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GPRS Radio Interface

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GPRS Radio Interface

Contents
1 The Radio Interface (Layer 1)
1.1 Layer 1 of the GSM-/GPRS-Radio Interface Um
1.2 Channel Bundling, Sharing of Channels
1.3 Radio Block
1.4 Coding Schemes
1.5 Logical GPRS Radio Channels
1.6 Multiframes in GPRS

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Copyright TEKonsult Munich


All rights reserved
November 2004

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1 The Radio Interface (Layer 1)


GPRS:
Interfaces

The Radio Interface Um


(Layer 1)

Fig. 1

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1.1 Layer 1 of the GSM-/GPRS-Radio Interface


Um
Due to the introduction of the GPRS network, some modifications have to be
implemented on the GSM Core and Radio subsystems. The radio subsystem
includes all the equipments serving for the radio resources management and in
direct relation with the mobile user (the SIM card, the terminal, the base stations
and the base station controllers).
The creation of new radio sites needs a lot of time and is expensive, thus the GPRS
networks would have to use the existing sites.
More, the PGRS cells shouldnt be smaller than the GSM cells; else coverage holes
will appear.
However, the integration of the GPRS into the GSM networks requires a lot of
modifications at the level of the radio subsystem and the mobile terminal
equipment:
- A new SIM card is required to support the new GPRS services;
- A new terminal adapted to the characteristics of the GPRS services
especially the higher transmission rates;
- A new radio layer between the mobile terminal and the base stations to
enable the air interface to support the packet data transfer.
- New radio channels are integrated and are allocated in a flexible manner
(sharing of time intervals between different users);
- The base stations are modified in order to support the GPRS radio
characteristics.
- Some modifications have to be involved in the base station controllers.
The GPRS radio interface needs some modifications consisting in the
implementation of a new Media Access Control radio layer able to transmit packet
data. In addition, this interface has to be enough flexible for the mobile terminal
and the network operator. The number of time intervals allocated to the GPRS
network is variable and the number of intervals used during a packet transmission
is negotiated between the mobile terminal and the base station. This permits the
update of the system easily based on the carried traffic quantity.
Note that some GSM physical characteristics such as the modulation, the
frequency spectrum sharing and the bursts use are kept.

In addition to the tasks of carrying user and signaling data, the radio layer has to
report to the mobile terminal and the network specific performance measurements
such as the measuring of receiver performance, cell selection, determination and
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updating of the delayed MS transmission (timing advance TA), power control PC


and channel coding.
A major difference between the circuit-switched and packet-switched services
consists in the fact that contrarily to circuit data channel that is used by only one
mobile terminal a packet data channel can be shared by several mobile terminals.
The packet data channel is allocated per radio block (4 consecutives TDMA
frames) and not for a specific time interval. One packet channel can now be seized
symmetrically or asymmetrically and carry the user and signaling data of several
mobile stations.
If the quantity of traffic to carry is higher that the capacity of a packet data
channel, a mobile terminal can use several packet data channels simultaneously
and combine several physical channels of one radio carrier. The GPRS standard
specifies that up to 8 packet data channels can be combined together, it precise also
that the number of combined channels on the downlink can be different of the
number of combined channels on the uplink, this permits the achievement of
asymmetric data rates for specific applications such as the HTTP and the FTP.
The radio resources assignment can be dynamic or static:
- Static assignment: in this case a bit pattern sent on the downlink will
indicate to the mobile terminal which channels it can use for its packet data
transmission.
Dynamic assignment: per each used timeslot, the mobile terminal will receive a
temporary flow identifier (TFI) that will identify the owner of the packet,
accompanied by an uplink state flag (USF) that will indicate which of the assigned
mobile terminals to use the time slot UL will be allowed to transmit the next radio
block over the Uplink direction.

