Packet Switch Data Off Whitepaper

Oct 16, 2018

MediaTek has recently released a new whitepaper entitled Packet Switch (PS) Data Off. This covers the ability for a smartphone to turn off all data services, except the most essential ones, in order to comply with user requests – for example when roaming – and give more fine-grained control over connectivity options, as well as the potential for operator service differentiators. This whitepaper reviews the impact to the protocol layers as well as the changes required in different network nodes including the signaling and call flows.

See the MediaTek whitepaper list to download the PDF.


One of the significant changes introduced in LTE is that it establishes an always on connection to the network. This improves the user experience, enabling a faster response time and improved cellular efficiency because there’s no need to re-active the data connection after a period of inactivity. However, its original design was not fine-grained enough to take into consideration the modern smartphone usage models and services, and it doesn’t give the user total control over the data connection.

For example, often when traveling users want to disable roaming to avoid adverse data fees. However, applications or services may still be requesting to receive data even though roaming is set to “off” – as a result the user is charged.

In addition, prior to 3GPP Release 14, it does not allow network operators to differentiate between data traffic and other services that may use IP-driven connections, but aren’t billed as such. These include IMS MMTEL voice and video services, USSD, XCAP, BIP, or SMS over IP. Naturally, if these are services exempt from data fees users will still want these services running even when the data connection is turned off.

As a result of these limitations, 3GPP issued new procedures – 3GPP PS Data Off - that give the user greater control; both device and operator are aware of the data connectivity settings chosen by the user. The exception is 3GPP PS Data Off Exempt Services, which are allowed/essential operator services regardless of setting.

By introducing this feature in 3GPP, it is expected that the network operators will unlock new areas of service differentiators and enhance the end-user experience at home or when traveling.

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