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Can Apps Really Damage a Cellular Network?

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the there's-an-app-for-everything-nowadays dept.

Cellphones 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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what? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913462)

how are there unlocked iPhones in the US T-Mobile network?

Re:what? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913518)

I'm guessing they're not able to use T-Mobile's 3G network but EDGE should work fine.

Re:what? (2, Informative)

rogabean (741411) | about 4 years ago | (#33913574)

Yes. I'm one of those 300,000. Edge only. While that is a lot of phones, I'm having a hard time believing they impact the network anywhere close to all of the 3G phones they have.

Re:what? (0, Redundant)

odies (1869886) | about 4 years ago | (#33913622)

What? Edge is 3G.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913728)

no edge is 2.5g

Re:what? (4, Informative)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about 4 years ago | (#33913768)

While EDGE is counted under the 3G banner, it's really not 3G at all.

EDGE is upgraded 2.5G (GSM/GPRS), speeds are not even close to basic HSPA.

There's a theoretical max of 473.6kbps for EDGE, 14mbps with HSPA. So the "traffic spikes" claimed by T-Mobile are laughable. If you're network can't handle 1/28th of it's capacity then there's something seriously wrong with it.

Re:what? (4, Interesting)

PhotoJim (813785) | about 4 years ago | (#33913922)

Basic 3G is UMTS, 384kbps. EDGE can attain those speeds but typically, 200kbps is extremely good bandwidth and 100kbps is very good. 50kbps is not atypical. I've never gotten faster than 150kbps on EDGE.

On the other hand, I find that it is not at all difficult to get a full 384kps out of a UMTS device.

EDGE and GPRS seem much more affected by voice and messaging traffic than UMTS and HSPA are.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913686)

Yes, EDGE has always worked fine...

But doesn't the iPhone 4 support AWS frequencies anyway? I was pretty sure I heard some fans squealing about it when it came out...

Re:what? (1)

rogabean (741411) | about 4 years ago | (#33913732)

iPhone 4 is missing the 1700 frequency for the uplink, so it's a no go for T-Mobile 3G as well.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913964)

Ah, ok then. Good to know, even if it's only one more reason I won't buy it.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913578)

Well I'm guessing they are unlocked iphones with a t-mobile sim-card.

Complicated......

No. (2, Insightful)

Timmmm (636430) | about 4 years ago | (#33913484)

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:No. (2, Informative)

dov_0 (1438253) | about 4 years ago | (#33913580)

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:No. (2, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 4 years ago | (#33913682)

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.

Re:No. (1)

enec (1922548) | about 4 years ago | (#33913882)

True. I've always wondered how the telcos in the US can advertise an "unlimited" data plan, with a "1 GB monthly limit" written in a small font in some obscure place. Same goes for ISP's.

Where I come from, unlimited means unlimited. I frequently use up to 800 GB a month on my fios at home, and anywhere between 20 MB and 20 GB a month on my mobile. I've never heard a single word of protest from my telco or my ISP. Unlimited and unmetered is what I pay for, and that's exactly what I get.

Japan envy. (2, Interesting)

reiisi (1211052) | about 4 years ago | (#33913962)

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.)

Re:No. (0)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33914008)

Easy, all the carriers are pretty much equally sucktastic, and there's a lot of people that are morally opposed to regulations. I'm not sure how this could end any other way.

Re:No. (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 4 years ago | (#33914100)

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.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33913582)

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. (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 years ago | (#33913760)

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. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913958)

TFA isn't just talking about bandwidth, it's talking about connections.
Poorly coded apps that refresh too often will kill a cell tower.

Regardless, the point is that cell providers were never meant to be Internet providers.

Re:No. (5, Informative)

protactin (206817) | about 4 years ago | (#33913766)

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.

Re:No. (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about 4 years ago | (#33913996)

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. (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 years ago | (#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. (3, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about 4 years ago | (#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. (5, Informative)

flabbergast (620919) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:No. (5, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 4 years ago | (#33913854)

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.

But they will see the problem again. (1)

reiisi (1211052) | about 4 years ago | (#33914006)

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. (3, Insightful)

npsimons (32752) | about 4 years ago | (#33914078)

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?

No (1)

cloakedpegasus (1761746) | about 4 years ago | (#33913488)

I bet service providers would love to go back to the pre smartphone days where things were a lot less data intensive while charging smartphone era prices. Assholes.

Re:No (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33913930)

Assholes.

