Recent information from NSN's Smart Labs shows the latest smartphones that now support so-called network controlled fast dormancy (NCFD), which is specified in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 's Release 8 set of standards and essentially sets parameters on how, and how often, a smartphone switches between idle or active states. This reduces the amount of messages needed to be pinged back and forth to the network while also prolonging battery life.
Signals sent to a cellphone network allow phone calls to be set up, maintained and completed over the radio connection. Signaling traffic has broadly increased as more and more applications make constant data "calls" on the network, increasing congestion on the network.
The Android models with this feature, according to NSN, include the following: Samsung Corp. 's Galaxy S Plus, Gio, Mini and Ace; several of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications 's Xperia series; LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) 's Optimus, Optimus One and Optimus 3D; and High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498)'s Sensation (PG58100).
Other smartphones that support NCFD include Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPhone 4, 4S and iPad 2; Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s Lumia 800 and 710; HTC's Titan; as well as BlackBerry 's BlackBerry Torch, Curve and Touch.
Typically, it will be only newer smartphone models that will have NCFD because the feature needs to be supported in the device chipset as well as implemented by the operating system software. Most devices used today do not have this functionality.
Why this matters
A signaling overload can bring down a mobile network, so it's fair to say this is a significant issue. Last month, NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) became the latest mobile operator to suffer a major service outage resulting from smartphone signaling. Any effort smartphone vendors make to hold back the signaling tide is important. (See Android Signaling Storm Rises in Japan .)
To illustrate the difference NCFD can make to mobile network congestion, NSN's Smart Labs recently tested how VoIP applications from Nimbuzz Group , Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Talk and Skype Ltd. behaved on the iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S (GT-i9000) -- which uses a proprietary version of fast dormancy -- and Nokia's N8. During a Skype call, for example, the Android device generated 153 3G signaling messages compared to 47 messages from the iPhone 4 and 35 messages from the N8. A graph of NSN's test results can be seen here.
Considering that most smartphones do not support NCFD, how operators cope with the signaling storm will be a key issue at this year's Mobile World Congress as well as for the rest of the year.
- Operators Fight Back on Smartphone Signaling
- Angry Birds Ruffle Signaling Feathers
- How O2 Stamped Out Signaling Noise
- Operators Urge Action Against Chatty Apps
- Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter
- NSN: Android & RIM Are Signaling Bad Boys
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile