Evolution to 3g

Table of contents
1 Operators and UMTS networks
2 2G to 3G. Network standardisation
3 Layered Network Architecture Advantages:
4 Mobile technologies
5 Future network
6 UMTS Terminals
7 UMTS Terminals - The future
8 Links

Operators and UMTS networks

The evolution on the 3G networks has been on its way for a couple of years now ("now" = December 2003). The main reasons for these changes are basically the limited capacity of the existing 2G networks. The second generation of networks were built mainly for telephone calls and slow data transmission. Due to the rapid changes in technology, these factors do not meet the requirements of today's wireless revolution. The developments of HSCSD and GPRS have been ways of postponing the oncoming change to 3G networks, but are not permanent solutions. They are merely stepping stones towards the new technology. These stepping stones were built to introduce the possibilities on the future wireless application technology to the end consumers. These procedures are necessary to ensure that the operators and the infrastructure itself have a healthy ground to operate on.

The evolution on networks from the second generation of technology to the third generation technology could not be done without the help of operators. There are about 23 networks worldwide that operate on 3G technology. Some of these networks are only for test use but some are already in consumer based use.

Basically network operators need to find answers to three questions before they can start operating in the new field. What are the things to take into consideration during the change? How to manage the change? What will the future role be for the network operators?

Network operators have invested huge amounts on money into existing 2G networks. These networks have been around only for 10-15 years, and the investments made have not all paid of. Network operators need to find out ways of reusing their investments to build the 3G network. Because of the financial situation of the world today, network operators do not have new resources to invest into the future. They must recycle the old ones first.

Another thing network operators need to understand is that in the future their roles as we see today will change dramatically. In the future they will not only be network providers, they will be service providers. Network operators need to differentiate themselves in the markets, and one way is to concentrate on the content of the service and products. It is widely believed that in the future the markets will consist of content oriented service providers, since 3G technology allows any one willing to build software and sell it directly to end consumers. Thus network operators need to adapt to this change too.

2G to 3G. Network standardisation

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has defined the demands for third generation mobile networks with IMT-2000 standard. Organisation called 3GPP has continued that work by defining a mobile system that fulfils IMT-2000 standard. This system is called Universal Mobile Telecommunications System UMTS. The evolution of the system will move forward with so called releases. In each release new features will be introduced. The following features are just examples of many others in these new releases.

The first release was release '99:

Bearer services 64 kbps circuit switched 384 kbps packet switched Location services Call services: GSM compatible, USIM based

Next release was release 4

Edge radio Multimedia messaging MeXe levels Improved location services

Next release was release 5

IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) Ipv 6, Ip transport in utran Improvements in Geran, Mexe , etc

Next release was release 6

WLAN integration Multimedia broadcast and multicast Improvements in IMS

There are several different kind of path from 2G to 3G has. In Europe the main path will start from GSM where GPRS will be added to system. From this point it is possible to go to UMTS system. In North- America the system evolution will start from TDMA going to EDGE and from there to UMTS.

Layered Network Architecture Advantages:

UMTS system is based on layered services unlike GSM. On the top there is Services layer, which will give advantages like fast deployment of services and centralized location. In the middle there is control layer, which will help upgrading procedures and capacity of the network can be dynamically allocated where needed. On the bottom will be connectivity layer where any transmission technology can be used and the voice will transfer over ATM/AAL2 or IP/RTP.

Mobile technologies

First new technology when going from GSM to UMTS is General Packet Radio Services (GPRS). It is the Trigger to 3G services. The main point is that the network connection is always on, so the subscriber is online all the time. From the operator point of view, it is important that GPRS investments are Re-used when going to UMTS. Also capitalizing on GPRS business experience is very important.

From GPRS operators could go directly to UMTS but they could also invest on EDGE system. Positive thing on EDGE are that there is no new licence needed like in UMTS. The frequencies will also used again and no new antennas are needed. The main thing is that subscribers will have to buy new EDGE terminals.


The key point when going UMTS is the use of the existing mobile network. From GSM core network side following system parts will be reused: MSC (Mobile switching centre) AUC (Authentication centre) HLR (Home location register) VLR (Visitor location register) EIR (Equipment identity register)

From GPRS network the following system parts will be reused: SGSN (Serving GPRS Support Node) GGSN (Gateway GPRS Support Node)

From radio network the following system parts will be reused: BSC (base station controller) BTS (base transceiver station)

The UMTS network will introduce new system parts that will give the functionality as given in standards: Node-B (base station) RNC (Radio Network Controller) MGW (Media Gateway)

The functionality of MSC and SGSN will change when going to UMTS. In GSM system MSC handles all the circuit switched operations like connecting A- and B-subscriber through the network. SGSN handles all the packet switched operations and transfers all the data in the network. In UMTS the MGW (Media gateway) will take care of all data transfer in both, circuit and packet switched networks. MSC and SGSN will act as "brains" of the system and they will control MGW operations. The name of the nodes will change into MSC-server and GSN-server.

Future network

In future when UMTS networks are already in commercial use and the services have found users, we need to check whether the capacity given by UMTS is enough or do we need more capacity. To increase capacity WLAN could be one solution that would be cost-efficient. Integration to UMTS would not be so difficult to do. When so called "hot services" will be found in UMTS, we can see the demands for the network after UMTS. Before that it is hard to do any presumption how the network should evolve.

UMTS Terminals

One of the biggest problems the launching of real UMTS networks and services has faced so far has been the fact that there have not been enough terminals on the markets. This fact has naturally lead to the fact that there are no customers for UMTS services an therefore there is no sense for any company to produce these services. This factor is now starting to change. Siemens has just recently (November 2003) launched a new UMTS phone and all the major phone producers have announced their plans to launch new UMTS terminals.

UMTS Terminals - The future

The future of UMTS terminals sees a change coming. So far the UMTS technology has primarily been used in very similar terminals as the GSM technology. The UMTS terminals have been very closely linked with GSM- phones. This factor is now slowly starting to change. The fact that UMTS technology has the ability to provide its customers with a far wider array of services than the traditional GSM technology, will lead to the changing of UMTS terminals. The probable path leads to a situation where different kinds of customer segments are serviced with very different kinds of terminals. After all the needs of business man using his terminal in his work are very different from those of a teenager whose main purpose is communication and entertainment in collaboration with his friends.


There are a lot of links that in some way relate with UMTS in the Internet, but most of them are old and therefore not beneficial. Below there are mentioned some links that at least in the time of publishing this paper are good and valid sources of information considering UMTS.

http://www.3g.co.uk/ http://www.umts-forum.org http://www.umtsworld.com/

" size=20>


Browse articles alphabetically:
#0">0 | #1">1 | #2">2 | #3">3 | #4">4 | #5">5 | #6">6 | #7">7 | #8">8 | #9">9 | #_">_ | #A">A | #B">B | #C">C | #D">D | #E">E | #F">F | #G">G | #H">H | #I">I | #J">J | #K">K | #L">L | #M">M | #N">N | #O">O | #P">P | #Q">Q | #R">R | #S">S | #T">T | #U">U | #V">V | #W">W | #X">X | #Y">Y | #Z">Z