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Can Apps Really Damage a Cellular Network? 309

schnell writes "In FCC filings earlier this year, T-Mobile described how the behavior of one Android IM app nearly brought their cellular data network to a breakdown in one city. Even more interesting, the US carrier describes how just the 300,000 unlocked iPhones on their network caused massive spikes in data usage. T-Mobile is using these anecdotes as evidence that mobile carriers should be able to retain control over the applications and devices on their network to ensure quality of service for all users. Do they have a point?"
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Can Apps Really Damage a Cellular Network?

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  • No. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Timmmm ( 636430 )

    Clearly the most they can do is continually use up as much bandwidth as possible. If the networks aren't prepared for that, then that's their own fault.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dov_0 ( 1438253 )
      Seriously don't know why you guys put up with so much crap from your telcos. We never hear anything like this in Australia? If we want to use unlocked phones, we use them. If we want to use certain apps we use them. What's that got to do with the carrier as long as we stick within the limits of our data allowance?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 )

        What's that got to do with the carrier as long as we stick within the limits of our data allowance?

        Exactly. If they can't deliver a certain level of service, then don't advertise it. I'm not on T-Mobile, but my data plan is clearly marked "unlimited". To me that means, oddly enough, that there aren't any limits on my data usage. If there was a limit, it wouldn't be unlimited. Likewise, if someone has a 1GB plan, then they should really be allowed to transmit that 1GB however they please. If that's not the case, then it needs to be clearly spelled out in the agreement.

      • Japan envy. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by reiisi ( 1211052 )

        Both on the part of the people and of the companies.

        Seriously, people in Japan just work around the government's attempts at restrictions. That's why they don't really understand the fundamental issues of freedom, such as self-determination. It looks to your novce manager like the ideal place to manage, until you try to get people to do something new or unusual. (Propaganda does work, but it also takes a while.)

      • What's that got to do with the carrier as long as we stick within the limits of our data allowance?

        Here those type reports are stunts put on to provide political cover for whatever consumer anal-raping legislation the teleco lobbyists happen to be pushing at that particular moment.

        The same kind of stampede the herd straw man spectacle RIAA put on to get copyright legislation through.

      • History (Score:5, Interesting)

        by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Saturday October 16, 2010 @03:36AM (#33915924) Journal

        When I was a kid not only were there no cellular phones - you weren't even allowed to own your own wired phone in the US. You had to lease it from AT&T [wikipedia.org] for a monthly fee because Alexander Graham Bell founded that company (sort of - read the prior link for the historic details), and he invented the telephone (this much is not in doubt). It's only recently that we're allowed in the US to bring our own phones to the wireless network, and they've pretty much handled that by making sure that each phone generally works with only one wireless network. We're pretty accustomed to being molested by our communications providers. Only a few years ago it was common to charge more than a dollar a minute to talk to your neighbor across the street if the street was one of the imaginary lines that separated Regional Bell Operating Companies. It was cheaper to call across the country, or even a foreign country, than to organize a meeting of the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA). Back then I bought Karma by subscribing to a cheap long-distance company and performing the contemporary version of bittorrent by serving as a "filebone hub [rxn.com]" on an antique mail and data network called "FidoNet [wikipedia.org]". It was like the Internet except in batch mode and we had parties called Get Togethers (GTs). Back then I was fiending for Internet because I had had it in the military, but couldn't get it because it wasn't available to the general public - only businesses, schools, folks who could afford CompuServ and so on. Get Togethers were a lot of fun because we got drunk, and sometimes naked, in person rather than over video chat. CUCME (see you, see me - an early video chat program) wasn't invented yet - it was the late '80's, or very early '90s. We still stayed anonymous in person mostly - everybody had a "handle" - which nym is taken from a completely irrelevant radio network (Citizen's Band) which will occur later. But I digress.

