With its latest iPhone iOs 4.2 software, it looks like Apple is joining efforts to cut smartphone signalling down to size. Tests by Nokia Siemens Networks have shown that iPhone iOs 4.2 supports a technology called Network Controlled Fast Dormancy, which we have already introduced into our networks. Basically, the technology makes 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.
Smartphones connect constantly to the network, often driven by applications. But this creates a huge amount of signalling as smartphones switch from an idle mode to an active state so that they can interact with the network, for example to get emails or pull in the latest tweets.
When it has gathered the information it needs, usually working in the background so you don’t even notice it’s happening, some smartphones then switch immediately into the idle state in order to conserve battery power. So when you next want some data from the network, the smartphone has to reconnect. This involves the network and phone exchanging many small signals.
All this disconnecting and reconnecting takes time and can cause a frustratingly slow network response. On the other hand, leaving the smartphone in an active mode all the time drains the battery very quickly.
To overcome the problem Nokia Siemens Networks introduced a method that, instead of putting the handset into idle or keeping it always active, keeps the handset in an intermediate state. From here, a smartphone can wake up much more quickly and needs to send far fewer signals to and from the network to start a data connection. You get a fast network response and a longer battery life.
The new Apple software release supports this way of working on networks that have the technology implemented. Nokia also implemented the technology in its smartphones earlier this year. So now the two handset makers that account for half of all new smartphones in the world contribute to an improved user experience and cost reduction for operators.
One Middle Eastern operator, for instance, found that smartphones on a Nokia Siemens Networks network had a battery life of 11 hours compared to six hours on a competing network. Meanwhile, testing in North America found that our smart networks generate up to 50 percent less smartphone signalling.
As more operators and handset OSs incorporate technologies that improve smartphone performance, our smart networks will play an increasingly important role in making your smartphone experience simply more enjoyable.
This post is by Leslie Shannon of our Network Systems’ Mobile Broadband team.