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Implement General Packet Radio Service for fast, direct wireless Internet access

Now you can get accurate, crystal clear information on lightning fast, always-on GPRS, the 2.5G technology thatís setting the pace today in handheld Internet access. Youíll find it in GPRS: General Packet Radio Service, the first and only guide to answer such fundamental questions as "What is it?" "How does it work?" and "How much is it going to cost me?" The author, telecom expert and best-selling writer R.J. "Bud" Bates, reveals GPRSís features, functions, and architecture, information crucial whether youíre providing or applying GPRS. His straightforward, abundantly illustrated, step-by-step presentation of how GPRS works, how it connects the Internet, and how to implement it will help you put GPRS in place quickly and profitably as you explore:

  • The complete layout of GPRS system architecture
  • The function of GPRS elements
  • Interfaces--radio and MS-PCUSN, MS-SGSN, PCUSN-SGSN, SGSN-GGSN, and GGSN-PDN
  • More!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071381888
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 11/12/2001
  • Series: McGraw-Hill Telecommunications Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 404
  • Product dimensions: 0.83 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 9.25 (d)

Meet the Author

R. J. "Bud" Bates is the president of TC International Consulting. With three decades of communications and computing experience, he is widely recognized as one of the industry's foremost experts. His unique telecom handbooks, Voice and Data Communications Handbook, Optical Switching and Networking Handbook, and Broadband Telecommunications, all published by McGraw-Hill, have sold over 80,000 copies. He is also an instructor for major telecommunication manufacturing companies and carriers. Bates resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Introduction to GSM


When you complete the reading in this chapter, you will be able to
  • Describe the main components of a GSM network.
  • Describe the mobile services.
  • Understand how a mobile performs an attach or detach procedure in GSM.
  • Discuss the modulation techniques used for GSM.
  • Understand the access methods used.
  • Describe the overall cellular operation of a radio network.
Welcome to an overview of the General Packet Radio Services (GPRS). GPRS is a radio service that was designed to run on Global Systems for Mobile (GSM), a worldwide standard for cellular communications. Data transmissions in the past were slow across the radio interfaces due to many propagation and reception problems. To create a broadband communica-tions interface, GPRS was developed as a stepping-stone approach to other services like the Enhanced Data for a Global Environment (EDGE). Regardless of the names we place on these services, the real issues are how much (cost) and how fast (speed) we need to meet the demands for data transmission now and in the future.

Before delving directly into the GPRS systems and services, it is prudent to have common ground on the use of the radio-based systems. Therefore, a review (or introduction) of GSM is appropriate. After all, if GPRS is an over-lay to GSM, we should at least understand how and why GSM works.

History of Cellular Mobile Radio and GSM

The idea of cell-based mobile radio systems appeared at Bell Laboratories in the early 1970s. However, the commercial introduction of cellular sys-tems did not occur until the 1980s. Because of the pent-up demand and newness, analog cellular telephone systems grew rapidly in Europe and North America. Today, cellular systems still represent one of the fastest growing telecommunications services. Recent studies indicate that three of four new phones are mobile phones. Unfortunately, when cellular systems were first being deployed, each country developed its own system, which was problematic because
  • The equipment only worked within the boundaries of each country.
  • The market for mobile equipment manufacturers was limited by the operating system.
Three different services had emerged in the world at the time. They were
  • Advanced Mobile Phone Services (AMPS) in North America
  • Total Access Communications System (TACS) in the United Kingdom
  • Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) in Nordic countries
To solve this problem, in 1982 the Conference of European Posts and Telecommunications (CEPT) formed the Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM) to develop a pan-European mobile cellular radio system (the acronym later became Global System for Mobile communications). The goal of the GSM study group was to standardize systems to provide
  • Improved spectrum efficiency
  • International roaming
  • Low-cost mobile sets and base stations
  • High-quality speech
  • Compatibility with Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and other telephone company services
  • Support for new services
The existing cellular systems were developed on analog technology. However, GSM was developed using digital technology.

Benchmarks in GSM

Table 1-1 shows many of the important events in the rollout of the GSM system; other events were introduced, but had less significant impact on the overall systems.

Commercial service was introduced in mid-1991. By 1993, 36 GSM networks were already operating in 22 countries. Today, you can be instantly reached on your mobile phone in over 171 countries worldwide and on 400 networks (operators). Over 550 million people were subscribers to GSM mobile telecommunications.1 GSM truly stands for Global System for Mobile telecommunications. Roaming is the ability to use your GSM phone number in another GSM network. You can roam to another region or coun-try and use the services of any network operator in that region that has a roaming agreement with the GSM network operator in your home region/country. A roaming agreement is a business agreement between two network operators to transfer items such as call charges and subscription information back and forth as their subscribers roam into each other's areas.

