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GSM Tutorial-Page1

This GSM tutorial covers GSM basics, network architecture, network elements, system
specifications, applications, GSM burst types, GSM frame structure or frame hierarchy, logical
channels, physical channels, GSM physical layer or speech processing, GSM mobile phone
network entry or call setup or Power ON procedure, MO/MT call, VAMOS, AMR, MSK/GMSK
modulation, physical layer, protocol stack, mobile phone basics, RF planning, PS call downlink
and PS call uplink.

GSM introduction
GSM is the short form of Global System for Mobile Communications. It is called 2G or Second
Generation technology. It is developed to make use of same subscriber units or mobile phone
terminals throughout the world. There are various GSM standards such as GSM900, EGSM900,
GSM1800 and GSM 1900; they mainly differ based on RF carrier frequency band and
bandwidth. This gsm tutorial covers network architecture, network elements, various interfaces,
specifications, GSM frame structure or GSM frame hierarchy, GSM burst types, GSM physical
layer, GSM physical channels, GSM logical channels and their functions, logical channel
mapping, GSM mobile network entry procedure, GSM MO call and GSM MT call, VAMOS
basics, AMR basics and MSK & GMSK modulation types.

GSM Network Architecture GSM network is consists of Mobile station, Base station
subsystem and Network and operation subsystem. Following figure depicts complete GSM

ystem network architecture.

Fig.1 GSM Network Architecture

Mobile Station- This Mobile station is GSM mobile phone equipment which houses DSP,RF
chip and SIM(subscriber Identity Module). This SIM is enough to carry to avail the service of
GSM network. SIM contains subscriber related all the information, network with which
subscriber is subscribed with and encryption related information.
Base station Subsystem- Base station subsystem houses Base Transceiver station-BTS and Base
station controller-BSC. This subsystem take care of radio control related functions and provides
GSM air interface for GSM mobile phones to connect with GSM network. To provide GSM
service, region/city on earth is divided into various cells. The cell size is usually about 100m to
about 35 km. BTS coverage is limited to this cell. Like this many BTSs cover entire region. All
this BTSs are interfaced with one BSC in various ways mesh, star etc. This BSC takes care of
radio frequency assignments to the mobile phones, takes care of handoff within BSS i.e. between
one BTS and the other BTS.
Network Subsystem (NSS) - This subsystem provides interface between cellular system and

circuit switched telephone network i.e. PSTN. It performs switching and operation &
maintenance related functions. NSS takes care of call processing functions such as call setup,
switching, tear down and also hand over between BSCs. NSS takes care of security and
authentication related functions. There are various network elements in this subsystem as
mentioned in GSM network architecture above. They are explained below. These are basically
database elements.
HLR-Home Location Register, it stores permanent and temporary subscriber related
VLR- Visitor Location Register, it stores visitor subscriber related information about its
facilities, the network it is subscribed to, and its home location and so on.
AUC- Authentication center, used to authenticate activities in the system. It holds encryption (A5
key) and authentication keys (A3 key)in both HLR and VLR.
EIR- Equipment Identification Register, it helps in security as it keeps track of equipment type
available in Mobile Station or Terminal.

GSM Interfaces
Air interface between Mobile station and BTS
Abis interface between BTS and BSC
A interface between BSC and MSC
SS7 interface between MSC and PSTN
Refer GSM network interfaces page of gsm tutorial for detailed description.

GSM system Specifications

Access Method- TDMA/FDMA
Uplink frequency band- 890 to 915 MHz
Downlink frequency band- 935 to 960 MHz
System Bandwidth- 200 KHz
No. of frequency channels or ARFCN (Absolute Radio Frequency Channel Number)-124
Users per channel-8
Frame duration-4.615ms
Spectral efficiency-1.35 b/s/Hz
Data rate per user- 33.6 kbps (270.833 kbps Gross data rate for 8 users/8users)
The GSM tutorial cover almost all the aspects of GSM technology other than network interfaces,
architecture and system specifications mentioned on this page. Refer the links mentioned on the
left side panel for the same.