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GSM RF:
GPRS Layer 1 (Um)
Transmission
of user &
signaling data
Measure
signal strength

Cell Selection

L1tasks
Power Control
functions

determinate &
actualise
Timing Advance

Resource optimization:
1 physical channel to be used
by many MSs simultaneously
!!
asymmetrical traffic
UL / DL possible !!
High data rate traffic
up to 171.2 kbit/s:
combining 1..8 PDCH for 1 MS
!!
Allocationofofphysical
physicalchannel
channel
Allocation
(Packet
Data
Channel
PDCH)
(Packet Data Channel PDCH)
dynamically:
1
or
4
Radio
Blocks
dynamically: 1 or 4 Radio Blocks
(1
Radio
Block
=
4
Normal
Burst
(1 Radio Block = 4 Normal Burst
in
4
consecutive
TDMA-frames)
in 4 consecutive TDMA-frames)
User&&signaling
signalingdata
dataofofseveral
severalMSs
MSs
User
statistically
to
be
multiplexed
into
statistically to be multiplexed into
PDCH(also
(alsofixed
fixedallocation
allocationpossible)
possible)
11PDCH

Fig. 2 Tasks of the GSM air interface, layer 1 (GSM RF)

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1.2 Channel Bundling, Sharing of Channels


Sharing of Resources in a Cell: the timeslots of a BTS will be shared between the
GSM and GPRS subscribers. Note that a traffic channel cannot be used to carry
circuit switched traffic and packet switched traffic simultaneously. The
distribution of the radio resources between the GSM and GPRS subscribers will
depend of the cell traffic load with keeping the circuit switched traffic prior.
Sharing of Physical Channels: in the GSM networks one timeslot can be used by
only one subscriber and no resources sharing can pe performed. In contrast, the
GPRS subscriber can share the resources between each other. This operation will
require the integration of a new MAC protocol and a new hardware: the packet
control unit.
In order to limit the bottlenecks in the PLMN, and in addition to the hardware and
protocol changes in the core network, new features responsible for the resources
usage optimization must be implemented on the Um air interface.
Multislot Classes: The needs of the GPRS subscribers differ based on the desired
quality of service required by the service and the capabilities of the mobile
terminal. Based on this needs, a mulitslot class indicating how many timeslots can
be bundled by the mobile terminal uplink and downlink, will be associated to each
mobile station and the differentiation between these different mobile terminals
will be the responsibility of the PCU, which will assign the combinations of the
timeslots that will be handled by the equipment based on the multislot class
requested by the mobile.
In a multislot class 1, one timeslot for the uplink and one time slot for the
downlink can be bundled. This multislot will be used with a GSM mobile station
having the capability of handling GPRS protocols and coding schemes.
The multislot corresponding to the maximum extreme will belong to the class 29
and reserve simultaneously eight time slots for the transmission and reception
over the uplink and downlink. In this case, the mobile terminal should be
equipped with two synthesizers, and a high battery capacity because this is more
or less continuous transmission and reception.

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Channel Bundling, Sharing of Channels


UL

DL

TS0 TS1 TS2 TS3 TS4 TS5 TS6 TS8

Radio Blocks
Subsriber A

Radio Blocks
Subsriber B

TS0 TS1 TS2 TS3 TS4 TS5 TS6 TS8

Radio Blocks
Subsriber C

Radio Blocks
Subsriber D

Fig. 3 Channel bundling, sharing of channels

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1.3 Radio Block


The GSM recommendation 03.64 explains the modifications achieved on the
channel coding procedures for GPRS purposes. Before being encoded the digital
information to transfer is divided into transferable blocks. Each block contain in
addition of the user information contained in an RLC Data Block, a MAC header
used for the Medium Access Control, an RLC/MAC Signaling Block and a Block
Check Sequence.
All these blocks are protected against loss by the use of convolutional coding
consisting in the insertion of redundancy information. They will be then
interleaved to four normal bursts NB in consecutive TDMA frames and,
respectively, to 8 burst blocks with 57 bit each.
The GSM Recommendation 03.64 specifies the characteristics of the four new
coding schemes that were defined especially for the GPRS purposes. These coding
schemes are known as CS-1, CS2, CS3 and CS4, and are used alternatively
depending on the type of the information to be transferred and the quality of the
radio interface.

