GSM Basic


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Definition: GSM, which stands for Global System for Mobile communications, reigns as the world’s most widely used cell phone technology. Cell phones use a cell phone service carrier’s GSM network by searching for cell phone towers in the nearby area.

Services Provided by GSM:

From the beginning, the planners of GSM wanted ISDN compatibility in services offered and control signalling used. The radio link imposed some limitations, however, since the standard ISDN bit rate of 64 kbps could not be practically achieved.

Using the ITU­T definitions, telecommunication services can be divided into bearer services, teleservices, and supplementary services. The digital nature of GSM allows data, both synchronous and asynchronous, to be transported as a bearer service to or from an ISDN terminal. Data can use either the transparent service, which has a fixed delay but no guarantee of data integrity, or a non­transparent service, which guarantees data integrity through an Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) mechanism, but with a variable delay. The data rates supported by GSM are 300 bps, 600 bps, 1200 bps, 2400 bps, and 9600 bps .

The most basic teleservice supported by GSM is telephony. There is an emergency service, where the nearest emergency­service provider is notified by dialling three digits (similar to 911).

Group 3 fax, an analog method described in ITU­T recommendation T.30, is also supported by use of an appropriate fax adaptor. A unique feature of GSM compared to older analog systems is the Short Message Service (SMS). SMS is a bidirectional service for sending short alphanumeric (up to 160 bytes) messages in a store­and­forward fashion. For point­to­point SMS, a message can be sent to another subscriber to the service, and an acknowledgement of receipt is provided to the sender. SMS can also be used in a cell­broadcast mode, for sending messages such as traffic updates or news updates. Messages can be stored in the SIM card for later retrieval .

Supplementary services are provided on top of teleservices or bearer services, and include features such as caller identification, call forwarding, call waiting, multi­party conversations, and barring of outgoing (international) calls, among others.


Check More:

  1. GSM Architecture
  2. GSM Radio Link Aspects
  3. GSM Network Aspects
  4. GSM vs CDMA


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