        Anyway, there was this Georgia peanut farmer, whose name was Thomas Carter (not the former US President Jimmy Carter, as some (formerly including me) believe), who wanted to make phone calls from his tractor in the field. He was electronics savvy, so he rigged up a Citizen's Band radio that would allow him to dial the phone and talk on it, and this was the Carterfone [wikipedia.org] and he sold copies of it, as any right-minded entrepeneur would. And of course AT&T shut him down because they didn't own this thing and so could prevent him from using it on their network. He sued, and it was many years later that his lawsuit resulted in the breakup of the US phone monopoly. That led to AT&T becoming at first just the vestigal long-distance portion of the former phone company, and later just a brand.

        Non-Sequitur: The breakup also led to Unix - which was invented by Bell Labs (a division of AT&T at one point which invented not only Unix and C, but a great many other useful things), being divided into parts. The Unix name was sold to The Open Group, which certifies Unix to this day. The Unix source code and OS was sold first to Novell, which sold it to a quite respectable Linux .com called the Santa Cruz Operation, which burned through their .com millions and sold it off to a spinoff of Novell called the Canopy Group. Actually, they sold it to a spinoff of the spinoff. This story goes on for a long time, and is slowly grinding to an end documented here [groklaw.net]. Unix was the coolest thing that AT&T ever did, and I wanted to work that in even though the code is now owned by a gang of bastards who are determined to ruin every last bit of its utility. But I digress again. Forgive me, it's late.

        AT&T's motto was: "We don't have to care. We're the PHONE COMPANY." The company that owns the AT&T brand now has nothing to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If the bandwidth isn't unlimitted, they should stop selling these "unlimitted" plans.

      This equates to me boasting that I could win a hot dog eating contest and then requesting that the contest be limitted to one hot dog.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:31PM (#33913760) Journal

      Clearly the most they can do is continually use up as much bandwidth as possible.

      You sir, are wrong.
      And it's obvious you didn't RTFA.
      TFA isn't just talking about bandwidth, it's talking about connections.
      Poorly coded apps that refresh too often will kill a cell tower.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by protactin ( 206817 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:32PM (#33913766) Homepage

      That's not true.
      UMTS signalling traffic is actually a big worry too.

      Setting up and tearing down radio resource connections all the time has a burden on the network. Mobile applications, with their diverse update patterns (e.g. polling every 30 minutes (email apps), or minute or even few seconds (e.g. IM apps)), can make it difficult for carriers to set up their RRC inactivity timers and various other settings in a way that minimises signalling load on the network.

      • If it could handle all devices staying connected they could simply set the inactivity timer to a couple of minutes and suffer no ill effect.

      • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @08:18PM (#33914454)

        > Setting up and tearing down radio resource connections all the time has a burden on the network.

        Most of the aggressive instant teardowns are due to the criminally-inadequate batteries shipped with the iPhone and every gigahertz+ Android phone that will leave you "powerless" in 4-6 hours without aggressive battery management. If carriers like T-Mobile want to reduce the teardown rate, they could start by telling companies like HTC and Samsung to ship the damn phones with adequately-sized batteries in the first place. It really says something when you go to web forums for high-end HTC, Samsung, and Motorola Android phones, and more or less HALF the postings are directly or indirectly related to battery life. Aftermarket extended batteries are a piss poor option, because the form factor of the phone usually ends of constraining them into an obnoxious tumor-like lump instead of an extra millimeter of overall girth.

        Five years ago, the Samsung SPH-I500 was almost regarded as "fatally flawed" because its battery *barely* could make it through 16-20 hours without a charge. Then Steve Jobs told the world it was normal and OK for phones to die after being away from a charger for 4 hours because it made the phone look thin and sexy, and the entire industry abandoned its common sense and blindly followed with undersized batteries. Fuck, it pisses me off. Imagine how much fun someone like Motorola could have if they'd released the DroidX with a beefy -- yet sculpted and well-distributed -- 3000+mAH battery that enabled it to run full-bore for 24 hours on a single charge with no real power management to speak of. They could have *shredded* the Evo/DesireHD and Galaxy S for dying by mid-afternoon, comparing them to anorexic models competing in the Ironman and dropping dead halfway through, and HTC & Samsung wouldn't have any real recourse besides sending everyone a free battery as an apology, and making sure their NEXT generation of phones had nice, beefy batteries too.