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Radio Block Strucure


Radio Block

collect
user data
signaling

MAC Header

RLC Data Block

MAC Header

RLC/MAC Control Block

One Radio Block = 4 normal bursts


BCS: Block Code Sequence
(for error recognition)
MAC: Medium Access Control

RLC: Radio Link Control

Fig. 4 Radio block

Channel Coding
Convolutional
coding
(not CS-4)

Radio Block
rate 1/2 convolutional coding
Radio Block

Puncturing
(only CS-2,
CS-3)

Puncturing
Radio Block(456 Bits)

Um: Allocation of PDCH for 1 / 4 Radio Blocks = 4 / 16 Normal Bursts

Fig. 5 Channel coding schemes

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1.4 Coding Schemes:


CS-1: uses the same coding scheme specified for the SDCCH in the
recommendation GSM 05.03. It offers a data rate up to 9.05 kbit/s and uses a half
rate convolutional code for the Forward Error Correction (FEC).
CS-1 is well suited to serve a safe basic coding for RLC/MAC and control data
(unrestricted redundancy information). Whats remarkable with this coding
scheme is that even if the radio interface quality decreases the data transmission
rate decreases slowly.
CS-2 and CS-3: these two coding schemes are punctured version of the same half
rate convolutional code used for CS-1. The coded bits are numbered starting from
0 and certain punctured bits are removed.
CS-2: With CS-2 some of the bits will be punctured. They will have the numbers 4
* i + 3, i can take the values in the range [3, 146] except {9, 21, 33, 45, 57, 69, 81, 93,
105, 117, 129, 141}. Note that the first punctured bit will be the fifteenth bit. With
this coding scheme, the transmission rate can reach 13.4 kbit/s. Note that with
CS2, the puncturing pattern must be adapted to the TRAU frame format in order
to be used via the Abis interface. An example of adaptation is the puncturing of
more bits to reserve more space for the RLC signaling.
CS-2 offers higher transmission rates than the CS-1 but is more strongly dependent
of the radio interface quality.
CS-3: With CS-3 the punctured bits have numbers 6 * i + 3 and 6 * i + 5, with i
varying in the range [2, 111], and the transmission rate reaches 15.6 kbit/s.
CS-4: CS-4 has no redundancy and does not perform any forward error correction.
With CS4 the data rate reaches 21.4kbit/s and by bundling up to 8 packet data
channels of one carrier into one mobile terminal, transmission rates up to 171.2
kbit/s becomes possible.
CS-3 and CS-4 offer higher transmission rates, than those of CS-1 and CS-2, but
these rates are highly dependent of the radio interface quality and decreases
quickly when the C/I increases.

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Channel Coding: Coding Schemes


CS-1

CS-2

9,05 kbit/s

13,4 kbit/s

Coding
Scheme

Code
Rate

CS-3

CS-4

15,6 kbit/s

Radio
Block*

Coded
Bits

21,4 kbit/s
Punctured
Bits

Different
Redundancy
(FEC)
Quality Um

Data
Rate
kbit/s

CS-1

1/2

181

456

9.05

CS-2

2/3

268

588

132

13.4

CS-3

3 /4

312

676

220

15.6

CS-4

428

456

21.4
* Radio Block without
Uplink State Flag USF &
Block Check Sequence BCS

Fig. 6 Coding schemes of GPRS, CS1 with high redundancy, CS4 no redundancy,
radio blocks

In the first implementations of GPRS networks, only CS-1 and CS-2 will be used.
This is due to the fact that the implementation of CS-3 and CS-4 would require the
reservation of higher transport resources via the Abis; which is not possible
because the Abis capacity is constant (16 kbit/s). Thus serious modifications of the
existing network architecture become mandatory.

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Channel Coding
Net Throughput (kbit/s)

CS 1 - 4: Bit Rate Comparison

20
18
16

CS-1

14

CS-2

12

CS-3
CS-4

10
8
6
4
2
0

18

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

10

Carrier / Interference C/I (dB)


Introduction: CS-1 (9,05 kbit/s & CS-2 (13,4 kbit/s)
CS-1: basic coding for RLC/MAC data & control blocks
no CS-3 (15,6 kbit/s), CS-4 (21,4 kbit/s)
Abis limitation (current TRAU frames: 16 kbit/s)

Fig. 7 Comparison of the efficiency of the four coding schemes under realistic
circumstances of the air interface

