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Submitted in the Fulfillment of the Requirement for the award of

Certificate for

Summer training
ALTTC (BSNL) Ghaziabad

Submitted By:

Chanchal kumar
Submitted To:

Course AGM: Shri Rajendra Mathur

Since time immemorial, a man has tried hard to bring the
world as close to himself as possible. His thirst for
information is hard to quench so he has continuously tried
to develop new technologies, which have helped to reach
the objective.
The world we see today is a result of the continuous
research in the field of communication, which started with
the invention of telephone by Graham Bell to the current
avatar as we see in the form INTERNET and mobile
phones. All these technologies have come to existence
because man continued its endeavor towards the objective.
This project report of mine, STUDY OF GSM has been a
small effort in reviewing the trends technologies
prevailing. For this purpose, no organization other than
better choice.


I acknowledge my gratitude and thank to all the well

knowledge persons for giving me opportunity to avail all
the best facilities available at this telecom center through
which I have gained knowledge thinking so as too just in
the environment suitable for harmonic adjustment. I am
grateful to the following persons for various help rendered
by them during the training period.

Shri. Rajendra Mathur (Course AGM)

Finally, a deep thanks to

Shri Narendra kumar(Course AD)

Last but not the least; I thank my teacher, friends and my
family members for their constant encouragement.



What is GSM?
What is GPRS?
What is EDGE?
What is 3GSM?
Smart and Secure
A brief history of GSM
Todays GSM
GSM Architecture
GSM Network Architecture
Location updating and Call Routing

What is GSM?
GSM is a standard for a Global System for Mobile communications. Global
System for Mobile communications, a mobile phone system based on
multiple radio cells (cellular mobile phone network). It has been agreed
upon and is completed by ETSI, the European Telecommunications
Standards Institute.
Two main standards are followed:
1. GSM 900 (global system for mobile communications in the 900 MHz
2. DCS 1800 (digital cellular system for the 1800 MHz band)
GSM 900 is a designed for extensive radio coverage even in rural areas.
DCS 1800 is designed for radio coverage in areas with very high subscriber
GSM is a global standard, GSM 900 being used in most European, Asian
and pacific countries, GSM 1800 being used in the same place to increase
the capacity of the system, and GSM 1900 being used primarily in the US.
Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) is a set of
ETSI standards specifying the infrastructure for a digital cellular service.
The standard is used in approx. 85 countries in the world including such
locations as Europe, Japan and Australia1.
The international designation of a public mobile radio network is PLMN
(public land mobile network), as opposed to the PSTN (public switched
telephone network).
Several PLMN, which are designed on the basis of same standards, are
compatible to each other. Therefore, a mobile subscriber can use the
GSM/DCS specific mobile equipment and services in these compatible

What is GPRS?
GPRS facilitates several new applications that have not previously been
available over GSM networks due to the limitations in speed of Circuit
Switched Data (9.6 kbps) and message length of the Short Message Service
(160 characters). GPRS will fully enable the Internet applications you are
used to on your desktop from web browsing to chat over the mobile
network. Other new applications for GPRS, profiled later, include file
transfer and home automation- the ability to remotely access and control
in-house appliances and machines.
It should be noted right that the General Packet Radio Service is not only a
service designed to be deployed on mobile networks that are based on the
GSM digital mobile phone standard. The IS-136 Time Division Multiple
Access (TDMA) standard, popular in North and South America, will also
support GPRS. This follows an agreement to follow the same evolution
path towards third generation mobile phone networks concluded in early
1999 by the industry associations that support these two network types.

What is EDGE?
Further enhancements in data capability over the core GSM the General
Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a new non-voice value added service that
allows information to be sent and received across a mobile telephone
network. It supplements today's Circuit Switched Data and Short Message
Service. GPRS is NOT related to GPS (the Global Positioning System), a
similar acronym that is often used in mobile contexts.