        Hell, they could even resurrect Sir Mix-a-Lot's career for the commercials.

        "When it comes to battlife, SteveJobs got nothin' to do with my selection. Four hours -- maybe six -- not all day? Not MY phone!" (sound of cracking whip amidst dancing troupe of big-backed 'Droids)

        • Seriously, what he hell are you talking about?

          If your battery went dead, your handset would not perform a detach. The network would assume you are still connect but went into a building or something and would save your slot. For a set amount of time. I dont feel like looking into the core spec to see what that is, but we do test for that sort of thing when the phone goes through PTCRB or GCF certification.
          In fact, EVERY SINGLE phone sold in the US has gone though PTCRB certification. There are literally tho

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:33PM (#33913772)

      Actually, yes, it is possible.

      You simply flood the network with control messages. That will effectively DoS the tower. What kind of control messages? Well, sending an SMS is a control message. Setting up and tearing down data and voice connections are other control messages, and all are done on behalf of apps.

      Supposedly, one of the major reasons AT&T is having issues with the iPhone is because the iPhone actually does this, a lot. Control channel bandwidth is limited and normally, you don't have much going across it (because it's just call setup/teardown and the like). But with the meteoric rise of SMS and data usage, the control channel actually is in somewhat of a bandwidth crunch.

      Europe and Asia have no problems with iPhones as they've gone to a dynamic bandwidth control channels because of the popularity of SMS. North America until recently didn't need to. So now control channels are somewhat packed with text messages, and you introduce the iPhone with its aggressive power management that tears down data connections ASAP. So a data channel might be established and torn down to view one web page or whenever an app requests data. Most phones prior to this created a data channel and hung onto it until it idled for a long period of time (after all, you're billed by the packet, so keeping the data channel open costs nothing, and it means it's always ready when you need it so you don't have to wait to establish the data channel again and again).

      I can see a few apps that constantly abuse this which can easily take down a network. Setting up/taking down a voice call, setting up/taking down the data connection, do it fast enough and you can really clog up the tower. Enough people do this and the tower can be put out of service because it's stuck establishing and taking down connections so fast that no one else can get in.

      Raw bandwidth wise though, you're not likely to do anything other than slow down due to congestion if the tower's uplink gets saturated.

      In fact, that's what the IM client did - it established and tore down connections very quickly. A phone with aggressive power management (required on Android) would basically be spewing out control messages all day. This can be made more painful if the carrier makes notes in a database for billing purposes.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @07:12PM (#33914042)

        The app can't close down the connection ... it's the TCP/IP stack's decision whether or not to immediately tear down the data connection when the last socket is closed, it's a slightly retarded decision to make BTW.

        • Re:No. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @10:25PM (#33915002)

          It's not TCP/IP that tears down the connection. That is a physical layer function, regardless of if the call came from the application layer. TCP/IP does not have influence over the physical layer.

      • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

        by flabbergast ( 620919 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @07:21PM (#33914086)
        Yep, you hit it right on the head: FTFA
        "T-Mobile network services was temporarily degraded recently when an independent application developer released an Android-based instant messaging application that was designed to refresh its network connection with substantial frequency,..."
        Lots of comments chiming in on overselling bandwidth, but as you've noted, this has nothing to do with bandwidth. Its an infrastructure problem, and one that is slightly out of their control. They noted with this one app alone, network utilization increased 1200% per device. Its a signaling issue they didn't anticipate.
        • Lots of comments chiming in on overselling bandwidth, but as you've noted, this has nothing to do with bandwidth. Its an infrastructure problem, and one that is slightly out of their control. They noted with this one app alone, network utilization increased 1200% per device. Its a signaling issue they didn't anticipate.

