Traffix gets $7M to solve mobile signaling challenges

Mobile handsets have a bad habit of oversharing with the networks they operate on, with some handsets being chattier than others. This signaling data, as it’s known in the industry, can congest mobile networks, and Traffix Systems, a six-year-old Israeli company wants to help operators solve that problem.

The company said Wednesday that it raised a first round of $7 million led by Bessemer Venture Partners to help it expand operations. Ben Volkow, the CEO, says that 60 percent of operators already have some Traffix gear on their networks to address and manage signaling traffic, but more operators are interested. As more operators began deploying LTE networks, which add to the complexity of signaling traffic and to the overall network, Volkow decided that his previous strategy of growing the business through bootstrapping it no longer made sense. “We needed to scale and grow the business,” he said in an interview.

Signaling traffic is the data the phone or device sends out to the network to tell it where it is, what is it is doing, how much it is allowed to do based on the subscriber’s plan and figure out when to hop to the next base station. Chetan Sharma, a wireless analyst, issued a report last year noting that network congestion is generally caused by two big things: (1) signaling traffic caused by smartphones and superphones and (2) peak data traffic caused by data cards and embedded laptops.

He wrote that signaling traffic is growing faster than raw data traffic because smartphones are not very efficient with applications. As proof, he showed that smartphone signaling traffic is more than eight times data card signaling traffic, even though smartphones were only a small segment of the overall base of devices on the network. And this report was issued before smartphones had achieved the popularity that they have today!

At the time, he said signaling consumes more than 50 percent of available network resources. On LTE networks the problem intensifies as people use more mobile bandwidth on more devices and because the applications people run tend to talk back to the network more often. But when handled correctly, signaling traffic can add intelligence to the network and let operators route their mobile traffic more efficiently, perhaps by offloading it onto a nearby Wi-Fi hot spot or a picocell. Traffix sees an opportunity here, and has raised the money to take it.