The issue of bandwidth hogging smartphone users has had a lot of press. The issue of chatty interactive apps causing congestion through increased signaling traffic, however, is just now starting to get some attention. In an article I wrote for Wireless Week, I tried to clarify the point that the “bandwidth threat posed by video or Internet downloads is matched by the constant, ever present trickle of millions of handsets pinging the network for updates.”
Here’s an excerpt from that article:
Many mobile applications are designed to automatically check for new content on the network. To update, the device moves through various states-from being idle to having a dedicated network channel for voice or data communications. Each time the devices changes its state, it creates signaling to the local radio network controller (RNC) to communicate the status change. Going from idle to dedicated channel, for instance, requires 30 signaling messages. The RNC is provisioned to handle a certain number of connections based on a statistical analysis of the average number of users in an area and the number of times they use their phones for calls, messaging or Internet access.
Many applications, though, skew this average by polling the network on a regular basis, without the user intention. Using synchronization technology, an application can check for new messages every minute, consuming the RNC resource and creating data traffic without the user knowing, and additionally, drawing down the battery. In fact, turning off automatic, frequent updates is what many smartphone users do to extend their battery life.
This problem is solved by mobile synchronization technology that is optimized for wireless networks. In tests using real traffic we’ve seen dramatic decreases in data transfer (up to 80%), and in battery power consumption (50%). For the full story, check out the article on WirelessWeek.com.