Architecture of the GSM network

GSM -> Architecture Architecture of the GSM network MobileStation BaseStationSubsystem Network Subsystem Following is the simple architecture diagram of GSM Network. [pic] A GSM network is composed of several functional entities, whose functions and interfaces are defined. Figure 1 shows the layout of a generic GSM network. The GSM network can be divided into three broad parts. The Mobile Station is carried by the subscriber, the Base Station Subsystem controls the radio link with the Mobile Station.

The Network Subsystem, the main part of which is the Mobile services Switching Center, performs the switching of calls between the mobile and other fixed or mobile network users, as well as management of mobile services, such as authentication. Not shown is the Operations and Maintenance center, which oversees the proper operation and setup of the network. The Mobile Station and the Base Station Subsystem communicate across the Um interface, also known as the air interface or radio link. The Base Station Subsystem communicates with the Mobile service Switching Center across the A interface. —————————————————————————, | Um A | | Interface A-bis Interface | | | Interface | ,——————–, | | | ,—–, ,—–, | | | | ,———-|———-, | | | VLR | | HLR | | ,——-, | | ,—–, | ,—–, | | `—–‘ `—–‘ | | Other | | | | SIM | | | | BTS | | ,—–, | | | ,—–, | | MSCs | | | `–,–‘ | `—–‘—| | | | | |————–‘——-‘ | | | , | : | | BSC |———–| MSC | | | | ,—–, /| | ,—–,—| | | | | |————–,——, | | | MS |’ | ,—| BTS | | `—–‘ | | | `—–‘ | / PSTN / | | `—–‘ |/ | `—–‘ | ,—–, ,—–, | ISDN / | | ‘ `———-|———-‘ | | | EIR | | AC | | `——‘ | | | `—–‘ `—–‘ | | | | Base Station Subsystem `——————–‘ | | Network Subsystem | `—————————————————————————-‘ SIM Subscriber Identity Module HLR Home Location Register MS Mobile Station VLR Vistor Location Register BTS Base Transceiver Station EIR Equipment Identity Register BSC Base Station Controller AC Authentication Center MSC Mobile services Switching Center PSTN Public Switched Telecomm Network VLR Visitor Location Register ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network FIGURE 1 Mobile Station The mobile station (MS) consists of the physical equipment, such as the radio transceiver, display and digital signal processors, and a smart card called the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM).

The SIM provides personal mobility, so that the user can have access to all subscribed services irrespective of both the location of the terminal and the use of a specific terminal. By inserting the SIM card into another GSM cellular phone, the user is able to receive calls at that phone, make calls from that phone, or receive other subscribed services. The mobile equipment is uniquely identified by the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The SIM card contains the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), identifying the subscriber, a secret key for authentication, and other user information. The IMEI and the IMSI are independent, thereby providing personal mobility. The SIM card may be protected against unauthorized use by a password or personal identity number. Base Station Subsystem

The Base Station Subsystem is composed of two parts, the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) and the Base Station Controller (BSC). These communicate across the specified A bis interface, allowing (as in the rest of the system) operation between components made by different suppliers. The Base Transceiver Station houses the radio tranceivers that define a cell and handles the radio link protocols with the Mobile Station. In a large urban area, there will potentially be a large number of BTSs deployed. The requirements for a BTS are ruggedness, reliability, portability, and minimum cost. The Base Station Controller manages the radio resources for one or more BTSs. It handles radio channel setup, frequency hopping, and handovers, as described below.

The BSC is the connection between the mobile and the Mobile service Switching Center (MSC). The BSC also translates the 13 kbps voice channel used over the radio link to the standard 64 kbps channel used by the Public Switched Telephone Network or ISDN. Network Subsystem The central component of the Network Subsystem is the Mobile services Switching Center (MSC). It acts like a normal switching node of the PSTN or ISDN, and in addition provides all the functionality needed to handle a mobile subscriber, such as registration, authentication, location updating, handovers, and call routing to a roaming subscriber. These services are provided in conjuction with several functional entities, which together form the Network Subsystem.

The MSC provides the connection to the public fixed network (PSTN or ISDN), and signalling between functional entities uses the ITU T Signalling System Number 7 (SS7), used in ISDN and widely used in current public networks. The Home Location Register (HLR) and Visitor Location Register (VLR), together with the MSC, provide the call routing and (possibly international) roaming capabilities of GSM. The HLR contains all the administrative information of each subscriber registered in the corresponding GSM network, along with the current location of the mobile. The current location of the mobile is in the form of a Mobile Station Roaming Number (MSRN) which is a regular ISDN number used to route a call to the MSC where the mobile is currently located. There is logically one HLR per GSM network, although it may be implemented as a distributed database.