          In other words, wait 15 minutes for everyone's battery to die and the situation will correct itself. Then you just need to worry about people with car chargers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Europe and Asia have no problems with iPhones as they've gone to a dynamic bandwidth control channels because of the popularity of SMS. North America until recently didn't need to.

        So why don't they just do the same thing that Europe and Asia did that works for them, and be done with it?

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Funny)

      by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:46PM (#33913854) Journal

      Actually, it wasn't necessarily bandwidth that was the problem. FTFA:

      T-Mobile network service was temporarily degraded recently when an independent application developer released an Android-based instant messaging application that was designed to refresh its network connection with substantial frequency.

      In other words, this app was continually connecting and disconnecting. It didn't really have anything to do with bandwidth.

      What's funny to me, though, is the solution:

      These signaling problems [...] ended up forcing T-Mobile's UMTS radio vendors to re-evaluate the architecture of their Radio Network Controllers to address this never-before-seen signaling issue. Ultimately, this was solved in the short term by reaching out to the developer directly to work out a means of better coding the application.

      So T-Mobile's UMTS radio vendors learned something. The developer learned something. And T-Mobile's network, ideally, won't suffer from this problem again.

      Sounds like a win-win to me. I don't see the problem.

      • Until the fix the underlying issue, which is bandwidth for the control functions. (The post just above in my browser mentions something about dynamic control channels.)

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by npsimons ( 32752 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @07:19PM (#33914078) Homepage Journal

        Sounds like a win-win to me. I don't see the problem.

        Maybe this time. I'm actually very surprised T-Mobile didn't just have their legal department send him a cease and desist or outright sue him, or even possibly get him charged with some ridiculous law. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it turned out for the better, but how often do you think that happens?

  • SURE.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:03PM (#33913490)

    Old Ma'Bell used the same argument decades ago when they were trying to force people to continue buying telephones directly from them because the phones were made specifically for THEIR network. It's all a load of crap. They just want control because control = profit.

    • by reiisi ( 1211052 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:52PM (#33913900) Homepage

      The reason people want money is because they think money will give them power.

      The reason they want power is that they don't have control over themselves.

      No amount of money will bring you real power, just facades and illusions of power.

      No amount of power, whether illusion or real, will bring you control.

      No amount of control over other things, even if such a thing could possibly be anything other than an illusion, will bring you control over yourself. (Generally gets in the way, in fact.)

      That's why rich people and powerful people never seem to be able to get enough.

      That's why this story repeats itself every few years. No, much more often than that. Same story, different players, maybe a different market, etc. Details change, but it's always looking for whatever you want to call it in all the wrong places.

  • by Assmasher ( 456699 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:04PM (#33913504) Journal

    data plans is biting you in the a** when it comes time to deliver, perhaps you should stop selling people unlimited or huge data plans... Arguing that not being able to control exactly how people use their data plan when you've advertised and sold them on the idea that they can do just about whatever they want seems sort of silly.

    I'm not arguing that these phones/devices don't have the potential to cause huge problems, obviously they do, but you can't have your cake and eat it too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      The trouble is the smartphone, netbooks, what have you are not very useful at all without massive data plans. Without that they are just PDAs and those were never very popular with consumers. The issue here is the carriers need to upgrade the networks.

      I don't what you can do with a smart phone if you are not able to use more than Gb or so transfer a month. You will use that up in just e-mail, web, downloading apps, and maybe some music these days. Lord help you if you want to use video or web radio. Mo

      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        I have a PDA and a netbook, both of them without wireless networking. (The PDA doesn't have a card and the netbook doesn't have working drivers for the wifi adapter). They aren't nearly as comparable as you claim. The netbook is less portable but more convenient to use for anything serious. The soft keyboard on the PDA is fine for typing small amounts of English (as in a few sentences), but drives me nuts when I want to type lots or anything in Spanish: the netbook is ideal for catching up on my backlog of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nushio ( 951488 )

        Uhm, hell no.

