BSS Interface

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Within the BSS, the user- and signalling data is transported over a series of interfaces The A interface connects the Mobile Services Switching Center (MSC) with the Transcoder TC The A-ter interface connects the Transcoder with the Base Station Controller (BSC) The A-bis interface connects the BSC with the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) Finally, the data is transmitted to the mobile station via the air interface Um

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Let's consider the PCM30 configuration as an example for the frame structure of data transmission between the MSC and the mobile station, to understand the dataflow at the A interface, the A-ter, A-bis and Um interfaces We see that the 4 A-links are mapped onto one A-ter link 4 A-channels of 64 kbps each are mapped onto an A-ter channel consisting of 4 subchannels of 16 kbps each In total, the 128 channels of 4 A-links are reduced to the 32 channels of one A-ter link, which are numbered consecutively from 0 to 31 The SS7 signalling, which in our example is to be found in timeslot No 16, is transmitted from A to A-ter transparently, i.e. unchanged

known as O&M alarms. A TDMA frame. . which we will discuss in more detail later in the course. portions the stream of physical channels or timeslots on a particular carrier frequency into periods Its timeslots are numbered consecutively from 0 to 7.• • • • • The frame structure consisting of 32 channels is also found at the A-bis interface Channel 0 is used for synchronization. the information from A-bis is transmitted to the air interface Um via the TRXs. which carries the data to the mobile station. the radio transceivers of the BTS Two A-bis channels of 4 subchannels each correspond exactly to the eight timeslots of a TDMA frame. as well as signalling and voice data Finally. the remaining 31 channels transmit warning information for operation and maintenance of the BTS. and can be assigned to one TRX.



Thus the air interface has an overall bit rate of 2048 kbps. As an open interface it is not tied to a specific producer The A-interface is an ISDN-S2M interface that has been adjusted to GSM with a data rate of 64 kbps per timeslot In the PCM30 configuration. which is generally used in the USA. or SS7.• • • • • • • The A-interface transmits user and signalling data between the MSC and the transcoder It's the second completely standardized interface in GSM after the air interface. . The PCM24 configuration. and timeslot number 16 contains signalling information in the No 7 signalling system format. each frame has clearly defined channels for signalling and synchronisation information. uses 24 traffic channels In both configurations. the A interface contains 30 traffic channels Timeslot number 0 takes over synchronization tasks.

which are subsequently transmittted to the BSC in a 64 kbps physical A-ter timeslot Conversely.• • • • • 4 traffic channels of the A interface are bundled into four A-ter channels of 16 kbps each. which is the bit rate typically used in fixed networks Signalling channels are not transcoded At the A-ter interface. signals coming from the BSC are transcoded from 16 to 64 kbps. 120 speech channels of 16 kbps each form a 2 Mbit/s multiplex connection Four times as many A links as A-ter links are necessary to transmit the same amount of voice data .

that is to say the calculability of speech. are extracted in 20 ms segments from the 64 kbps signal so that descriptive parameters in 16 kbps signals are generated • The prediction algorithms. that is the volume. the base frequency. which lasted until 1995.• Now let's turn to a procedure which takes the original speech. and the tone. and generates the speech description parameters in the TC • During the first phase of GSM. make the data less sensitive to the interference a signal meets on its way from and to the mobile station at the air interface . a speech codec in the MS and in the transcoder was specified as the Full-Rate Codec • The basic characteristics of speech.

Considering the pauses in the dialogue. i.e.• • In GSM. This has two fundamental disadvantages: – – Since the mobile station must send for the whole duration of the call. we will find that the average occupation of the radio link is less than 40%. when the subscriber is only listening. transmitting power is used even in silence intervals. . all voice signals are transmitted the same way and in a continuous data stream The channel is occupied even during silence intervals. This wastes the mobile station's battery power Other subscribers using the same frequency in distant cells could be disturbed more than necessary • • Therefore it is logical to switch off the sender whenever the subscriber is not actively transmitting information. and also the pauses between and within the sentences. Discontinuous Transmission (DTX) is a remedy to this problem.

must simulate a functioning channel for the user In GSM this is called "comfort noise". It is the background noise analysed before the MS is switched off. a "stopgap" in the receiver. re-generated by the TC The comfort noise is even updated during a speech pause. by the mobile station transmitting relevant information to the TC . which in the uplink is the corresponding transcoder element in the TC. a function known as voice activity detection switches off the sender of a mobile station whenever there is no data to be transmitted During speech pauses.• • • • In DTX.

the data at this interface is transmitted via cable or via microwave transmission at a bit rate of 2 Mbit/s A cable connection is more resistent to interference. but they are more sensitive to interference 4 types of information can be transmitted over the A-bis interface: – – – – user information synchronisation data signalling information and data for the operation and maintenance of the BTS. and are easily configured by the network operator. known as O&M alarms .• • • • • The A-bis interface connects the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) with the Base Station Controller (BSC) In the PCM30 configuration. but a network operator must lease it from a fixed network operator The microwave links can be operated independently.

