3 Network Architecture

GSM Basics, Version 2.2

 T.O.P. BusinessInteractive GmbH

Page 1 of 21

3 Network Architecture ............................................................1 3.1 Network Elements and their Basic Functions .................3 3.1.1 Base Station Subsystem (BSS) (1/3) .............................4 3.1.1 Base Station Subsystem (BSS) (2/3) .............................5 3.1.1 Base Station Subsystem (BSS) (3/3) .............................6 3.1.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (1/6) .....................................7 3.1.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (2/6) .....................................8 3.1.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (3/6) .....................................9 3.1.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (4/6) ...................................10 3.1.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (5/6) ...................................11 3.1.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (6/6) ...................................12 3.1.3 Operation & Maintenance Subsystem (OMS) (1/2).....13 3.1.3 Operation & Maintenance Subsystem (OMS) (2/2).....14 3.1.4 Additional GSM Components (1/4) ..............................15 3.1.4 Additional GSM Components (2/4) ..............................16 3.1.4 Additional GSM Components (3/4) ..............................17 3.1.4 Additional GSM Components (4/4) ..............................18 3.2 GSM Network Topology (1/3)...........................................19 3.2 GSM Network Topology (2/3)...........................................20 3.2 GSM Network Topology (3/3)...........................................21

GSM Basics, Version 2.2

 T.O.P. BusinessInteractive GmbH

Page 2 of 21

The Base Station Subsystem BSS provides the connection between the mobile stations and the Network Subsystem NSS. The Operation & Maintenance Subsystem (OMS) monitors BSS and NSS performance.3. you' ll get to know the individual elements of the GSM network and their basic functions. In reality. a mobile telephone call is a simple process.O. Version 2. and remotely debugs occurring faults in the network elements. this call is only possible thanks to a complex network architecture consisting of various different network elements. GSM Basics.2  T. The NSS forwards user signals to other mobiles via the BSS or subscribers in the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). In this lesson. the Short Message Service Center or the Voice Mail System complete the GSM system architecture. Additional components such as interface elements to data networks. and provides necessary customer data. though.P.1 Network Elements and their Basic Functions For the subscriber. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 3 of 21 .

The BTS is also responsible for the monitoring of the signal quality and the encoding and modulation of useful signals. It consists of the following elements: • • The Base Transceiver Station The Base Station Controller and • The Transcoder The central element of one cell of this kind is a transmitting and receiving unit known as a Base Transceiver Station (BTS). signals and control information destined for the OMS and the NSS to the Base Station Controller (BSC). Via the A-bis interface.2  T.3. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 4 of 21 .1. it forwards calls.1 Base Station Subsystem (BSS) (1/3) The Base Station Subsystem ensures as complete a network coverage as possible and includes a large number of structurally organised radio cells. The transceiver. maintains calls to a maximum of 8 mobile stations via one frequency pair each. This makes the connection to the mobile station via the air interface and controls the transceiver (TRX). GSM Basics. Version 2. the central functional unit of the BTS.P.O.

GSM Basics.O. The BSC communicates with the transcoder (TC) via the A-ter interface.2  T. Version 2.1 Base Station Subsystem (BSS) (2/3) Several BTSs are controlled by the Base Station Controller. This assigns free radio channels in the TRX for the link to the mobile station. It controls the necessary output power for mobile station and TRX.1. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 5 of 21 . It monitors the existing radio link to and from the mobile station and controls handover between neighboring radio cells if they are under its control. the BSC monitors its quality and controls disconnection of the radio link when the call is over. or BSC.P. During an existing radio connection.3.

1. BTS. GSM Basics.O.2  T.P. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 6 of 21 .3. Version 2.1 Base Station Subsystem (BSS) (3/3) The transcoder is the third element in the BSS and is needed to convert 64 kbps original speech into a 16 kbps signal of speech description parameters to ensure a spectrum-efficient modulation on the air interface. BSC and TC together form the Base Station Subsystem (BSS).

1.2  T.3.O.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (1/6) The Base Station Subsystem forwards the signals to the Network Subsystem (NSS) where speech and circuit-switched data are controlled and forwarded to other networks if necessary. GSM Basics.P. Version 2. connecting mobile subscribers with each other or with subscribers in other networks such as the Public Switched Telephone Network. or data networks. The MSC serves as a digital exchange for the forwarding of messages. The speech signals processed by the transcoder reach the Mobile Services Switching Center (MSC) via the A interface. The NSS provides data relevant to security and mobility. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 7 of 21 . the ISDN network.

