Click to enlargeIntroduction to GSM,<br> 3rd Edition<a name="top">

Physical Channels, Logical Channels, Network Functions, and Operation

Authors: Lawrence Harte, Bruce Bramley, Mike Davis

Copyright: 2012
Number of Pages: 116
Number of Diagrams: 31

55 Slide GSM Tutorial

Printed or Electronic Version (3.8MB) Available - Electronic Version has Color Diagrams

This book explains the basic components, technologies used, and operation of GSM systems. You will discover why mobile telephone service providers have upgraded from 1st generation analog systems to more efficient and feature rich 2nd generation GSM systems. You will also discover how 2nd generation systems are gradually evolving into more....

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Sample Diagrams

There are 31 explanatory diagrams in this book

GSM Radio Channel Structure

This diagram shows that the GSM system uses a single type of radio channel. Each radio channel in the GSM system has a frequency bandwidth of 200 kHz and a data transmission rate of approximately 270 kbps. This example shows that each radio communication channel is divided into 8 time slots (0 through 7). This diagram shows that a simultaneous two-way voice communication session requires at least one radio channel communicates from the base station to the mobile station (called the forward channel) and one channel communicates from the mobile station to the base station (called the reverse channel). This example also shows that some of the radio channel capacity is used to transfer voice (traffic) information and some of the radio channel capacity is used to transfer control messages.

Normal Burst Structures

This figure shows the field structures of the normal burst used in the GSM system. This diagram shows that the field structure is different for the normal burst, synchronization burst, and the frequency correction bursts. The fields transmitted during the normal burst include initial tail bits (ramp-up time), training sequence, flag bits, user data bits, final tail bits, and guard period. This diagram shows that the first 3 bits of the time slot are dedicated to the gradual increase of transmitter power level (ramp-up). For the normal burst, this is followed by the information (user data) bits. The flag bits indicate if the normal burst has been replaced with FACCH signaling information. This diagram shows that some of the bits in the center of the burst are used as training bits (to allow equalizer training). At the end of the transmitted burst there are tail bits (for error protection) and 3 guard period bits that are used during the gradual reduction of the RF transmitter signal (ramp-down).

Fast Associated Control Channel (FACCH) Signaling

This figure shows that GSM FACCH signaling replaces (steals) speech frames and replaces them with control information. This example shows the FACCH messages is divided and transmitted over 8 sequential channel bursts and that the speech information that would normally be transmitted is discarded. When received, the FACCH message is reassembled into its original message structure.

Table of Contents

Global System for Mobile Communication

GSM Services

Voice Services
-Full Rate Voice
-Half Rate Voice
-Enhanced Full Rate Voice
-Voice Privacy
-Voice Group Call Service (Dispatch)
-Voice Broadcast Service (VBS)
Data Services
-Circuit Switched Data
-Packet Switched Data
-Fax Services
Multicast Services
Short Messaging Services
-Point to Point Messaging
-Point to Multipoint Messaging
-Cell Broadcast Messaging
-Executable Messages
-Flash Messages
Location Based Services (LBS)

GSM Products (Mobile Devices)

Mobile Telephones
Mobile Equipment (ME)
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)
PCMCIA Air Cards
Embedded Radio Modules
External Radio Modems

GSM Radio

Frequency Allocation
Frequency Reuse
Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)
RF Power Control

Digital Audio and Baseband

Analog to Digital Conversion (ADC)
Digital Speech Compression (Speech Coding)
Channel Coding
-Cyclic Redundancy Check Sum (CRC)
-Block Code
-Convoultional Coding
Echo Cancellation

Radio Channels

Radio Channel Bandwidth
Duplex Channels
Radio Channel Structure
Time Slot Structure
-Normal Burst
-Random Access Burst (Shortened Burst)
-Frequency Correction Burst
-Synchronization Burst
Frame Structure
MultiFrame Structure
-Traffic Multiframe Structures
-Control Multiframe Structures
Slow Frequency Hopping
Discontinuous Reception (Sleep Mode)
Discontinuous Transmission (DTx) Operation
Dynamic Time Alignment (Timing Advance)

