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Describe GPRS network node. OR Describe GPRS Network operations.

Subject: Mobile Computing

Difficulty: Medium

Marks: 4 Marks


1 Answer
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There are two Network Operation Nodes in GPRS

1. GGSN:

  • The first is the access point for an external data network and is known as the gateway GPRS support node (GGSN). It contains the routing for GPRS-attached users. With this information, GGSN is capable of delivering the packet data units (PDU) to the user’s current access point.
  • The location information can be obtained from the HLR via the optional Gc interface, The Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) is a main component of the GPRS network. The GGSN is responsible for the interworking between the GPRS network and external packet switched networks, like the Internet and X.25networks.
  • From the external networks’ point of view, the GGSN is a router to a sub-network, because the GGSN ‘hides’ the GPRS infrastructure from the external network. When the GGSN receives data addressed to a specific user, it checks if the user is active.
  • If it is, the GGSN forwards the data to the SGSN serving the mobile user, but if the mobile user is inactive, the data are discarded. On the other hand, mobile-originated packets are routed to the right network by the GGSN. To do all this, the GGSN keeps a record of active mobile users and the SGSN the mobile users are attached to. It allocates IP addresses to mobile users and last but not least, the GGSN is responsible for the billing.

2. SGSN:

  • The second is the SGSN that serves the need of mobile users. When a user is GPRS-attached, the SGSN establishes a mobility management (MM) context containing information pertaining to routing, security and mobility, such as the identity of RA and LA where the MS is residing, and the MS’s MM states, etc. The SGSN also ciphers PS traffic, given that the base transceiver station (BTS, in GPRS, BTS replaces the BS in GSM.) is only responsible to cipher CS traffic
  • The Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) is a main component of the GPRS network, which handles all packet switched data within the network, e.g. the mobility management and authentication of the users. The SGSN performs the same functions as the MSC for voice traffic.
  • The SGSN and the MSC are often co-located. The SGSN is connected to the BSC. The SGSN is the service access point to the GPRS network for the mobile user. On the other side the SGSN relays the data between the SGSN and relevant GGSN (and vice versa). The SGSN handles the protocol conversion from the IP used in the backbone network to the sub-network-dependent convergence protocol (SNDCP) and logical link control (LLC) protocols used between the SGSN and the mobile users. These protocols handle compression and ciphering.
  • The SGSN is also responsible for the authentication of GPRS mobiles. When the authentication is successful, the SGSN handles the registration of the mobile to the GPRS network and takes care of its mobility management.
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