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) enabled networks offer 'always-on',

higher capacity, Internet-based content and packet-based data services.
This enables services such as color Internet browsing, e-mail on the move,
powerful visual communications, multimedia messages and location-based
GPRS is used to implement high-speed data transmission between the MS
and some other party. GPRS utilizes multiple BTSs in the same BSS. The
MS sends different packets to different BTSs, which are reconstructed at the
SGSN. This enables the MS to use a higher transmission speed than one
transmission channel can handle.
Network will be provided with the introduction of Enhanced Data rates for
GSM Evolution - known as EDGE*. This will achieve the delivery of
advanced mobile services such as the downloading of video and music
clips, full multimedia messaging, high-speed color Internet access and email on the move.
EDGE (or Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) is a 3G technology
that delivers broadband-like data speeds to mobile devices. It allows
consumers to connect to the Internet and send and receive data, including
digital images, web pages and photographs, three times faster than possible
with an ordinary GSM/GPRS network. EDGE enables GSM operators to
offer higher-speed mobile-data access, serve more mobile-data customers,
and free up GSM network capacity to accommodate additional voice traffic.
The technology EDGE has been designed to increase GPRS on-air data
rates 2.5 to 3 times while meeting essentially the same bandwidth

occupancy as the original 0.3-GMSK signals. EDGE technology also enables

each base station transceiver to carry more voice and/or data traffic.

What is 3GSM?
3GSM is the latest addition to the GSM family. 3GSM is about having third
generation mobile multimedia services available globally. 3GSM focuses
on visionary communications, in more ways than one. It's about the new
visual ways in which people will communicate and the unique vision of the
GSM community, which has always focused on the future needs of our
The technology on which 3GSM services will be delivered is built
around a core GSM network with a Wideband-CDMA (W-CDMA) air
interface, in some markets, EDGE air interfaces, which has been developed
as an open standard by operators in conjunction with the 3GPP standards
development organization. Allocated 3G spectrum in the 2GHz band
selected 3GSM as the best technology to deliver the optimum combination
of speed, capacity and capability in a broadband wireless world. No other
standard is as open as 3GSM. It offers the flexible combination of voice and
data performance and capacity delivered by 3GSM underpinned by
Wideband-CDMA. No other standard is as open as 3GSM. Already over
85% of the world's network operators have chosen 3GSM's underlying
technology platform to deliver their third generation services. 3GSM is a
key element of GSM-The Wireless Evolution.

Main differences between GSM/DCS PLMN and PSTN:



The terminal equipment is

connected via a fixed line to the

The mobile subscriber accesses

the network via a digital radio

From a network operators

point of view, a subscriber is
subscriber line.

A mobile subscriber identifies

itself by means of a personal
chip card. In order to make a
call, the subscriber only needs
to insert this card in any GSM
mobile equipment.


The development and success of GSM has been an outstanding example
of international enterprise in action. Operators, governments and
manufacturers have come together in a remarkable venture that has created
a new, dynamic and genuinely global telecommunications market. Its an
example of co-operation that has affected and will continue to affect, the
lives of millions both socially and economically.
The scenario of mobile phones in the 1980s can be summed up quite
beautifully by considering the case of a car that race through the autobahns
of GERMANY but stops dead when it crosses the border and enters
As the business was becoming increasingly international the cutting edge
of the communication industry focused on exclusively local cellular
solutions. And none of these was remotely compatible with other. NMT 450
in the Nordic and Benelux countries. TACS in the UK and C-NETZ in
Germany. Radiocom 2000 in France and RTMI/RTMS in Italy. All these

networks enabled you to call the office if you were in your own home, but
not if you were with a client in another country.
Each country developed its own system, which was incompatible with
everyone else's in equipment and operation. This was an undesirable
situation, because not only was the mobile equipment limited to operation
within national boundaries, which in a unified Europe were increasingly
unimportant, but there was a very limited market for each type of
equipment, so economies of scale, and the subsequent savings, could not be
It was clear that there would be an escalating demand for a technology
that facilitated flexible and reliable mobile communication. But there was a
big disadvantage, which threatened to affect the first generation mobile
networks. It was the problem of capacity or the lack of it. It was this that
leads to the decline of the entire analog networks in the early 1990s; they
collapsed under the pressure of demand.
It also became clear to industry watchers that localized solutions to the
development of mobile communications did not make ling-term economic
sense. Given the daunting R&D costs facing operators and manufacturers,
it was essential to be able to exploit the economies of scale inherent in
global market penetration. Home market revenue simply wouldnt justify
sustained programs of investment.
In the alphabet soup that is the communications industry, the CEPT
merits a very special place in history. The Europeans realized this early on,
and in 1982 the Conference of European Posts and Telegraphs (CEPT)
formed a study group called the GROUPE SPCIAL MOBILE (GSM) to
study and develop a pan-European public land mobile system. Its objective
was to develop the specification for a pan-European mobile
communications network capable of supporting the many millions of
subscribers likely to turn to mobile communications in the years ahead. The
proposed system had to meet certain criteria:

