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The GSM Network Architecture can be divided

into 4 parts:
The Mobile Station (MS)
The Base Station Subsystem (BSS)
The Network and Switching Subsystem
(NSS)
The Operation and Support Subsystem
(OSS)
GSM Network Architecture
MSC
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BSC
PSDN
ISDN
PSTN
PLMN
BSS
NSS
Abis interface
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Mobile Station
A Mobile Station consists of two main elements:
The Mobile Equipment or terminal
The Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)
The Terminal
Portable, vehicle mounted or fixed, hand held
device
Uniquely identified by an IMEI (International
Mobile Equipment Identity)
Voice and data transmission
Monitoring power and signal quality of
surrounding cells for optimum handover
Power level : 0.8W 20 W
The SIM
Smart card contains the International
Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI)
Allows user to send and receive calls
and receive other subscribed services
Normally 25 by 15 millimeters
Protected by a password or PIN
Can be moved from phone to phone
contains key information to activate
the phone
The Base Station Subsystem
The BSS connects the MS and the NSS.
It is in charge of the transmission and
reception. The BSS can be divided into
2 parts:
a. The Base Transceiver Station (BTS)or
Base Station
b. The Base Station Controller (BSC)
The Base Transceiver Station
Contains the equipment for
transmitting and receiving of radio
signals (transceivers), antennas, and
equipment for encrypting and
decrypting communications with the
BSC
Usually placed in the center of the cell
The Base Station Controller
Manages Radio resources for BTS
Assigns Frequency and time slots for
all MSs in its area
Handles call set up
Handover for each MS
Radio Power control
It communicates with MSC and BTS
Frequency hopping
The Network and Switching
Subsystem
The Network and Switching
Subsystem
manage the communications between the
mobile users and other users, such as
mobile users, ISDN (Integrated Services
Digital Network) users, fixed telephony
users, etc.
it also includes data bases needed in
order to store information about the
subscribers and to manage their mobility.
Components of the NSS
Mobile Services Switching Center
(MSC)
Heart of the network
Manages communication between GSM
and other networks
Call setup function and basic switching
Call routing
Billing information and collection
Mobility management
- Registration
- Location Updating
- Inter BSS and inter MSC call handoff
MSC does gateway function while its
customer roams to other network by
using HLR/VLR.
Gateway Mobile Services and
Switching Center (GMSC)
Gateway is a node connecting two
networks.
The interface between the mobile
cellular network and the PSTN
Is in charge of routing calls
Home Location Register (HLR)
Permanent database about mobile subscribers
in a large service area (generally one per GSM
network operator)
Database contains:
IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity)
MSISDN (Mobile Subscriber Integrated
Services Digital Network Number)
prepaid/postpaid roaming restrictions
supplementary services
Visitor Location Register (VLR)
Temporary database which updates
whenever new MS enters its area, by
HLR database
Controls those mobiles roaming in its
area
Reduces number of queries to HLR
Authentication Center (AuC)
Protects against intruders in air
interface
Maintains authentication keys and
algorithms and provides security
triplets. (Ki, Kc, etc.)
Generally associated with HLR
Equipment Identity Register (EIR)
Also used for security purposes
Is a register containing information
about the mobile equipments
A terminal is identified by its
International Mobile Equipment Identity
(IMEI)
Forbids calls from unauthorized
terminals
GSM Interworking Unit
Corresponds to an interface to various
data communications
During these communications, the
transmission of speech and data can
be alternated
The Operation and Support
Subsystem
Operation and Support
Subsystem
Is connected to the different components
of the NSS and BSC, in order to control
and monitor the GSM system
Is also in charge of controlling the traffic
load in the BSS
However, the increasing number of base
stations has provoked that some of the
maintenance tasks be transferred to the
BTS