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GSM Protocol

GSM Protocol

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Published by: omjaijagdish.rai on Feb 10, 2010
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GSM interfaces to the databases:The
between the SGSN and the HLR is the only mandatoryinterface of these 4 interfaces.It is based on the SS7 MTP,SCCP,TCAP,and MAP signaling stacks.If a subscriber appears in the supply area ofan SGSN,the SGSN can request subscriber information from the HLR viathe G
between the GGSN and the HLR is optional.If the firstuser data packet arrives at the GGSN and the subscriber has a fixedaddress,the subscriber’s location must be retrieved from the HLR.The G
interface offers a direct path for this query.If this interface does notexist,the request can be sent via the G
interface to a home SGSN,which then forwards the request to the HLR via the G
interface.Therouting information is then delivered by the HLR to the SGSN,whichpasses it on to the GGSN.The
from the SGSN to the EIR is not mandatory,as the EIR isoptional in both GSM and GPRS networks.The fourth optional signaling interface is a connection between the MSC/VLRand the SGSN:The
between the SGSN and the MSC/VLR can be used forcommon procedures like location updates.If,for example,a subscribermoves from one Location Area to anotherLocation Area,then both location androuting area must be updated.If the G
interface does not exist,both updateprocedures must be performed separatelyover the air interface.If the interface ispresent,a GPRS routing update can beinitiated,and the SGSN informs theMSC/VLR that a location update must alsobe initiated.The use of the G
interfacethus conserves valuable resources on theair interface.The G
interface is a stronglyreduced version of the A interfaceprotocol stack.
Protocol Layers
The layered protocol structure realized over the GPRS interfaces distinguishesbetween transmission and signaling planes.Transmission planes transfer userinformation,associated with transfer control information such as errorcorrection,error recovery,flow control,multiplexing and de-multiplexing,andsegmentation and re-assembly.The NSS platform is based on a packet switched IP backbone,and is keptindependent of the BSS and the radio interface using the G
interface.Operators interested in migrating their networks to UMTS in the future canreuse investments in the SGSNs,GGSNs,and the transmission network inbetween.A logical connection between the GPRS mobile station and the SGSN ismaintained using the Logical Link Control Layer (LLC).Above this layer,Subnetwork Dependent Convergence Protocol packets can be transmitted.LLCpackets are transparently transmitted between the GPRS mobile station andSGSN.
Figure 6: GPRS Transport Protocol LayerMSUmBSSSGSNGGSN
BSS GPRS Protocol
Frame Relay
GPRS Tunneling Protocol
Internet Protocol
Logical Link Control
Medium Acces Control
Radio Link Control
SubNetwork Dependent Convergence Protocol
Transmission Control Protocol
User Datagram Protocol
RelayRelayRelayRelayGbGnGiApplication/Higher Level Protocols
Figure 5: 
GPRS Transport Protocol Layer 
GPRS Protocol Testing in the Wireless World
GPRS Protocol Testing in the Wireless World
Physical Layers
If not otherwise specified in this document,the standard used on the physicallayer and the (data) link layer is determined by the operator or defined inagreements between operators and external PDN providers.Although a great variety exists,E1 is the most popular solution for GPRS (inNorth America T1).Frame Relay (FR) is commonly applied,although its use issomewhat complicated,as two implementations exist,one defined by theInternational Telecommunication Union (ITU),and another by the AmericanNational Standards Institute (ANSI).There are also three different modes ofoperation in Frame Relay:channelized,unchannelized,and fractional.With thevariety of operators and vendors,measurement solution providers must providesupport for all possible variants.In packet switched networks,Ethernet (such as 100baseT) is also very popular.ATM technology will be used in the UMTS terrestrial radio access network,andit is expected to gain in popularity in the future as GPRS network switchingsubsystems are implemented.State-of-the-art measurement equipment therefore has to cope with a vastrange of interfaces including STM1 (electrical and optical),STM4,DS1,DS3,E1,and E3.The ATM data link layer is presently based on AAL5 (whichcorrespondsto Frame Relay QoS) but with UMTS,AAL2 must be supported as well.
Transmission Plane
As shown in Figure 5,the highest layer “application”is located at the top ofthe mobile station’s protocol stack.Common applications include those basedon the Internet Protocol (IP) such as Hypertext Transmission Protocol (HTTP)over the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).GPRS maintains a logical link,over which user data packets are transmitted.In the GSM recommendations,two common packet types (IP and X.25) are explicitly mentioned.The GPRS task is to accept the user data packet at one access point (theGGSN),and deliver it to another access point (the GPRS mobile station).Thefollowing paragraphs offer a closer look at the interfaces and protocol layersaffected by a user data packet’s transport from the external PDN to the mobile.
The GiInterface
Via the
,the user data packet is delivered from the external PDN tothe GGSN (see Figure 6).To the external PDN ,the GGSN looks like an ordinaryrouter.The standard used on the physical layer and the (data) link layer dependon mutual agreements between the mobile network operator and the externalISP.The most common data protocols (IPv4 and X.25) are supported and othersmay be added in the future.
The GnInterface
Within the GPRS network switching subsystem,the user data protocol must beencapsulated before it is tunneled via the G