Good subjective speech quality,

Low terminal and service cost,

Support for international roaming,

Ability to support handhold terminals,

Support for range of new services and facilities,

Spectral efficiency, and

ISDN compatibility.
From the start, the GSM had it in mind that the new standard was likely
to employ digital rather than analogue technology and operate in the
900MHz frequency band. Digital technology offered an attractive
combination of performance and spectral efficiency. In other words, it
would provide high quality transmission and enable more callers
simultaneously to use the limited radio band available. In addition, such a
system would allow the development of advanced features like speech
security and data communications.

By going digital it would also be possible to employ the VLSI

technology. It would have severe implications both for manufacturers and
consumers. Handsets could be cheaper and smaller.
Finally the digital approach neatly complemented the Integrated
Services Digital Network (ISDN) which was being developed by the land
line communications networks and with which the GSM systems had to
In 1989, GSM responsibility was transferred to the European
Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI), and phase I of the GSM
specifications was published in 1990. Commercial service was started in
mid1991, and by 1993 there were 36 GSM networks in 22 countries, with 25
additional countries having already selected or considering GSM. This is
not only a European standard - South Africa, Australia, and many Middle
and Far East countries have chosen GSM. By the beginning of 1994, there
were 1.3 million subscribers worldwide. The acronym GSM now stands for
Global System for Mobile telecommunications.

GSM differs from first generation wireless systems in that it uses digital
technology and time division multiple access transmission methods. Voice
is digitally encoded via a unique encoder, which emulates the
characteristics of human speech. This method of transmission permits a
very efficient data rate/information content ratio.
GSM Milestones




GSM formed


Field test


TDMA chosen as access method


Memorandum of understanding signed


Validation of GSM system


Pre-operation system


Commercial system start-up


Coverage of larger cities/airports


Coverage of main roads


Coverage of rural areas

GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) is a digital mobile

telephone system that is widely used in Europe and other parts of the
world. GSM uses a variation of time division multiple access ( TDMA) and is
the most widely used of the three digital wireless telephone technologies
(TDMA, GSM, and CDMA). GSM digitizes and compresses data, then
sends it down a channel with two other streams of user data, each in its

own time slot. It operates at either the 900 MHz or 1800 MHz frequency
GSM is the de facto wireless telephone standard in Europe. GSM has
over 120 million users worldwide and is available in 120 countries,
according to the GSM MoU Association. Since many GSM network
operators have roaming agreements with foreign operators, users can often
continue to use their mobile phones when they travel to other countries.


GSM is so secure and flexible with its functionalities and so easy to
manipulate that there are all sorts of uses for it that we havent even
thought of yet. One of the most attractive features of GSM is that it is a very
secure network. All communications, both speech and data, are encrypted
to prevent eavesdropping. In fact, in the early stages of its development it
was found that the encryption algorithm was too powerful for certain
technology export regulators. This could have had serious implications for
the global spread of GSM by limiting the number of countries to which it
could be sold. Fortunately, the MoU reacted promptly to this threat.
Alternative algorithms were developed that enabled the free dissemination
of the technology worldwide.
GSM subscribers are identified by their Subscriber Identity; Module (SIM)
card. This holds their identity number and authentication key and
algorithm. While the choice of algorithm is the responsibility off individual
GSM operators, they all work closely together through the MoU to ensure
security of authentication.

Todays GSM platform is a hugely successful wireless technology and an
unprecedented story of global achievement. In less than ten years since the

first GSM network was commercially launched, it became the worlds

leading and fastest growing mobile standard, spanning over 200 countries.
Today, GSM technology is in use by more than one in six of the worlds
population and it is estimated that at the end of Jan 2004 there were over 1
billion GSM subscribers across more than 200 countries of the world.
The growth of GSM continues unabated with more than 160 million
new customers in the last 12 months. Since 1997, the number of GSM
subscribers has increased by a staggering 10 fold. The progress hasnt
stopped there. Todays GSM platform is living, growing and evolving and
already offers and expanded and feature-rich family of voice and data
enabling services.

