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GSM Introduction & Architecture

Access method FDMA/TDMA
Duplexing Method FDD
Uplink (MS to BTS); Reverse link 890 to 915 MHz
Downlink(BTS to MS); Forward link 935 to 960 MHz
Channel Bandwidth 200 KHz
No. of Timeslots / frame 8
Modulation GMSK
Carrier Bit Rate 270.8 Kbps
GSM Parameters
GSM Air Interface
FDMA means that a given band is divided into 200-
KHz carriers or RF channels in both the uplink and
downlink directions
TDMA means that multiple users share a given RF
channel on a time-sharing basis
FDD means that different frequencies are being used
in the forward and reverse direction
GSM 900 Extended

DCS 1800

PCS 1900
Uplink 890 MHz-
915 MHz
880 MHz-
915 MHz
1710 MHz-
1785 MHz
1850 MHz-
1910 MHz
Downlink 935 MHz-
960 MHz
925 MHz-
960 MHz
1805 MHz-
1880 MHz
1930 MHz-
1990 MHz
A guard band of 200 KHz is located at each end of each frequency band
For example, in standard GSM 900, the first uplink RF channel is at
890.2 MHz and last uplink RF channel is at 914.8 MHz, allowing a total
of 124 carriers
GSM Frequency bands
GSM systems can be implemented in any frequency band.
However, several bands exist where GSM terminals are available.

The band 890 to 915 MHz has been allocated for the uplink
direction (transmitting from the MS to the BS).

Two frequency bands, 25 MHz in each one, have been`
allocated by ETSI for the GSM system:

The band 935 to 960 MHz has been allocated for the downlink
direction (transmitting from the BS to the MS).

GSM Air Interface
GSM Air Interface
To give the maximum number of users access, each frequency
band (25 MHz) is subdivided into 125 carrier frequencies
spaced 200 kHz apart (called Absolute Radio Frequency
Channel Number - ARFCN), using FDMA techniques.

The channel Bandwidth for GSM is 200Khz.
For a Frequency band of 25 MHz
Total channel will be = 25MHz/200 KHz
Total channel = 125 channels.

GSM Air Interface
Each base station is assigned one or more carriers to use in its

In GSM the 1st carrier frequency is used as a guard band
between GSM and other services that might be working on
lower frequencies.

A full duplex channel is assigned with the two separate
frequencies (allotted in forward and reverse direction. ) in a 45
MHz separation. This enables the two way communications in a
GSM network

GSM Air Interface
GSM Network Architecture
GSM uses paired radio channels
0 124 0 124
890MHz 915MHz 935MHz 960MHz
Multiple Access (Carrier Frequencies)
Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)
GSM allows many users to use their cell phones at the same

GSM uses a combination of Time-Division Multiple Access
(TDMA) and Frequency-Division Multiple Access (FDMA) to
share the limited bandwidth (provided by regulators to the
service providers ).
FDMA divides the spectrum into small slices, and Each
frequency slice is separated in time into many blocks by TDMA.

TDMA allows many users to share a common channel.

Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)
Frequency band is 25 MHz (up & down link)

The channel width is 200 KHz.

Each carrier frequency (RF) is then divided according
to time using a TDMA scheme.

This gives 125 channels.
Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)

Each of the carrier frequencies (RF) is divided into a
120ms multiframe.

A multiframe is made up of 26 frames.

The duration of a frame is 4.615 msec.

1 of the frames of one multiframe is used for control
purpose and 1 is unused.

Remaining 24 frames are used for traffic.

TDMA frame consists of 8 Time slots called burst.
So their will be eight users in one TDMA Frame.

In a TDMA system, a burst is the unit of time.

Each frame lasts approximately 4.62 ms, such that
each time slot lasts approximately 0.577ms

Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)
Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)

After 4.615 msec the user will again occupy the slot
and since duration is too small, hence is not
recognized by the user.
There are four types of packet bursts in GSM
For each of these a particular structure has been
The burst used for transporting call data (voice/data) is
called a Normal burst.
Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)

Time ms
200 kHz
200 kHz
Slot 0 Slot 1 Slot 2 Slot 3 Slot 4 Slot 5 Slot 6 Slot 7
0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577
0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577
0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577
0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577 0.577
Burst Burst Burst Burst Burst Burst Burst Burst
200 kHz
200 kHz
Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)
Frames and Time slots
The structure of normal burst is

Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)
FLAG : 1bit
Indicates whether user information or control information
TRAIL bits : 3bit
Used for synchronization.
GUARD (Guard time) : 8.25bits (30.5sec)
Reduce interference to signals in nearby cells using the same carrier.
During this period no data is sent. It is at the end of the burst.
TRAIN (Training sequence) : 26bits
Select the strongest signal in case of Multipath propagation
Stealing bit
Indicates whether this block contains data or is stolen for urgent control
Encrypted Bits
114 cipher text bits of plain text bits (data) is placed in two 57 bit bit
Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)
Frames and Time slots
Each burst contains 156.25 bits, while user data is further divided into two
blocks of 57 bits i.e. it is 114 bits.
As multiframe is Containing 26 frames and having a duration of 120 ms 24
frames for data traffic, one is used for control signaling, and one is unused
The resulting data rate is
Multiple Access (Frame / Bursts)
114 bits/slot * 24 slots/multiframe
120 ms/mutiframe
22.8 Kbps
Depending on the number of RF carriers in a given
cell, all eight time slots on a given carrier might be
used to carry user traffic

In other words, the RF carrier might be allocated to
eight traffic channels (TCHs)

There must be however, at least one time slot in a cell
allocated for control channel purposes
GSM Air Interface
The original analog voice signal, has been
digitized, interleaved, grouped, and
encoded, and the digital data is ready to
be transmitted.
The digital bit stream must be encoded in
a pulse and transmitted over radio
Modulation changes the '1' and '0's in a digital
representation to another representation that is
more suitable for transmission over airwaves.

GSM uses Gaussian-Filtered Minimum Shift
Keying (GMSK) as it's modulation scheme.
GSM Network Architecture
Four main parts
1) The Mobile Station: a) SIM b) ME
2) The Base station Subsystem:
a) BTS b) BSC c) Transcoder
3) The Network and Switching Subsystem
a) MSC b) VLR c) HLR d) EIR e) AUC f) IWF
4) The Operation and Support Subsystem
a) NMC b) OMC
GSM System Architecture
Data Terminal
(Operation & Maintenance
A-bis SS7
Network sub-system PSTN
IMSI(International Mobile Subscriber Identity)
Permanently stored on SIM card
PIN (Personal Identification Number)
An internal security to Protect the SIM from illegal use.
Card blocks itself after three wrong entries.
PUK (Personal Unblocking Key)
8 digit code to unblock the SIM Card.
TMSI (Temporary mobile subscriber ID)
Assignment, Administration and updating is performed by VLR

Base Tranceiver Station (BTS)
Houses the radio transceivers that define a cell
Handles radio link protocol with mobile station
Speech and data transmission
Base Station Controller (BSC)
Manages Resources for BTS
Handles call set up
It also contains digital switching matrix
It controls handoff performed by its BTSs.
It provides interface b/w BSC & MSC
MSC provides 2Mbps streams with 64Kbps per channel capacity.
Call Switching
Operation & Management Support
Internetwork Interworking
Collects call billing data
Gateway MSC
MSC which provides interface between PSTN & BSSs in the GSM
HLR(Home Location Register)
Reference database for the Subscriber profiles-
Subscriber ID (IMSI )
Current VLR Address-----TMSI
Subscriber Status (Registered/deregistered)
Authentication Key and AUC functionality
VLR (Visitor Location Register)
Temporary Data, which exists as long as the subscriber is active in a
particular Coverage area.
Contains the following-
Mobile Status (Busy/ Free/ No Answer/etc.)
Location Area Identity (LAI)
MSRN (Mobile Station Roaming Number)
Contains Database for validating IMEI(International Mobile Equipment
White List (valid ME)
Black List (Stolen ME)
Grey List (Faulty ME)
IWF (Inter Working Function)
Provides function to enable the GSM /CDMA System to interface with
Public/Private Data Networks.
The basic feature of the IWF are
Data Rate Conversion
Protocol adaptation

Operation and Support System
Purpose is to offer the customer cost
effective support for centralized, regional and
local operational and maintenance activities.
Connected to all the components of SS and
the BSC.
Additional Functional Elements
MXE:- Node that handles SMS, Cell
broadcast, voice mail, fax mail and e-mail.
MSN:- Node that handles the mobile
intelligent network services.
GMSC:- Node used to interconnect two
GIWU:- Provides an interface to various
networks for data communications and
through this node users can alternate
between speech and data.
GSM Network Areas
Cell:- Area given radio coverage by one BTS.
Identified via the CGI number.
LA:- Area in which the subscriber is paged.
Served by one or more BSCs but by a single
MSC. Identified via LAI number.
MSC/VLR:- area covered by one MSC and is
reachable as it is registered in the VLR of that
PLMN:- Area served by one network