        In Mexico, we're stuck with overpriced, capped data plans. I went a whole year using less than 100mb a month. You just need to change your habits.
        Youtube? Only use it on Wifi. duh.
        Downloading/Upgrading apps and music? Same.

        IM and Email? Sure, use it. Using moderate browsing, email and IM, I spend about 3MB per day of 3G data. Everywhere I go, there's an Access Point I can hop into, be it Starbucks, McDonalds, the school or at work (Even piggybacking from a wired laptop using NetworkManager's ne

      • Poor 3G, it was dead even before it was born.

  • by snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:05PM (#33913512) Journal

    Why then is T-Mobile having no problems in Germany, where they have exclusivity with the iPhone, but yet, apparently they're having problems here, with just a small number of iPhones?

    Sounds hokey to me...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Simple: over there they're probably actually having to, yknow, compete. Over here they just bitch to the government about how its just so HAAAAAAAARD and get regulations passed to let them get off with doing less work.

    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:34PM (#33913778)

      Why then is T-Mobile having no problems in Germany, where they have exclusivity with the iPhone, but yet, apparently they're having problems here, with just a small number of iPhones?

      Because it's a small country, the infrastructure isn't as expensive to maintain, and they installed modern tech instead of trying to work with old busted tech. Also, as anyone who plays Civ knows, they're very industrious.

  • Is that their networks are very poorly designed. As its costs a lot of capitol to build a network, and these companies are more worried about wall-street then their customers. Their networks are built on the cheap, and are way oversubscribed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by choongiri ( 840652 )

      its costs a lot of capitol to build a network

      You're right in more ways than one.

      It costs a lot of (financial) capital to build a network, but a lot of capitol (hill lobbying) to maintain your garbage monopoly by whining that the consequences of your lack of investment is the users' fault. Which is exactly what the telcos are now trying to do.

  • by Just Brew It! ( 636086 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:07PM (#33913534)

    ...they'd be viewing it as an opportunity for additional revenue. Set up multi-tiered data plans and charge the bandwidth hogs accordingly.

    On the other hand, it seems fairly likely the issue is that their network can't handle the bandwidth they've already sold. In which case they just need to upgrade their network and quit whining.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ssssh! Stop giving them bad ideas!

    • by kuwan ( 443684 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:49PM (#33913892) Homepage

      Set up multi-tiered data plans and charge the bandwidth hogs accordingly.

      Kind of like what AT&T just did for the iPhone and iPad?

      • Well, it's technically multi-tiered, although two tiers which are very close in price but vastly different in what you get doesn't fit the spirit of the term "multi-tiered". And they certainly don't "charge bandwidth hogs accordingly", considering that if they did that, they would be charging you for bandwidth at the same rate that you get it on your plan (instead of the crazy jacked-up rates that they actually charge).
  • Why would anyone use T-Mobile anyway? Verizon and Alltel are the only carriers worth considering. T-Mobile wants a network like Cleveland wants a football team.
    • Allwho?

      Seriously, I've never been disappointed with T-Mobile in the South Central US. From the carrier rankings it seems they are good in the West also, and not so good on the East Coast.

      Given that iPhones are limited to Edge on T-Mo's network, and that in general they are very friendly to unsupported phones (they helped me get an AT&T Blackberry working on their network), I'm surprised and disappointed they are acting like crybabies over this.
  • Do they have a point?


    They have a shitty infrastructure.

  • About as much sense as me controlling how they spend my subscription fee, to ensure that all providers don't try to mess with their users.
  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:15PM (#33913620)

    Is that the only thing the first post should say is 'No'

    I was thinking exactly what you said, as a Network Admin in yesteryear I can't imagine anyone who says 'the users broke my network by using it!'

    Our network simple handle 'bad users' on its own. To much traffic was simply handled by throttling the user to a safe level when needed.

    Seriously, how can you not have complete control over a network when its this size? I'd have to resign if I was in charge of their network and had to say 'some random user broke it, sorry boss'

    You NEVER trust any part of your network to 'play' nice, even if its under your complete control ... you can make mistakes too. You just assume the end users aren't going to play nice, and go from there, most do bad things without even knowing they are bad so you just plan for it like you would in any other business process.