GSM Telecommunication Services

The ETSI Standards define the telecommunication services. With
D900/D1800 the GSM telecommunication services offered to the GSM
subscriber are subdivided as follows:

Bearer services (for data only)

Tele-services (for voice and data)
Supplementary services

Bearer services and tele-services are also called basic telecommunication

services. The use of GSM telecommunication services is subject to
subscription. A basic subscription permits participation in those GSM
telecommunication services that are generally available.
If a GSM subscriber roams out of the entitled area there is no possibility
of establishing communication (roaming not allowed), except the use of the
tele-service emergency call.


Bearer Services

Bearer services are telecommunication services providing the capability of

transmission of signals between access points. The bearer services describe
what the network can offer (e.g. speech, data and fax).

The bearer services are pure transport services for data. Some of the
transmission modes and rates already used in modern data networks are
implemented; others are planned. The following, already implemented,
bearer services provide unrestricted information transfer between the
reference points in the mobile stations.

Data CDA (circuit duplex asynchronous) + basic PAD (packet assembler

Disassembler) access
Data CDS (circuit duplex synchronous)
PAD CDA (dedicated PAD access)
Alternate speech/data CDA (circuit duplex asynchronous)
Speech followed by data CDA (circuit duplex asynchronous)
Data compression on the GSM radio interface


Teleservices are telecommunication services including terminal equipment

functions, which provide communication between users according to
protocols established by agreement between network operators. The
teleservices are user end-to-end services (e.g. emergency call and short
message service).

Tele-services use both low layer and high layer functions for the control
of communication from terminal to terminal. The following tele-services
have already been realized:


Emergency call
Short message service (SMS)
Short message cell broadcast
Automatic facsimile (group 3)
Alternative speech and facsimile (group 3)

Supplementary Services
telecommunication service. Consequently, they cannot be offered to a
customer as a stand-alone service. They must be offered together or in
association with a basic telecommunication service. The same
supplementary service may be applicable to a number of
telecommunication services. Most supplementary services are directly
inherited from a fixed network, with minor modifications (when needed) to
adapt to mobility. Examples of supplementary services are calling line
identification and call waiting.
Supplementary services extend beyond the normal bearer services and
teleservices (basic telecommunication services) and can be subscribed to

separately. In the following a supplementary service is called simply

service, in contrast to basic telecommunication service.

Number Identification Services

Calling line identification presentation (CLIP)
Calling line identification restriction (CLIR)
Call Offering Services
Call forwarding unconditional (CFU)
Call forwarding on mobile subscriber busy (CFB)
Call forwarding on no reply (CFNRy)
Call forwarding on mobile subscriber not reachable (CFNRc)
Call Completion Services
Call hold
Call waiting (CW)
Multi-Party Service
Charging Services
Advice of charge (AOC)
Call Restriction Services
Barring of all outgoing calls (BAOC)
Barring of all outgoing international calls (BOIC)
Barring of all outgoing international calls except to home PLMN country
Barring of all incoming calls (BAIC)
Barring of all incoming calls when roaming outside home PLMN country
(BIC Roam)
Closed User Group (CUG)

GSM Specifications:

bandwidththe range of a channel's limits; the broader the

bandwidth, the faster data can be sent
bits per second (bps)a single on-off pulse of data; eight bits are
equivalent to one byte

frequencythe number of cycles per unit of time; frequency is

measured in hertz (Hz)
kilo (k)kilo is the designation for 1,000; kbps represents 1,000 bits
per second

megahertz (MHz)1,000,000 hertz (cycles per second)

milliseconds (ms)one-thousandth of a second

watt (W)a measure of power of a transmitter

Specifications and Characteristics for GSM:

Frequency bandthe frequency range specified for GSM is 1,850 to

1,990 MHz (mobile station to base station).
Duplex distancethe duplex distance is 80 MHz. Duplex distance is
the distance between the uplink and downlink frequencies. A channel has
two frequencies, 80 MHz apart.
Channel separationthe separation
frequencies. In GSM, this is 200 kHz.




