Access Point Name (APN)

What is an Access Point Name (APN)?

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 broadband router in a home, it acts as a gatekeeper between individual end devices and the internet.

Any device that connects to the internet using a mobile network must specify an APN as part of their configuration so that the carrier can connect them to it. The APN is responsible for allocating an IP address to a device, and routing data between the device and its destination over the internet.

Public and private APNs

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) provide public APNs for their customers to connect to. Enterprises who need better security or configuration options can set up private APNs for their customers or internal use.

Public APNs provide basic internet access, mainly for consumer devices to access commonly-used apps and websites. The services are designed based on typical levels of consumer use. Operators often apply mechanisms such as network throttling or rate limiting to manage overloading. Public APNs offer limited flexibility for configuring or differentiating services that enterprises might need for critical business systems or want to offer their customers.

With private APNs, enterprises can offer services that meet specific requirements. For example, IoT devices can have very different connectivity needs to consumer mobile phones.

AnyNet private APNs

We provide a number of private APNs in our data centres to meet the needs of different IoT deployments. All AnyNet APNs provide the following services:

  • Provide the same services at all data centres to all devices regardless of where the devices are located or which mobile network they are connected to. This simplifies device configuration as they can all use the same APN.

  • Use the same subnet configurations, IP address allocations and routing rules. With public APNs, a device is allocated a different IP address whenever it connects, which increases the complexity of managing devices and diagnosing connectivity issues. Our APNs have pre-allocated IP addresses so devices are assigned the same IP address whenever they connect on a particular network.

  • Authenticate devices to ensure only authorised devices connect to AnyNet data centres.

  • Manage and record device data sessions, activity and network usage, logging data for use in device management and monitoring, and billing. Our network management tools enable you to monitor and manage device connections. Our technical consultants have access to additional tools and can provide support to resolve complex connectivity issues.

  • Route data according to configured security options, such as NAT, VPNs, and ACL rules.

  • Prevent SIM-SIM traffic, which has been observed on consumer and non-specialist IoT APNs, and creates a major security risk.

See AnyNet APNs for details of the private APNs available with AnyNet.

We can provide the public IP addresses of our data centres for you to add to your firewalls for whitelisting. See AnyNet ACL service.

Custom APNs for customers

Some customers want to use their own domain name as their APN name. Using a custom APN (also known as a 'vanity APN') is not recommended unless it is essential. The disadvantages are:

  • Expense: we need to make arrangements for custom APNs with each MNO, adding complexity and cost to customer onboarding.
  • Restrictions: some MNOs limit the number of custom APNs we can configure with them. If we can't configure the custom APN with an MNO, the customer's devices can't use the mobile network provided by that operator, restricting our ability to provide the highest levels of connectivity for the customer.