So T-Mobile is saying that they need to be able to have complete control over which apps can be run on devices on their network.They are asking us to accept their absolute control over what we do with our wireless devices.

Let me ask you all this: Has T-Mobile (or any of the other carriers for that matter) earned the benefit of the doubt to the point that we, as consumers, should trust them with this absolute control? They are claiming that unlocked phones or Droid apps are going to "damage their network". Given their history, is there any reason we should believe them?

I've noticed that it's possible to hook all sorts of devices to the Internet, which somehow keeps working. We haven't had to resort to "AT&T-approved operating systems, or browsers, or computers" in order to "protect" the Internet (which I'm sure the broadband providers look at as "their network").

It seems that we need a level of regulation and reform regarding the Internet and wireless networks that goes beyond simple "Net Neutrality". Maybe we should put the burden of proof on the providers to show why connection to the Internet should not be a regulated public utility.

I think stories like this make it pretty clear what the Internet is going to look like if Net Neutrality laws are not enacted.

SURE.... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#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.

No, they want control because control = control (3, Insightful)

reiisi (1211052) | about 4 years ago | (#33913900)

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.

First! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913500)

Awwww. Second.

Re:First! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913552)

not even that

Sure. They own the network. (1)

jerky42 (264624) | about 4 years ago | (#33913502)

And everyone can just move to another vendor that wants their money enough to be less of a d-bag about it.

Re:Sure. They own the network. (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 4 years ago | (#33913662)

Except telecommunications networks collude on their d-baggery. It almost amounts to price fixing, at least in Australia. All the major telcos have data limits on their wireless and fixed services, and they all seem to have similar amounts at similar price points (except Telstra who provide little value and grow fat off their formerly government sponsored monopoly).

If a service cannot keep up with demand, then it is a failing of the company, not the fault of the users. They've oversold their network. More than trying to control what people can do, they should be regionally limiting subscriptions. Contracts help telcos plan for someone being otheir network for two years, and they should be able to plan their network growth and management accordingly.

Re:Sure. They own the network. (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33913776)

Well not exactly. Technically, they lease the network from "we the people." You know the stuff they pay the FCC for? Yeah... that comes from us... sorta. It's like all public utilities though. They pay the government to have a protected "right of way" to install and operate their equipment. And as always PART of their agreement is not to abuse the public they are serving.

Re:Sure. They own the network. (2, Interesting)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 4 years ago | (#33913828)

As much as I'd love for that to be true it really isn't. There are several factors involved as to why this doesn't work:
  • No one wants a carrier that has limited coverage
    • infrastructure is expensive
    • purchasing spectrum is cost prohibitive to start ups
    • no one will rent their infrastructure to a carrier that is a threat to their business
  • People don't know any better
  • Vendor lock in by contracts
  • etc.

If you find that selling people unlimited or huge (5, Insightful)

Assmasher (456699) | about 4 years ago | (#33913504)

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.

If you find header-posting makes posts hard to (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913590)

read, then maybe you shouldn't be an a**hole when making posts and make us break our reading cadence just so we can figure out what you're trying to say.

Re:If you find that selling people unlimited or hu (2, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about 4 years ago | (#33913626)

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. Most applications need to be able to do webservice calls and such.

Really you need to use lots of bytes to have anything like the experience they advertise. Even if they can control device useage to an extent well beyond what most consumers would regard as fair, I can't imagine it will help them. The only control that will is to price it out of reach of all but the least price sensitive customers again, and that is putting a genie back in a bottle; not an easy task.

Re:If you find that selling people unlimited or hu (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 4 years ago | (#33913710)

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 translation work while waiting for a tram, or for driving an overhead projector; I even manage to do a bit of programming on it, although the screen size isn't really adequate for an IDE.

Re:If you find that selling people unlimited or hu (2, Insightful)

Nushio (951488) | about 4 years ago | (#33913834)

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 network sharing thingie).

I recently switched to a 500mb plan and use ~300mb per month.

Re:If you find that selling people unlimited or hu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913906)

What the carriers should do is give away free wifi routers that then allows any registered cellular device owner who has an account to connect for the purposes of offloading cellular traffic from the cellular networks to DSL, Cable, and other land-line based networks. Most cell phones already support 802.11 and just lack the auto-switching connectivity where users hop onto the non-cellular network to offload traffic.