ModulationModulation is the process of sending a signal by

changing the characteristics of a carrier frequency. This is done in GSM via
Gaussian minimum shift keying (GMSK).
Transmission rateGSM is a digital system with an over-the-air bit
rate of 270 kbps.
Access methodGSM utilizes the time division multiple access
(TDMA) concept. TDMA is a technique in which several different calls may
share the same carrier. Each call is assigned a particular time slot.
Speech coderGSM uses linear predictive coding (LPC). The
purpose of LPC is to reduce the bit rate. The LPC provides parameters for a
filter that mimics the vocal tract. The signal passes through this filter,
leaving behind a residual signal. Speech is encoded at 13 kbps.

GSM Frequencies
In principle the GSM system can be implemented in any frequency
band. However there are several bands where GSM terminals are, or will

shortly be available. Furthermore, GSM terminals may incorporate one or

more of the GSM frequency bands listed below to facilitate roaming on a
global basis.




880 - 915 MHz paired with 925 - 960 MHz


1710 - 1785 MHz paired with 1805 - 1880



1850 - 1910 MHz paired with 1930 - 1990




A GSM system is basically designed as a combination of three major

subsystems: the network (switching) subsystem (SSS), the radio subsystem
(RSS), and the operation and maintenance subsystem (OMS).
In order to ensure that network operators will have several sources of
cellular infrastructure equipment, GSM decided to specify not only the air
interface, but also the main interfaces that identify different parts. There are
three dominant interfaces, namely, an interface between MSC and the BSC
(An interface), BSC and Base Transceiver Station (BTS) (Abis interface), and
an Um interface between the BTS and MS.


Every telephone network needs a well-designed structure in order to route
incoming called to the correct exchange and finally to the called subscriber.
In a mobile network, this structure is of great importance because of the

mobility of all its subscribers. In the GSM system, the network is divided
into the following partitioned areas:

GSM service area;

PLMN service area;
MSC service area;
Location area;
The GSM service is the total area served by the combination of all member
countries where a mobile can be serviced.
The next level is the PLMN service area. There can be several within a
country, based on its size. The links between a GSM/PLMN network and
other PSTN, ISDN, or PLMN network will be on the level of international
or national transit exchange. All incoming calls for a GSM/PLMN network
will be routed to a gateway MSC. A gateway MSC works as an incoming
transit exchange for the GSM/PLMN. In a GSM/PLMN network, all
mobile-terminated calls will be routed to a gateway MSC. Call connections
between PLMNs, or to fixed networks, must be routed through certain
designated MSCs called a gateway MSC. The gateway MSC contains the
interworking functions to make these connections. They also route
incoming calls to the proper MSC within the network. The next level of
division is the MSC/VLR service area. In one PLMN there can be several
MSC/VLR service areas. MSC/VLR is a role controller of calls within its
In order to route a call to a mobile subscriber, the path through links to the
MSC in the MSC area where the subscriber is currently located. The mobile
location can be uniquely identified since the MS is registered in a VLR,
which is generally associated with an MSC.
The next division level is that of the LAs within a MSC/VLR combination.
There are several LAs within one MSc/VLR combination. A LA is a part of
the MSC/VLR service area in which a MS may move freely without

updating location information to the MSC/VLR exchange that control the

LA. Within a LA a paging message is broadcast in order to find the called
mobile subscriber. The LA can be identified by the system using the
Location Area Identity (LAI). The LA is used by the GSM system to search
for a subscriber in an active state.
Lastly, a LA is divided into many cells. A cell is an identity served by one
BTS. The MS distinguishes between cells using the Base Station
Identification code (BSIC) that the cell site broadcast over the air.

GSM Network Areas

The GSM network is made up of geographic areas. As shown in Figure,
these areas include cells, location areas (LAs), MSC/VLR service areas, and
.public land mobile network (PLMN) areas.
Network Areas

The cell is the area given radio coverage by one base transceiver station. The
GSM network identifies each cell via the cell global identity (CGI) number
assigned to each cell. The location area is a group of cells. It is the area in
which the subscriber is paged. Each LA is served by one or more base
station controllers, yet only by a single MSC (see Figure). Each LAI assigned
a location area identity (LAI) number.

Location Areas

An MSC/VLR service area represents the part of the GSM network that
is covered by one MSC and which is reachable, as it is registered in the VLR
of the MSC (see Figure).