GSM Metrics

The GSM standard is the most widely accepted standard and is implemented globally, owning a market share of 69 percent of the world's digital cellular subscribers. TDMA, with a market share close to 10 percent, is available mainly in North America and South America. GSM, which uses a TDMA access, and North American TDMA are two of the world's leading digital network standards. Unfortunately, it is currently technically impossible for users of either standard to make or receive calls in areas where only the other standard is available. Once interoperability is in place, users of GSM and TDMA handsets will be able to roam on the other network type —subject to the agreements between mobile operators. This will make roaming possible across much of the world because GSM and TDMA networks cover large sections of the global population and together account for 79 percent of all mobile subscribers, as shown in Figure 1-1.

Cell Structure

In a cellular system, the coverage area of an operator is divided into cells. A cell is the area that one transmitter or a small collection of transmitters can cover. The size of a cell is determined by the transmitter's power. The concept of cellular systems is the use of low-power transmitters in order to enable the efficient reuse of the frequencies. The maximum size of a cell is approximately 35 km (radius), providing a roundtrip communications path from the mobile to the cell site and back. If the transmitters are very powerful, the frequencies cannot be reused for hundreds of kilometers, as they are limited to the coverage area of the transmitter. In the past when a mobile communications system was installed, the coverage blocked the reuse beyond the 25-mile coverage area, and created a corridor of interference of an additional 75 miles. This is shown in Figure 1-2.

The frequency band allocated to a cellular mobile radio system is distributed over a group of cells and this distribution is repeated in all of an operator's coverage area. The entire number of radio channels available can then be used in each group of cells that form the operator's coverage area. Frequencies used in a cell will be reused several cells away. The distance between the cells using the same frequency must be sufficient to avoid interference. The frequency reuse will increase the capacity in the number of users considerably. The patterns can be a four-cell pattern or other choices. The typical clusters contain 4, 7, 12, or 21 cells.

In order to work properly, a cellular system must verify the following two main conditions:

  • The power level of a transmitter within a single cell must be limited in order to reduce the interference with the transmitters of neighboring cells. The interference will not produce any damage to the system if a distance of about 2.5 to 3 times the diameter of a cell is reserved between transmitters. The receiver filters must also conform.
  • Neighboring cells cannot share the same channels. In order to reduce the interference, the frequencies must be reused only within a certain pattern. The pattern may also be a seven-cell pattern, which is shown in Figure 1-3.
In order to exchange the information needed to maintain the communication links within the cellular network, several radio channels are reserved for the signaling information. Sometimes we use a 12-cell pattern with a repeating sequence. The 12-cell pattern is really a grouping of three four-cell clusters, as shown in Figure 1-4. The larger the cell pattern, the more the coverage areas tend to work. In general, the larger cell patterns are used in various reuse patterns to get the most out of the scarce radio resources as possible. The 21-cell pattern is by far the largest repeating pat-tern in use today. The cells are grouped into clusters. The number of cells in a cluster determines whether the cluster can be repeated continuously within the coverage area.

The number of cells in each cluster is very important. The smaller the number of cells per cluster, the greater the number of channels per cell. Therefore, the capacity of each cell will be increased. However, a balance must be found in order to avoid the interference that could occur between neighboring clusters. This interference is produced by the small size of the clusters (the size of the cluster is defined by the number of cells per cluster). The total number of channels per cell depends on the number of available channels and the type of cluster used.

Types of Cells

The density of population in a country is so varied that different types of cells are used:
  • Macrocells
  • Microcells
  • Selective or sectorized cells
  • Umbrella cells
  • Nanocells
  • Picocells


Macrocells are large cells for remote and sparsely populated areas. These cells can be as large as 3 to 35 km from the center to the edge of the cell (radius). The larger cells place more frequencies in the core, but because the area is rural, the macrocell typically has limited frequencies (channels) and higher-power transmitters. This is a limitation that prevents other sites from being closely adjacent to this cell. Figure 1-5 shows the macrocell....
1 As of May 2001
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction to GSM Chapter 2: GPRS Introduction Chapter 3: System Architecture Chapter 4: Function of GPRS Elements Chapter 5: Main GPRS Procedures Chapter 6: Radio and MS-PCUSN Interfaces Chapter 7: X.25, Intranets, and Extranets Chapter 8: Mobile Station to SGSN Interface Chapter 9: PCUSN-SGSN Interface (Gb) Chapter 10: SGSN-to-GGSN (Gn) and GGSN-to-PDN (Gi) Interface Chapter 11: Future Enhancements and Services
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