Before looking at the GSM specifications, it is important to understand the following basic terms:
bandwidth —the range of a channel's limits; the broader the bandwidth, the faster data can be sent
bits per second (bps) —a single on-off pulse of data; eight bits are equivalent to one byte
frequency —the number of cycles per unit of time; frequency is measured in hertz (Hz)
kilo (k) —kilo is the designation for 1,000; the abbreviation kbps represents 1,000 bits per second
megahertz (MHz) —1,000,000 hertz (cycles per second)
milliseconds (ms) —one-thousandth of a second
watt (W) —a measure of power of a transmitter
Specifications for different personal communication services (PCS) systems vary among the different PCS networks. Listed below is a description of the specifications and characteristics for GSM.
frequency band —The frequency range specified for GSM is 1,850 to 1,990 MHz (mobile station to base station).
duplex distance —The duplex distance is 80 MHz. Duplex distance is the distance between the uplink and downlink frequencies. A channel has two frequencies, 80 MHz apart.
channel separation —The separation between adjacent carrier frequencies. In GSM, this is 200 kHz.
modulation —Modulation is the process of sending a signal by changing the characteristics of a carrier frequency. This is done in GSM via Gaussian minimum shift keying (GMSK).
transmission rate —GSM is a digital system with an over-the-air bit rate of 270 kbps.
access method —GSM utilizes the time division multiple access (TDMA) concept. TDMA is a technique in which several different calls may share the same carrier. Each call is assigned a particular time slot.
speech coder —GSM uses linear predictive coding (LPC). The purpose of LPC is to reduce the bit rate. The LPC provides parameters for a filter that mimics the vocal tract. The signal passes through this filter, leaving behind a residual signal. Speech is encoded at 13 kbps.
GSM Subscriber Services
There are two basic types of services offered through GSM: telephony (also referred to as teleservices) and data (also referred to as bearer services). Telephony services are mainly voice services that provide subscribers with the complete capability (including necessary terminal equipment) to communicate with other subscribers. Data services provide the capacity necessary to transmit appropriate data signals between two access points creating an interface to the network. In addition to normal telephony and emergency calling, the following subscriber services are supported by GSM:
dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) —DTMF is a tone signaling scheme often used for various control purposes via the telephone network, such as remote control of an answering machine. GSM supports full-originating DTMF.
facsimile group III —GSM supports CCITT Group 3 facsimile. As standard fax machines are designed to be connected to a telephone using analog signals, a special fax converter connected to the exchange is used in the GSM system. This enables a GSM–connected fax to communicate with any analog fax in the network.
short message services —A convenient facility of the GSM network is the short message service. A message consisting of a maximum of 160 alphanumeric characters can be sent to or from a mobile station. This service can be viewed as an advanced form of alphanumeric paging with a number of advantages. If the subscriber's mobile unit is powered off or has left the coverage area, the message is stored and offered back to the subscriber when the mobile is powered on or has reentered the coverage area of the network. This function ensures that the message will be received.
cell broadcast —A variation of the short message service is the cell broadcast facility. A message of a maximum of 93 characters can be broadcast to all mobile subscribers in a certain geographic area. Typical applications include traffic congestion warnings and reports on accidents.
voice mail —This service is actually an answering machine within the network, which is controlled by the subscriber. Calls can be forwarded to the subscriber's voice-mail box and the subscriber checks for messages via a personal security code.
fax mail —With this service, the subscriber can receive fax messages at any fax machine. The messages are stored in a service center from which they can be retrieved by the subscriber via a personal security code to the desired fax number.
GSM supports a comprehensive set of supplementary services that can complement and support both telephony and data services. Supplementary services are defined by GSM and are characterized as revenue-generating features. A partial listing of supplementary services follows.
call forwarding —This service gives the subscriber the ability to forward incoming calls to another number if the called mobile unit is not reachable, if it is busy, if there is no reply, or if call forwarding is allowed unconditionally.
barring of outgoing calls —This service makes it possible for a mobile subscriber to prevent all outgoing calls.
barring of incoming calls —This function allows the subscriber to prevent incoming calls. The following two conditions for incoming call barring exist: baring of all incoming calls and barring of incoming calls when roaming outside the home PLMN.
advice of charge (AoC) —The AoC service provides the mobile subscriber with an estimate of the call charges. There are two types of AoC information: one that provides the subscriber with an estimate of the bill and one that can be used for immediate charging purposes. AoC for data calls is provided on the basis of time measurements.
call hold —This service enables the subscriber to interrupt an ongoing call and then subsequently reestablish the call. The call hold service is only applicable to normal telephony.
call waiting —This service enables the mobile subscriber to be notified of an incoming call during a conversation. The subscriber can answer, reject, or ignore the incoming call. Call waiting is applicable to all GSM telecommunications services using a circuit-switched connection.
multiparty service —The multiparty service enables a mobile subscriber to establish a multiparty conversation—that is, a simultaneous conversation between three and six subscribers. This service is only applicable to normal telephony.
calling line identification presentation/restriction —These services supply the called party with the integrated services digital network (ISDN) number of the calling party. The restriction service enables the calling party to restrict the presentation. The restriction overrides the presentation.
closed user groups (CUGs) —CUGs are generally comparable to a PBX. They are a group of subscribers who are capable of only calling themselves and certain numbers.