& cplSiteName &

Alcatel-Lucent Puts Apps on 3G 'Watch List'

Sarah Thomas
4/30/2014
50%
50%

The mobile applications driving the most data traffic and signaling on 3G networks are the ones you'd expect -- the most popular video and social media apps -- but those that could soon become culprits are not the usual suspects.

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is putting these apps that have a high cost per user, defined as their average volume and signaling per user across sample networks, on a "watch list" because an increase in popularity could send them into the "naughty" quadrant of high-impact apps. Those apps include Tango, Nimbuzz, Palringo, Office 365, Zynga, Netflix, Pandora, Pinterest, Facebook Channel, Kik, and Skype.

Alcatel-Lucent says the way these apps are designed and used creates a heavy load on the network, device batteries, and data plans. Pandora, for example, has only a 1% share of subscribers, but is among the top 20 apps in terms of network impact.

These are apps that wireless operators will want to keep an eye on, but there's a number of apps that are already causing them heartburn. Alcatel-Lucent's name-and-shame awards go to:

  • Highest network impact on bandwidth and signaling (how often the app pings the network to receive data): Google Search, Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and YouTube
  • Highest data volume impact: iTunes, Instagram, Pinterest, Apple Maps and Pandora
  • Top battery drainers: Nimbuzz, Yahoo Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Viber, and Palringo
  • Top data plan guzzlers: YouTube, Netflix, Facebook Video, Pandora, and Instagram Video

Apps Behaving Badly
AlcaLu maps out the network impact of the top 39 apps based on the amount of volume they drive and their signaling chatter on the network.
AlcaLu maps out the network impact of the top 39 apps based on the amount of volume they drive and their signaling chatter on the network.

This is the first time Alcatel-Lucent has conducted a study of this size using data collected from its Wireless Network Guardian software that measure signaling and data volume impact from apps used by 15 million subscribers on 3G networks in North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East.

It did also look at LTE networks, but Josee Loudiadis, AlcaLu's director of network intelligence, says the network data varied so much that no averages could be found. She attributes the wide differences to how far along LTE rollouts were, how 4G was priced, and cultural variances. In general, however, the trends tend to mirror the 3G networks but with more of everything, especially signaling. (See MW13: Tekelec Warns of VoLTE Signaling Storm and LTE Signaling Woes Ahead?)

It's easy to see why network operators should care about these apps: They affect their networks and their customers' experiences (and they'll probably take the blame). But what they can do about it? Loudiadis suggests a few things:

  • Plead with apps developers to reduce signaling in their app updates, that is, if they can get them to care. (See Operators Urge Action Against Chatty Apps.)
  • Optimize traffic during peak hours.
  • Track apps and degrade their performance when they exceed typical volume levels.
  • Integrate analytics with customer care to help resolve data usage and low battery life call.
  • Find the low-impact apps and strike a zero-rating deal to optimize and promote them free to users, waters into which some operators such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) are just starting to dip a toe. (See AT&T Toll-Free Data: Innovation or Rip-Off?)

"Zynga, for example, is a low-impact app," Loudiadis says. "Its per-subscriber cost is still high on the data side, so why not connect with Zynga and package them with a data plan? Why don't I say, 'give me a low-res version of your file to have less data traveling. You can change the resolution on the screen depending on the device screen size, and do things to help reduce of impact of the app."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(22)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/2/2014 | 3:30:42 PM
Re: Three more surprises
Josee - Thanks for clarifying that. Yes, I was surprised to see Hotmail, AOLmail on the list. But as you say, once people are using a service many don't move on until and unless they must. 