    • by medv4380 ( 1604309 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:35PM (#33913790)

      Our network simple handle 'bad users' on its own. To much traffic was simply handled by throttling the user to a safe level when needed.

      This is what they are arguing for. They want to have the ability to throttle you in one form or another. They are basally making their case against net neutrality and against cell phones they don't have application control over. Though since they already allow android I don't see how they can stop me from writing my own app software now, but that's besides the point. You argued against them saying they should do what they are arguing that they want to be able to continue to do.

    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:47PM (#33913872) Homepage Journal
      As a person who used the networks of yore, I can remember many times when the users broke the network. That is why, for instance, outlook has added so many layers of optional protection' like the blocking of attachments and the like.

      I am not sure why everyone, all of the sudden, is forgetting 10 years of DDOS and worm and virus attacks that used to regularly take down networks. We are protected from this not, partly because of more sophisticated software and users, but also because higher bandwidths and lower ping times make such attacks less trivial.

      But ping time and bandwidth and the sophistication of younger users, and older users with no corporate control, make such an attack more probable on a phone network. Ping times on my cell network at about 5-10X as long wifi. Such times might lead to opportunities for rouge apps to degrade the user experience. Combine with lower bandwidth it might be conceivable that we will see some of the same attacks as we did at the turn of the century.

      I am not saying that networks should be closed like Apple, but that until we learn how to use the tools, such disruptions will occasionally occur either accidentally or deliberately. it will be for us to decide if we want to deal with the dropped calls, as we did with the occasionally site becoming unreachable.

    • by phyrexianshaw.ca ( 1265320 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @07:39PM (#33914206) Homepage
      This has nothing to do with bandwidth

      remember, the issue they were complaining about was protocol, not bandwidth.
      the problem they're having would be the same as allowing somebody to attach an FPGA with an ethernet jack to your CAT-6500. as much as you want to limit the port to only allow certain communication: there's nothing stopping the node from abusing the protocol.

      the major difference here is that: the GSM stack assumes you trust your Mobile Stations (MS) because when it was written: telco's had full control over them. TCP/IP has no such restrictions (though I'm sure if you look at the standard long enough you'll find that you can send a physical signal to them in a particular way they will respond in a fashion you don't expect.) the analogy here would be that a GSM BTS acts much like a hub (almost exactly) and when one user keeps storming it with packets, nobody else get's a chance to talk.

      personally: I don't see this as either a telco OR a user issue: it's a protocol issue. we need to take another look at the wireless communication protocol, and find another way of allowing untrusted users their fair access to the medium. (in this case, a pretty narrow band of wireless spectrum). telco's need to push standard-makers/suppliers for something they can sell these days: not some old outdated protocol that allows things like this to happen.

      unfortunately: Air IS like a hub: only one person can talk on it at a time. so it'll be a hard fix.
  • by xiando ( 770382 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:21PM (#33913674) Homepage Journal
    So the carriers in the US must have total control or their network is going to explode, eh? How is it that you can buy whatever device you want and connect it to whatever network you want here in Europe, eh? Why haven't the mobile networks in the EU exploded yet, then, eh?
    • Can you say "Agency Capture"? That and PR which is also on full display here are the American political diseases.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Why haven't the mobile networks in the EU exploded yet, then, eh?

      Clearly it is due to European socialism. Real capitalism explodes!

    • So the carriers in the US must have total control or their network is going to explode, eh? How is it that you can buy whatever device you want and connect it to whatever network you want here in Europe, eh? Why haven't the mobile networks in the EU exploded yet, then, eh?

      Hold on, are you sure your not Canadian, eh?

    • So the carriers in the US must have total control or their network is going to explode, eh? How is it that you can buy whatever device you want and connect it to whatever network you want here in Europe, eh? Why haven't the mobile networks in the EU exploded yet, then, eh?