interface to the SGSN.User datapackets,signaling and control information are exchanged between the GSNsthrough the IP backbone.The following protocols are commonly used on thisinterface
GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP)
[GSM 09.60]GTP is used as a transmission protocol to tunnel multi-protocol packetsbetween GSNs.Several subscribers in the supply area of a single SGSNmay be simultaneously connected to an external data network via thesame GGSN.The IMSI is used to uniquely identify each subscriber in the
Store and ForwardFixed DTEGateway GSNServing GSNBSSMobile DTEHeader(dest DTE)User Data
Header(dest DTE)GTP (TID)User DataHeader(dest DTE)BSSGP(TLLI)User DataHeader(dest DTE)RLC (TFI)Access Radio ResourceUser Data
Figure 6: 
Packet Data to Mobile Subscriber 
The protocol stack of the Gn interface is also applied on the Gp interface.
GPRS Protocol Testing in the Wireless World
network switching subsystem.A subscriber may also run several applications simultaneously; each ofthem using different external PDNs connected to the same GGSN.Therefore,each application must also be uniquely identified in the NSS.The Network Service Access Point Identifier (NSAPI) is used for thispurpose.The NSAPI is assigned when the GPRS mobile station requestsa call setup,a process referred to as the Packet Data Protocol (PDP)Context Activation Procedure.A PDP context describes the properties of alink between the GPRS mobile station and the GGSN,such as which PDPis transmitted via the link,which QoS level is used for the transmission,the access point in use,etc.The user identity (IMSI) and the application identifier (NSAPI) areintegrated into the Tunnel Identifier (TID)
which uniquely identifies thesubscriber’s sublink between the GSNs.The TID is part of the GTPheader,which is added to the user data packet during the encapsulationprocess in the GTP.The user data packet can then be easily tunneled tothe SGSN without further interpretation.This feature makes GPRS open tofuture user data protocols.
Internet Protocol (IP) [RFC 791],User Datagram Protocol (UDP)
,Transfer Control Protocol (TCP)
[RFC 793]User data,signaling and control information are exchanged between theGSNs and tunneled through the IP backbone in the form of GTP packets.Either UDP or TCP are applied by the endpoints of the tunnels (SGSNsand GGSNs),depending on the user data protocol.Each link on thetransmission path between the (external) Data Terminal Equipment (DTE)and the mobile DTE is either reliable or unreliable.GPRS between the twoaccess points G
and U
is just one link in the overall transmission of theuser’s data packet.If IP is used as user data protocol,transmission between the external DTEand the mobile DTE is unreliable.Therefore,the GPRS link between theGSNs can also be unreliable and UDP can be applied on the “sublink”over the NSS part.If the user data protocol is X.25,reliability is ensured on each link andmust therefore also be guaranteed between the GSNs.In this case,thereliable transport layer protocol TCP must be used.On the G
and G
interfaces,the GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP) presents thegreatest challenge to measurement equipment; TCP/UDP/IP measurementprocedures are already well defined.
The GbInterface
Most new protocol layers can be found on the
.As with all otherinterfaces on the transmission plane,this interface is used to exchange bothuser data and signaling information.This interface allows several users’connections to be multiplexed over the same physical resources.Due to thebursty nature of most packet switched applications,this is done based on theusers’ activity.(This is one major difference to the A interface,where thephysical resources are permanently allocated to one subscriber as long as acircuit switched call is maintained.) The two highest layers (SNDCP and LLC)are used for peer-to-peer communication between the SGSN and the GPRSmobile station,while the lower layers are applied between the SGSN and theBSS (PCU).
SubNetwork Dependent Convergence Protocol (SNDCP)
[GSM 04.65]The SNDCP layer is located above the LLC layer in the SGSN and GPRSmobile station.Its central task is to improve the channel efficiency.To doso,the SNDCP layer
header information and user data usingseparate algorithms to minimize the amount of information transmittedover the air interface.To meet the lower LLC layer’s maximum framelength restrictions,the SNDCP layer
larger user data packetsand
these on the receiver’s end.The SNDCP layer canalso
several “small”user data packets into a single LLC frameand
these on the receiving end.This layer is alsoresponsible for ensuring that user packet data is transmitted andreceived according to the negotiated QoS level.Network Service Access Points (NSAPI) are opened between the SNDCPlayer and the application layer above on the GPRS mobile station end totransfer user packets to/from the respective application.
Logical Link Control (LLC)
[GSM 04.64]The LLC layer is responsible for handling the virtual connection betweenthe SGSN and the GPRS mobile station and exists even when no physicalresources are available between the two.It supports peer-to-peer datatransfer between the SGSN and the GPRS mobile station.For eachTemporary Logical Link Identifier (TLLI) the LLC offers various servicesusing the Service Access Point Identifier (SAPI).These services mayinclude Quality of Service classes for user data,GMM/SM signalinginformation and/or SMS data.In addition to managing the logical link,the LLC layer ensures user dataconfidentiality using ciphering/encryption features.The transmission of LLC PDUs is possible in the
unacknowledged mode
.In the acknowledged mode,each LLC PDU is
See GSM 03.60 Version 7.1.1 Release 98,chapter 14.5 TID

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