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Sometimes it is more cost effective to simply augment the existing system rather than completely creating a newer one. This is the case with GSM and GPRS. GPRS was only an extension to the older GSM technology. As the demand for data services increased, GPRS was developed to support packet switching. A feature that used GPRS technology was the Multimedia Messaging System or MMS. It allowed subscribers to send videos, pictures, or sound clips to each other just like text messages. GPRS also gave mobile phones the ability to surf the internet at dial-up speeds through WAP enabled sites.

Difference between circuit switched and packet switched

Circuit-Switched Communication:

Packet-Switched Communication:

Info B C


Gr Gd





Internet Corporate LAN Gi X.25 Network





IP Backbone network

Traffic Signaling



GSM Network Element

Terminal Equipment (TE)

Modification or Upgrade Required for GPRS

A totally new subscriber terminal is required to access GPRS services. These new terminals will be backward compatible with GSM for voice calls.


A software upgrade is required in the existing base transceiver site (BTS).


The base station controller (BSC) will also require a software upgrade, as well as the installation of a new piece of hardware called a packet control unit (PCU). The PCU directs the data traffic to the GPRS network and can be a separate hardware element associated with the BSC. The deployment of GPRS requires the installation of new core network elements called the Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) and Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN). All the databases involved in the network will require software upgrades to handle the new call models and functions introduced by GPRS.

Core Network

Databases (VLR, HLR, etc.)

Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN)

The SGSN forwards incoming and outgoing IP packets addressed to/from a mobile station that is attached within the SGSN service area. The SGSN provides:

Packet routing and transfer to and from the SGSN service area.
Ciphering and authentication. Mobility management Output of charging data, the SGSN collects charging information for each MS related to the radio network usage.

Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN)

The GGSN provides: The interface towards the external IP packet networks. From the external IP networks point of view, the GGSN acts as a router for the IP addresses of all subscribers served by the GPRS network. Functionality for associating the subscribers to the right SGSN Output of charging data, the GGSN collects charging information for each MS, related to the external data network usage.


Enhancements of GSM data rates: HSCSD
Which allows the assignment of maximum 4 circuit switched time slots to the same user over the air interface. Thus the rate of 4 x 9.6(GSM data rate) = 38.6 kbps is achievable

Enhancements of GSM data rates: Coding Schemes

Coding Scheme 1 (CS1) was the first CS to be used and it adds a large number of coding bits causing the user rate to be low. Rate of data over GSM using this CS is 9.6 Kbps To increase the rate more data will be sent Instead of strong error correction. This makes the link less reliable but increases the rate. Coding Scheme 2 (CS2) uses a less number of coding bits allowing the user rate to reach 14.4 Kbps.


Enhancements of GSM data rates: HSCSD + Coding Schemes

Combining the effect of the HSCSD and CS2 will jump with the rate to reach 14.4 x 4 = 57.6. Yet, this bit rate is still low for some applications and consumes large number of resources, the service will be expensive to the user.

Channel coding in GPRS

Coding schemes And The Corresponding data rates


Channel coding in a wireless cellular network is how the digital data (either voice or data for non-voice applications) from the mobile or base station is formatted to deal with the problem of transmitting information across a radio channel. Channel coding includes parity generation, convolution coding, puncturing and interleaving. These processes are structured so that either the mobile or the base station can receive a stream of data bits with corrupted values and still have a high likelihood of decoding the bit stream correctly.

The GPRS data is protected by four different channel protection schemes: CS1, CS2, CS3, and CS4.

The main difference between the four coding schemes is the level of protection from transmission errors that they offer and the maximum throughput that can be obtained. The GPRS system dynamically chooses the coding scheme best suited for the transmission conditions at hand.

