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Base transceiver station (BTS):

BTS is a piece of equipment that facilitates wireless communication between user

equipment (UE) and a network. UE are devices like mobile phones (handsets),
computers with wireless internet connectivity. The network can be that of any of the
wireless communication technologies like GSM, CDMA, wireless local loop, Wi-
Fi, WiMAX or other wide area network(WAN) technology.

Each BTS covers a defined area, known as a cell. A BTS is under control of a BSC, which is
in turn under control of a MSC (Mobile Switching Centre). A cell is the geographic area that
is covered by a single base station in a cellular network.

A cellular network is a mobile network that provides services by using a large number
of base stations with limited power, each covering only a limited area.

Base Transceiver Station (BTS) components:

BTS provides the wireless connectivity to Mobile Station on one side via Air Interface (also
called 𝑈m 𝐼𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑒). BTS is connected to BSC via Abis Interface. Any BTS is having these

Transceiver (TRX): Provides transmission and reception of signals. It also does sending
and reception of signals to and from higher network entities (like the base station
controller in mobile telephony).

Power amplifier (PA): Amplifies the signal from TRX for transmission through antenna;
may be integrated with TRX.

Combiner: Combines feeds from several TRXs so that they could be sent out through a
single antenna. Allows for a reduction in the number of antenna used.

Multiplexer: For separating sending and receiving signals to/from antenna. Does sending
and receiving signals through the same antenna ports (cables to antenna).

Antenna: This is the structure that the BTS lies underneath; it can be installed as it is or
disguised in some way (Concealed cell sites).

Alarm extension system: Collects working status alarms of various units in the BTS and
extends them to operations and maintenance monitoring stations.

Control function: Controls and manages the various units of BTS, including any software.
On-the-spot configurations, status changes, software upgrades, etc. are done through the
control function.

Baseband receiver unit (BBxx): Frequency hopping, signal DSP.

Various Elements of Call Setup Process:

BTS: BTS stands for Base Transceiver Station. It is nothing but your Tower which
radiates the signal to your mobile. It is the first player in this operation which always
have a touch with the mobile.

BSC: BSC stands for Base Station Controller. It is a large unit which controls all the BTS
(Towers).We can say that a number of BTS are controlled by a single BSC. There are so
many BSCs present in an area depending on the number of users and all are inter

MSC: MSC stands for Mobile Switching Center. It is responsible for switching the call to
the called subscriber. A number of BSCs are connected to the MSC and it controls the

HLR: HLR stands for Home Location Register. It is the server which stores the details of
the all the subscribers permanently.

VLR: VLR stands for Visitor Location Register. It is the server which stores the details of
the all the visiting subscribers temporarily.

All the above units are interconnected and plays a vital role in call connection.

Setting up a Call Process:

1. When a subscriber initiates a call by dialling a number in his/her mobile it directly

send a request to the BTS which he comes under.

2. BTS there by sends the request to the BSC to which it is connected.

3. From the BSC the request is made to the MSC to which it is connected.

4. Then MSC sends a request to the HLR to check the information about the caller like
account balance (if pre-paid), live user, area of the caller etc.

5. After checking all the details the HLR sends a acknowledgement message to the MSC
that the caller is O.K. to make a call or not.

6. If that message is O.K. the operation continues or else the MSC sends a NOT O.K.
message to the BSC which has made the request and BSC to the BTS and BTS to the
Mobile. At the next instance the call get disconnected.

7. If the message received by the MSC is O.K. then it again sends a request to the HLR to
find the called party (the subscriber to whom call is made).

8. The called party and the caller may come under the same MSC or different MSC. If both
comes under the same MSC then the HLR finds the subscriber easily and informs the MSC
that to which area the called party belongs. The MSC therefore establishes an air link
between the both parties. Thus the call gets connected.

9. If both parties comes under different MSC then the HLR again search for the MSC to
which the called party belongs and inform the same to the MSC of the caller. Thus the
MSC of the caller establishes an air link between the both parties. Thus the call gets

After the call gets disconnected the Billing is made the Billing Server which is present in
the HLR.

Outgoing Call:

1. When the phone needs to make a call it sends an access request (containing phone
identification, number) using RACH to the BTS; if another cell phone tries to send
an access request at the same time the messages might get corrupted, in this case
both cell phones wait a random time interval before trying to send again.

