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5/20/2014 APN Resolution (Roaming in GPRS and 3G Networks)

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In Depth Tutorials and Information

APN Resolution (Roaming in GPRS and 3G


Networks)

GPRS and DNS


Domain name system (DNS) functionality is used for mapping logical names to IP addresses in the GPRS intra- and
inter-backbone network. Each PLMN has its own local DNS functionality. Typically, two mirrored DNS servers, i.e.,
primary and secondary DNSs, are available to ensure uninterrupted service. In addition, the inter-PLMN backbone
also has DNS functionality, i.e., root DNS. SGSNs communicate with their own local network DNS for mapping. The
DNS of different PLMNs talk to each other either directly or through a DNS root maintained by GRX operators or a
master DNS maintained by the GSM Association.

Figure 7-7 shows the topology and communication flow of DNS systems for inter-PLMN mapping. The master
root DNS server holds the records of the responsible domain of each operators DNS server. Each GRX operator
periodically synchronizes with the master root DNS to its own root DNS server. DNS to DNS communication uses IP
to transfer information.

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5/20/2014 APN Resolution (Roaming in GPRS and 3G Networks)

Figure 7-7 GPRS DNS topology and hierarchy.

Note that the GPRS DNS system is a private network. It has no interaction with the Internets DNS system.

APN resolution using DNS in the HPLMN


In this case, a roamer is attached to a VPLMN SGSN (VSGSN) and activates a PDP context, using a GGSN in the
home network. The VSGSN needs to know the HGGSN address to initiate the create PDP context procedure. The
VSGSN uses an APN provided by the user to resolve IP addresses with the help of DNSs. Figure 7-8 illustrates APN
resolution procedure in detail.

The procedure consists of these steps:

1. A roamer currently attached to the GPRS network activates a GPRS service. The MS sends an activate PDP
context message to the serving SGSN. This message may or may not contain an APN name corresponding to the
services the user wishes to access. Let us assume that the APN is my.isp.com.

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Figure 7-8 APN resolution using DNS in the HPLMN.

2. The VSGSN inserts its own operator identifier (e.g., mnc011.mcc111.gprs) to make a complete logical name,
i.e., my.isp.com.mnc011.mcc111.gprs, and queries its own local DNS. If the APN my.isp.com is not known to the
local DNS, it responds back indicating failure to resolve the APN.

3. The VSGSN now inserts the roamers home operator identifier (e.g., mnc022.mcc222.gprs) and sends a query
to the root DNS (via its local DNS) in the inter-PLMN backbone.

4. The GPRS root DNS replies by sending the HPLMN DNS address to the VPLMN DNS.

5. The VPLMN DNS asks the HPLMN DNS for the GGSN address.

6. The HPLMN DNS resolves the APN and responds back to the VPLMN DNS.

7. The VPLMN DNS replies to the VSGSN with the HGGSN address.

8. The VSGSN initiates the create PDP context procedure with the HGGSN.

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APN resolution using DNS in the VPLMN


In this case, a roamer is attached to a VSGSN and activates a context using a VGGSN. Figure 7-9 shows the
steps involved in resolving the APN:

1. A roamer currently attached to the GPRS network activates a GPRS service. The MS sends an activate PDP
context message to the serving SGSN. This message may or may not contain APN name corresponding to the services
the user wishes to access. Let us assume that the APN is my.isp.com.

Figure 7-9 APN resolution using DNS in the VPLMN.

2. The VSGSN inserts its own operator identifier (e.g., mnc011.mcc111. gprs) to make a complete logical name, i.e.,
my.isp.com.mnc011mcc111. gprs, and queries its own local DNS.

3. The APN my.isp.com is known to the local DNS. It responds back with the VGGSN address, which is required to
serve the roamer request.

4. The VSGSN then activates the create PDP context procedure with the GGSN.

GPRS Roaming GPRS Wireless


GSM GPRS 3G GPRS Mobile Network
DNS Name Resolution GPRS Edge UMTS

Next post: Roaming Scenarios (Roaming in GPRS and 3G Networks)

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Related Links

Roaming in Wireless Networks


Roaming and Wireless Networks
Interstandard Roaming
Prepaid and Postpaid Subscriber Roaming
Basic Structure of Roaming
Roaming Services

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