Monday, December 6, 2010

Nokia Siemens Networks reveals that Apple’s latest iPhone software supports network features to reduce smartphone signalling and traffic congestion

Tests by Nokia Siemens Networks have shown that the latest iPhone software supports Network Controlled Fast Dormancy. With this feature, the network and the handset work together to create the best conditions for smartphones to work quickly, yet have a long battery life and minimize network congestion. Network Controlled Fast Dormancy is also supported by Nokia Siemens Networks’ recent mobile broadband network software release (RU20). Tests indicate that the two releases are compatible.

Network Controlled Fast Dormancy goes a long way to help solve the network congestion challenge posed by smartphones. The problem lies in the huge amount of signalling that smartphones generate, up to eight times that of laptops using dongles. When smartphones are left unused for a short while, they go into an Idle state. It then takes about 30 signalling exchanges with the network to wake them up when the user wants to do something.

All this signalling takes time, up to two seconds, so to avoid frustrating delays for the user, some networks keep the smartphone in the Active mode to cut response time. But this drains the battery, so handset manufacturers developed Fast Dormancy software that returns the smartphone to the battery-saving Idle state very quickly.

The trouble is that many smartphone applications are set to connect to the network every few seconds, such as an email application checking for new messages. Signalling goes up as the smartphone frequently switches between states and this eats network capacity, sometimes blocking other phones from even making calls.

Nokia Siemens Networks solves this problem with a different approach. Instead of keeping handsets idle, it maintains them in another state called Cell_PCH. This uses no more battery power than Idle state and needs only between three and 12 signals to move to the Active state to send data. Fewer signals mean that delays for the user are cut to only half a second, network congestion is eliminated and smartphone batteries last longer.

Network Controlled Fast Dormancy helps handsets use either Cell_PCH or Fast Dormancy, depending on the network, to maximize battery lifetime and minimize signalling. Nokia implemented a similar feature in its smartphones in Q2 2010. Apple’s new software release heralds another major industry player working to reduce signalling traffic across networks, which is good news for operators. Nokia and Apple deliver half of all new smartphones in the world, all of which now contribute to an improved user experience and cost reduction for operators. Nokia Siemens Networks is the only vendor supporting Cell_PCH in live commercial networks.

Nokia Siemens Networks also manages its Radio Network Controllers (RNCs), which manage data connections and mobility, in a very efficient way, reducing the likelihood of network overload and poor end-user experience. To further enhance battery life, Nokia Siemens Networks also uses continuous packet connectivity (CPC) which shuts down the smartphone transmitter and receiver in idle phases to reduce its power consumption. In addition, the company’s technology enables end users to make concurrent voice and data calls even when using a GSM network. This avoids calls going straight to voicemail if the data connection is active. Such technologies are complemented by a wide range of other services and solutions that help to make the smartphone experience simply better for users and reduce costs for operators.

One Middle Eastern operator found that smartphones on a Nokia Siemens Networks-supplied network had a battery life of 11 hours compared to six hours on a competing network, while testing in North America found that Nokia Siemens Networks-supplied networks generate up to 50 percent less signalling.

The subject of networks optimized for smartphones will be one of the key areas addressed as part of Nokia Siemens Networks Smart Delivery theme in 2011.

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