App developers need to work harder to optimise their products for use on a mobile network, Alcatel-Lucent has said.
According to the vendor's inaugural Mobile Apps Ranking Report, signalling in particular drains spectral, hardware and processing resources across mobile networks and also empties a user's battery life quicker.
It cited the example of Facebook, which optimised its Android app for signalling and caused a reduction in overall signalling load in some networks of between five and 10 percent.
Social media apps have the biggest impact on signalling because they require a server to notify a wide range of people when a person uses the app by coming online or posting a status update. YouTube had a heavy impact on networks because of the high data traffic it requires to watch videos.
The report said Apple had successfully reduced its signalling impact by staggering iOS availability announcements over several days, as well as restricting upgrades of its operating system to Wi-Fi only.
Low impact apps, such as Google Maps, Dropbox or Zynga's gaming apps, could be zero-rated by operators because of how little they affect a network, the vendor added.
It warned that apps such as Office 365, Pinterest and Skype have a high per-user cost of delivery and could heavily affect a network if their popularity was to substantially increase.
Google Search, Facebook and its Messenger app, WhatsApp and YouTube have the biggest impact on mobile networks, the research found.
A-L monitored app usage by more than 15 million subscribers on 3G networks across North America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.