Keepalive without options

We are running Asterisk 1.8 as a proxy for managing registrations of a number of clients. These clients are exposed to many NAT scenarios (being on cellular devices) and hence we want to send fairly frequent keepalives. However, the qualify feature has the overhead of sending/processing options requests, which we really don’t need- our goal is not to qualify the clients but merely to extend the NAT session. We were hoping there might be a way to simply send some sort of null data at periodic frequencies down the pipe.

Is this possible in any way with 1.8 or a later version of asterisk?

No. Anything sent has to be a valid SIP request, to avoid confusing the peer, and OPTIONS is the one normally used. It is not configurable.

What is the evidence for there being a performance issue?

There’s a lightweight keepalive option in 11 called “keepalive”