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Mobile satellite services

GSM: Services and Architecture, Several channels are used in the air interface

Mobile satellite services:




Services and Architecture:


If your work involves (or is likely to involve) some form of wireless public communications, you are likely to encounter the GSM standards. Initially developed to support a standardized approach to digital cellular communications in Europe, the "Global System for Mobile Communications" (GSM) protocols are rapidly being adopted to the next generation of wireless telecommunications systems.


In the US, its main competition appears to be the cellular TDMA systems based on the IS-54 standards. Since the GSM systems consist of a wide range of components, standards, and protocols.


The GSM and its companion standard DCS1800 (for the UK, where the 900 MHz frequencies are not available for GSM) have been developed over the last decade to allow cellular communications systems to move beyond the limitations posed by the older analog systems.


Analog system capacities are being stressed with more users that can be effectively supported by the available frequency allocations. Compatibility between types of systems had been limited, if non-existent.


By using digital encoding techniques, more users can share the same frequencies than had been available in the analog systems. As compared to the digital cellular systems in the US (CDMA [IS-95] and TDMA [IS-54]), the GSM market has had impressive success. Estimates of the numbers of telephones run from 7.5 million GSM phones to .5 million IS54 phones to .3 million for IS95.


GSM has gained in acceptance from its initial beginnings in Europe to other parts of the world including Australia, New Zealand, countries in the Middle East and the far east. Beyond its use in cellular frequencies (900 MHz for GSM, 1800 MHz for DCS1800), portions of the GSM signaling protocols are finding their way into the newly developing PCS and LEO Satellite communications systems.


While the frequencies and link characteristics of these systems differ from the standard GSM air interface, all of these systems must deal with users roaming from one cell (or satellite beam) to another, and bridge services to public communication networks including the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), and public data networks (PDN).


The GSM architecture includes several subsystems:

The Mobile Station (MS) -- These digital telephones include vehicle, portable and hand-held terminals. A device called the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) that is basically a smart-card provides custom information about users such as the services they've subscribed to and their identification in the network


The Base Station Sub-System (BSS) -- The BSS is the collection of devices that support the switching networks radio interface. Major components of the BSS include the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) that consists of the radio modems and antenna equipment.


In OSI terms, the BTS provides the physical interface to the MS where the BSC is responsible for the link layer services to the MS. Logically the transcoding equipment is in the BTS, however, an additional component. 


The Network and Switching Sub-System (NSS) -- The NSS provides the switching between the GSM subsystem and external networks along with the databases used for additional subscriber and mobility management.


Major components in the NSS include the Mobile Services Switching Center (MSC), Home and Visiting Location Registers (HLR, VLR). The HLR and VLR databases are interconnected through the telecomm standard Signaling System 7 (SS7) control network.


The Operation Sub-System (OSS) -- The OSS provides the support functions responsible for the management of network maintenance and services. Components of the OSS are responsible for network operation and maintenance, mobile equipment management, and subscription management and charging.



Several channels are used in the air interface:


 FCCH - the frequency correction channel - provides frequency synchronization information in a burst

 SCH - Synchronization Channel - shortly following the FCCH burst (8 bits later), provides a reference to all slots on a given frequency

 PAGCH - Paging and Access Grant Channel used for the transmission of paging information requesting the setup of a call to a MS.

 RACH - Random Access Channel - an inbound channel used by the MS to request connections from the ground network. Since this is used for the first access attempt by users of the network, a random access scheme is used to aid in avoiding collisions.

 CBCH - Cell Broadcast Channel - used for infrequent transmission of broadcasts by the ground network.

 BCCH - Broadcast Control Channel - provides access status information to the MS. The information provided on this channel is used by the MS to determine whether or not to request a transition to a new cell

 FACCH - Fast Associated Control Channel for the control of handovers

 TCH/F - Traffic Channel, Full Rate for speech at 13 kbps or data at 12, 6, or 3.6 kbps

 TCH/H - Traffic Channel, Half Rate for speech at 7 kbps, or data at 6 or 3.6 kbps

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