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GSM Architecture

Dr. Adnan K. Kiani 29th December, 2011

In this lecture we will cover:

A brief history of mobile systems. Introduction to GSM network. Features of GSM. GSMs Architecture. Function of Various Entities.

First Mobile System

Mobile Telephone Service (MTS). The first mobile phone service introduced by AT&T in 25 U.S. cities in 1946. not a cellular system. Operator intervention was required to set up calls.

First Mobile System (contd)

MTS was followed by Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS) Still a non-cellular system However allowed automatic call set-up using tone signaling.

Mobile Systems in Europe

In Sweden, the first European mobile radio system was introduced in 1955 by Televerket. In the U.K, the first commercial system, called System 1 introduced in 1965 in London was expensive, had limited capacity and many drawbacks. but was still heavily oversubscribed. The next variant, System 2,was never deployed. System 3 came with increased capacity.

First Generation Cellular Comm

The cellular concept was first developed by Bell Labs in 1948 by AT&T. Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS)was developed in America in 1978. In Europe 1st cellular system was Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) Was developed in Sweden in 1981 but mainly for Sweden, Denmark, Finland & Norway. U.K developed its own standard called Total Access Communication System (TACS)in 1985.

2nd Generation Systems

Unlike 1st generation systems, 2nd generation systems were digital. The use of digital technology has number of advantages
i. ii. iii. Increased Capacity Greater Security Advanced Services

The most famous technology was GSM

3rd Generation Systems

These systems are even more sophisticated in terms of:
Capacity Security data rates & Services

The most important technology in this generation is UMTS which is in phase of deployment in many countries.

The future (4G)

Research is currently being carried on 4th generation systems. Main impetus for developments came from advancements in equipments & soft wares. Aim is to address the issues from previous generations. Due to advancements in voice encoders and sophisticated handover algorithms, these systems are bound to give better results.

Introduction to GSM (Global

System for Mobile Communication)

GSM Bands

GSM Around the World

Frequency Bands and Bandwidth

Uplink 890 915 MHz -25 MHz Downlink 935 960 MHz -25 MHz

1 100KHz 200KHz

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - -- -

124 100KHz

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.

Multiple Access Technique

FDMA/TDMA. The total band is divided into 124x200 KHz bands (FDMA). Each group of 8 users transmit through a 200 KHz band sharing transmission time (TDMA).

GSM Features

Before GSM every country had a different Cellular system. Not compatible with each other in terms of equipment & services. The need for a common standard for mobile communications was therefore obvious. GSM has been specified and developed by many European countries working in co-operation with each other. An additional advantage; large market for GSM equipment. This means manufacturers can produce equipment in higher quantities and of better quality. Therefore competitive and aggressive pricing structure exists

Noise Robustness
Before GSM Cellular services used analogue radio signals. Although excellent audio quality but vulnerable to noise. The noise which interferes with the current system may be produced by any of the following sources: 1. A powerful or nearby external source (e.g. a vehicle ignition system or a lightning bolt); 2. Another transmission on the same frequency (co-channel interference); 3. Another transmission breaking through from a nearby frequency (adjacent channel interference); 4. Background radio noise intruding because the required signal is too weak to exclude it.

Noise Robustness (Contd)

In order to combat these problems, GSM uses digital technology instead of analogue. By using digital signals, we can manipulate the data and include sophisticated error protection, detection and correction software. The overall result is that the signals passed across the GSM air interface withstand more errors. Due to this feature, the GSM air interface in harsh RF environments can produce a usable signal

Flexibility and Increased Capacity

In analogue system every connection between an MS and a cell site requires a separate RF carrier; hence separate RF hardware. This makes system expansion time consuming, expensive and labor intensive. GSM equipment is fully controlled by its software. Also, since one carrier can support eight users, expansion can be made with less equipment. GSM networks also offer the flexibility of international roaming

Use of Standardized Open Interfaces

The equipment in each of the analogue cellular networks tends to be produced by one manufacturer. This is because the equipment is only designed to communicate with other equipment made by that manufacturer. This situation is very profitable for the manufacturers . Unfortunately for the MS user and the network provider, this means high prices. The situation is very different with GSM, where standard interfaces such as C7 and X.25 are used throughout the network.

