Thursday, February 7, 2013

ALU: Signaling Issue with New Facebook

Lindsay Newell, VP, Marketing Networks & Platforms Group, Alcatel-Lucent, writes in a post to ALU's blog that "On November 15, Facebook released new versions of their mobile app for Android and iOS. Prior to the new release, Facebook signaling and airtime already accounted for 10% and 15% of the overall load on 2G/3G networks, respectively. As users around the world updated and started to use this new version, we quickly noticed a dramatic increase of almost 60% in the signaling load and 25% in the airtime consumed by the Facebook application. During the same period, the number of Facebook users increased by only 4%. Clearly, it is not the swelling of Facebook’s community that intensified the load, but rather the introduction of new Facebook features for mobile users and underlying platform changes .. The effect on service provider networks was significant, driving up overall (total) signaling traffic and airtime consumption by 5-10%".

"Another trend we detected was an increase in popularity of Facebook video traffic — a whopping 350% increase in volume since the November 15th launch — the most growth of all Facebook traffic".

See "New Facebook: not only draining your personal time, but mobile network capacity as well" - here.


  1. I must be missing something because I don't understand how a new version of an app can increase signalling. To my understanding the FB app will make use of various TCP connections, maybe even UDP, but these all get carried by the same PDP context.

    Unless the FB app is using a vastly higher volume of data then I don't really see how Diameter signalling would be affected?

    1. The signaling values on which the article was based were a measurement of the radio connection setups that are triggered by the Facebook app and not on Diameter signaling.
      The new features introduced by Facebook are causing users to request the allocation of radio channels more frequently than they did before the release. From the providers perspective this means that there is an increase in the signaling load for the network elements that manage radio resources AND an increase in the amount of time users spend on the air (holding a radio channel). This all translates into a reduction of traffic handling capacity that suddenly has to be devoted to Facebook users.

      - Josee Loudiadis, Network analytics, Alcatel-Lucent

  2. The "signaling" must refer to just general TCP/IP app chatter rather than Diameter or anything lower level. Presumably these new apps are just making more regular and larger requests.

  3. Amethon works with wireless carriers to identify defective mobile apps such as Facebook using its Mobile Analytics big data streaming analytics platform.

    The specific issue we found with Facebook in particular was regular, pulsed data spikes running in background at exactly 9 minute intervals which would be sufficient time for the device to drop back down to idle mode before having to establish a traffic channel again.

    As well as pulsed data spikes (which affects signalling), the software also identifies defective apps based on:
    1. Excessive data usage
    2. High transaction volumes
    3. Long session durations

    We have published a white paper on this topic which analyses a number of examples including Facebook. You can request a copy at


    Michael Stone
    Amethon Solutions