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1.5 Logical GPRS Radio Channels


Use of "classical" logical channels for GSM-CS
In GSM, the radio channels are based on a TDMA structure that is implemented on
multiple frequency sub-ands (TDMA/FDMA). Each base station is equipped with
a certain number of these pr-assigned frequency/time channels.
CEPT has made available two frequency bands be used by the GSM system. These
are: 890-915 MHz for the direction mobile to base station, and 935-960 MHz f or the
direction base station to mobile terminal. These bands are divided into 124 pairs of
carriers spaced by 200 kHz, starting with the pair 890.2 MHz.
The assigned spectrum of 200 kHz per channel is segmented in time by using a
fixed allocation, time-division multiple access (TDMA) scheme. The time axis is
divided into eight time slots of length 0.577 ms. The slots numbered from timeslot
0 to 7 form a frame with length 4.615 ms. The recurrence of one particular time slot
in each frame makes up one physical channel.
GSM defines a variety of traffic and signaling/control channels of different bit
rates. These channels are assigned to logical channels derived from multiframe
structuring of the basic eight slotted TDMA frames just discussed. For this
purpose, two multiframe structures have been defined: one consisting of 26 time
frames (resulting in a recurrence interval of 120 ms), and one comprising 51 time
frames (or 236 ms). The 26 multiframe is used t o define traffic channels (TCH),
and their slow and fast associated control channels (SACCH and FACCH) that
carry link control information between the mobile and the base stations. The TCH
have been defined to provide six different forms of services, that is, full-rate
speech or data channels supporting effective bit rates of 13 kb/s (for speech), 2.4,
4.8, and 9.6 kb/s; and the half-rate channels with effective bit-rates of 6.5 (for
speech) and kb/s, 2.4 kb/s, and 4.8 kb/s for data (note that the gross bit rates on
these channels are higher due to required channel coding, 22. 8 k b/ s f or full-rate
speech). The full-rat e TCHs are implemented on 24 frames of the multiframe, with
each TCH occupying one time slot from each frame. The SACCH is implemented
on frame 12 (numbered from 0), providing eight SACCH channels, one dedicated
to each of the eight TCH channels. Frame 25 in the multiframe is currently idle and
reserved to implement the additional eight SACCH required when half-rate
speech channels become a reality. The FACCH is obtained on demand by stealing
from the TCH, and is used by either end for signaling the transfer characteristics of
the physical path, or other purposes such as connection handover control

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messages. The stealing of a TCH slot for FACCH signaling is indicated through a
flag within the TCH slot.
The 51-frame multiframe has a more complex structure and we will refer the
reader to GSM Recommendation 05.0 for the specific positions of the various
logical channels in the multiframe.
The 51-frame structure, however, is used to derive the following signaling and
control channels.
SDCCH Stand-alone dedicated control channel is used for the transfer of call
control signaling to and from the mobile during call setup. Like the TCHs, the
SDCCH has its own SACCH and is released once call setup is complete.
BCCH Broadcast control channel is used in the BSS to mobile direction to
broadcast system information such as the synchronization parameters, available
services, and cell ID. This channel is continuously active, with dummy bursts
substituted when there is no information to transmit, because its signal strengths
are monitored by mobiles for handover determination.
SCH Synchronization channel carries information from the BSS for frame
synchronization.
FCCH Frequency control channel carries information from the BSS for carrier
synchronization.
CCCH Common control channels are used for transferring signaling
information between all mobiles and the BSS for call origination and call-paging
functions. There are three common con-trol channels:
PCH: paging channel used to call (page) a mobile from the system.
RACH: random access channel used by the mobiles trying to access the
system. The mobile phone uses this channel for requesting a DCCH from the
system at call initiation.
AGCH: access grant channel used by the system to assign resources to a
mobile such as a DCCH channel.
Note that the AGCH and the PCH are never used by a mobile at the same time,
and therefore are implemented on the same logical channel. All the control
signaling channels, except the SDCCH, are implemented on time slot 0 in different
TDMA frames of the 51 multiframes using a dedicated RF carrier frequency
assigned on a per cell basis.
The multiframe structure for the SDCCH and its associated slow associated control
channel (SACC) is implemented on one of the physical channels (TDM slots and
RF carriers) selected by the system operator.
GPRS was conceived to work jointly with GSM, thus the GPRS subscribers will
have to share the air interface with the circuit switched users. But the differences
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between the GSM and GPRS protocol structures will require a separation of the
user and signaling traffic. In reality, and as it will be seen later, only a part of the
signaling information will be separated.
During the access step and before separation of traffic flows, the different types of
users have to be handled by signaling procedures. Two solutions were proposed to
realize this:
-