      Because all the devices you have follow the protocol that all the carriers agree on.

      if you had a rack of ~100 cell phones, that were all able to broadcast rotating IMEI's and SIM ID's of known users, you could single handedly collapse the entire infrastructure for minutes to hours at a time. and based on how the protocol works, it would wreck havoc on the providers. but being a good bunch of people, you don't! so it all just works.

      here in north america: you may only have one tower in reach of you a

  • do not constitute a reason for me to submit to having which applications I can and can't run decided by a third party.

    Bandwidth should be managed on a user-by-user basis, not an application-by-application basis. If you have an application that sucks up all your bandwidth, then you shouldn't have anymore bandwidth to use. Carriers should advertise burst and long-term bandwidth rates and if you go above the long-term rate you should be subject to having your bandwidth capped at that rate.

    No telling you which application you are allowed to run and which you aren't. No throttling based on port. If you're a customer, you are promised X bandwidth and no more. The carrier is allowed to deliver in excess of that if they so choose, but they aren't allowed to decide you use it for.

    And the carrier should not be allowed to decide on a per-application basis whether or not you get to exceed the bandwidth cap. It must be based on a global, application agnostic bandwidth usage policy that chooses which customers get the extra bandwidth (if any) based on some algorithm that has nothing to do with what their traffic contains.

  • Better idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:24PM (#33913704)
    Why not just give people freedom, and lock out the offending devices if a problem occurs?
    • Because then they'd have to build a more robust system with fault tolerance capabilities. That costs money. If they could get away with extracting the same exorbitant fees they'd have us all back on Motorola DynaTAC 8000Xs.
    • how do you propose they lock out those devices?

      it's illegal to prevent a handset from sending a 911 call. flat out: illegal.

      so when you root 10 handsets and have them try to sms/establish 21 - 911 calls a minute, what do you do? you legally can't stop them, but they've now consumed your entire T1 backhaul? what's the call?
  • T-Mobile just introduced a data cap of 5GB per month. If they're offering 5GB, who cares how they use it? The network will give them the bandwidth available, and once they hit the cap they're done. You can't have your cake and eat it to, Tmo.

    Wait, wait. Let me take a guess. T-Mobile gets a cut of the apps sold out of their own branded app store. Amirite?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      they have no issue with you using your 5GB of transfer a month. what they have issue with is that they can't include the extra ~0.3GB in control protocol overhead in your bill.

      also: when you try to issue 1GB in control messages a month, and only use 1GB in bandwidth with that 1GB in control. you can't charge for bits that needed to get transfered due to their network errors, or for the ICMP keep-alives the towers send to the phones. they're complaining that they can't charge for the control: because newe
  • If I were a terrorist, I would be thrilled with the network provider putting all this effort into controlling individual applications and devices, rather than just making the network tolerant of abuse. Then, when all the sheeple are using crippled apps and devices, I can do massive damage to the network itself!
    • If I were a terrorist, I wouldn't futz around with phones, I'd just gat an office park and leave a bunch of bombs scattered around that are triggered by emergency and police frequencies. Because terrorists don't make your call drop, they kill people,
  • Protocols (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:49PM (#33913886)

    T-mobile should have a right to establish radio standards and congestion control protocols and require that any device on the network obeys these standards. They have no right to control end user applications as long as the operating system/radio firmware enforces these standards uniformly. In practical terms it means that apps with sustained high data rate or strict latency requirements may not work, or may stop working when network becomes congested. It's fine as long as "partner apps' also exhibit the same behavior.

    • This. The thing about Net Neutrality isn't that you *can't* regulate or packet shape your network. You just have to do it fairly. You can throw out all packets if you felt like it. Just can't inspect them to give any one source or destination an advantage.