Improved Security
With some of the rst genera on systems, it has been es mated that up to 20% of cellular phone calls are stolen. Extensive measures have been taken, when specifying the GSM system. Subscription check through IMEI & SIM. GSM also offers the capability to encrypt all signaling over the air interface. Different levels of encryption are available to meet different subscriber/country requirements. With the authentication processes, together with the encryption and the digital encoding of the air interface signals, it makes it very difficult for the casual hacker to listen-in to personal calls. In addition to this, the GSM air interface supports frequency hopping.

Flexible Handover Process

With analogue systems, handovers are frequently a problem. Area and the subscriber is often aware that a handover has occurred! In GSM, a great deal of thought went into the design and implementation of handovers. GSM provides handover processes for the following:
I. II. III. IV. V. Quality (uplink/downlink). Interference (uplink/downlink). RF level (uplink/downlink). MS distance. Power budget.

ISDN Compatibility
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a standard that most developed countries are committed to implement. This is a new and advanced telecommunication network designed to carry voice and user data over standard telephone lines. The GSM network has been designed to operate with the ISDN system and provides features which are compatible with it. GSM can provide a maximum data rate of 9.6 kbit/s while ISDN provides much higher data rates than this.

Speech Services
Telephony Emergency Calls (with/without SIM Card inserted in MS) Short Message Service Point To Point. Short Message Cell Broadcast. Data Services

Supplementary Services
Number Identification Call Barring Call Forwarding Call Completion Charging Multi-party e-fax Voice Messaging

GSM Architecture

GSM Sub systems

GSM Architecture is divided into three main sub systems Base Station Sub system (BSS) Network and Switching Sub system (NSS) Operations and Support Sub system (OSS)

Mobile Station (MS)

Mobile Station consists of two parts: Mobile Equipment (ME) Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)

The SIM is a card which plugs into the ME. This card identifies the MS subscriber and also provides other information regarding the services that subscriber should receive. The SIM card, and the high degree of inbuilt system security, provides protection of the subscribers information and protection of networks against fraudulent access. The SIM can be protected by use of Personal Identity Number (PIN) password, similar to bank/credit charge cards, to prevent unauthorized use of the card. SIM cards are designed to be difficult to duplicate. By making a distinction between the subscriber identity and the ME identity, GSM can route calls and perform billing based on the identity of the subscriber rather than the equipment or its location.

Subscriber Identity Module (Contd)

SIM Contains Several Important pieces of Information. These include:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identity (TMSI) Location Area Identity (LAI) Subscriber Authentication Key (Ki) Mobile Station Integrated Services Digital Network (MSISDN)

The SIM is capable of storing additional information such as accumulated call charges. The SIM also executes the Authentication Algorithm.

Base Station Sub system (BSS)

BSS functions
Responsible for handling traffic and signaling between MS and Network Switching Sub System Allocation of radio channels to MS Transmission and reception over air interface

Base Transceiver Station-BTS

The BTS provides the air interface connection with the MS. Usually equipped with multiple Transceivers to serve different frequencies and different sectors of a cell. It also has a limited amount of Control functionality which reduces the amount of traffic passing between the BTS and BSC. Where the BSC and BTS are both shown to control a function, the control is divided between the two, or may be located wholly at one.

Base Station Controller (BSC)

BSC provides physical links and control functions between MSC and BTS . Any operational information required by the BTS will be received via the BSC. Likewise any information required about the BTS (by the OMC for example) will be obtained by the BSC. The BSC provides functions such as handover, cell configuration data and control of radio frequency. Incorporates a digital switching matrix, which it uses to connect the radio channels on the air interface with the terrestrial circuits from the MSC.