CDMA vs GSM-Difference between CDMA and GSM

This page on CDMA vs GSM describes difference between CDMA and GSM technical
Both the GSM and CDMA are cellular wireless technologies. They have been developed to
support voice as well as data communications between various subscribers located across the
world. In GSM, GPRS is used to support the data services.
GSM is developed and specified in 3GG as well as ETSI. CDMA is specified in US standard
IS95 and also 3GPP.
About GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication): This technology uses TDMA/FDMA
access scheme in order to assign channels to the different subscribers to utilize the service from
the service operator's base stations. One frequency and one time slot (f1,t1) is needed for one
way communication and a pair for two-way communication( (f1,t1) and (f2,t2) ).
About CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access): This technology uses PN codes for
communication between subscribers and NodeBs. As the PN codes are unique to the users,
information is extracted by despreading at the receiver using the same PN code which is used at
the transmit side. Pls. note that information is not retrieved using (time,frequency) assignment in
CDMA. All the different PN codes will utilize the same frequency/time in order to communicate.
CDMA uses 1xEV-DO and EV-DV versions in 3rd generation. CDMA has edge over GSM due
to its immunity to interference as well as jamming.
In GSM, as the available transmission BW is small and hence leads to compromise in quality of
voice transmission.
In CDMA entire transmission BW is utilized and hence voice quality can be enhanced.
In GSM(i.e. TDMA/FDMA), cell frequency planning is more tedium task as frequency and time
planning need to be carried out in CDMA frequency planning is minimal.
GSM (due to TDMA) is a band-limited system. CDMA is a power limited system. Following
table mentions difference between CDMA and GSM technologies.

CDMA Tutorial

This CDMA tutorial describes CDMA basics by explaining PN Sequence codes, Walsh
codes,CDMA Physical layer for Base Station and Mobile Subscriber. CDMA is the short form of
Code Division Multiple Access. It is the technique by which same frequency and time interval is
used by Mobile subscribers/ Base Stations by way of unique digital codes. There are two main
types of codes used in CDMA, PN sequence codes and walsh codes.
In CDMA Base Station (BTS) to Mobile Subscriber Stations path is called forward link and
Mobile subscriber stations to BTS path is called reverse link.

PN Sequence codes
PN sequence codes are used in reverse link. These codes differentiates various mobile
subscribers at base station as they are unique to all mobile subscribers. There are access and
traffic channels used from mobile to Base station in CDMA. PN sequence is a sequence of binary
numbers which appears to be random but it is periodic in nature. For example, 3 bit PN sequence
is generated with the LFSR(Linear Feedback Shift Register) shown below.

Say initial output bit pattern is '001' . The same pattern repeats after 2^3-1 or 7 patterns. There
are two types of PN sequences used in CDMA, 15 bit pattern and 42 bit pattern.

PN sequence properties: 1. Difference of number of 0's and 1's always be equal to 1 in any PN
2. Correlation value of any two PN codes is determined by following equation.
(No. of like bits- No. of unlike bits) / (Total no. of bits)
Consider PN sequence of pattern 1110010, If both the patterns are same without any delay then
correlation value is 7-0/7, leads to 1 i.e. maximum value.
For a bit change in this PN codes leads to bit pattern equal to 0111001 and it will give correlation
value of 3-4/7 i.e. -1/7. Hence it is easy to get back the data of the Mobile/Base station if the PN
code is known.
3. For N bit code, there will be N ones or zero runs. 1/2 of run will be of length 1, 1/4 of run will
be of length 2, 1/8 of run will be of length 3 and so on.

Walsh codes
Walsh code is called Hadamard Transform. Few of the codes are mentioned below. Walsh codes
are orthogonal to each other, Walsh codes differentiates each channel on forward link from Base
station to Mobile Subscribers. They are unique for all the channels. There are pilot, sync, paging
and traffic channels on this forward link path. W0 is used for pilot channel, W32 is used for sync
channel, W1 to W7 are used for paging channel and rest of the 64 Walsh codes are used for
traffic channels in IS 95 version of CDMA. There are 256 Walsh codes in CDMA-2000 version.
Following figure is of CDMA Physical layer for Mobile Subscriber. Walsh code of length n will
have n rows of n x n matrix.
For Example W2= [0 0
0 1]
W4=[0 0 0 0
0 1 1 0]
Walsh Codes properties 1. Cross correlation between two different Walsh codes is not zero;
hence it cannot be used if good synchronization is not available. Instead PN sequence is used.
2. Walsh codes are orthogonal to each other as mentioned above.

CDMA Physical layer for Mobile Subscriber

Figure depicts all the modules used in CDMA Physical layer, as shown green modules are not
used in access channel path, while the same are used in traffic channel path.

CDMA Physical layer for Base station

Figure depicts CDMA Physical layer used in CDMA Base station, as shown various channels
follow different physical layer architecture.