1. route and control mobile telephone calls in GSM networks. . .3. . several registers are connected to the MSC.O. .It is responsible for call data acquisition and the forwarding of signalling information to connected registers or data bases.In order to monitor.It forwards incoming and outgoing calls.It makes a connection to other MSCs in the same mobile radio network and makes connections with other mobile radio networks and to fixed networks.It monitors and controls the calls.P. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 8 of 21 .2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (2/6) The MSC is responsible for the following functions: .2  T. GSM Basics. Version 2.

3. The bills are prepared from these data in the Billing Center.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (3/6) One of these registers is the Visitor Location Register (VLR).O.1. the so-called Location Areas. It assists the MSC in the acquisition of charge-relevant data with subscriber information.P. Version 2. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 9 of 21 . But where does the VLR get the GSM customer data from? GSM Basics. It is designed as a dynamic subscriber file with dedicated geographical areas of responsibility.2  T. but is a functional unit in its own right. The VLR acquires the data of all GSM customers in its areas and is always well informed of their whereabouts. which is usually to be found in the MSC.

Version 2. The HLR data contain information on access rights with regard to roaming. the so-called Home Location Register (HLR).3. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 10 of 21 .O. and additional subscribed services. Inversely.P. in which each network operator registers the customer data necessary for dealing with traffic. there is a register. GSM Basics. and is thus able to give routing information when calls come in.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (4/6) For GSM customer data acquisition. fax and data services. the VLR in question informs the HLR of the location area of the customer. The HLR supplies these data to all VLRs in which the GSM customers involved are to be found at any given moment.2  T. service rights with regard to voice.1.

that is the SIM card. Version 2.P. the authentication of the subscriber is successful. If the data proves to be identical. the AUC provides necessary information to cipher the air interface. The AUC checks the information stored in the Subscriber Identity Module. If the SIM card is stolen. for correspondence with its own register.2  T.O.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (5/6) The Authentication Center (AuC) contains the customer data necessary to protect connections against unauthorised access.1.3. and is mostly integral to the HLR. authorisation to access the network is disabled very easily via the AUC. Additionally. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 11 of 21 . and he is given permission to enter the network. GSM Basics.

This check is carried out independently of the SIM card.1. HLR.P. GSM Basics. and only applies to the mobile station in question. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 12 of 21 . form the Network Subsystem (NSS). Version 2. that is the MSC. and are responsible for security and mobility management. All the components which control and forward the call. VLR. AUC and EIR. The EIR permits the detection of stolen terminal equipment used in GSM networks by checking the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) against the data stored in the EIR.2 Network Subsystem (NSS) (6/6) The Equipment Identity Register (EIR) can be implemented as an option by the network operator.2  T.O.3.

O. manages hardware inventory lists. they are eliminated when necessary via software command or in situ by technicians. 2.3.2  T.3 Operation & Maintenance Subsystem (OMS) (1/2) The GSM network is monitored and controlled from a central point. for example for radio frequencies of a BTS. 3. The Configuration Management function installs the software when new BSS network elements are implemented. GSM Basics.1. This is the Operation and Maintenance Center (OMC). The Fault Management system analyses alarms from the BSS elements.P. The OMC has the following tasks: 1. and changes operation parameters. When faults occur. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 13 of 21 . Version 2. The Software Management system feeds in new software or updates and manages the software inventory lists.

1. NSS and OMS are vital for the operation of a GSM network. and on recommendations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). All NMC and OMC of a certain defined geographical area form the third subsystem. GSM Basics. Depending on the network operator. for example the Dropped Call Rate in percent. The three subsystems BSS. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 14 of 21 . or OMS.3 Operation & Maintenance Subsystem (OMS) (2/2) The Network Management Center (NMC) assumes special functions in the context of OMS which are not defined in the GSM standard but are based on definitions of the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO). Version 2. The interfaces within and between the subsystems are mostly specified by the ETSI. • Capacity bottlenecks in the network are detected.P. and • The service quality is monitored.2  T.3. An NMC carries out functions of Performance Management • Alarms and fault elimination times are evaluated statistically. the NMC functions are carried out in a centralised or decentralised way in the geographical areas.O. the Operation and Maintenance Subsystem.

P.1. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 15 of 21 . The Administration Center is connected to the Personalization Center for SIM Cards (PCS) via an interface.2  T. GSM includes a number of additional components. The socalled Call Detail Records are used in the Billing Center for bill preparation.3. Version 2.4 Additional GSM Components (1/4) For dealing with customer support and supplying certain services. This makes it possible to disable the SIM card if necessary and protect it from abuse. The Administration & Billing Center ABC transfers customer data to the appropriate registers of the NSS and into the AUC and the HLR. GSM Basics.O.