If firmware was updated and properly secured you could set it up to auto switch to any 802.11 router that was open and controlled by the cellular phone companies. This could offload the work from cellular carriers networks in many more places. Additional devices could even plug right into traditional cat-5 network ports at work and other places. That can then connect to a VPNs which at&t, verizon, t-mobile, and others operate.

The key difference here is you could hop on at friends, neighbours, and restaurants because unlike today the routers of tomorrow would allow cellular devices to offload traffic to those land-line networks that were otherwise encrypted and not otherwise accessible without security implications for anybody. The only downside is the telcos would dislike the fact you are sharing bandwidth and acting as an ISP and well- you are sharing some of your bandwidth with others so your connection may be slightly slower at times.

Re:If you find that selling people unlimited or hu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33914090)

"The only downside is the telcos would dislike the fact you are sharing bandwidth and acting as an ISP and well- you are sharing some of your bandwidth with others so your connection may be slightly slower at times."
Well, there's also the downside that many providers have bandwidth caps, limits, etc. and will eventually charge you extra or cancel your service. Unlimited service is not that much more plausible for landlines than it is for wireless, and while the caps are an order of magnitude higher, they're still there...

And also, more 2.4GHz 802.11 signals is the last thing any urban area needs -- it's already a congestion splatterfest -- and virtually no mobiles support 5GHz (802.11a/n) where the bandwidth is plentiful.

Re:If you find that selling people unlimited or hu (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913744)

The cake is a lie.

Yes, they have a point.... (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 4 years ago | (#33913510)

They have a point ....right on the top of their head.

T-Mobile has exclusivity of iPhone in Germany (2, Interesting)

snowgirl (978879) | about 4 years ago | (#33913512)

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:T-Mobile has exclusivity of iPhone in Germany (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913602)

Had! They had iPhone exclusivity. O2 and Vodafone will soon sell them, too. (German article [heise.de] ).

Re:T-Mobile has exclusivity of iPhone in Germany (2, Informative)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 4 years ago | (#33913644)

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.

Re:T-Mobile has exclusivity of iPhone in Germany (3, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:T-Mobile has exclusivity of iPhone in Germany (1, Insightful)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | about 4 years ago | (#33914068)

Exactly.

it's surprising how few people know that a four sector tower only covers about 250 moderately heavy users (think 3G speeds) in a ~50KM bubble. the 100 bubbles you have to cover an entire country (or in many cases many countries) hardly cover the province I live in. (on top of that they don't deploy at ~50km spacing here, our incumbent Telco here maintains a poor sixty three towers: to cover the 650,000KM^2 province. and trust me, they don't have fiber run out to 80% of them, meaning the towers get a single T1 for total bandwidth backhaul's.

where one telco covers Europe with "decent coverage/speed" for $250,000, one in north america covers one major city for the same budget. there are 160 Cities in Canada alone: that's a lot of dough.

Re:T-Mobile has exclusivity of iPhone in Germany (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33914162)

"Because it's a small country" Why wasn't parent modded as funny?
Germany is a small country? I can maybe understand the argument when it is given against cellular network of Finland (It has half the population density of USA and yet infinitely better cellular network despite all the area with practically no people to cover) but against germany? It has 80 million people for christ sake. How detached from reality you have to be to claim that Germany is small? USA has crappy coverage in places with extremely high population density (such as state of new york) and somehow that's due to shitloads of empty space in midwest. Atleast try to get over your stocholm syndrome already. You are being raped by your providers so much it is not even funny.

Sincerely Yours,
Drunk Finn

P.S. In soviet russia, cellular network damages apps.

Re:T-Mobile has exclusivity of iPhone in Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33914002)

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...

Most European countries use UMTS (aka 3GSM). USA use some home brewed standard (don't ask me what it is, I'm European, I know it all started in the 1970's when USA didn't want to use the NMT standard because it wasn't MADE IN USA (thats why they didn't get decent mobile phones until the 80's), later they used their own very different version of GSM and now -- eh, who cares, nowadays I just try to ignore US technology frantics, what matters is that their mobile phone system have always been total crap compared to those used in the rest of the world and feature-wise they are always 10 years behind (because they have to develop their own standards that do exactly the same thing)). The mobile networks also use different radio frequencies in different countries, even if the countries use the same protocol, different frequencies mean different weaknesses and strengths.

All it proves.... (1)

headhot (137860) | about 4 years ago | (#33913516)

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:All it proves.... (1, Interesting)

choongiri (840652) | about 4 years ago | (#33913688)

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.