The first one consists in using some of the GSM logical channels. The GPRS
mobile terminal has to detect the BCCH of the cell where it is located and
get the system information. It will then verify the availability of GPRS. If
this is a cell belonging to the same routing area the mobile terminal can
choose this cell and wait for paging messages or use the RACH to activate a
PDP. This RACH indication an access request will be treated by the PCU,
which will assign resources for the packet switched traffic in form of
timeslots reserved for the GPRS service. The Signaling steps and all related
procedures such as the authentication will be performed using the resources
specified in an AGCH message. As you can see, GPRS will share some
resources with GSM, this can be advantageous if enough resources exist but
if in the future GPRS will ask for more resources, separate resources have to
be reserved to it (this is the second solution).
The second one consists in reserving separate logical channels for the GPRS
users. The GPRS mobile terminal will continue to look first to the BCCH of
the cell to verify the availability of GPRS. In case it will detect that specific
resources are reserved for the GPRS users it will try to find the time slot
over which is carried the PBCCH (Packet Broadcast Control Channel).

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Logical Channel
(for GSM Circuit Switched)
BCCH:Broadcast Control Channel

BCH
Broadcast DL FCCH:Frequency Correction Channel
channel
SCH:Synchronisation Channel
PCH:Paging Channel

Signaling

CCCH
AGCH:Access Grant Channel
Common DL
Control
NCH:Notification Channel
Channel

UL
UL
DCCH
Dedicated +
Control
DL
Channel

CGI, FR/EFR/HR, GPRS available


frequency hopping, channel combination,...)
frequency synchronisation,...)
Time synchronisation + BSIC, TDMA-No.

Paging / Searching (MTC)


Allocation of dedicated signalling channel
Notifying MSs

RACH:Random Access Channel

Request for access

SDCCH:Stand Alone Dedicated


Control Channel

Dedicated signaling MS BTSE (Call


Setup, LUP, Security, SMS, CBCH,...)

SACCH:Slow Associated
Control Channel
FACCH:Fast Associated
Control Channel

UL TCH/F:Traffic Channe/Fl
Traffic
+
User Data DL TCH/H:Traffic Channel/H

Measurement Report,
TA, PC, cell parameters,...
Signaling instead of TCH

User traffic (Full Rate)


User traffic (Half Rate)

Fig. 8 "Classical" logical channels of GSM may be used by GPRS users too

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Use of new logical channels for GPRS


In addition to the existing GSM signaling and user circuit switched traffic
channels, the GPRS standard defines a specific new set of logical channels.
These logical channels are named Packet Data Channels (PDCH) and include
The packet traffic is carried over the Packet Traffic Channels (PTCH). These
channels include:
- Packet Data Traffic Channel PDTCH: this channel carries the point to
point and point to multipoint user data, and GPRS mobility management
and session management information.
- Packet Associated Control Channel PACCH: this channel serves to carry
low level signaling information, such as resource allocation and exchange of
power control information, to the mobile terminal.
- Packet Timing advance Control Channel PTCCH
Similarly to the GSM standard, new GPRS signaling channels have been defined in
addition to the packet traffic channels. These channels are named Packet Common
Control Channels and include a set of logical channels, which are used for
common control signaling to start the connection set-up:
- Packet Random Access Channel PRACH
- Packet Paging Channel PPCH
- Packet Access Grant Channel PAGCH
- Packet Notification Channel PNCH: this channel is used for the specific
purpose of initiating a point-to-multipoint multicast connection.
Note that the functions performed by PRACH and PAGCH are very similar to
those of the logical channels RACH and AGCH for non-GPRS-users.
The system information will be transmitted over specific channel named Packet
Broadcast Control Channel PBCCH similar to the GSM BCCH channel.
Note that like in GSM networks, all types of logical channels can be combined in a
physical channel and no separation between traffic and signaling channels is done.
Note that the MAC function responsible for the distribution of physical channels to
the various mobile terminals and the allocation of a radio resource to an MS can
continue using the classical GSM channels.
Note also that the differentiation between logical channels and their contents is
performed by radio block based on the MAC header content.