from the BSC to the transceivers of the BTS Today's BSC .BTS connection can also be configured as a dynamic link with variable signaling and traffic time slots. timeslot 0 of the A-bis interface is used for synchronization The remaining 31 timeslots of the PCM30 configuration carry data from and to the transceivers of the BTS. In PCM30. 4 traffic channels of 16 kbps each are sub-multiplexed and transmitted from the BTS to the BSC in a physical A-bis time slot The same happens in the downlink. the channels of the A-bis interface are directly connected to the timeslots of the radio transmission at the air interface The physical data rate is 64 kbps. i. as well as signalling information and O&M alarms In the uplink. only in the opposite direction. according to the current traffic situation .• • • • • • In the basic configuration.e.

• • • • • Two PCM30 channels can be assigned to one TRX These channels consist of 4 sub-timeslots each. to at least 1 TRX per cell. by mapping 8 PCM30 sub-timeslots onto one TDMA frame consisting of timeslots 0 to 7. where it uses timeslot 0 to be transmitted over the air interface . the signalling information is carried in specific A-bis timeslots of 64 kbps each. the entire TDMA frame of the TRX would theoretically be available for the transmission of payload data But then there wouldn't be enough space left for the necessary signalling traffic from and to the mobile stations According to a fixed. producer-. Each PCM30-subtimeslot corresponds to a timeslot in the TRX Thus. or in 16 kbps sub-timeslots. and configuration-specific pattern.

Up to 10 transceivers can be assigned to a connection . and O&M information from and to up to 15 transceivers In the PCM24 configuration. and on the configuration. not transmitted over the air interface.• • • • • Special timeslots carry the O&M alarm traffic between the OMC and the BTS over the BSC The information is. of course. each A-bis connection in the PCM30 configuration may transport user information. 24 channels achieve an overall bit rate of 1536 kbps at the A-bis interface. each 16 kbps of a traffic channel consist of 13 kbps of payload and 3 of inband signalling between the BTS and the transcoder Only the 13 kbps of payload data may be transmitted over the air interface Depending on the producer. signalling information. As we could see at the A-ter interface.

or if it detects an error within itself. for example in timeslot 16 The TRX-related signalling between the BSC and the BTS is transmitted over the A-bis interface at 16. over the A-bis interface at 16 or at 64 kbps If the BSC is unable to correct the errors that caused the alarms. and using timeslot 0 The transcoder merely forwards the SS7 signalling between the MSC and the BSC This is done transparently. both over the A and over the A-ter interface. A-ter and Abis: – – – – – – – Each of these three interfaces transmits information for the synchronization of the individual network elements point-to-point. at a bit rate of 64 kbps. at a data rate of 64 kbps. depending on the producer O&M alarms from the transcoder are transmitted to the BSC over the A-ter interface at 16 kbps.• Let's summarize what we have learned about the three terrestrial interfaces A. 32 or 64 kbps. it informs the OMC directly. or forwards the alarms from the BTS or TC to it . or as inband signals through a normal traffic channel O&M alarms from the BTS are transmitted to the BSC. which is also the O&M master for the entire BSS.

and is up to the manufacturer or to the operator.and also at 16 kbps per subchannel over the A-bis interface SMS messages are transmitted via signalling channels The number of physical timeslots that's available for the transmission of signalling information over the air interface depends on the configuration. . at 16 kbps over the A-ter interface . which is transmitted at a data rate of 64 kbps over the A interface.after being turned into transcoded speech or rate adapted data .• • • Let's consider the transmission of speech and user data.


is the weakest part of a radio link.• Within mobile radio networks. data is transmitted over PCM lines at a bit rate of 2 Mbit/s • Air transmission is used between the mobile station and the BTS. In GSM. and reliability . a lot is done to ensure high quality. security. and the information transmitted over the air interface must be adjusted to the PCM lines so it can pass through the rest of the network • The air interface. or Um.

and the downlink signal goes in the opposite direction . The difference between the frequency pair is fixed and is called "duplex frequency“ In GSM 900. the duplex frequency is 95 MHz. the uplink frequency range 890 to 915 MHz. the downlink frequency range between 1805 and 1880 MHz In GSM 1900. The uplink frequency lies between 1850 and 1910 MHz. the duplex frequency is 80 MHz.• • • • • • • At the air interface. the frequencies are arranged in pairs Each uplink frequency has a downlink frequency permanently assigned to it The uplink signal goes from the mobile station to the base station. Accordingly. The uplink frequency range lies between 1710 and 1785 MHz. is assigned to a frequency range of 935 to 960 MHz in the downlink In GSM 1800. the duplex frequency is 45 MHz. and the downlink frequency between 1930 and 1990 MHz .from the base station to the mobile The arrangement in pairs is what actually enables simultaneous communication.


