We met many people at MWC who had experience of the problem of chatty applications. Either they had encountered the problem directly in their network, or else anticipated doing so in the near future, based on smartphone growth in their market.
The effects of chatty applications can be catastrophic. While it’s an unintended consequence of many applications, it’s a clear and present danger to network performance. It seems hard to believe that a few simple applications can wreak so much havoc, but none-the-less, it’s a fact.
Of course, it’s easy to argue that application developers should pay attention to the unique requirements of the mobile network, but that’s not a realistic ambition. Typically, mobile application developers assume ‘always-on’ connections to the network.
However, there is a conflict in that mobile devices are normally optimised to move to an idle state when traffic is not being generated in order to preserve battery life and reduce signalling load in the RAN. With many mobile applications, however, there is a need to continuously connect to the network to obtain new data, which overrides the idle state. This can have a significant impact on battery life and create excessive network signalling.
Of course, the proliferation of desirable applications is one of the joys of the smartphone revolution. Users love choice and new applications can emerge, seemingly from nowhere, capture the global imagination and soar in popularity. Simply eliminating all traffic generated by such applications undermines user choice and would create considerable dissatisfaction.
What’s needed is a sensible approach. Network operators have a role to play in this – they can deploy solutions that gracefully manage chatty applications, maintain user satisfaction and promote user choice. They can ensure that the problems inadvertently caused by some applications are completely avoided and that they avert the catastrophes that have occurred in some networks.
This can be achieved by deploying the GoS 360° solution for chatty applications, which manages the transmission of network updates from background applications under the control of policies established by the operator. By co-ordinating the needs of the application, the user experience, and the demands of the network, a happy medium can be achieved. With such an approach, users benefit from a seamless experience, while operators can prevent the huge expenses and damaging publicity associated with network outages.
What’s more, there can be positive unintended consequences – tests have demonstrated that managing the signalling from chatty applications can have a significant impact on battery life, extending life expectancy by 50% – giving users something more to make them happy.