      If you want to say that a phone can only receive 20 control packets per hour and after that the tower won't respond then so be it. Just can't write a AT&T app then that does the same thing. Send them a text message "An app on your phone has exc

  • by cob666 ( 656740 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @07:11PM (#33914024) Homepage
    I actually did just read the article and contrary to what many people are posting about, this isn't about data usage and utilization, it's about connectivity utilization and overhead. It seems that similar to opening and closing a database connection there is some overhead in establishing a data connection on a cell phone which is seems is again similar to what happens when you send and SMS. It seems that smart phone development is similar to desktop development in that the application is rarely responsible for creating it's own network connection and instead relies on the OS to handle the network connection. If the phone OS is designed to create and destroy a new data connection for each request then how is that the applications problem. Also, how does a jailbroken iPhone handle data connections differently than a non jailbroken iPhone, the claims made in TFA are just absurd.

    I recall reading somewhere that some European carriers use a different methodology that doesn't create such a bottleneck when these connections are opened and closed. So it seems that once again, the US cell carriers are trying to blame the users of their network for causing problems that would (could, and should) be fixed by upgrading the infrastructure. Cell providers make way too much money to complain about not being able to upgrade their networks.
  • If I can just surf on my slightly future smartphone to an html 5 website and watch videos all day long,
    I am using a fair chunk of bandwidth I suppose. But I am just "using the web browser" from an app perspective.

    i.e. I really don't see what control of particular apps has to do with control of bandwith usage etc.

  • by Brymouse ( 563050 )

    The issue with all Cellular networks (and any half duplex shared media) is that the time it takes to send 256 bytes over the air is not 1/4 the time it takes to send 64 bytes, it's more like .6 to .8 times. The signaling setup and tear down takes time to transmit packets over the air, which is fixed no matter the amount of bytes you send.

    This impacts the network as the real bandwidth of a cellular network is not in BPS but airtime. If all the airtime is used up for signaling small packets for marginal sig

  • http://www.t-mobile.com/ [t-mobile.com]
    "T-Mobile G2
    Introducing 4G speeds on
    T-Mobile's new network"

    So we know unlocked iPhones are limited to running at Edge speed on the T-Mobile network cannot work in the faster 3G mode. But what does the word "iPhone" have to do with this anyway?

    Aren't the people using "any" phone on the T-Mobile network, presumably, paying monthly to use that network?

    By the same token, isn't it an advantage for T-Mobile that people are using unlocked iPhones at "only" Edge speeds? If
  • I'm kind of surprised they have opened up the networks as much as they have. When you look at these things, the terms "Bailing Wire" and "Bubble Gum" come quickly to mind. The only thing that keeps them from exploding and killing everyone in the area is the fact that they are very rigorously tested for a very specific and limited set of inputs.

    Most of the technology has roots in the long-gone past and it evolves slower (and costs more) than you can imagine.

    Honestly, most large systems are like this. As t

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @07:39PM (#33914208) Homepage

    Yes. The point they have is that they need to harden their networks. There will always be cracked phones so they should not rely on control of the phones to protect them.

    AT&T (the real one, not the present imposter) once used essentially the same argument against permitting "foreign" equipment to be plugged into their newtwork. Didn't work.

  • When I worked for Palm, a certain app that shipped on every Treo was written with a default schedule to hit the network every hour, starting at 8:00 am.

    It wasn't a question of bandwidth, it was that some tens of thousands of devices, all synced to the same network time, opened data connections at the same time, overloading the server that was responsible for initiating data connections.

    Should they have been using more than one server for that? Sure. Is it a valid reason for preventing certain apps from runn

  • Of course not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Raul Acevedo ( 15878 ) <raul.cantara@com> on Friday October 15, 2010 @10:06PM (#33914926) Homepage

    If you say it's ok for mobile carriers to restrict apps on cell phones, then you implicitly say it's ok for Comcast to dictate what you can have on your PC.

    This is another reason why iOS and Apple's ridiculous idea that they can tell you what you can do with your property is a horrible precedent: it's my device, not yours.

  • by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @11:58PM (#33915352)
    All this proves is that the cellular networks have oversold their capacity, and have to resort to crippling their phones to keep the whole house of cards from collapsing.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham