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Global System for Mobile Communications



GSM: Ubiquitous and Pervasive Planning Jered McClure Walden University

Global System for Mobile Communications


GSM: Ubiquitous and Pervasive Planning A basic cellular network (known as a mobile network in some places) is a requirement for modern everyday life. Children born today will never know a world without remote cellular access. As such, contemplation of the various parts and categories which make up such networks should be made by any technology professional. After all, wireless cellular access is only going to become more pervasive and ubiquitous as time moves forward. The most highly used cellular network today, which is fully duplexed, is the Global System for Mobile Communications, or GSM network (Roethig, 2013). A GSM network is divided into primarily four parts connected in a semi-chain: 1. The Mobile Station (MS) 2. Base Station Subsystem (BSS) a. Operating and Support Subsystem (OSS) 3. Network and Switching Subsystem (NSS) a. Operation and Support Subsystem (OSS) (University College London: Computer Science Department, NA) Each of these parts is a requirement within the network and cannot function in their entirety without interacting with each of the connecting layers up and down the chain. The Operating Support Subsystem (OSS) being the fourth link acting as an intermediary between the BSS and NSS. Mobile Stations (MS) are everywhere and common in today’s society. They are our phones, laptops, tablets, smart watches, and even sensors. These devices each contain a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card which securely identifies the device

Global System for Mobile Communications


subscription to the network. These SIM cards ensure that no unauthorized access can be made to the network via Challenge/Response Messages (CRM) with the BSS (Tutorials Point, 2013). The SIM must have the validating credentials of the given BSS’s cellular network. Once proven, the MS is given access to the network. Thus freeloaders are prevented from gaining unauthorized access to the GSM network. The Base Station Subsystem (BSS) is usually defined in the form of a radio tower, or cell, which transmits and receives communications from MSs. It takes these transmissions and routes them through to the NSS, usually via fixed land line such as fiber optics. Each BSS’s range is defined by its Base Transceiver Station’s (BTS) power (Tutorials Point, 2013) (University College London: Computer Science Department, NA). That is, a larger BTS power rating equals a larger transmission radius, or cell. As such, as a MS travels through multiple BSS cell zones, it connects to the BSS with the highest power rating, and disconnects after confirming solid connection through CRM. What this means in terms of BSS towers is that there will be differing levels of cell overlap depending on the location and requirements of the network. For instance, the metropolitan area will have a standard BSS with high powered BTSs; high traffic zones within the city, e.g. a business district, will have a micro BSS with a medium powered BTS; and lower traffic zones, such as a corporate office, will have a pico BSS with a low powered BTS (See Figure 1 at the end of this paper for an example of this) (Seurre, Savelli, & Pietre, 2003, p. 1.4.2). These overlapping cell zones create a seamless connection stream for GSM users. That is, users will pass from one BSS zone to another, without ever having made a physical intervention with their MS device.

Global System for Mobile Communications


As the network itself is used differently depending upon its physical location, it is likely that there will be quite a bit of cost savings by ensuring that an area has exactly the right amount of coverage. For instance, residential areas will only require a standard BSS BTS as their usage will be much lower in terms of overall network traffic. However, in the business district there will be a need to ensure that all areas of corporate offices have coverage to some capacity. This does not, however, mean that multiple high powered standard BTSs will need to be built. The lower powered micro and pico BSS BTSs can be used to fill in any coverage caps that the larger standard BTS is not able to meet. Thus saving both build time and capital. The users of a GSM network range from the personal at home parent to the CEO of the multinational conglomerate based downtown. Private use is generally relegated to voice and small amounts of data, while corporate use is voice and high data usage. Additionally, usage times will be regulated based upon working hours of the municipality. That is, where work times range from 8AM to 5PM, GSM usage will likely peak half way through between 11AM and 1PM. This means that additional load capacity and customer service care will be required at these times over any other (See figure 2 for example). Ubiquitous and pervasive cellular technology is now the norm. Understanding and knowing how these technologies interact with us is a key component in ensuring future ubiquity. GSM, being one of the most pervasive and longest lasting cellular technologies is a fantastic example of how mobile devices connect and communicate with little to no user interaction. However, such communications require urban planning of how, when, and where to place cells for maximum use and profitability.

Global System for Mobile Communications


Reference Roethig, B. J. (2013, March 4). GSM, CDMA and LTE: A Guide to Mobile Network Standards. Retrieved October 25, 2013, from Seurre, E., Savelli, P., & Pietre, J.-P. (2003). Network Architecture. In E. Seurre, P. Savelli, & J.P. Pietre, GPRS for Mobile Internet (p. 1.4). Norwood, MA: Artech House. Tutorials Point. (2013). GSM - Security and Encryption. Retrieved October 25, 2013, from Tutorials Point: Tutorials Point. (2013). GSM - The Base Station Subsystem (BSS). Retrieved October 25, 2013, from Tutorials Point: University College London: Computer Science Department. (NA). GSM: Network Architecture. Retrieved October 25, 2013, from UCL: Department of Computer Science:

Global System for Mobile Communications


Index Figure 1 – BSS with differing levels of BTSs

Figure 2 – Standby BSS BTS for peak usage