If they had any sense... (3, Insightful)

Just Brew It! (636086) | about 4 years ago | (#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:If they had any sense... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913562)

Ssssh! Stop giving them bad ideas!

Re:If they had any sense... (3, Insightful)

kuwan (443684) | about 4 years ago | (#33913892)

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?

Re:If they had any sense... (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 4 years ago | (#33913932)

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).

T-Mobile's network is too small (2, Funny)

geercom (1921694) | about 4 years ago | (#33913596)

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.

Re:T-Mobile's network is too small (1)

colinnwn (677715) | about 4 years ago | (#33913658)

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.

Re:T-Mobile's network is too small (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#33913680)

Depends on where you are.

Carriers have better coverage in some areas than in others.

It used to be, in my area, Alltel was the only provider that didn't suck, and only on analog. Then they converted everything to digital and of course they had the good digital coverage, then Verizon bought them out and now Verizon has the good towers. AT&T works okay and T-Mobile is less than impressive.

Go 20 miles west of here, and you'll notice your phone is using t-mobile towers cause both Verizon and AT&T blow goats in that area.

Another 100 miles after that, on the coast AT&T is the only thing that works in the larger cities, but Verizon is the only thing you can connect to in the rural areas.

You can fanboy all you want, but what you say may only be true in your area of operation, but on any given day for me, all three major providers are both awesome with fast speeds and completely unavailable.

The problem with walled gardens (1)

kawabago (551139) | about 4 years ago | (#33913600)

The problem with walled gardens is that the best plants always end up outside it. If service providers don't want applications and or devices on their network then they should not be allowed to advertise their service as internet service. They could use more accurate descriptive terms like cripplenet service. I suppose that should be shortened to cripnet.

Re:The problem with walled gardens (1)

moortak (1273582) | about 4 years ago | (#33914052)

and they could make all of the phones blue as a warning.

Do they have a point? (2, Insightful)

SCPRedMage (838040) | about 4 years ago | (#33913606)

Do they have a point?

No.

They have a shitty infrastructure.

yes in 2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913610)

I haven't been at that level since 2001 but at that time the answer was yes for at least a couple of carriers. Their networks could be taken down from the phone.

I hope they've fixed things but wouldn't bet on it.

Sure it makes sense (1)

immakiku (777365) | about 4 years ago | (#33913618)

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.

My only thought when reading the summary ... (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:My only thought when reading the summary ... (3, Insightful)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:My only thought when reading the summary ... (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 4 years ago | (#33913872)

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.

Not getting T-Mobile (1)

alangerow (610060) | about 4 years ago | (#33913670)

T-Mobile just let me know not go to them for service, because their infrastructure is so weak and insecure that they fear IM apps. I want a phone service provider that knows how to build, manage, and run a reliable data network. T-Mobile does not appear to be that provider.

What is so different in the EU, then? (4, Insightful)

xiando (770382) | about 4 years ago | (#33913674)

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?

Re:What is so different in the EU, then? (1)

vajrabum (688509) | about 4 years ago | (#33913764)

Can you say "Agency Capture"? That and PR which is also on full display here are the American political diseases.

Re:What is so different in the EU, then? (2, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 years ago | (#33913800)

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

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

Re:What is so different in the EU, then? (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | about 4 years ago | (#33913868)

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?

Poor infrastructure and management on your part... (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 4 years ago | (#33913698)

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 (2, Interesting)

mark72005 (1233572) | about 4 years ago | (#33913704)

Why not just give people freedom, and lock out the offending devices if a problem occurs?

Re:Better idea (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 4 years ago | (#33913866)

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.

Economic Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913706)

Apparently it's cheaper to hire engineers to tune your network and its clients than it is to hire technicians to build it.

They do have a point. (0)

reiisi (1211052) | about 4 years ago | (#33913754)

Just not the point they think they have.

ulterior motives (1)

nilbog (732352) | about 4 years ago | (#33913770)

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?

That's bullsh*t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913796)

As a developer for one of the few cellular stack development teams in the world, this is bs. Let's list 2 possible scenarios for an unlock iphone to crash the protocol/radio stack
 
1. someone modified the protocol stack on their unlocked iphone (lol wtf, it's not exactly Java code you know)
2. Send too much data (well that's the stack's problem. A reliable protocol (not only cellular) stack should be able to handle all patterns of data. Yes speed is not guarantee, but having an user app send so much data that the vendor has to 're-evaluate the architecture of their Radio Network Controllers'? WTF happened to flow control? You might just as well say that they ran out of capacity.