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Logical Channel
for GPRS
BCH
Broadcast DL
channel

Packet
Signaling

PBCCH:PacketBroadcast Control Channel

Packet System
Information

PPCH: Packet Paging Channel

Paging GPRS-MS
PtP))

CCCH
PNCH: Packet Notification Channel
Common DL
Control
PAGCH: Packet Access Grant Channel
Channel
PRACH:Random Access Channel

UL

UL &
DL

PACCH:Packet Associated
Control Channel

DCCH
Dedicated UL PTCCH/U:Packet Timing Advance Control
Channel Uplink/Downlink
Control
Channel

DL
Traffic
Packet

PTCCH/D

UL & PDTCH:Packet Data Traffic Channel


DL

Paging GPRS-MS
(PtM)
Resource allocation
Access request for
UL packet data transmission
Dedicated signaling MS BTSE
Call Setup, LUP, Security, SMS,
CBCH,...)
Timing advance
Determination and Control

Signaling instead of TCH

Transmission of User data

Fig. 9 New logical channels for GPRS

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1.6 Multiframes in GPRS


The GSM Recommendation 03.64 stipulates that the GPRS packet data traffic has
to be arranged in multiframes including each 52 TDMA frames and forming GPRS
traffic channel multiframes. Each 4 consecutives TDMA frames constitute a radio
block (4 normal bursts, which are related to each other by means of convolutional
coding) and each 12 blocks (B0-B11) constitute a 52-type multiframes.
The thirteenth TDMA frame is always idle and serves to send the traffic carried
over the PTACCH. This traffic includes information concerning the base station
identity codes (BSIC), timing advance, update procedures and interference
measurement needed for the realization of power control.
The GPRS standard specifies that for carrying signaling traffic over packet
common control channels (PCCH) two types of multiframes can be used: the
conventional multiframes containing 51 TDMA frames or the 52-type. The GPRS
users can use the classical GSM common control channels before they will be
directed onto their PTCHs and in all the cases they will read the BCCH. This
logical channel will serve to the indication of the availability of the GPRS service
and if extra logical channels (PBCCH, PPCH, ...) are used, in addition the classical
tasks performed in the GSM networks.
Note that the separation between the GSM circuit switching traffic and the GPRS
packet switching traffic ensures that no conflict will happen due to a difference in
the signaling or multiframe structure.
Note also that for the users using only GSM services no changes will be remarked
due to the GPRS introduction, in fact the GSM circuit switching traffic will
continue to use 26 multiframe structure for TCH and the 51 multiframe structure
for signaling.

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New multiframe for GPRS


PDCH follows 52 multiframe structure
52 Multiframe: 12 Blocks 4 TDMA-frames
PCCCHs: classical 51er Multiframes
or 52er Multiframes
52 TDMA Frames = PDCH Multiframe
4 Frames

1 Frame

B0 B1 B2 i B3 B4 B5 i B6 B7 B8 i B9
B0 - B11 = Radio Blocks (Data / Signaling)
i = Idle frame (PTCCH)
BCCH indicates PDCH with PBCCH (in B0)
DL: this PDCH bears PDCCH & PBCCH
PBCCH in B0 (+ max. 3 further blocks; indicated in B0)
PBCCH indicates PCCCH blocks & further PDCHs
with PCCCH
UL: PDCH with PCCCH: all blocks to be used for
PRACH, PDTCH, PACCH
PDCH without PCCCH: PDTCH & PACCH only

B B
i
10 11

Idle frame:
Identification of BSICs
Timing Advance Update
Procedure
Interference measurements
for Power Control

Fig. 9 New logical channels for GPRS

ORASCOM Telecom Tunisia


Tunis 2004

GPRS Training

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