Logical Channels

Traffic Channels
-Traffic Channel (TCH)
Control Channels
-Beacon (Broadcast) Channels (BCH)
-Common Control Channels (CCCH)
Dedicated Control Channel Signaling
-Stand Alone Dedicated Control Channel (SDCCH)
Traffic Channel Signaling
-Slow Associated Control Channel (SACCH)
-Fast Associated Control Channel (FACCH)
-DTMF Signaling

GSM Network

Base Stations
-Radio Antenna Towers
-Radio Equipment
-Communication Links
Switching Centers
-Mobile Switching Center (MSC)
-Serving General Packet Radio Service Support Node (SGSN). .
-Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN)
Network Databases
-Home Location Register (HLR)
-Visitor Location Register (VLR)
-Equipment Identity Register (EIR)
-Administration Billing Center (ABC)
-Authentication Center (AuC)
-SMS Center (SMSC)
-Group Call Register (GCR)
Wireless Network System Interconnection
-Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)
-Public Packet Data Network (PPDN)
-Interworking Function (IWF)
Customized Applications for Mobile Network Enhanced Logic (CAMEL)

GSM System Operation

Mobile Telephone Initialization (Initial Registration)
Updating Location (Registration)
Waiting for Calls (Idle)
Cell Reselection
-Location Update
System Access
Mobile Call Origination (Mobile Originated Call)
Mobile Assisted Handoff (MAHO)(Moved from GSM Radio)
Transferring Calls (Handoff/Handover)
Receiving Calls (Mobile Terminated Call)
Conversation Mode
Connected Mode

GSM Evolution

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE)
Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA)
UMTS Long Term Evolution (UMTS LTE)

