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  • How iOS 4.2.1 Reduces Network Congestion

    Apple is addressing iPhone network utilization issues by implementing a new feature in iOS 4.2.1 that reduces traffic generated by idle apps, according to tests run by smartphone behemoth Nokia. This feature could lead to much improved performance on AT&T's heavily-utilized network, and will also help to extend battery life.

    In a blog post today, Nokia Siemens Networks announced the result of tests at the company's Smart Lab in Espoo, Finland that indicate that iOS 4.2 supports Network Controlled Fast Dormancy (NCFD), which is part of the 3G Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 8 set of specifications. This feature, which Nokia has introduced on its own system, enables the network and smartphone to dynamically determine how frequently the phone switches between idle and active states. This will cut down on signaling traffic loads, which some observers have claimed was the root of the problems AT&T has faced as more and more iPhones came onto their network.

    Previous versions of iOS have used a cruder version of network dormancy to improve battery life - essentially telling the radio to just drop the data connection as soon as any requested data is received. When the iPhone needs more data, it has to set up a new data connection. This reduces demand on the battery but taxes the signaling channels used to set up connections between a device and a cellular base station. Base stations use those signaling channels to set up the data connection, as well as signaling phone calls, SMS messages, voicemails, and other network traffic. So this would explain how areas with a lot of iPhones often experience network slowdowns: it's not just that iPhone users consume more data (though we do) but also that these signaling channels become overloaded.

    The standardized form of NCFD requires support from the carrier to be built into the cellular base stations. AT&T has not specifically announced whether their network supports NCFD, but they have said that they are revamping their infrastructure, in part to deal with increased demand from iPhones and iPads. And in fact, a Wall Street Journal story from earlier this year detailed how Apple "rejiggered" its software to work better with AT&T's network.

    Source: Engadget
    This article was originally published in forum thread: How iOS 4.2.1 Reduces Network Congestion started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. mardinn's Avatar
      mardinn -
      Of course I'll update it. Just waiting for the jailbreak, then I'll update it.
    1. Cowboy's Avatar
      Cowboy -
      +1 but this good information to have
    1. c0dy's Avatar
      c0dy -
      hah 90% of that went over my head, but I'm glad we're taking steps to make AT&T faster (since they rarely do).
    1. saunupe1911's Avatar
      saunupe1911 -
      I wonder how 4.2.1 impacts battery life?
    1. mvhurlburt's Avatar
      mvhurlburt -
      Why is Nokia testing iOS 4.2.1? I know they're a member of 3GPP and have contributed to NCFD and are using with their own devices network stacks but why test another manufactures software? Just seems a little odd to me I guess! We should all be praying that AT&T is using NCFD-enabled cell base stations... I just moved(only about 3 miles away from where I was) and I used to get anywhere from 3-4Mbps down/ 1-2Mbps up and now I'm LUCKY to get 1Mbps down, normally I get half of that or less at this point even with 3 bars of reception. I've never ever had a problem with AT&T's network in Connecticut, or else where for that matter, but I frequently tether my connection and I must say that the results have been less than disappointing... So I guess all I can do is pray that AT&T will implement or has implemented NCFD and that an untethered JB will soon be available for the iPhone 4!
    1. Jay316's Avatar
      Jay316 -
      I really have no interest in any Apple news unless it concerns the iPhone 4 unlock lol
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      If the networks faster than hell yea
    1. athleticswimmer's Avatar
      athleticswimmer -
      if it makes it faster then yea, go right ahead and do it...as long as its jailbreakable(what am i saying its always jailbreakable)
    1. mortopher's Avatar
      mortopher -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay316 View Post
      I really have no interest in any Apple news unless it concerns the iPhone 4 unlock lol
    1. gcaufi's Avatar
      gcaufi -
      Just returned IPhone 4 with 4.21 Att network can not handle this new software. 8 dropped calls in 2 days after loading the new software. Downloaders beware Apple store found phone with 4.1 loaded on it. They said they had 145 complaints about dropped calls in 2 days
    1. coolguy742's Avatar
      coolguy742 -
      coolio, but holding out for an untethered JB
    1. jibaro3's Avatar
      jibaro3 -
      Battery life and network signal still bad so i dont now how this people test there equipment.
    1. VIRUSCELL's Avatar
      Well i have ios 4.2.1 and it really helps gain better battery life it is like 40% more time to play on the iphone
    1. raduga's Avatar
      raduga -
      Quote Originally Posted by mortopher View Post

      I suppose its really futile of me to hope that this network stack update would be any help for WiFi users.

      As near as I can tell, when the WiFi radio is idle long enough, it powers down and refuses any incoming data.
      Might be that it stops listening for data as soon as its received (as with the old 3G behavior),
      but what I've seen is that- for at least a few seconds after packets get sent via WiFi its actively listening for replies, and sometime after that dies.

      Its not a problem (or much of one) for people using their iP* as a network client,
      but when trying to connect to a locally hosted service (like sshd, or VNC, or anything else) it gets annoying, really quick.

      I'm not sure if there's a metastate between "active" and "sleep" for the WiFi radio, where it can conserve power but still see incoming packets. :/
    1. VIRUSCELL's Avatar
      " well i have to say no issues with wifi either so far
    1. clikzip's Avatar
      clikzip -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jay316 View Post
      I really have no interest in any Apple news unless it concerns the iPhone 4 unlock lol
      then dont read it