MSC/VLR Service Areas

Encryption AND Authentication of GSM

Since radio communications can be intercepted by practically anyone in
the immediate surroundings, protection against eavesdropping is an
important service in a mobile network.
The best solution is an encrypted air interface, for both traffic and
control channels. Since encryption of voice requires digital coding, it cannot
be used in analog mobile networks. Control channels can, in principle, be
encrypted in both analog and digital systems, but encryption is more
common in mobile networks that use digital control channels, such as GSM
and D-AMPS.
In GSM, voice is encrypted as follows: In addition to SRES, the AUC
calculates an encryption key (Kc) based on Ki and RAND. This key is
stored in the HLR together with RAND and SRES. In connection with
authentication, the mobile calculates a Kc value based on the RAND value
received from the MSC and on the Ki value stored in the mobile. If the
result of the authentication is approved, the MSC will store the encryption
key in the base station (via the BSC) for use in encryption/decryption
operations. The BSC then sends a "test signal" (encryption mode command)
to the mobile. In response, the mobile should generate an encrypted signal
(encryption mode complete) which - if the BSC can interpret it - permits
continued signaling and communication. All signals, including voice
signals, are encrypted.

Figure for Encryption in GSM

Equipment identification
The purpose of equipment identification is to ensure that no stolen or
otherwise unauthorized mobiles are used in the network. To this end, every
mobile is provided with a tamper-proof equipment number in the
manufacturing process, in GSM an international mobile equipment identity
(IMEI). During the set-up phase, the MSC can request this number from the
mobile and then send it on for checking in the network element called EIR
(in GSM). If the number is barred or unknown, the set-up attempt is

Subscriber identity confidentiality

Subscriber identity confidentiality means that the operator tries to

protect the user's telephone number (the IMSI) from unauthorized tapping.
A temporary mobile subscriber number (TMSI in GSM) is used in the
dialogue between the mobile and the network, except for the first contact

attempt in a set-up phase. The MSC gives the mobile a random TMSI for
each set-up.


It identifies the current location of the subscriber.

MCC= Mobile Country Code
MNC= Mobile Network Code (2 digit). Identifies the GSM PLMN in that
country and takes the same value as the MNC in IMSI.
LAC= Location Area Code (max. 16 bits). Identifies a location area within a
GSM PLMN Network & enabling 65536 different location areas to be
defined in one GSM PLMN.


It is used to authenticate the SIM card.


It is used to unlock the MS. If one enters the wrong PIN three times it
will lock the SIM. The SIM can be protected by use of PIN password.


In case of PIN, the PUK is needed for unlocking the SIM again. PUK is
numeric only, with eight digits. If a correct PUK is entered, an indication is
given to the user. After 10 consecutive incorrect entries the SIM is blocked.
Either the IMSI or the MSISDN Number may access the subscriber data.
Some of the parameters like IAI will be continuously updated to reflect the
current location of the subscriber. The SIM is capable of storing additional

information such as accumulated call charges. This information will be

accessible to the customer via handset key entry.

Handover, or handoff as it is called in North America, is the switching of
an ongoing call to a different channel or cell. There are four different types
of handover in the GSM system, which involve transferring a call between

Channels (time slots) in the same cell,

Cells (Base Transceiver Stations) under the control of the same Base
Station Controller (BSC),
Cells under the control of different BSCs, but belonging to the same
Mobile services Switching Center (MSC), and
Cells under the control of different MSCs.
The first two types of handover, called internal handovers, involve only
one Base Station Controller (BSC). To save signaling bandwidth, they are
managed by the BSC without involving the Mobile service Switching
Center (MSC), except to notify it at the completion of the handover. The
last two types of handover, called external handovers, are handled by the
MSCs involved. Note that call control, such as provision of supplementary
services and requests for further handoffs, is handled by the original MSC.
Handovers can be initiated by either the mobile or the MSC (as a means
of traffic load balancing). During its idle time slots, the mobile scans the
Broadcast Control Channel of up to 16 neighboring cells, and forms a list of
the six best candidates for possible handover, based on the received signal
strength. This information is passed to the BSC and MSC, and is used by
the handover algorithm.
The algorithm for when a handover decision should be taken is not
specified in the GSM recommendations. There are two basic algorithms
used, both closely tied in with power control. This is because the BSC

usually does not know whether the poor signal quality is due to multipath
fading or to the mobile having moved to another cell. This is especially
true in small urban cells.
The 'minimum acceptable performance' algorithm [Bal91] gives
precedence to power control over handover, so that when the signal
degrades beyond a certain point, the power level of the mobile is
increased. If further power increases do not improve the signal, then a
handover is considered. This is the simpler and
more common method, but it creates 'smeared' cell boundaries when a
mobile transmitting at peak power goes some distance beyond its original
cell boundaries into another cell.
The 'power budget' method [Bal91] uses handover to try to maintain or
improve a certain level of signal quality at the same or lower power level. It
thus gives precedence to handover over power control. It avoids the
'smeared' cell boundary problem and reduces co-channel interference, but
it is quite complicated.

