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Mobile Communications

Lec 3: GSM Air Interface (Continued)

Um Interface

GSM Burst Formats

Five different burst types are defined in GSM standard; Normal Burst: This burst is used to carry information on traffic and control channels. For TCH it contains 114 encrypted b its, and includes a guard time of 8.25 bit duration (30.46 us). The stealing flag is used to signal the presence of FACCH, rather than user data.

Frequency Correction Burst: This burst is used for frequency synchronization of the MS. It consists of zeroes only. This burst is only used in one of the logical channels i.e. Frequency Correction Channel (FCH).

Synchronization Burst: This burst is used for time synchronization of the MS. It contains a long training sequence and carries the information of the TDMA Frame Number (FN) and Base Station Identity Code (BSIC). This burst is only used in one of the logical channels i.e. Synchronization Channel (SCH).

GSM Burst Formats

Access Burst: This burst is used for random access and handover access. It is characterized by a long guard period (68.25 bit duration or 252 ms), to cater for burst transmission from an MS that does not know the timing advance at the first access (or at handover). This allows for a cell radius of 35 km. The access burst is used on the Random Access Channel (RACH) and for access at handover.

Dummy Burst: This burst is transmitted on radio frequency when no other type of burst is to be sent. This means that the base station always transmits on the frequency carrying the system information, thus making it possible for the MSs to perform power measurements on the BTS in order to determine which BTS to use for initial access or which to use for handover. In order to achieve this, a dummy page and a dummy burst is defined in the GSM recommendations. CCCH is replaced by the dummy page, when there is no paging message to transmit. This dummy page is a page to a non-existing MS. In the other TSs not being used, a dummy burst with a pre-defined set of fixed bits is transmitted.

Logical Channels page 49

The logical channels can be separated into two categories. They are traffic channels and signaling channels. There are two forms of Traffic Channels: Full rate TCH (TCH/F) - this channel carries information at a gross rate of 22.8 kbit/s. Half rate TCH (TCH/H) - this channel carries information at a gross rate of 11.4 kbit/s.

Signaling channels are subdivided into three categories: Broadcast Channels (BCH) Common Control Channels (CCCH) Dedicated Control Channels (DCCH)

Broadcast Control Channels

Frequency Correction CHannel (FCCH) On FCCH, bursts only containing zeroes are transmitted. This serves two purposes. First to make sure that this is the BCCH carrier, and second to allow the MS to synchronize to the frequency. FCCH is transmitted downlink only. Synchronization CHannel (SCH) The MS needs to synchronize to the time-structure within this particular cell, and also ensure that the chosen BTS is a GSM base station. By listening to the SCH, the MS receives information about the frame number in this cell and about Base Station Identity Code (BSIC) of the chosen BTS. SCH is transmitted downlink only. Broadcast Control CHannel (BCCH) The MS must receive some general information concerning the cell in order to start roaming, waiting for calls to arrive or making calls. The needed information is broadcast on the Broadcast Control CHannel (BCCH) and includes the Location Area Identity (LAI), maximum output power allowed in the cell and the BCCH carriers for the neighboring cells on which the MS performs measurements. BCCH is transmitted on the downlink only. Using FCCH, SCH, and BCCH the MS tunes to a BTS and synchronized with the frame structure in that cell. The BTSs are not synchronized to each other. Therefore, every time the MS camps on another cell, it must listen to FCCH, SCH and BCCH in the new cell

Common Control Channels

Paging CHannel (PCH) At certain time intervals the MS listens to the PCH to check if the network wants to make contact with the MS. The reason why the network may want to contact the MS could be an incoming call or an incoming short message. The information on PCH is a paging message, including the MSs identity number (IMSI) or a temporary number (TMSI). PCH is transmitted downlink only. Random Access CHannel (RACH) The MS listens to the PCH to determine when it is being paged. When the MS is paged, it replies on the RACH requesting a signaling channel. RACH can also be used if the MS wants to contact the network. For example, when setting up a mobile originating call. RACH is transmitted uplink only. Access Grant CHannel (AGCH) The networks assigns a signaling channel (Stand-alone Dedicated Control CHannel (SDCCH)) to the MS. This assignment is performed on the AGCH. AGCH is transmitted downlink only.

Dedicated Control Channels

Stand alone Dedicated Control CHannel (SDCCH) The MS as well as the BTS switches over to the assigned SDCCH. The call set-up procedure is performed on the SDCCH, as well as the textual message transmission (short message and cell broadcast) in idle mode. SDCCH is transmitted both uplink and downlink. When call set-up is performed, the MS is told to switch to a TCH. Slow Associated Control CHannel (SACCH) The SACCH is associated with SDCCH or TCH (i.e. sent on the same physical channel). On the uplink, the MS sends averaged measurements on its own BTS (signal strength and quality) and neighboring BTSs (signal strength). On the downlink, the MS receives information concerning the transmitting power to use and instructions on the timing advance. SACCH is transmitted both uplink and downlink. Fast Associated Control CHannel (FACCH) If a handover is required the FACCH is used. FACCH works in stealing mode meaning that one 20 ms segment of speech is exchanged for signaling information necessary for the handover. Under normal conditions the subscriber does not notice the speech interruption because the speech coder repeats the previous speech block. Cell Broadcast CHannel (CBCH) CBCH is only used downlink to carry Short Message Service Cell Broadcast (SMSCB) and uses the same physical channel as SDCCH.