BSS Configurations
The maximum number of BTSs which may be controlled by one BSC is not specified by GSM Standard. The BTSs and BSC may either be located at the same cell site co-located, or located at dierent sites Remote. Another BSS configuration is the daisy chain. Problem-transmission delay through the chain.

Network Switching Sub system (NSS)

Network Switching Sub system (NSS)

The Network Switching Sub System includes the main switching functions of the GSM network. It also contains the databases required for subscriber data and mobility management. The components of the Network Switching System are listed below:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Mobile Services Switching Centre MSC Home Location Register HLR Visitor Location Register VLR Equipment Identity Register EIR Authentication Centre AUC Interworking Function IWF Echo Canceller EC

Mobile Switching Center (MSC)

Serves as a connection between other MSCs in the home network and the PSTN/ISDN line. MSC is the heart of the system, controlling the Switching & Billing. The MSC can carry out different functions depending upon its position in the network. When provides interface between PSTN & BSS in GSM network then known as a Gateway MSC provides service to MSs located within a defined geographic coverage area. The network typically contains more than one MSC. One MSC is capable of supporting a regional capital with approximately one million inhabitants. An MSC of this size will be contained in about half a dozen racks.

Home Location Register (HLR)

The HLR is the master database which contains each users service profile. Various identification numbers and addresses are stored, as well as authentication parameters. The data it contains is remotely accessed by all the MSCs and the VLRs in the network. Although the network may contain more than one HLR, there is only one database record per subscriber . The subscriber data may be accessed by either the IMSI or the MSISDN number.

Visitor Location Register (VLR)

VLR is a temporary database for all user currently located in the system including roamers & nonroamers. The data exists for only as long as the subscriber is active in the particular area covered by the VLR. The VLR database will therefore contain some duplicate data as well as more precise data relevant to the subscriber. This function eliminates the need for excessive and time-consuming references to the home HLR database.

Visitor Location Register (Contd)

The additional data stored in the VLR is listed below:
1. 2. 3. 4. Mobile status (busy/free/no answer etc.). Location Area Identity (LAI). Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identity (TMSI) Mobile Station Roaming Number (MSRN).

MSC updates VLR with HLR information. Each MSC has VLR which resides with the MSC & each G-MSC has a HLR which usually resides with the G-MSC

Equipment Identity Register (EIR)

The EIR contains a centralized database for validating the IMEI. This database is concerned solely with MS equipment and not with the subscriber who is using it to make or receive a call. The EIR database consists of lists of IMEIs (or ranges of IMEIs) organized as follows:
1. White List

2. 3.

Black List Grey List

Equipment Identity Register (Contd)

Authentication Center (AuC)

The AuC is a processor system that performs the authen ca on func on. It is normally co-located with the HLR as it will be required to continuously access and update, as necessary, the system subscriber records. The authentication process will usually take place each time the subscriber ini alizes on.

Interworking Function (IWF)

IWF provides the function to enable the GSM system to interface with the various forms of public and private data networks. The basic features of the IWF are
1. 2. Data rate adaptation. Protocol conversion.

Some systems require more IWF capability than others, this depends upon the network to which it is being connected.

Operations and Support Sub system (OSS)

Operations and Support Sub system (OSS)

The OSS provides the capability to manage the GSM network remotely. This area of the GSM network is not currently tightly specified by the GSM specifications. It is left to the network provider to decide what capabilities they wish it to have. The Operations and Maintenance System comprises of two parts:
1. 2. Network Management Centre (NMC) Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC)

Operations and Maintenance Center (OMC)

The OMC provides a central point from which to control and monitor the other network entities (i.e. base stations, switches, database, etc). It also monitors the quality of service being provided by the network. There are two types of OMC:
1. OMC-R OMC controls specifically the Base Station System. 2. OMC-S OMC controls specifically the Network Switching System.

Operations and Maintenance Center (Contd)

The OMC should support the following functions as per ITU recommendations:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Event/Alarm Management. Fault Management. Performance Management. Configuration Management. Security Management.