Intra MSC Handover

1. The MS determines that a handover is required, it sends the Measurement
Report message to the serving BSS. This message contains the signal
strength measurements.
2. The serving BSS sends a Handover Request message to the MSC. This
message contains a rank-ordered list of the target BSSs that are qualified to
receive the call.
3. The MSC reviews the global cell identity associated with the best candidate
to determine if one of the BSSs that it controls is responsible for the cell
area. In this scenario the MSC determines that the cell area is associated
with the target BSS. To perform an intra-MSC handover, two resources are
required: a trunk between the MSC and the target BSS and a radio TCH in
the new cell area. The MSC reserves a rank and sends a Handover Request
message to the target BSS. This message includes the desired cell area for




handover, the identity of the MSC-BSS trunk that was reserved, and the
encryption key ( ).
The target BSS selects and reserves the appropriate resources to support
the handover pending the connection execution. The target BSS sends a
Handover Request Acknowledgment to the MSC. The message contains the
new radio channel identification.
The MSC sends the Handover Command message to the serving BSS. In
this message the new radio channel identification supplied by the target
BSS is included.
The serving BSS forwards the Handover Command message t o the MS.
The MS retunes to the new radio channel and sends the Handover Access
message to the target BSS on the new radio channel.

8. The target BSS sends the Physical Information message to the MS.
9. The target BSS informs the MSC when it begins detecting the MS handing
over with the Handover Detected message.
10. The target BSS and the MS exchange messages to synchronize/align the
Mss transmission in the proper time slot. On the completion, the MS sends
the Handover Completed message to the target BSS.
11. The MSC sends a Release message to other serving BSS to release the old
radio TCH.
12. At this point, the serving BSS releases all resources with the MS and sends
the Release Complete message to the MSC.


The MSC provides the interface between the GSM mobile network and
the public fixed network. From the fixed network's point of view, the MSC
is just another switching node. However, switching is a little more
complicated in a mobile network since the MSC has to know where the
mobile is currently roaming - and in GSM it could even be roaming in
another country. The way GSM accomplishes location updating and call
routing to the mobile is by using two location registers: the Home Location
Register (HLR) and the Visitor Location Register (VLR).

Location updating is initiated by the mobile when, by monitoring the

Broadcast Control Channel, it notices that the location area broadcast is not
the same as the one previously stored in the mobile's memory. An update
request and the IMSI or previous TMSI is sent to the new VLR via the new
MSC. A Mobile Station Roaming Number (MSRN) is allocated and sent to
the mobile's HLR (which always keeps the most current location) by the
new VLR. The MSRN is a regular telephone number that routes the call to
the new VLR and is subsequently translated to the TMSI of the mobile. The
HLR sends back the necessary call control parameters, and also sends a
cancel message to the old VLR, so that the previous MSRN can be
reallocated. Finally, a new TMSI is allocated and sent to the mobile, to
identify it in future paging or call initiation requests.
With the above location updating procedure, call routing to a roaming
mobile is easily performed. The most general case is where a call from a
fixed network (Public Switched Telecommunications Network or Integrated
Services Digital Network) is placed to a mobile subscriber. Using the
Mobile Subscriber's telephone number (MSISDN, the ISDN numbering
plan), the call is routed through the fixed land network to a gateway MSC
for the GSM network (an MSC that interfaces with the fixed land network,
thus requiring an echo canceller). The gateway MSC uses the MSISDN to
query the Home Location Register, which returns the current roaming
number (MSRN). The MSRN is used by the gateway MSC to route the call
to the current MSC (which is usually coupled with the VLR). The VLR
then converts the roaming number to the mobile's TMSI, and the cells
under the control of the current BSC to inform the mobile broadcast a
paging call.