New rules aim to prevent IoT devices from taking down mobile networks

Carriers are scared that sloppily written apps and chatty devices will overload their networks with signaling traffic

The dream of an Internet of things could turn into a nightmare for mobile operators, if sloppily written apps or chatty smartmeters were to overload their networks with signaling traffic. To avert such a scenario, a number of operators are backing a new set of network usage guidelines for device manufacturers and app developers.

Mobile operators don't want to be caught off guard when IoT (Internet of things) traffic takes off on a larger scale, as many of them were when smartphones became mass-market items. So the likes of AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Telefónica and Telenor Connexion are all backing the "IoT Device Connection Efficiency Guidelines," published on Monday by the GSM Association (GSMA).

The main goal of the first version of the guidelines is to ensure applications, devices and the cellular modules they are based on can communicate efficiently with networks. The modules are small computers with connectivity and GPS, for example.

"We want to make sure those devices don't become aggressive and overload the network with signalling traffic. Because if you have too many devices behaving too aggressively on the network you effectively end up with a distributed denial-of-service attack," said Stephen Bryant , CTO at Telenor Conexion, which has helped develop the guidelines.

Signalling traffic is information that helps the network communicate with devices to set up and end calls or data sessions. If there is more signalling traffic than the network can handle, users won't be able to make calls or connect to the Internet. The bandwidth reserved for signalling traffic is typically much narrower than that reserved for data. Embedded devices sending many short messages can create far greater volumes of signalling traffic than they do chargeable data, prompting the operators' concerns.

The underlying problem is that manufacturers and developers might not have the know-how needed for building products and apps for this sector, according to Daniel Collins, CTO of Jasper Technologies, which fully supports the guidelines in its cloud-based software platform.

"The guidelines aim to help developers bring their applications and devices to market faster and do so in a way that optimizes their behavior in a mobile network environment," Collins said.

Developers are recommended to build apps that aggregate data in as big a chunk as possible before compressing and sending it over the network. Developers should also use an "always-on" connectivity mechanism instead of activating and deactivating network connections. Following these rules decreases the dreaded signaling traffic.

For the module manufacturers that are experts in this field, there is now more clarity on what they need to do.

Some of them have already implemented the parts of the guidelines that concern them: "We have some modules that support this, but not all of them," said Olivier Beaujard, vice president of market development at Sierra Wireless.

At what pace and to what extent Sierra Wireless will implement the guidelines across its whole portfolio depends on how many of its customers ask for it, according to Beaujard. He would like to see the guidelines expanded to include management specifications, as well.

The guidelines were developed under the leadership of the GSMA, and are only the first step in protecting the networks.

"It's all very nice to have the guidelines, but we need some basic tests to show compliance with them. Those test requirements will be developed by the same team over the next three four months," said Shane Rooney, executive director at GSMA.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags internetchina mobileSierra Wirelessat&tdeutsche telekomorangeChina UnicomNTT DoCoMoEtisalatChina TelecomInternet of Thingsjasper wirelessKTTelefónicaTelenor Group

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?