Appendix 1 – Acronyms

1G - First Generation
AB - Access Burst
ACCH - Associated Control Channel
Ack - Acknowledgment Message
AGCH - Access Grant Channel
AIN - Advanced Intelligent Network
ALS - Alternate Line Service
AM - Amplitude Modulation
AOC - Advice Of Charge
AuC - Authentication Center
BAIC - Barring of All Incoming Calls
BAOC - Barring of All Outgoing Calls
BCH - Broadcast Channel
BS - Base Station
BS - Bearer Services
BSC - Base Station Controller
BSCS - Business Support And Control System
BSS - Base Station Subsystem
BTA - Basic Trading Area
BTS - Base Transceiver Station
CAI - Common Air Interface
CAMEL - Customized Applications For Mobile Enhanced Logic
CAPs - Competitive Access Providers
CARE - Customer Account Record Exchange
CBCH - Cell Broadcast Channel
CC - Convolutional Coding
CCBS - Customer Care and Billing System
CCCH - Common Control Channel
CDMA - Code Division Multiple Access
CDMA2000 - Code Division Multiple Access 2000
CDR - Call Detail Record
CEPT - Conference Of European Postal And Telecommunications Administrations
CLI - Calling Line Identification
CLID - Calling Line Identification Display
CLIR - Calling Line Identification Restriction
CPP - Calling Party Pays
CUG - Closed User Group
DB - Dummy Burst
DCCH - Dedicated Control Channel
DCS - 1800 - Digital Cellular System 1800 MHz
DCS - 1900 - Digital Cellular System 1900 MHz
DECT - Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone
DL - Downlink
DOC - Department Of Communications
DRx - Discontinuous Reception
DSP - Digital Signal Processor
DTE - Data Terminal Equipment
DTx - Discontinuous Transmission
E911 - Enhanced 911
E - commerce or ECommerce - Electronic Commerce
EDACS - Enhanced Digital Access Communication System
EDGE - Enhanced Data Rates For Global Evolution
EDGE Compact - Enhanced Data Rates For Global Evolution Compact
EFR - Enhanced Full Rate
EHR - Enhanced Half Rate
EIR - Equipment Identity Register
Email or e - Mail - Electronic Mail
EQ - Equalization
ESS - Electronic Switching System
ETSI - European Telecommunications Standards Institute
FACCH - Fast Associated Control Channel
FACCH/F - Full Rate Fast Associated Control Channel
FACCH/H - Half Rate Fast Associated Control Channel
FCB - Frequency Correction Burst
FCC - Federal Communications Commission
FCCH - Frequency Correction Channel
FEC - Forward Error Correction
FH - Frequency Hopping
FM - Frequency Modulation
FPLMTS - Future Public Land Mobile Telephone System
FR - Full Rate
FW - Firmware
GCR - Group Call Register
GGSN - Gateway GPRS Support Node
GP - Guard Period
GPRS - General Packet Radio Service
GSM - Global System For Mobile Communications
GTP - GPRS Tunneling Protocol
GUI - Graphic User Interface
HANDO - Handover
HDML - Handheld Device Markup Language
HLR - Home Location Register
HPU - Hand Portable Unit
HR - Half Rate
HSCSD - High Speed Circuit Switched Data
HSN - Hopping Sequence Number
HTML - Hypertext Markup Language
IDN - Integrated Digital Network
IMEI - International Mobile Equipment Identifier
IMSI - International Mobile Subscriber Identity
IN - Intelligent Network
ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network
ISI - Inter Symbol Interference
ITU - International Telecommunication Union
IWF - Interworking Function
Kc - Cipher Key
L_CH - Logical Channel
LAC - Location Area Code
LAN - Local Area Network
LATA - Local Access And Transport Area
MAHO - Mobile Assisted Handover
MCC - Mobile Country Code
ME - Mobile Equipment
MM - Mobility Management
MMI - Man Machine Interface
MNC - Mobile Network Code
MOSMS - Mobile Originated Short Message Service
MOU - Memorandum Of Understanding
MPP - Mobile Party Pays
MS - Mobile Station
MSC - Mobile Switching Center
MSCM - Mobile Station Class Mark
MSIC - Mobile System Identification Code
MSISDN - Mobile Subscriber ISDN
MTP - Message Transfer Part
MTSMS - Mobile Terminated Short Message Service
Multiframe - Multiple Timeframe
Multifunction SIM - Multi - Function Subscriber Identity Module Card
MWI - Message Waiting Indicator
Nack Message - Negative Acknowledgement Message
NANP - North American Numbering Plan
NB - Normal Burst
Net - Internet
NM - Network Management
NMC - Network Maintenance Center
NMC - Network Management Center
NMT - Nordic Mobile Telephone
NSS - Network Switching Subsystem
NT - Network Termination
NTIZ - Network Identity And Timezone
OMC - Operations And Maintenance Center
OTAP - Over The Air Programming
PCMCIA - Personal Computer Memory Card International Association
PCN - Personal Communications Network
PCS - Personal Communication Services
PHS - Personal Handiphone System
PIN - Personal Identification Number
PLMN Code - Public Land Mobile Network Code
PM - Phase Modulation
PPP - Point - To - Point Protocol
PSTN - Public Switched Telephone Network
PTN - Public Telephone Network
PUK - Personal Unblocking Key
QAM - Quadrature Amplitude Modulation
RAB - Random Access Burst
RACE - Research In Advanced Communications In Europe
RACH - Random Access Channel
Ringtone - Ring Tone
ROAM - Roaming
RSS - Radio Sub - System
SACCH - Slow Associated Control Channel
SC - Smart Card
SCADA - Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition
SCH - Synchronization Channel
SDCCH - Stand - Alone Dedicated Control Channel
SDMA - Spatial Division Multiple Access
SGSN - Serving General Packet Radio Service Support Node
SGSN - Serving GPRS Support Node
SIM - Subscriber Identity Module
SMS - Short Message Service
SMSC - Short Message Service Center
SNMP - Simple Network Management Protocol
Softkeys - Soft Keys
SP - Signaling Point
SRES - Signed Response
SS - Supplementary Services
SS7 - Signaling System 7
STP - Signaling Transfer Point
TA - Transaction Capabilities
TACS - Total Access Communications System
TAP - Transferred Account Procedures
TCH - Traffic Channel
TCH/F - Full Rate TCH
TCH/F - Traffic Channel Full Rate
TCH/H - Half Rate Data TCH
Timeslot - Time Slot
TS - Time Slot
TSI - Time Slot Interchange Switching
UL - Uplink
UMTS - Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
URL - Universal Resource Locator
US TDMA - IS - 136
USSD - Unstructured Supplementary Service Data
VAD - Voice Activity Detection
VBS - Voice Broadcast Service
VGCS - Voice Group Call Service
VLR - Visitor Location Register
VM - Voice Mail
VMS - Voice Mail System
WAP - Wireless Access Protocol
WCDMA - Wideband Code Division Multiple Access
WIN - Wireless Intelligent Network