Logical Channel Combinations

Only certain combinations of logical channels are permitted according to the GSM recommendations. The list below shows the way in which logical channels can be combined on to Basic Physical Channels (BPC). (i) TCH/F + FACCH/F + SACCH/F (ii) TCH/H(0,1) + FACCH/H(0,1) + SACCH/TH(0,1) (iii) TCH/H(0) + FACCH/H(0) + SACCH/TH(0) + TCH/H(1) (iv) FCCH + SCH + BCCH + CCCH (v) FCCH + SCH + BCCH + CCCH + SDCCH/4(0...3) + SACCH/C4(0...3) (vi) BCCH + CCCH (vii) SDCCH/8(0...7) + SACCH/C8(0...7) (viii) TCH/F + FACCH/F + SACCH/M (ix) TCH/F + SACCH/M (x) TCH/FD + SACCH/MD Where CCCH = PCH + AGCH + RACH

Control Channel Multiframe

BCCH/CCCH Multiframe

DCCH/8 Multiframe

Traffic Channel Multiframe

SACCH Multiframe

SACCH Multiframe cosists of 4 TCH Multiframes and the duration is 480msec. SACCH Multframe carries Measurement Reports in the Uplink and System Information Messages in the Downlink.

Introduction to Signaling on the Um Interface 165

The Um interface is the interface between the MS and the BTS. For signalling on the Um Interface three layers are required; In each layer, there are entities responsible for specific signaling procedures. Peer entities are entities belonging to the same layer in different nodes. These peer entities communicate with each other by sending and receiving messages according to a specific protocol. Each layer communicates with its peer layer in the other node. Each layer utilizes the services provided by the layer below and offers services to the layer above.

Hierarchical Structure of Um Interface

Layer 3 Signaling
Layer 3 provides the Mobile Network Signaling (MNS) service to the user application. Layer 3 signaling is used for; Functions to establish, maintain and terminate circuit switched connections across a GSM PLMN and other networks to which the PLMN is connected. Supporting functions for supplementary services and short message service control. Functions for mobility management and radio resource management.

Layer 3 consists of three sublayers;

Connection Management (CM) Mobility Management (MM) Radio Resource management (RR) In the MS, entities from all three sublayers are present. On the network side there is a distribution of the signaling functions between different network equipment. The RR functions reside mainly in the BSC, although some RR functions may reside in the MSC. In the BTS, most of the RR messages are handled as transparent messages. However, some of them must be interpreted by the BTS.

Overview of various Identifiers in GSM Network

MOBILE STATION ISDN NUMBER (MSISDN) These are the digits dialed when calling a mobile subscriber. INTERNATIONAL MOBILE SUBSCRIBER IDENTITY (IMSI) The IMSI is a unique identity allocated to each subscriber tovallow correct identification over the radio path and through the network and is used for all signaling in the PLMN. All network related subscriber information is connected to the IMSI. The IMSI is stored in the SIM, as well as in the HLR and in the serving VLR. The IMSI consists of three different parts:


where MCC = Mobile Country Code MNC = Mobile Network Code MSIN = Mobile Subscriber Identification Number According to the GSM specifications, IMSI has a maximum length of 15 digits.

Overview of various Identifiers in GSM Network


The TMSI is a temporary number used instead of IMSI to identify an MS. The TMSI is used for the subscribers confidentiality on the air interface. The TMSI has only local significance (that is, within the MSC/VLR area) and is changed at certain events or time intervals. The TMSI structure can be chosen by each operator but should not consist of more than four octets.
INTERNATIONAL MOBILE EQUIPMENT IDENTITY (IMEI) The IMEI is used for equipment identification and uniquely identifies a MS as a piece or assembly of equipment. IMEI has the total length of 15 digits. It consists of the following: IMEI = TAC + FAC + SNR + spare where TAC = Type Approval Code, determined by a central GSM body. FAC = Final Assembly Code, identifies the manufacturer. SNR = Serial Number, an individual serial number of six digits uniquely identifies all equipment within each TAC and FAC. Spare = A spare bit for future use.

Overview of various Identifiers in GSM Network

LOCATION AREA IDENTITY (LAI) The LAI is used for paging, to indicate to the MSC in which Location Area (LA) the MS is currently situated and also for location updating of mobile subscribers. The LAI contains the following: LAI = MCC + MNC + LAC where MCC = Mobile Country Code, same as IMSI MCC MNC = Mobile Network Code, same as IMSI MNC LAC = Location Area Code, the length of LAC is 16 bits, enabling 65,536 different location areas to be defined in one PLMN. CELL GLOBAL IDENTITY (CGI) The CGI is used for cell identification within a location area. This is done by adding a Cell Identity (CI) to the components of a LAI. CI has a length of 16 bits. CGI consists of: CGI = MCC + MNC + LAC + CI

Overview of various Identifiers in GSM Network

BASE STATION IDENTITY CODE (BSIC) BSIC allows a mobile station to distinguish between different neighboring base stations. BSIC consists of: BSIC = NCC + BCC Where NCC = Network Color Code (3 bits), identifies the PLMN. Note that it does not uniquely identify the operator. NCC is primarily used to distinguish between operators on each side of a border. BCC = Base Station Color Code (3 bits), identifies the Base Station to help distinguish between BTS using the same BCCH frequencies.