and 299 in GSM 1900 . or transceivers (TRX) for short In GSM networks. are known as transmitter & receivers. the transmission over the air interface is digital. which already have been introduced In Frequency Division Multiple Access . 374 in GSM 1800.or within the same cell . but occupy different frequencies The FDMA method uses different carrier frequencies . Digital transmission in GSM is based on a combination of the FDMA.or FDMA .different frequency channels are assigned to each BTS Mobile phones in neighbouring cells .124 in GSM 900.and the TDMA methods.can be used simultaneously.• • • • • The BTS elements which send and receive radio signals in the downlink and uplink channels.

• Time Division Multiple Access. or information on signalling and synchronization . each mobile station sends and receives information only on the timeslot it has been assigned • These timeslots are either used to transmit voice data. a frequency is occupied by one subscriber for the duration of the call • In TDMA systems. on the other hand.each subscriber is assigned its own time unit. or TDMA. is a method where several subscribers share one frequency . which is known as a timeslot • In analog mobile systems.

is called modulation Modulation takes advantage of the physical characteristics of analog signals. their frequency.the transmission of digital information to the air interface .• • • • • To send digital information over the air interface. or their phase GSM uses a specific phase modulation known as the Gaussian Minimum Shift Keying. depending whether the digital value to be transmitted is 1 or 0 Signals can be modulated on the basis of their amplitude. and changes them in a certain way. or GMSK . the analog radio signals must be interpreted as bit signals This process .

splits a radio frequency into consecutive periods known as TDMA frames A TDMA frame. which are referred to as time slots These time slots represent the physical basis for data transmission Therefore they are also called physical channels The radio signal between the mobile station and the BTS consists of a continuous stream of time slots. the physical channels provide the resources used to transmit specific types of information The types of information and the functions define the logical channels The logical channels differ according to the function they fulfil in data transmission . or TDMA.• • • • • • • • Time Division Multiple Access. consists of 8 short time units. organized in TDMA frames. in turn. Each connection is always assigned one timeslot Thus.

is organised in 51 TDMA periods of 4. which is 6. 28 minutes. or 51 of the "short" 26-multiframes form a superframe.• • • • • • • • • To organize the radio transmission. various frame types consisting of numbered timeslots are specified in GSM. or timeslots. contain their information organised in 26 TDMA periods of time known as a multi-frame This is 26 x 4. A timeslot is 0. and to support cyphering at the air interface . The numbered timeslots are continuously numbered off by the mobile station A simple TDMA frame consists of eight physical channels. normally provided in time slot 0. which makes 235 ms altogether. A burst is the content of a physical channel Information is transmitted as bursts each TDMA frame period Traffic channels. and 760 ms long TDMA frames. 53 seconds.62 ms each. 26 of these "long" 51-multiframes.12 seconds The largest transmission unit defined is the hyperframe.e. which contains 2. time slots 0 to 7 in a basic TRX configuration. superframes and the hyperframe can be considered as counters to organize user and signalling information within the TRX. Signaling information.557 ms long Thus a simple TDMA frame is 4.62 ms long The length of a timeslot is also referred to as the burst period. multiframes.62 ms = 120 ms long.048 superframes and is 3 hours. i.

each mobile station sends its digital voice data at regular periodic well as security information. using a different timeslot to the other mobile stations within the same cell The medium for this transmission process is the timeslots. . which would destroy the transmitted information Therefore. The content of such a channel is also known as a burst Bursts consist of different data blocks containing payload. which connects the BTS and the BSC as the A-bis interface It is very important that all mobile stations within a cell send their digital information at the right moment. to guarantee high data reliability and transmission quality. or physical channels.• • • • • The information which is physically transmitted over the air interface Um via the physical channels must be converted into a 16 kbps signal within a 2 Mbit/s Frame. in order to avoid collisions at the timeslots of the air interface.

we will now look at how a mobile station logs on to the network . and are not directed to a specific target They are used to broadcast information area-wide to all the mobile stations within the service area of a BTS This is general signaling information.• • • • • • • • • • • • • In GSM. and not a particular plant in it. we use a watering can. we use a jet of water This metaphor corresponds to the Dedicated Channels These are always directed to a particular addressee Various types of signalling channels. for example to log onto the network and cell-broadcast SMS If. facilitate communication between the mobile station and the mobile radio network And. on the other hand. known as the dedicated control channels. traffic channels that carry user speech and data also belong to this category To understand the tasks of the individual logical channels. of course. and the common channels Let's explain the difference between the two with a metaphor from gardening If we want to water a whole area. there are two types of logical channels: – – the dedicated channels. This metaphor describes the common channels These supply their data according to the principle of "equal shares for all". we only want to water a specific plant and deliberately leave out the neighbouring ones.


