

Network Diagram

SEVEN Networks Open Channel software products include a client component and a server component. This diagram illustrates the recently announced plug-and-play in-network deployment model for the server component. Regardless of the server deployment model, the Open Channel client extends carrier control to the mobile client.

Image

Posted in Hands-On Carrier Control, In-Network Deployment, Mobile Devices, Mobile Technology, Network Congestion, Open Channel, SEVEN News | Leave a comment

Boom Time in Carrier Wi-Fi

There’s a boom underway for carrier Wi-Fi as many carriers realize that LTE won’t be enough to meet the predicted growth in bandwidth demand for mobile Internet services.

Industry research firm Infonetics predicts that the carrier Wi-Fi equipment market will grow to $2.1 billion by 2016. Already, the firm found 35% growth in the market for Wi-Fi access points from 2010 to 2011. Another proof point: AT&T Wireless, the most aggressive Wi-Fi provider of US carriers, has said that in 2012, smartphone connections to its Wi-Fi network more than doubled to 2.7 billion.

One reason for the growth is new high-speed Wi-Fi technology like 5 Gbps 802.11ac that is now coming on-market and is a great fit for metro Wi-Fi deployments.

Another reason is that carriers are rethinking their entire RAN strategy and moving from tightly managed infrastructure of macro cells to a more ad hoc infrastructure that includes small cells and hot spots. This cultural shift is opening more doors for Wi-Fi offloading.

Once the dust settles, carriers will realize that an important component of this shift is Wi-Fi offload software that drives mobile data traffic to carrier-owned or carrier-sponsored Wi-Fi sources while still ensuring a high-quality subscriber experience.

Wi-Fi offload is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to accommodating the ever-increasing demands placed on carrier networks. But not paying attention to the offload question could mean customer service problems.

Consider the case of Deutsche Telekom, which recently announced a deal to expand its hotspot network in Germany to more than 2.5 million hotspots through a deal with Spanish crowdsourced Wi-Fi hotspot provider, Fon (pronounced “phone”).

People open up their hotspots to Fon in exchange for free roaming services or payments based on usage. This is an innovative concept, but the two companies will need to have tools in place to make sure the end user Wi-Fi experience is a good one. Otherwise a smartphone could enter into an underpowered or old-technology Fon hotspot that would deliver performance that is poorer than the cellular network. If the phone were forced to switch to Wi-Fi without considering quality of experience metrics, unhappy customers would likely follow.

Our Open Channel Seamless Mobility and Open Channel Wi-Fi QoE software help create a positive experience for subscribers in offloading situations. Seamless Mobility provides uninterrupted data service for applications as devices move between the carrier network and Wi-Fi sources. Wi-Fi QoE helps to ensure that the user will have a satisfactory quality of experience before an offloading decision is executed. The software measures subscriber QoE continuously and in real time, allowing carriers to drive data traffic to Wi-Fi while improving the customer experience. It’s a win/win for both mobile operators and their subscribers.

Even though Wi-Fi offload has been an element of operational strategies for years, carriers can see the writing on the wall regarding LTE overloading and have started to act. Seamless network transitions and subscriber QoE are critical parts of making this heterogeneous network strategy successful.

Posted in Industry Trends, Mobile Devices, Mobile Technology, Open Channel, Open Channel Seamless Mobility, Open Channel Wi-Fi QoE, Wi-Fi | Leave a comment

“All You Can App” Mobile Services

There’s a new buffet coming to your smartphone soon. It’s called “all you can app” (AYCA).

The idea is that smartphone users will be able to choose from a menu of service plans that, for a fixed monthly subscription, include unlimited access to specific mobile applications – defined within each plan – and bundled together with connectivity charges.

In a recent article on its Technology, Media & Telecommunications website, Deloitte predicted that this year between 50 and 100 mobile operators will offer AYCA services, and that over the course of the year the portfolio of these services should grow.

Deloitte says that AYCA services will be aimed primarily at stimulating usage among customers that are late-comers to the mobile data world and are hesitant about accessing mobile data because they worry about incurring unexpected charges.

Deloitte estimates that by the end of 2013, about 400 million of the 1.9 billion smartphone subscribers may never or only rarely (less than once a week) use their device to connect to the Internet. In addition, a large proportion of the four billion mobile customers still using standard feature phones may upgrade to a smartphone.

These subscribers need mobile data pricing options that: are perceived as low risk; remove some of the barriers to app and data downloading; and are appropriate for later adopters.

We at SEVEN Networks believe the “all you can app” concept has merit, particularly as carriers market to users who fall later on the technology adoption curve.  Operators will be able to penetrate into more of their total potential market by targeting subscriber needs more precisely. They will better tap into subscribers’ willingness to pay, allowing them to more fully monetize their investment in wireless network infrastructure.

We predict that as they seek to offer these “all you can app” services, carriers will be looking for simpler, more effective, policy-based means of creating and administering these plans. That is where Open Channel Policy Enforcement comes in. Most techniques for implementing mobile traffic management policies today are too complex and rely on in-network enforcement. That means that the data traffic from apps that are outside of a purchased service plan can be stopped only after it has already crossed the radio access network.

Open Channel Policy Enforcement gives carriers fine-grained policy-based control over data traffic, meaning that they have the power to allow access only to those apps on a specific user’s service plan. Because these policy controls are applied at the mobile client, radio network resources are conserved. Open Channel Policy Enforcement also significantly simplifies service plan creation.

If “all you can app” becomes a major trend as Deloitte predicts, this kind of control will really make a difference in carriers’ overall efficiency, and ultimately in their business results. We encourage carriers who seek to offer these types of service plans to consider Open Channel Policy Enforcement as a tool for helping them better serve the needs of their customers.

 

Posted in Industry Trends, Mobile Devices, Mobile Technology, Open Channel | Leave a comment

Chatty Apps Update: Your Smartphone Makes More Calls Than You Do

We’ve written in this blog before about what a problem chatty apps can be for carriers – overwhelming radio network infrastructure or degrading the performance of mobile data sessions.

But according to a recent four-country study, those apps are getting ever more chatty, to the point that smartphones – not users – are making the “vast majority” of the network connections.

That’s the conclusion from an article written by Kelly Hill in RCR Wireless based on a survey from Actix, a network analytics firm.  The survey was based on data from eight carriers and looked mostly at 3G networks (only because 4G networks didn’t have the data volumes to be problematic – yet).

From the story: “The report…found that on 3G networks smartphones were generating data traffic 85% of the time, while only about 10% of their traffic was voice-related.  Meanwhile, less than 30% of those mobile data sessions were initiated by the subscriber.  Smartphones were making three to 10 data connections per hour of use, and 60% to 70% of the sessions were less than 50 kilobytes in size.”

It seems that the core network is not overly impacted by this data traffic, however the radio access network is seriously being impacted:  “Overall, the report concluded that the radio access network is responsible for about 80% to 85% of poor voice quality, and data sessions in congested areas ‘often fall below video-ready speeds.’”

The problem promises to continue growing over time, as new smartphones get faster processors, additional storage and 4G network speeds.  In fact, the report said that users on smartphones released within the last year generated 2.5X more traffic than phones from 2009.

These statistics back up our contention that policy enforcement and signaling optimization are best accomplished at the handset.  Solutions that manage mobile data traffic  from inside the core network address the problem only after half the battle has already been lost. That’s because once data traffic has reached the core network, radio network resources have already been consumed.  Our Open Channel family of software products for mobile traffic management and optimization conserve radio network resources by extending control to the source of data traffic – the mobile client itself.

Posted in Network Congestion, Open Channel | Leave a comment