Facebook upgrade pushes up costs for mobile networks

15 February 2013
By Lorna Hughes
Mobile version
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Facebook signalling rose noticeably after the upgrade on 15 November

Facebook signalling rose noticeably after the upgrade on 15 November

An updated version of Facebook’s mobile app has caused a dramatic increase in demand for network capacity.

Lindsay Newell, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Marketing Networks & Platforms Group, described the impact in a blog on the company’s website.

Before the new versions for Android and iOS were released in November, Facebook signalling and airtime already accounted for 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the overall load on 2G/3G networks.

“As users around the world updated and started to use this new version, we quickly noticed a dramatic increase of almost 60 per cent in the signalling load and 25 per cent in the airtime consumed by the Facebook application,” wrote Newell.

“During the same period, the number of Facebook users increased by only 4 per cent.”

The application change had the effect of driving up total signalling traffic and airtime consumption by 5-10 per cent, which translates directly into a similar increase in requirement for radio capacity, which imposes a capital cost on operators.

Newell also warns that if signalling continues to increase at the same rate in future, many users will notice an impact on battery life.

And it is not just the software change that is putting a strain on the networks. 

Since the app was updated, there has also been a startling 350 per cent increase in Facebook video traffic as users take advantage of newly available features.

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