Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has added a feature in the latest iOS operating system update that will reduce the amount of signaling traffic that the iPhone 4 generates on operators' mobile data networks, according to lab tests conducted by Nokia Networks .

Tests at Nokia Siemens' Smart Lab in Espoo, Finland, show that Apple's iOS 4.2 supports a newly standardized version of a state transition feature called fast dormancy, which is part of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 8 set of specifications. This feature, also called network-controlled fast dormancy, basically sets parameters on how, and how often, a smartphone switches between idle and active modes while also preserving device battery life.

Apple's support of this feature is important because it could help operators to better manage signaling traffic loads, which have crippled some 3G networks. (See What if Capacity Isn't AT&T's iPhone Problem?, 02 Felt iPhone Crunch Too, iPhone Troubles Might Go Beyond Signaling, and AT&T: Don't Choke Us.)

As Light Reading Mobile reported recently, mobile operators have mandated that smartphone vendors support this new feature. Operators felt their networks were being overwhelmed by heavy signaling traffic, as many smartphones used a pre-standardized version of fast dormancy to save handset battery life by disconnecting data sessions frequently. Every time a smartphone sets up and breaks down a data session, it has to chat to the network, and that creates excess signaling traffic. (See Operators Fight Back on Smartphone Signaling.)

According to Nokia Siemens' mobile broadband marketing manager, Leslie Shannon, the new fast dormancy feature update will only apply to the iPhone 4. The tests in Nokia Siemens' lab showed that Apple's implementation is compatible with Nokia Siemens network equipment.

Nokia Siemens notes that Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has adopted a proprietary technology that imitates network-controlled fast dormancy. In addition, BlackBerry has said that it expects its handsets to support the standardized fast dormancy feature in the first quarter of next year.

"Having handsets support a standardized network-controlled fast dormancy mechanism will help operators manage the signaling load from smartphones and run more efficient networks," says Heavy Reading senior analyst Gabriel Brown. "Several network vendors have noted support for this feature in the iOS 4.2 release. It’s very positive how quickly the industry is working to optimize fast dormancy before it becomes a major problem."

For this feature to reduce excessive levels of smartphone signaling traffic on a broad scale, network equipment vendors will have to include it in their equipment as well and interoperate with the handset maker's implementations. (See NSN, Qualcomm Tackle Smartphone Performance.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

mnab 12/5/2012 | 5:01:02 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter


I’m really imprested by this amazing technology, i know that the fast dormancy is NSN invention and I m wondering if there exist a Nokia phone support this feature??

Also i have discover that the phone constructor have to create device able to use this release (NCFD Or R8) , did anyone have more information about (how the fast dormancy is implemented in the UE to be ready to use the fast dormancy already integrated in some network)?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:01:01 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

So, come on, spill the beans, what phones have the latest fast dormancy features from the labs installed?



mnab 12/5/2012 | 5:01:00 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

I have Google all day fast dormancy phones and the only mobiles i have find was the iphone 4 and Samsung galaxy S II.

I have read a rapport made by the research group about a NSN testing using Nokia N85 to prove the efficiency of the fast dormancy network,then i have a doubt that the N85 is supporting the fast dormancy but, it possible that it was a labs testing model, and in any commercial specification it mention that it’s supporting the fast dormancy, also in the nokia phone mobile website there is no issue about this. 

If you have more information about Nokia phone supporting this feature, please share it.

Thank you

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:17:12 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

Yes, that's how I understand it -- the new network-controlled fast dormancy allows handsets to use Cell_PCH when it's available then revert to fast dormancy when Cell_PCH is not available.


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:17:12 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

Fast dormancy works hand-in-hand with Cell PCH, right? It seems to, anyway -- and with NSN being such a champion of Cell PCH, it would make sense.


phil-tw 12/5/2012 | 4:17:06 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

From our lab testing: iOS4.2 with network controlled Fast Dormancy in operation generated 55% less signalling traffic when used in conjunction with cell_PCH on the network, compared with FD alone.

phil-tw 12/5/2012 | 4:17:06 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

Phil from Nokia Siemens Networks here. Yes, this 3GPP rel 8 Fast Dormancy does indeed allow full use of cell_PCH where it's enabled - with the associated benefits of signalling reduction and battery life improvement.  Network controlled fast dormancy drops the connection cleanly to IDLE if cell_PCH is not availalble. 

The other hidden benefit of the cell_PCH state is the re-connect time - 350msec (or better) from cell_PCH compared with 2 seconds from idle

lshannon 12/5/2012 | 4:17:06 PM
re: Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter

Hi, I'm from Nokia Siemens, too, and I'm quite proud of what our company is achieving in terms of reducing smartphone signaling for operators, so I feel compelled to point out that NSN networks are the only ones that offer the Cell_PCH feature in commercial networks.  We've got about 100 customers using it worldwide.  And it's Cell_PCH that brings down the signalling traffic and improves battery life, so these gains from Network Controlled Fast Dormancy only happen when the handset is on a Nokia Siemens-supplied network.  We are definitely leading the way on this one!

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