Heck, I know people who still use LiveJournal. And not tech dummies either -- one of them runs his own mail and web server out of his home. They found something that works, and they stick with it. 
Josee Loudiadis
50%
50%
Josee Loudiadis,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/2/2014 | 2:19:08 PM
Re: YouTube and Skype are not topping the list
The traffic included in the Google category truly is just searches. Once the user clicks a link (to say, Amazon), that traffic is not longer associated with Google since it is served by Amazon's servers. The only interesting twist is that searches can be done via APIs that Google published. So software can query Google and get their results via this API. That traffic is included in Google search: it is a search, but without humans eye balls on it. It is mind boggling that we generate so much traffic searching for information. What did we ever do before the internet and search engines?!
Josee Loudiadis
50%
50%
Josee Loudiadis,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/1/2014 | 5:49:19 PM
Re: light on device
In the Facebook example provided in the report, Facebook did not know it had increase the overall signaling in service provider networks with its new software version.  Also, the service provider would have know that signaling increased, but not what contributed to the increase.  And if it did, most operators don't have the correlated data to help Facebook pinpoint with app version (Android, iOS, ...) contributed the most to the spike.  Meanwhile, consumers are not aware that their battery life is affected by apps.  Consumers know they can tweak their mail app configuration for reduced data consumption, but don't know (or have very few options) on how to tweak their messaging apps.  So the crux of it is: lots of blind spots for app dev, operators and consumers.

It was the availability of network analitics data, an article in Analytics Beat (http://www2.alcatel-lucent.com/analytics-beat/), Facebook's desire to optimize their app for mobile users that triggered to optimization cycle.   It is my hope that exposing this kind of analysis will help educate all mobile stakeholders and enable further collaboration between parties. 

@joseeloudiadis
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/1/2014 | 4:12:41 PM
Re: Three more surprises
Thanks for weighing in, JL. That's funny that "once-popular apps die a slow death." I guess it's similar to what we talked about before, Mitch, about Yahoo. Obviously people are still using it and these other email services!
Josee Loudiadis
50%
50%
Josee Loudiadis,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/1/2014 | 3:37:41 PM
Re: Three more surprises
To make it into the study, an app had to be in the top 20 apps on at least one network. Siri did not appear in the top 20, nor Google Now. But surprisingly, we saw hotmail, AOLMail and Live Messenger!  We did a double take - were these apps not replaced by other more modern ones (Hotmail with Outlook.com and Live Messenger with Skype)? 

It turns out that once popular apps die a slow death. Outlook.com and Skype are tracked separately from Hotmail and Live Messenger. We verified that the traffic did in fact reach these different servers. Outlook.com is growing but did not reach the top 20, while Skype and Live Messenger made the list.
mikael1978
50%
50%
mikael1978,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/1/2014 | 3:09:08 PM
Re: YouTube and Skype are not topping the list
Google Instant (search as you type) probably creates a lot of traffic. On iOS Bing is now the default search engine ... in Siri. I think it's still Google in Safari, isn't it? There are talks about switching to Yahoo.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/1/2014 | 2:45:20 PM
Three more surprises
Siri is missing from the chart entirely. Did AlcaLu simply not include it, or is the network usage negligible. 

Same for Google Now. 

And AOL Mail shows up. Hello, 1998!

Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/1/2014 | 2:42:54 PM
Re: light on device
Facebook might have enough incentive to fix the app if enough users go in and turn off background operation. That would limit Facebook's ability to harvest signals on where people are and what they're doing when Facebook isn't running. 

But I don't see a significant number of users fiddling with their settings in that fasion. Instead, the users will simply complain that their battery drains too fast. 
nasimson
50%
50%
nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 5:09:31 PM
Re: YouTube and Skype are not topping the list
@Sarah: Google search is mostly text (I have not seen many people using the voice search feature). Its one way traffic. It's highly compressed. It's not running on Windows, iPhones and iPad by default. The follow-up usage is done in browser. Is it that all browser activity in Android is taken as Google search. After all the browser URL bar acts as the search field.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 5:04:08 PM
Re: light on device
I think @FakeMitchWagner makes a good point. It's easy to name and shame but at the end of the day it wont cause anybody to change their app behaviour.

I think carriers need to target this from 2 angles:

1. work with the OS providers to create more efficient API's inside the OS's with associated documentation for the developers to leverage things like improved signalling, etc.

2. A deeper workaround is to create alternatives. If signaling is such an issue, then maybe its time carriers use and expose the signalling channel to allow 3rd party developers to wake up their apps on demand instead of always on and pinging.

Compression is a whole other can of worms, but can also be addressed by exposing real-time network charachteristics as well as a dynamic version of peak and non-peak pricing that is based on real-time local network congestion.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
From The Founder
Either we perform a complete 'factory reset' on the way the telecom industry creates and deploys virtualization, or we face the consequences.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
The Urgency of Commercial 5G Services

4|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


The progress of 5G has been closely monitored in the industry. At the 2017 Brooklyn 5G Summit, the sense of urgency for a commercial 5G launch had started to surface among operators.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
How Diversity Helps Comcast Mirror Its Customer Base

4|26|17   |   2:55   |   (0) comments


Diversity brings innovation, creative ideas and a way to reflect the broad spectrum of your customer base, Comcast Director of Customer Experience Jenelle Champlin says.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mobile Operators & Video

4|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ovum's Ed Barton discusses the latest mobile operator strategies for mobile video.
LRTV Custom TV
Infinera Introduces Instant Network

4|20|17   |     |   (1) comment


Mike Capuano, vice president of marketing at Infinera, discusses the advancement from Instant Bandwidth to new Instant Network capabilities, which include Bandwidth License Pools, Moveable Licenses and Automated Capacity Engineering (ACE).
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Vodafone's Eubank on Sponsors, Mentors & Moving On Up

4|19|17   |   4:25   |   (0) comments


Vodafone America's Head of Operations Kimberly Eubank breaks down the difference between a sponsor and a mentor and shares why both made a big difference in her career.
LRTV Custom TV
NYC Auto Show: Are We Smart Yet?

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


The auto industry is facing some big transformations as electric vehicles, autonomous technology and connected cars are seen as the future of the industry. During the much-anticipated NY international auto show, there was an emergence of new technology and mobility service on the show floor. Aside from performance, brands like Lincoln, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes and ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Impact of Video

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Mercer from Strategy Analytics discusses the impact of video on current strategies.
LRTV Custom TV
Pardeep Kohli Discusses Network Transformation & the Market Opportunity for the 'New' Mavenir Systems

4|13|17   |     |   (0) comments


In a brief discussion at MWC 2017, Heavy Reading analyst Adi Kishore talks to Pardeep Kohli, CEO, Mavenir Systems about the creation of the 'new Mavenir' and some of the key challenges facing operators in today's market. A key theme of the discussion centers around operator need for software-only, virtualized solutions and how they will need to adapt to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Tech Maverick Shares Her Tips for Gender Inclusivity

4|12|17   |   7:28   |   (0) comments


Wendy Hall Bohling, a corporate escapee, author and gender exclusivity consultant, tells her story of sexism, bias and progress along the road to gender equality in the workforce.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at MWC 2017

4|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress 2017, the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year, Huawei showcased its new innovations and solutions with the theme "Open Road," which focuses on cloud, 5G, operation transformation, videos and consumer-oriented products. Its campaign has been recognized by three awards given by GSMA.
LRTV Custom TV
China Telecom NFV Infrastructure on RSD

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Lynn Comp, senior director of market development of Intel, is joined by Chong Zhang, storage engineer at Inspur and Ou Li Yan, architect for technology strategies of China Telecom, for a discussion of what NFV brings.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's IMPACT Software Demo

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Khamis Abulgubein of IoT market development at Nokia demonstrates IMPACT (intelligent management platform for all connected things), a software solution with a horizontal approach to managing any device on any application.
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Brazos Hall - Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Surprise! AT&T Markets 4G Advances as '5G Evolution'
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/25/2017
Did Verizon Outbid AT&T for Straight Path?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/25/2017
Netflix Set to Enter China
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2017
First Year TIPs the Scale Toward Success
Denise Culver, 4/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.