which is also sent by the BTS. additional information has to be transmitted from the BTS to the mobile The Cell Broadcast Channel CBCH is used for this purpose to transmit geographical parameters. for example location-dependent services. to the mobile The FCCH.• • • • • • • • • • • • • After the subscriber has switched on his mobile station and typed in his PIN code. the mobile station searches for a network But how does it log on to the network the subscriber is registered with? For this purpose. the mobile is able to decide whether it has chosen the proper network. supplies the mobile station with additional information about the selected cell. it picks out the strongest received signal The Synchronization Channel (SCH) then helps the mobile station to synchronize itself to timeslot 0 sent out by the BTS This means the mobile station must adjust to the rhythm given by the BTS The SCH contains the TDMA frame number as well as the Base Station Identity Code. the BTS sends out the Frequency Correction Channel (FCCH) at short regular intervals. to help the mobile station find a frequency for downlink reception and adjust its frequency oscillator for the uplink transmission To do so. for example for ciphering For some Value Added Services. and exist only in the downlink They are the first logical channels belonging to the Common Channels. SCH. the Broadcast Control Channel (BCCH). it starts the same procedure again trying with the second strongest FCCH received While the mobile station uses the FCCH to adjust its frequency. for example Gauss-Krueger-Coordinates of the BTS. BCCH and CBCH are Broadcast Channels. and the SCH for synchronization and network identification. If not. . containing basic information about the network operator that can be compared with the info stored on the SIM card After this step.

or initiate a call. or only in the downlink When a subscriber is called. which carries its identification and request. the Paging Channel (PCH) is broadcast in the downlink by all base stations within a Location Area. and before it can initiate calls. for example for registration. Common Control Channels are required Common Control Channels are "point-to-multipoint" channels. so that the mobile station concerned can react To initiate a call. . The PCH. to the network This channel only exists in the uplink. RACH and AGCH form the group of the Common Control Channels belonging also to the Common Channels. which exist either only in the uplink. by granting it a Stand-Alone Dedicated Control Channel. and has picked out the best cell available But before it can be reached by other subscribers. For this purpose. to assign resources to the mobile station.• • • • • • • • The mobile station has now adjusted its frequency and synchronized its TDMAs. the mobile station sends out a Random Access Channel (RACH). In return. the network sends the Access Grant Channel (AGCH) in the downlink direction. a Location Update and authentication procedure are necessary Only after that is the mobile station logged on to the network and has radio coverage It can now be reached by other mobile stations. SDCCH.

and is used for power control and to handle the exact temporal alignment of the channels. the so-called Timing Advance If the subscriber moves into the service area of another BTS. Also. the handover command needed is transmitted over the FACCH. During the call. for example authentication. and it transmits short messages The SACCH is always linked with an SDCCH or a traffic channel. ciphering or call set-up. it assigns a traffic channel. This channel is also used for every call release. FACCH data is transported over the Traffic Channel assigned The Dedicated Control Channels are bidirectional point-to-point channels and belong to the group of Dedicated Channels .• • • • A Stand-alone Dedicated Control Channel (SDCCH) has to be assigned to the mobile station to exchange the requested signaling with the network. It sends measurement reports to the network.

and also belong to the group of dedicated channels There are two different channel types supporting different gross bit rates The Traffic Channel Full rate (TCH/F) has a gross bit rate of 22.• • • • User speech and data are transmitted over the traffic channels we have already spoken about. It is used for speech encoded by a Full Rate or Enhanced Full Rate codec as well as for user data encapsulating a net bit rate of 9.4 kbps with GPRS The Traffic Channel Half rate (TCH/H) supports 11.6 kbps for standard bearer services. .4 kbps per timeslot in the case of HSCSD. 14. or up to 21.4 kbps and is only used for Half Rate codec speech.8 kbps. Traffic channels are bidirectional.

• Dedicated Channels contain point-to-point signalling. RACH. such as SDCCH. finally. BCCH. PCH. SACCH and FACCH. such as TCH/F and TCH/H. SCH. Common channels include FCCH. or traffic.• Let us sum up what we just learned about the classification of logical channels. All contain point-tomultipoint signaling information. . AGCH and. CBCH.



This procedure is organized in two consecutive processes: block coding and convolutional coding. GSM performs channel coding.• • • To be able to detect and correct bit errors at the air interface. required or unimportant for speech intelligibility. That means a copy of the data is made so the data can be restored if necessary. which define if the data is important. . In block coding. Channel coding increases the bit rate necessary at the air interface from 13 to 22.5 % in the secured relevant data.8 kbps. With convolutional coding. the information relevant to speech intelligibility is doubled with an arithmetical operation. This procedure allows to fully compensate bit error rates of up to 12. the parameters describing the speech data are first subdivided into three classes.

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