Glossary:Access Point Name (APN) English (en) français (fr)

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An Access Point Name, abbreviated as APN, is a gateway between a GSM, GPRS, 3G or 4G mobile network and another computer network, frequently the public Internet. APN is a logical identifier, formatted as a character string.

It is often related to contractual arrangements and type of subscription: a large company purchasing a stock of multiple mobile subscriptions for its employees, for instance, will be typically assigned a special APN.

Maintaining information about the APN in datasets for statistical purposes might be useful for the interpretation of spatio-temporal patterns that are specific to particular groups and/or for the selection of particular user groups. MNO's may use APN values together with TAC codes, IMSI ranges and IMEI ranges to pre-filter IoT/M2M devices, but such filtering might not be perfect. Maintaining APN information could be useful in detecting residual IoT/M2M devices in mobile phone datasets.

MNO's will probably be unwilling to share cleartext APN values with statistical offices, as this information is highly sensitive from a business point of view. In a best case scenario they might be willing to pseudonymise the APN (e.g., by some hashing function, as done with the IMSI) but this is not a problem for statistical applications.