Coding scheme -1
Maximum protection to error

Coding scheme -4
Maximum throughput Lowest protection to error

Lowest throughput


Four coding schemes, CS-1 to CS-4, are used for the GPRS PDTCHs. They offer different levels of protection, and the CS to be used is chosen by the network according to the radio environment


Code rate


Precoded USF

Radio Block excl. USF and BCS (Payload) 181 268 312 428



Coded bits

Punctured bits

Data rate kbps

CS-1 CS-2 CS-3 CS-4

1/2 2/3 3/4 1

3 3 3 3

3 6 6 12

40 16 16 16

4 4 4 -

456 588 676 456

0 132 220 -

9.05 13.4 15.6 21.4

GPRS Data Encoding

data in

268 bit block

Block Check Coding

+16 bits

284 bits


+3 bits 290 bits

287 bits

USF pre-coding
+3 bits
294 bits

add tail bits

+4 bits

-132 bits x2

convolution coding
588 bits

Data out

456 bits

Coding schemes performance

GPRS Modulation
Modulation scheme used in GPRS is GMSK
Now the question here is why GMSK?
Power efficiency. Bandwidth efficiency. Cost and the complexity of the receiver is low. Good BER performance. Lower values of the C/I ratio (Carrier-to-Interference ratio). A higher traffic-carrying capacity. Efficient utilization of available dc power using a class C power amplifier.

In view of this, the MSK and GMSK are good choices. It must not only be able to withstand the severe multipath fading but also the BER should at least be <10^-2 or better. (minimum acceptable BER for speech communication).

MSK (Minimum shift keying):

Is a special case of coherent FSK modulation where modulation index is equal to 0.5. But Unfortunately, the main lobe of MSK is wide and it has a lot of side lobes (unwanted) so it is not suitable for narrowband application.

GMSK (Gaussian Minimum Shift keying):

GMSK is the MSK derivative. In GMSK the base band binary data is passed on a Gaussian filter first (reduces the main lobe width and the side lobe power). Then the output is passed on FM Modulator.

GMSK Performance:
The performance of GMSK is measured by the 3 dB bandwidth-bit duration product of the Gaussian filter (BT) where as BT is lowered the amount of inter-symbol interference introduced decrease.
As BT decreases bandwidth increases. In GPRS we use BT= 0.3 which is the best compromise between increased bandwidth occupancy and resistance to ISI.

EDGE system is quite similar to the GPRS system but with the capability for higher data rates. The most important change is the new modulation scheme. In GSM and GPRS-> the GMSK modulation scheme -> one bit per symbol is used + constant amplitude modulation. In an EDGE network-> 8-PSK modulation-> three bits per symbol + variation in modulation amplitude.

Notes: 3 Bits per symbol enables a data rate of 59.2 kbps per radio time slot. Modulation amplitude variation changes the radio performance characteristics, so hardware changes in the base stations are mandatory.

Diagram Showing EDGE modulation benefits

Another improvement that has been made to the EGPRS standard is the ability to retransmit a packet that has not been decoded properly with a more robust coding scheme, IN GPRS-> no re-segmentation i.e. once packets have been sent, they must be retransmitted using the original coding scheme even if the radio environment has changed. IN EGPRS-> re-segmentation i.e. Packets sent with little error protection can be retransmitted with more error protection, if required by the new radio environment.

In EDGE, the rapidly changing radio environment has a much smaller effect on the problem of choosing the wrong coding scheme for the next sequence of radio blocks because re-segmentation is possible.

EDGE Radio Network Planning:

Coding Schemes:
There are nine modulation and coding schemes (MCS-1 to MCS-9) that provide different Throughputs. The MCS scheme carries data from 8.8 kbps to 59.2 kbps.
For coding schemes MCS-1 to MCS-4, modulation is still GMSK; for MCS-5 to MCS-9 it is 8-PSK.

Another advantage in EDGE networks is that the switching between different coding schemes can take place easily, which was not possible in a GPRS network.
When data transmission takes place in a GPRS coding scheme, it is not possible to switch the coding scheme on reception failure, so the re-transmission takes place with exactly the same protection as for its initial transmission. In EGPRS, it is possible to change the MCS, i.e. the data block can be sent again but with better protection than for its initial transmission. This is done through a process called link adaptation.

Advantages of using link adaptation (LA): It leads to the highest throughput possible with the lowest amount of delay. This gives better link quality and makes EDGE a more efficient system.