As a terrorist, I would love it! (1)

ccady (569355) | about 4 years ago | (#33913802)

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!

Re:As a terrorist, I would love it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33913850)

The FBI will be visiting you soon and putting tracking devices on your friend's car.

If you're muslim that is. If you're white then clear sailing!

Re:As a terrorist, I would love it! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 4 years ago | (#33913902)

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,

Re:As a terrorist, I would love it! (1)

moortak (1273582) | about 4 years ago | (#33914094)

Messing with communications while committing your attack can make it far more effective.

Protocols (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Protocols (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 4 years ago | (#33914062)

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 exceeded its terms of use on the T-Mobile network. Please uninstall the application. You will be able to access your data plan in 59 minutes."

Not Data Usage but Connection Overhead (4, Informative)

cob666 (656740) | about 4 years ago | (#33914024)

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.

Unlimited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33914054)

dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/unlimited

HTML 5 Webapps (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 4 years ago | (#33914058)

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.

No way this would fly anywhere else (1)

Muerte2 (121747) | about 4 years ago | (#33914092)

I work for an ISP and if we tried to institute any limits as to what you can connect to our network our customers would go crazy. This would be like your ISP saying, "You pay $80 a month for unlimited DSL service, but don't connect your PS3. PS3 uses a lot of bandwidth and brings down the network for everyone else." Sure we'd love it if all our users did nothing but text email all day and didn't use any bandwidth, but that's not real world. If T-Mobile has a problem with some app sending too much bandwidth, or too many packets they need to add some intelligent filtering to prevent that. Or add some logic to selectively disconnect phones that are inadvertently causing a DOS, instead of an outright ban.

Occasionally we'll have a rogue user who'll get a malware infection and send out a TON of packets and cause havoc. We just shut down that port until we can contact that customer and have them clean things up. We certainly don't (and wouldn't want to) limit what we allow customers to connect to the ethernet jack on the other end of our pipe.

Not Anecdotes (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#33914096)

Objective facts being used to make an argument, not an extrapolation from personal experience.

Bandwidth != airtime (2, Insightful)

Brymouse (563050) | about 4 years ago | (#33914116)

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 signal customers, even the customers that have strong signals and want to send a http request will have to wait. Stateless protocols cause the worst problems as once a flow is established the PDSN/HA/etc does not have to do anymore work. With a app that generates a new flow for each data transfer of 10 bytes to say "hey im still online", the signaling bandwidth is used up and the network quickly falls to it's knees.

This massive use of third party apps and data is still quite new to the providers. This scares them, as you can't just turn on netflow, setup nfsen and see what's going on. Lucent is about the only company out there with a ntop like solution for the providers, but it's new and still being deployed.

I know the IP people are asking how they don't know what's on their network, but it's not just IP traffic you need to monitor, as all the carriers do so. monitoring the IP traffic only gives you the 10000 foot level view, to actually say how the loading on the radio layer relates to the applications in use is a very new requirement. While you can pull hundreds of data point for voice traffic from each radio and switch, at best you can find an error rate and total transfer for the busy hour on the data counters.

It's the providers problem for selling a data plan based on bytes transferred , rather than airtime used.

Stop the BORG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33914122)

I have a rooted EVO and it is extremely easy to limit data usage by application. Simply install Droidwall and pick and choose what applications get Internet access. I can then block any unwanted 3G data any app tries to use and only allow it to connect via my wireless router, or just block the software completely if it is not something I feel that needs network access.

3G Androids are magic? (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | about 4 years ago | (#33914154)

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 those 300,000 users switched right now to using 3G (read "4G speeds") regular T-Mobile phones, wouldn't that cause more strain on the network and not the other way around?

It seems to me T-Mobile is getting the win with this situation. People pay and then also lock themselves into slow speed too! Just so they have an iPhone in their hand. If I was T-Mobile I would think they would encourage this.

Yes, very possible (1)

bill_kress (99356) | about 4 years ago | (#33914170)

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 they open them up for traffic they are having to re-engineer huge parts of their networks to handle untrusted data/signals.

Think of what Kevin Mitnick could do with a few sounds over a normal telephone line. These guys do NOT think about security or reliability until they are forced to--but then I do have to admit that they integrate what they learned, redesign and rebuild. They are good at remembering stuff and once they have failed they generally won't fail that way again. "Evolution" has served them pretty well so far, but it's going to be hard to defeat when people start getting more inroads into their equipment.

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