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Nokia Siemens Networks makes your iPhone battery last longer

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Got an iPhone? Is it running on iOS 4.2?

Good.

Next question: Does your mobile operator run on Nokia Siemens Network equipment?

No? Oh.

Well, let’s just assume you said yes, right?

Well that’s very, very good news.

You see Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) equipment supports many of the mobile operator’s network infrastructure. And — generally speaking — all NSN equipment is programmed to make your handset — especially your smartphone — fly.

Here’s the rather summarised science bit. (Apologies to the uber-geeks reading)

Today’s smartphones are forever having to connect to the mobile network all the time. Whether it’s to check email, update a widget or retrieve a web page. It’s an arse, frankly. There’s a lot of work that has to go into setting up a data connection between your handset and the network. The handshaking that occurs is known as ‘signalling’. If you press ‘send and receive’ on your handset, you’ll often notice a slight delay before anything happens. That’s because the handset has to establish a connection with the network. Then it does the data transmission. Then whilst you’re busy reading your email, the handset and the network has to decide what to do next. Typically speaking, the connection will remain idle for a few seconds then effectively disconnect. So when you hit send/receive *again*, the device and the network has to go through this whole process again. It’s very time consuming and it begins to seriously impact your handset’s battery performance. Unless, that is, you’ve got a hugely efficient set of network and device protocols working away in the background to reduce the crazy amount of start-stop-start-stop signalling having to take place on the network.

Phew. Mouthful.

What you really want from your network is ‘Network Controlled Fast Dormancy’ — essentially the network and the device work in harmony to avoid having to disconnect/reconnect your handset from the data network.

iOS 4.2 introduces support for this ‘fast dormancy’ protocol (so reports Leslie over at NSN).

Leslie explains the issue rather more eloquently here:

 

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.

 

Right on.

Just what kind of a difference can Network Controlled Fast Dormancy have on your smartphone?

Over to Leslie again:

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.

Absolutely shocking.

So if you’ve got an iPhone, strongly consider upgrading to 4.2 of the OS. And then find out if your network has upgraded to support Network Controlled Fast Dormancy. I’m doing some digging to find out the status of the UK networks.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to supply more information on Network Controlled Fast Dormancy (given that, from a super-geek perspective, it’s possible I’ve absolutely murdered the issue), please get in touch.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

14 replies on “Nokia Siemens Networks makes your iPhone battery last longer”

NSN is the largest equipment supplier to UK 3G networks. 3, Orange, T-Mobile, O2 are all running mainly NSN gear. Network-controlled fast dormancy is a software upgrade. I believe most NSN networks in the UK have either started or completed the upgrade. Vodafone uses Ericsson gear mainly.

This all getting standardized unusually quickly, so soon all new devices and networks will support it. Article here on that: http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=197976

This makes a big difference to the user experience. I find that waiting-to-connect moment frustrating.

Signalling is an area where the operators and vendors have been putting a lot of effort into working with developers to make sure apps don’t generate unnecessary signalling traffic. This also helps users because the battery lasts longer. Most developers aren’t interested/aware, but obviously Apple is. It’s a good thing.

Nice work, Ewan! Leslie from Nokia Siemens here. You definitely got the overview right. But for the geeks out there, let me add a few details.

What Network Controlled Fast Dormancy does is allow the phone to use a feature called Cell_PCH when it’s available in the network. It’s actually Cell_PCH that reduces the signalling and improves the battery life, and our networks from Nokia Siemens are the only networks on the market that have this feature. (We’ve been doing this for years — nearly 100 operators worldwide have it in their networks right now.) But a lot of handsets today have a battery-saving feature called Fast Dormancy that overrides Cell_PCH, and can cause lots and lots of signalling.

Network Controlled Fast Dormancy adds some smarts to the process, so that the phone uses Cell_PCH where it’s available (eg in Nokia Siemens Networks networks), and reverts to its older battery saving (but signal-generating) Fast Dormancy behaviour when Cell_PCH isn’t available. This lets operators turn on Cell_PCH without having to worry that all of the smartphones in its market will just override it with the old version of Fast Dormancy. And just for the record, Nokia introduced a similar kind of behaviour in their smartphones earlier this year.

But best of all, Network Controlled Fast Dormancy is part of the 3GPP standard (old Fast Dormancy isn’t), so before long we should see everyone in the industry supporting this better performance. And then we all win!

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Leslie from Nokia Siemens Networks again — if you want to know if your phone company has a Cell_PCH-enabled network that will let them use the battery-saving Apple feature described above, the slideset here tells you how to do it: http://slidesha.re/ffowkg. You’ll need a Nokia Series 60 phone and access to the Ovi Store to download the Energy Profiler app.

Please do find out what Big Red uses. [cos i’m a mobly tech nerd] I think it may be NSN [Nokia Siemens Net] I know O2 uses NSN for half their networks in north of the uk. or the south? ericsson has the rest!

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