Access Point Name
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A mobile device making a data connection must be configured with an APN to present to the carrier. The carrier will then examine this identifier to determine what type of network connection should be created, for example: what IP addresses should be assigned to the wireless device, what security methods should be used, and how or if, it should be connected to some private customer network.
More specifically, the APN identifies the packet data network (PDN) that a mobile data user wants to communicate with. In addition to identifying a PDN, an APN may also be used to define the type of service, (e.g. connection to wireless application protocol (WAP) server, multimedia messaging service (MMS)) that is provided by the PDN. APN is used in 3GPP data access networks, e.g. general packet radio service (GPRS), evolved packet core (EPC).
Structure of an APN
A structured APN consists of two parts as shown in the accompanying figure.
- Network Identifier: Defines the external network to which the Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) is connected. Optionally, it may also include the service requested by the user. This part of the APN is mandatory
- Operator Identifier: Defines the specific operator’s packet domain network in which the GGSN is located. This part of the APN is optional. The MCC is the Mobile Country Code and the MNC is the Mobile Network Code which together uniquely identify a mobile network operator.
Examples of APN are:
- three.co.uk (NOTE: This APN uses the operator's web address)
- internet (NOTE: This APN example does not contain an operator)
- prepaid internet (NOTE: This APN example does not contain an operator and contains a space)
- "GSM cellular networks use an APN (Access Point Name) to determine how a mobile station, in this case a Digi Connect WAN or RG" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-05.
- 3GPP TS 23.003 Numbering, addressing and identification.