About the Authors

Mr. Lawrence Harte is the president of Althos, an expert information provider covering the communications industry. He has over 29 years of technology analysis, development, implementation, and business management experience. Mr. Harte has worked for leading companies including Ericsson/General Electric, Audiovox/Toshiba and Westinghouse and has consulted for hundreds of other companies. Mr. Harte continually researches, analyzes, and tests new communication technologies, applications, and services. He has authored over 100 books on telecommunications technologies on topics including Wireless Mobile, Data Communications, VoIP, Broadband, Prepaid Services, and Communications Billing. Mr. Harte holds many degrees and certificates including an Executive MBA from Wake Forest University (1995) and a BSET from the University of the State of New York, (1990). Mr. Harte can be contacted at

Mr. Bromley is the Vice President of Training for Phoenix Global Support, a training company who specializes in several modern communications technologies. He has over 24 years of communications experience as a user, trainer, and consultant to multiple government agencies. Mr. Bromley has retired from the U.S. Army after serving over 20 years of active duty in the intelligence community. He has brought his communication knowledge and real-world experiences with him and now uses them to educate the people with a need of this knowledge. He continues to research, learn, and develop new training which keeps Phoenix Global Support ahead of the technology world. Mr. Bromley holds a Bachelors in Information Technology from American Intercontinental University (2005). Mr. Bromley may be contacted at

Mr. Davis, Phoenix Global Support’s Chief Operations Officer is also a military veteran with over seventeen years of real-world communications experience for multiple government agencies. He has continued researching and instructing the latest wireless technologies for nearly two years. Today, Mr. Davis maintains multiple relationships with end users of these technologies to ensure that Phoenix Global Support meets each customer’s requirements for training and education. Mr Davis may be contacted at


This book explains the basic components, technologies used, and operation of GSM systems. You will discover why mobile telephone service providers have upgraded from 1st generation analog systems to more efficient and feature rich 2nd generation GSM systems. You will also discover how 2nd generation systems are gradually evolving into 3rd generation broadband multimedia systems.

This book starts with the system components and basic services that the GSM system can provide. You will learn that the key types of GSM devices include single mode and dual mode mobile telephones, wireless PCMCIA cards, embedded radio modules, and external radio modems. You will then discover the different types of available services such as voice services, data services, group call, and messaging services.

Explained are the physical and logical radio channel structures of the GSM system along with the basic frame and slot structures. Described are the fundamental capabilities and operation of the GSM radio channel including channel coding, modulation types, speech coding, RF power control, and mobile assisted handover. You will learn how each GSM radio channels has 8 time slots per frame and that some of these are used for signaling (control channels) and others are used for user traffic (voice and data). Because the needs of voice and data communication are different, you will discover that the GSM system essentially separates circuit switched (primarily voice) and packet switched (primarily data) services.

Described are key functional sections of a GSM network and how they communicate with each other. You will learn how and why GSM is evolving into 3rd generation broadband systems including GPRS, EDGE, and WCDMA.

Related Books

GSM: Architecture, Protocols and Services

Indoor Radio Planning: A Practical Guide for GSM, DCS, UMTS, HSPA and LTE

LTE - The UMTS Long Term Evolution: From Theory to Practice

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