The Visitor Location Register contains selected administrative information from the HLR, necessary for call control and provision of the subscribed services, for each mobile currently located in the geographical area controlled by the VLR. Although each functional entity can be implemented as an independent unit, most manufacturers of switching equipment implement one VLR together with one MSC, so that the geographical area controlled by the MSC corresponds to that controlled by the VLR, simplifying the signalling required. Note that the MSC contains no information about particular mobile stations – this information is stored in the location registers. The other two registers are used for authentication and security purposes.

The Equipment Identity Register (EIR) is a database that contains a list of all valid mobile equipment on the network, where each mobile station is identified by its International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). An IMEI is marked as invalid if it has been reported stolen or is not type approved. The Authentication Center is a protected database that stores a copy of the secret key stored in each subscriber’s SIM card, which is used for authentication and ciphering of the radio channel. GPRS -> Network Features PACKET SWITCHING GPRS involves overlaying a packet based air interface on the existing circuit switched GSM network. This gives the user an option to use a packet-based data service. To supplement a circuit switched network architecture with packet switching is quite a major upgrade.

However, as we shall see later, the GPRS standard is delivered in a very elegant manner- with network operators needing only to add a couple of new infrastructure nodes and making a software upgrade to some existing network elements. With GPRS, the information is split into separate but related “packets” before being transmitted and reassembled at the receiving end. Packet switching is similar to a jigsaw puzzle- the image that the puzzle represents is divided into pieces at the manufacturing factory and put into a plastic bag. During transportation of the now boxed jigsaw from the factory to the end user, the pieces get jumbled up. When the recipient empties the bag with all the pieces, they are reassembled to form the original image.

All the pieces are all related and fit together, but the way they are transported and assembled varies. The Internet itself is another example of a packet data network, the most famous of many such network types. SPECTRUM EFFICIENCY Packet switching means that GPRS radio resources are used only when users are actually sending or receiving data. Rather than dedicating a radio channel to a mobile data user for a fixed period of time, the available radio resource can be concurrently shared between several users. This efficient use of scarce radio resources means that large numbers of GPRS users can potentially share the same bandwidth and be served from a single cell.

The actual number of users supported depends on the application being used and how much data is being transferred. Because of the spectrum efficiency of GPRS, there is less need to build in idle capacity that is only used in peak hours. GPRS therefore lets network operators maximize the use of their network resources in a dynamic and flexible way, along with user access to resources and revenues. GPRS should improve the peak time capacity of a GSM network since it simultaneously: • allocates scarce radio resources more efficiently by supporting virtual connectivity • migrates traffic that was previously sent using Circuit Switched Data to GPRS instead, and reduces SMS Center and signaling channel loading by migrating some traffic that previously was sent using SMS to GPRS instead using the GPRS/ SMS interconnect that is supported by the GPRS standards. INTERNET AWARE For the first time, GPRS fully enables Mobile Internet functionality by allowing interworking between the existing Internet and the new GPRS network. Any service that is used over the fixed Internet today- File Transfer Protocol (FTP), web browsing, chat, email, telnet- will be as available over the mobile network because of GPRS. In fact, many network operators are considering the opportunity to use GPRS to help become wireless Internet Service Providers in their own right.

The World Wide Web is becoming the primary communications interface- people access the Internet for entertainment and information collection, the intranet for accessing company information and connecting with colleagues and the extranet for accessing customers and suppliers. These are all derivatives of the World Wide Web aimed at connecting different communities of interest. There is a trend away from storing information locally in specific software packages on PCs to remotely on the Internet. When you want to check your schedule or contacts, instead of using something like “Act! “, you go onto the Internet site such as a portal. Hence, web browsing is a very important application for GPRS.

Because it uses the same protocols, the GPRS network can be viewed as a sub-network of the Internet with GPRS capable mobile phones being viewed as mobile hosts. This means that each GPRS terminal can potentially have its own IP address and will be addressable as such. SUPPORTS TDMA AND GSM It should be noted right that the General Packet Radio Service is not only a service designed to be deployed on mobile networks that are based on the GSM digital mobile phone standard. The IS-136 Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) standard, popular in North and South America, will also support GPRS. This follows an agreement to follow the same evolution path towards third generation mobile phone networks concluded in early 1999 by the industry