2. Then the BTS authenticates the cell phone and sends an acknowledgement to the
cell phone

3. The BTS assigns a specific voice channel and time slot to the cell phone and
transmits the cell phone request to the MSC via BSC

4. The MSC queries HLR and VLR and based on the information obtained it routes
the call to the receiver’s BSC and BTS

5. The cell phone uses the voice channel and time slot assigned to it by the BTS to
communicate with the receiver

Incoming Call:

1. When a request to deliver a call is made in the network, the MSC or the receiver’s
home area queries the HLR; if the cell phone is located in its home area the call is
transferred to the receiver; if the cell phone is located outside its home area, the
HLR maintains a record of the VLR attached to the cell phone

2. Based on this record, the MSC notes the location of the VLR and indicated the
corresponding BSC about the incoming call

3. The BSC routes the call to the particular BTS which uses the paging channel to
alert the phone

4. The receiver cell phone monitors the paging channel periodically and once it
receives the call alert from the BTS it responds to the BTS

5. The BTS communicates a channel and a time slot for the cell phone to

6. Now the call is established

GMSC in network where MSC where calling
calling MS is currently located MS is currently located

4 2 1

HLR/VLR * * HLR if calling MS is a subscriber
VLR if calling MS is a visitor



6 7 9

5 2


GMSC/HLR on called MSC/VLR where called

MS's home network MS is currently located

Figure: Incoming and Outgoing Calling Process

When a subscriber moves to a new location area:

 Comes under the domain of a new VLR

 MS detects it has roamed into a new location area
 MS requests a location update from new MSC
 New MSC enters subscribers details in associated (new) VLR
 New VLR forwards location update to HLR
 HLR is updated with new VLR address
 HLR requests old VLR to delete subscribers entry

Find (mobile subscriber):

 HLR is used to find the subscriber’s current location (VLR)

 HLR requests a temporary roaming number from VLR
 VLR returns roaming number to HLR
 HLR returns roaming number to call source
 Call may now be routed (to VLR)
 VLR meanwhile will be alerting MS that a call is expected

Message Service:

A short message service is handled in the network by the short message service center
(SMSC) found in the core network, which is in charge of storing and routing messages
between subscribers.

The process is illustrated in the diagram below.

1. To send an SMS, the MS connects to the MSC, which performs the authentication of
the subscriber and ciphers the communication in the same way as in the case of
voice calls.

2. After the MSC receives the message, it queries the VLR to check the allowed
services for the subscriber.

3. If the service is allowed, the MSC forwards the message to the SMSC.
A mobile originated SMS contains information about the location of the SMSC that
the SMS must reach, and about how to reach the destination subscriber. For the
MS to identify the appropriate message center, information about it is configured
in the SIM card by each network operator, so that the originating MS transfers it to
the MSC.

4. The SMSC must find the destination MS address and identity in order to forward
the message. It does so by using the phone number dialed by the originating MS,
with which it locates the GMSC, to which it forwards the message.

5. The GMSC requests from the HLR information about the destination MS, available
in the VLR/MSC where the subscriber is registered.

6. Like in the case of voice calls, the HLR uses the IMSI to locate the current
MSC/VLR in which the subscriber has registered.

7. Next, the HLR asks the MSC to assign a temporary MSRN number, which is passed
to the GMSC.

8. The GMSC then forwards the message to the MSC using this number. The MSC
sends out a paging to all the BSCs in its area, which then page all the base stations
serving them.

9. The SMS is delivered to the MS after it responds to the BTS paging.

Call drop:

When we are talking to someone over the phone or mobile and it got disconnected while
we are between the call is called Call Drop.

Possible reasons for call drop:

i) Equipment: GSM radios/Combiners can be a cause of this, solution to this is

replacement of the unit. A Mobile Station (phone) can also be a cause.

ii) VSWR (voltage wave standing ratio): VSWR caused by poor connections on feeders,
water penetration, fault on antenna etc

iii) Transmission problem: If transmission is not perfect, high B.E.R (Bit error ratio) or
other factors causing inaccuracy of transmission.

iv) Interference: when there's frequency interfere (either co-channel or adjacent


v) Hand-over: if hand-over between two sectors is not well defined.