Version 2. The VMS can have interfaces to several MSCs and to the Short Message Service Center.e.3. data and fax messages spread over the network. The subscriber can either request them from the VMS or he is notified via SMS. If a subscriber has switched off his mobile station or can't be reached for other reasons.4 Additional GSM Components (2/4) The Voice Mail System (VMS) is a memory system for voice.1.O. a large-scale answering machine. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 16 of 21 .P.2  T. i. GSM Basics. the messages are not sent to his mobile station but are fed directly into the VMS and stored there.

Point-to-point short messages are alphanumerical messages with a maximum basic length of 160 characters. The Cell Broadcast SMS.P.4 Additional GSM Components (3/4) Via the Short Message Service Center (SMS-C).e. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 17 of 21 . and transmitted to the mobile stations via all connected BTSs at regular intervals.1.3. network operators. service providers and private customers can send short messages directly onto the mobile station of any subscriber. is a "one-way" communication from the network to all mobile phones in certain geographical areas. The messages with a basic length of 93 alphanumerical characters are entered in the OMC.2  T. In the SMS-C. i. which are entered directly via the keyboard of the mobile phone. Version 2. Compression and concatenating techniques increase the number of transmitted characters. GSM Basics.O. the service offering point-to-multipoint short messages. the short messages are stored temporarily and forwarded to the recipient. fed centrally into the BSC.

The Interworking Function (IWF).4 Additional GSM Components (4/4) In order that data can be fed into the GSM network from packet-switched networks such as the Internet or company Intranets. public data networks and WAP servers. This is an external data server connected to the different data networks. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 18 of 21 .O.2  T. connects the circuit-switched GSM data traffic to the existing packet-oriented networks. a so-called Interworking Function (IWF) is required. In GSM Phase 2. The IWF translates the unstructured incoming packet-switched data into circuit-switched signals which can be understood by GSM.P. It converts protocols and adapts the data rate for the BSS. in other words. the Internet. GSM Basics. Version 2. corporate networks. A firewall upstream of the IWF protects the GSM network from unauthorised access by hackers.1.3. integral to the MSC. only circuit-switched data services are supported.

P.2 GSM Network Topology (1/3) In GSM. if reasonable. GSM Basics.2  T. the Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) is a cellular network with a hierarchical structure. It provides the network coverage. so the location of the subscriber is known to the network via a VLR linked to the MSC. radio channels. The smallest unit is the radio cell. Various areas controlled by one BSC each form a location area controlled by a VLR. or. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 19 of 21 .3. It is also possible for a Location Area to cover one BSC only.O. in other words. which the BTS supplies with frequencies. Several radio cells are put together to form administrative areas controlled by a BSC. or even one cell. If a mobile phone subscriber changes to a new Location Area. a Location Update takes place automatically. Version 2.

the BTS transmits frequencies in two times 180 degrees.2 GSM Network Topology (2/3) If a BTS is in the centre of exactly one cell. we speak of an omnidirectional radio cell. The cell is aligned along the course of the road to be covered. With a sectored radio cell.P. In densely populated areas. though. Base Transceiver Stations are preferentially configured in 2 sectors.O. The BTS transmits its frequencies with omnidirectional characteristics and a high output.2  T. Omnidirectional radio cells are used particularly in relatively sparsely populated rural areas. GSM Basics. Version 2. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 20 of 21 . One way of doing this is the sectorization of radio cells. On motorways. the network must supply higher capacities. the BTS can supply up to three radio cells in 3 times 120 degrees with several frequencies each. For example.3.

2 GSM Network Topology (3/3) In densely populated cities. GSM Basics. This is because there can often be zones of missing coverage between sector cells. These take over the radio supply on the platform or. BTS with a low output are used in underground stations. we often find a combination of omnidirectional cells and sector cells. BusinessInteractive GmbH Page 21 of 21 . A superordinated omnidirectional umbrella cell takes over the radio supply for scattered individual mobile stations located in these locally occurring receptionless zones and for rapidly moving mobile stations used on motorways and in high-speed trains. for example.O. Version 2.3. so-called microcells are used. Rapidly moving mobile stations in particular are supplied via the larger umbrella zones.P.2  T. Thus. In order to supply areas with a large number of mobile phone users. in order to avoid as far as possible handovers taking place in rapid succession. with special antennae. in the subway tunnels.