what is an APN

When we buy a mobile phone, we jump right in to explore the new camera, high-resolution display, and more. Have you also noticed the messages from your network carrier with a set of numbers and other settings? That is Access Point Name (APN) - your ticket to explore the world of the internet directly from your mobile phone.

What actually is an APN?

We consume the internet every day, particularly through mobile. But before you can access your mobile's 4G or 5G internet, you need an APN established. In simple terms, Access Point Name (APN) is the link between the user's mobile network and the internet. Think of it as the modern-day modem for mobile. Ensuring that this is set up correctly helps you connect to mobile data or send MMS. Basically, APN connects a mobile device to the internet and ensures the connection is private and secure.

Assign a dynamic or static IP address to the mobile

Why do we need an APN?

APN is an integral component of establishing a connection with your mobile carrier. APN carries the necessary information blocks, your phone uses to connect with your carrier's network. Access Point Names have two main elements:

  • A network identifier
  • An operator identifier

The network identifier in an APN is mandatory. It indicates the external Public Data Network (PDN) that the Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) is connected to and the services the subscriber wishes to access. The network identifier is provided by a GPRS user or can also be predefined in a GPRS terminal. To use an analogy, a network identifier is a waiter that informs the chef about the orders placed by the customer, where PDN is the chef here and GGSN is the customer.

The operator identifier includes two other components: the Mobile Network Code (MNC) and the Mobile Country Code (MCC). While the MNC is unique to the carrier, the MCC is based on the carrier's region. Typically, the MNC and MCC are three digits each.

The good news is that unless there is an actual connectivity issue, as a consumer smartphone user, you really needn’t bother about modifying/altering the APN settings. Network providers send these settings via SMS once the device logs onto their network and the configuration takes effect with the simple tap of the message. In recent times, APN setup is a two-tap installation process that gives instant access to mobile data and MMS. Some of the uses of APN include

  • Activation of cellular data network
  • Switch between different carrier
  • Assign a dynamic or static IP address to the mobile

What are the different types of APN?

  • Public APN : The default option in a SIM is Public APN which allows the user access to the Internet directly without any additional steps
  • Private APN : Using an internal APN, Private APN connects the device through a gateway/VPN to access a specific network
  • Private APN with Static IP : The gateway/VPN can use Private APN with Static IP to assign a device a private static IP address.


APN, provided specifically by the mobile carrier, is the first step in establishing a connection between the mobile device and the internet. Sometimes, private APN and VPN are often used interchangeably due to the assumption they have the same purpose… Virtual Private Network adds an additional layer of security by encrypting data sent over the internet. VPNs are specifically used for the exchange of private information over a public communication network. Businesses most often give employees working a VPN login remotely to access company assets. It is important to note that APN is a mandatory setting, while VPN is optional.

A gateway to let you connect to public internet. VPN is an extra secure layer on top of the internet.
APN provides information required to connect to internet. VPN works by creating a secure virtual tunnel.
Security depends on the carrier network. Private APN allows custom configurations. VPN can choose the level of encryption for security.
APN provides connectivity and therefore, is mandatory. VPN is optional.

So, Do I need a Private APN for my IoT deployment?

Private APN speeds up and simplifies the development, operation, and maintenance of your IoT solutions. Let’s see how.

A Private APN is a mobile device's point of entry into an IP network which provides you with greater control over the security and configuration of your IoT SIM Cards. With Private APN, you can delve deeper and customize network settings to create a network tailored to your needs that helps you configure various settings such as IP address ranges, static or dynamic addressing, and authentication methods. Instead of using the defaults, it allows you to create your own firewall rules and security settings thus safeguarding data by preventing it from accessing the public internet while remaining on cellular network infrastructure.

APNs provide a secure two-way peer-to-peer (P2P) connectivity, and the device-specific IP addressability is an added benefit. APNs make it easier for corporate monitoring services to detect malware. Low-level malware can bypass VPN enforcement but not an APN. Only provisioned devices have access to external corporate infrastructure, not the entire Internet.

Private APNs provide a better solution for data security than using the public internet for transportation. If you want to limit the destinations to which your devices can connect or add a second layer of data encryption, you can use a private APN for outbound firewalling. In conclusion, APNs provide improved configurability, device security, and data privacy.

Hubble APN allows the devices to securely connect to the internet through the Hubble APN service over IPv4. This service provides reliable and secure connectivity for devices to connect to the internet without going through other APN services which may compromise data security.

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