Operators Urge Action Against Chatty Apps

Mobile operators plan to step up efforts to cut down signaling traffic on their networks by working more closely with apps developers

Michelle Donegan, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

June 9, 2011

2 Min Read
Operators Urge Action Against Chatty Apps

LONDON -- Open Mobile Summit -- Representatives from some of Europe's largest operators called for action here on Wednesday to prevent mobile applications from overloading their networks with signaling traffic.

That action could take the form of better collaboration between the operators and application developers or even the launch of an operator-led initiative that would result in the publication of best practices or guidelines for app developers by an industry group such as the GSM Association (GSMA) .

Whatever action is taken, it is clear that operators want to crack down on those generators of signaling traffic -- that is, applications that are designed to ping the network very frequently for updates - and they want to deal with this now. (See Operators Fight Back on Smartphone Signaling and Apple Cuts iPhone Signalling Chatter.)

"Collective action is required," said Daniel Gurrola, VP strategy consumer at Orange (NYSE: FTE). "There is a need for issuing guidelines."

During a panel discussion here, South Korea's KT Corp. was mentioned as an example of how the mobile operators could respond to this signaling problem. KT recently suffered network outage where one third-party app took the voice-call success rate down to 10 percent because the signaling traffic generated by the app overloaded its network. The outage was apparently sufficiently bad for the South Korean government to take note and mandate that the three mobile operators -- KT, SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) and LG Telecom -- get together to issue guidelines on acceptable levels of signaling traffic to prevent such a network crisis from happening again.

At the very least, operators said they want to work more closely with application developers to help them make their apps more network friendly.

"Mobile operators and the apps developer community need to get closer together to test the apps … [we need] to have a better relationship between network operator, handset maker and apps developer," said Kim Larsen, senior VP of technology economics at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT).

"The ways apps are built could be smarter and more friendly to the network," said Tanya Field, director of mobile data at Telefónica Europe plc (O2) . "[We need to] go out to the developer community. This is something I don't think anyone is doing well at the moment.

"[Developers] should be very interested in working with us to understand how best to use the network," she added. "It's not just in our interest because we're the ones who are funding the whole network."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Michelle Donegan

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry on both sides of the Pond for the past twenty years.

Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom, Light Reading, Telecom Titans and more.

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