Use of the default APN on LTE networks

Lucy Holden Senior Marketing Executive

Lucy is passionate about how IoT is used for the greater good to change the world and save lives.

Do you use Eseye’s AnyNet connectivity management solution? After January 2023, the AnyNet service will change the default APNs used on LTE networks. This will affect all customers with devices that use LTE networks or who plan to upgrade from 2G or 3G in the future.

What’s happening

To ensure that we can provide optimum connectivity for all devices and protect against future changes in network operations, we are changing the AnyNet service with respect to LTE default APNs.

All devices using the AnyNet connectivity management solution should explicitly specify an APN when registering with an LTE network.

After January 2023, devices that don’t specify an APN will be connected to a default APN that does not permit data routing and so will be unable to transmit or receive data.

Background

An Access Point Name (APN) is the name of a gateway between a cellular network and another computer network, such as the public internet. Like a home broadband router, it acts as a gatekeeper between individual end devices and the internet.

The role of an APN in IoT is to allocate IP addresses to devices and route data between devices and endpoints, such as backend systems and websites. We provide a number of private APNs as part of the AnyNet solution to meet the needs of different IoT deployments.

LTE default APN

Devices registering with a network can specify the APN to connect to. On LTE networks, if a device doesn’t specify an APN, the carrier connects them to a default APN. We provide each carrier interconnect with the details of the APN to use as the default for devices connecting with AnyNet.

We recommend that devices are configured to connect to a specified APN. Sometimes, however, modems automatically register with a network before the firmware has provided the APN configuration setting. In these cases, the carrier connects the devices to the default APN.

The issue with default APNs

Default APNs on LTE networks are intended to be used for management purposes only and not for data routing. Network operators who have LTE-only networks have already implemented this restriction: devices connecting to the default APN with these networks are unable to transmit or receive data.

Current workaround

If we know that devices might connect to the default APN, we can configure our systems to avoid localizing these devices to any networks that impose data routing restrictions on default APNs. However, this creates additional complexity and reduced flexibility when optimising connectivity for these devices.

Service degradation risk

As LTE-only networks become more prevalent, devices that don’t specify an APN when they connect could start to experience high failure rates as devices become unable to transmit or receive data. We would become increasingly restricted in providing the optimum connectivity for these devices, and you may be vulnerable to legislation changes, for example, if we can’t localize devices to avoid roaming restrictions.

Eseye's Guide to 2G and 3G Network Shutdowns
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Devices using 2G or 3G

If your deployment uses 2G or 3G networks, your devices should already be connecting to a specified APN, as these networks don’t provide a default APN.

Many network operators have begun the process of sunsetting their 2G and 3G networks. To find out how to futureproof your deployment and gain the benefits that LTE networks offer, read our IoT Guide to 2G and 3G Network Shutdowns.

Change to AnyNet service

To ensure that we can provide optimum connectivity for all devices and offer new LTE services to our customers, we are changing the AnyNet service with respect to LTE default APNs.  

From January 2023 we will be updating the default APN for all our LTE carrier interconnects to one that does not permit data routing. Therefore, it’s essential that all devices specify a valid AnyNet APN when they register with a network in order to enable traffic flow between devices and endpoints.

What you need to do

You need to ensure that the firmware in your device configures the APN setting in the modem before the modem registers with a network. If your modem automatically registers when it starts up, it must delay registering until the firmware has written the configuration settings to the modem.

Verify changes with the Eseye device onboarding service

The Eseye device onboarding service includes a rigorous process to test how your device connects and operates within the AnyNet ecosystem. This service will include a test to confirm that your device doesn’t connect to a default APN.

If you’ve already onboarded your devices, we can re-run the connection tests to verify any changes you’ve had to make to your firmware to ensure the device doesn’t connect to the default APN.

Next steps

For more information about this change, guidance on using the AnyNet APNs, or arranging onboarding tests for your device, contact your Account Manager or email us at support@eseye.com.

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