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Wireless WAN

| | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wireless WANs: Cellular
and Satellite Networks

Wireless technology is also used in cellular telephony and satellite networks. We discuss the former in this chapter as well as examples of channelization access methods . We also briefly discuss satellite networks, a technology that eventually will be linked to cellular telephony to access the Internet directly.


Cellular telephony is designed to provide communications between two moving units, called mobile stations (MSs), or between one mobile unit and one stationary unit, often called a land unit. A service provider must be able to locate and track a caller, assign a channel to the call, and transfer the channel from base station to base station as the caller moves out of range. To make this tracking possible, each cellular service area is divided into small regions called cells. Each cell contains an antenna and is controlled by a solar or AC powered network station, called the base station (BS). Each base station, in turn, is controlled by a switching office, called a mobile switching center (MSC). The MSC coordinates communication between all the base stations and the telephone central office. It is a computerized center that is responsible for connecting calls, recording call information, and billing.Cell size is not fixed and can be increased or decreased depending on the population of the area. The typical radius of a cell is 1 to 12 mi. High-density areas require more, geographically smaller cells to meet traffic demands than do low-density areas. Once determined, cell size is optimized to prevent the interference of adjacent cell signals. The transmission power of each cell is kept low to prevent its signal from interfering with those of other cells.

Frequency-Reuse Principle

In general, neighboring cells cannot use the same set of frequencies for communication because it may create interference for the users located near the cell boundaries. However, the set of frequencies available is limited, and frequencies need to be reused. A frequency reuse pattern is a configuration of N cells, N being the reuse factor, in which each cell uses a unique set of frequencies. When the pattern is repeated, the frequencies can be reused. There are several different patterns.


To place a call from a mobile station, the caller enters a code of 7 or 10 digits (a phone number) and presses the send button. The mobile station then scans the band, seeking a setup channel with a strong signal, and sends the data (phone number) to the closest base station using that channel. The base station relays the data to the MSC. The MSC sends the data on to the telephone central office. If the called party is available, a connection is made and the result is relayed back to the MSC. At this point, the MSC assigns an unused voice channel to the call, and a connection is established. The mobile station automatically adjusts its tuning to the new channel, and communication can begin.


When a mobile phone is called, the telephone central office sends the number to the MSC. The MSC searches for the location of the mobile station by sending query signals to each cell in a process called paging. Once the mobile station is found, the MSC transmits a ringing signal and, when the mobile station answers, assigns a voice channel to the call, allowing voice communication to begin.


It may happen that, during a conversation, the mobile station moves from one cell to another. When it does, the signal may become weak. To solve this problem, the MSC monitors the level of the signal every few seconds. If the strength of the signal diminishes, the MSC seeks a new cell that can better accommodate the communication. The MSC then changes the channel carrying the call (hands the signal off from the old channel to a new one).

Hard Handoff Early systems used a hard handoff. In a hard handoff, a mobile station only communicates with one base station. When the MS moves from one cell to another, communication must first be broken with the previous base station before communication can be established with the new one. This nay create a rough transition.

Soft Handoff New systems use a soft handoff. In this case, a mobile station can communicate with two base stations at the same time. This means that, during handoff, a mobile station may continue with the new base station before breaking off from the old one.


One feature of cellular telephony is called roaming. Roaming means, in principle, that a user can have access to communication or can be reached where there is coverage. A service provider usually has limited coverage. Neighboring service providers can provide extended coverage through a roaming contract. The situation is similar to snail mail between countries. The charge for delivery of a letter between two countries can be divided upon agreement by the two countries.

First Generation

Cellular teleph.ony is now in its second generation with the third on the horizon. The first generation was designed for voice communication using analog signals. We discuss one first-generation mobile system used in North America, AMPS.


Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) is one of the leading analog cellular systems in North America. It uses FDMA to separate channels in a link. Bands AMPS operates in the ISM 800-MHz band. The system uses two separate analog channels, one for forward (base station to mobile station) communication and one for reverse (mobile station to base station) communication. The band between 824 and 849 MHz carries reverse communication; the band between 869 and 894 MHz carries forward communication Each band is divided into 832 channels. However, two providers can share an area, which means 416 channels in each cell for each provider. Out of these 416, 21 channels are used for control, which leaves 395 channels. AMPS has a frequency reuse factor of 7; this means only one-seventh of these 395 traffic channels are actually available in a cell. Transmission AMPS uses FM and FSK for modulation. Figure 16.4 shows the trans- mission in the reverse direction. Voice channels are modulated using FM, and control channels use FSK to create 30-kHz analog signals. AMPS uses FDMA to divide each 25-MHz band into 30-kHz channels.

Second Generation

To provide higher-quality (less noise-prone) mobile voice communications, the second generation of the cellular phone network was developed. While the first generation was designed for analog voice communication, the second generation was mainly designed for digitized voice. Three major systems evolved in the second generation,


The product of the evolution of the analog AMPS into a digital system is digital AMPS (D-AMPS). D-AMPS was designed to be backward-compatible with AMPS. This means that in a cell, one telephone can use AMPS and another D-AMPS. D-AMPS was first defined by IS-54 (Interim Standard 54) and later revised by IS-136. Band D-AMPS uses the same bands and channels as AMPS. Transmission Each voice channel is digitized using a very complex PCM and compression technique. A voice channel is digitized to 7.95 kbps. Three 7.95-kbps digital voice channels are combined using TDMA. The result is 48.6 kbps of digital data; much of this is overhead. As Figure 16.6 shows, the system sends 25 frames per second, with 1944 bits per frame. Each frame lasts 40 ms (1/25) and is divided into six slots shared by three digital channels; each channel is allotted two slots. Each slot holds 324 bits. However, only 159 bits comes from the digitized voice; 64 bits are for control and 101 bits are for error correction. In other words, each channel drops 159 bits of data into each of the two channels assigned to it. The system adds 64 control bits and 101 error-correcting bits. The resulting 48.6 kbps of digital data modulates a carrier using QPSK; the result is a 30-kHz analog signal. Finally, the 30-kHz analog signals share a 25-MHz band (FDMA). D-AMPS has a frequency reuse factor of 7.

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