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GSM Global System for Mobile Communications

Background & History

The development of GSM started in early

1980s for Europe's Mobile infrastructure.

The first was to establish a team with the

title "Group Special Mobile" (hence the term "GSM", which today stands for Global System for Mobile Communications) to develop a set of common standards.

Cellular Mobile Systems

1986 - A decision was reached to

implement a digital transmission system.

Three Phases of the GSM Standard
GSM GSM GSM Phase1 Phase2 Phase2+ Completed in 1990 Completed in 1994 Being Standardized

Frequency Bands and Bandwidth

Uplink Downlink

815 900 MHz 935 960 MHz

25 MHz 25 MHz

A 200 KHz carrier spacing has been chosen. Excluding

2x100 KHz edges of the band, this gives 124 possible carriers for the uplink and downlink. The use of carrier 1 and 124 are optional for operators.
1 100 KHz 2 200 KHz 3 4

124 100 KHz







Second Generation Mobile Network Architecture

GSM Subsystems

Base Station Subsystem


Network and Switching Subsystem

Operational Subsystem



Basic Architecture of GSM

BSS (Base Station Subsystem)

All radio related functions are performed in the BSS.

Base Transceiver Stations BTS Base Station Controllers BSC

Base Transceiver Stations (BTS)

The BTS handles the radio interface to the mobile

station. The BTS is the radio equipment needed to service each cell in the network. A group of BTSs are controlled by a single BSC.

Base Station Controllers (BSC)

The BSC provides all the control functions and physical links between the MSC and BTS. It is a high-capacity switch that provides functions such as handover, cell configuration data, and control of radio frequency (RF) power levels in base transceiver stations. A number of BSCs are served by an MSC.

Network and Switching Subsystem

Performs main switching

functions of GSM. The switching system (SS) is responsible for performing call processing and subscriber-related functions. The switching system includes the many functional units.

Mobile Service Switching Center (MSC)

Within NSS, MSC performs the necessary

switching functions required for the MSs located in an MSC area & to carry out Handover functions
The MSC is also involved in the internetworking

functions to communicate with other networks such as PSTN and ISDN.

Home Location Register (HLR)

A database used for storage and management of

The HLR is considered the most important database, as it

stores permanent data about subscribers, including a subscriber's service profile, location information, and activity status.
Any administrative action by the service provider on

subscriber data is also performed in the HLR.

Visitor Location Register (VLR)

The VLR is connected to one or more MSCs. The VLR is the functional unit that dynamically

stores subscriber information when it is located in the area covered by VLR.

When a roaming MS enters an MSC area, the

MSC informs the associated VLR about the MS.

Operation & Maintenance Subsystem OMSS

The OMSS is responsible for handling system

security based on validation of identities of various telecommunication entities.

The functions are performed in Authentication

Center (AuC) & Equipment Identity Register (EIR).

One OMC can serve several MSCs.

Channel Types

Traffic channels (TCHs)

The traffic channels are intended to carry encoded speech or user data.

Control Channels (CCHs)

The control channels are intended to carry signalling and Synchronization data between the base station and the Mobile station.

Logical Control Channels

Broadcast Control Channels Frequency Correction - FCCH Synchronization SCH Broadcast - BCCH Common Control Channels Access Grant - AGCH Paging - PCH


Common Control Channels Random Access - RACH

Dedicated Control Channels Stand alone Dedicated - SDCCH Slow Associated SACCH Fast Associated - FACCH

Downlink Only Channels

Broadcast Control Channels (BCCH) Broadcasts to all mobiles general information regarding their own cell as well as the neighbouring (up to 16) cells, e.g. information used for cell selection and for describing the current control channel structure. Frequency Correction Channels (FCCH) for mobiles for frequency correction. Synchronization Channels (SCH) for frame synchronization of mobiles and identification of the base station.

Common Control Channels

For downlink Access Grant Channels (AGCH) for assignment of a dedicated Channel after a successful random access. Paging Channels (PCH) for paging to mobiles. For uplink Random Access Channels (RACH) used for random access Attempts by mobiles.

One full rate channel (multiframe)

1 TDMA frame = 8 timeslots (4.615 ms)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

TC0 TC1 TC10 TC11





Power Control
RF power control will be used in the GSM MS and BS to reduce the transmit power to the minimum required to achieve the minimum quality objective and hence reduce the level of cochannel interference The MS will be capable of varying its transmit power form its maximum output down to 20 mW in steps of nominally 2 dB The BS calculates the RF Power level to be used by the MS and sends a 4 bit number instruction to the corresponding MS

A GSM mobile is only active, i.e., either transmitting

or receiving, in 2 or the 8 timeslots in one frame. The MS scans transmissions from surrounding BSs in the spare timeslots. It then reports the measured results, together with those for the serving BS, back to the fixed network via the BS, where the handover decision is made.

Inter BSS Handover

MS (1) (2) (3) BSS (serving) BSS (target)
(Handover needed) (Handover request) (It includes TMSI) (Handover request acknowledgement) (It includes a HO reference and an assigned physical channel) FACCH (Change to the new channel) (Handover commend) (It includes the HO reference and the assigned physical channel)


SACCH (Periodic measurement report)


(5) (6) (7) (8) (9)

FACCH (Exchange cell ID, timing advance, power control, information etc.)

(Handover completion)

(Clear command) SACCH (Periodic measurements reports)

Future Outlook
With the success of GSM and to meet the

demanding requirements of the subscribers, GPRS, HSCSD and EDGE has been introduced which offer high data rates for the transmission. 3rd Generation (3G) systems will soon be introduced all over the world and attract large number of subscribers. UMTS promises to provide voice, data and multimedia at data rates up to 2Mbps.

Thank you