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Troubleshooting & Management

In GSM Networks

The Idea of Unbounded Communication


Communication everywhere, with everybody, and at any time that was the
dream and goal Of researchers, engineers and users, since the advent of the
rst wireless communication systems. Today it feels like we have almost
reached that goal. Digitalization of communication systems, enormous progress
in microelectronics, computers and software technology, the invention of
efcient algorithms and procedures for compression, security and processing of
all kinds of signals, as well as the development of exible communication
protocols have all played an important role for this progress. Today,
technologies are available that enable the realization of high-performance and
cost-effective communication systems for many application areas.
Last few years have witnessed a phenomenal growth in the wireless industry,
both in terms of mobile technology and subscribers. Mobile network operators
and vendors have recognized the importance of efficient networks with equally
efficient design processes.
This has resulted in specialized need for monitoring and troubleshooting
services related to network Management came into sharp focus.

A Brief Introduction of GSM Network


Architecture & Technology
Before we go into further detail of different aspects that are applied in
monitoring and Troubleshooting GSM Networks. We would take a
brief look at the Architecture of GSM Network and technological
aspects that are applied in the network.
The Next few slides will focus on that particular aspect.

GSM Architecture Overview

Conti

Elements of GSM Network


A GSM network is made up of three subsystems:
The Mobile Station (MS)
The Base Station Sub-system (BSS) comprising a BSC and several BTSs

The Network and Switching Sub-system (NSS) comprising an MSC and associated registers
Several interfaces are defined between different parts of the system:

'A' interface between MSC and BSC

'Abis' interface between BSC and BTS

'Um' air interface between the BTS (antenna) and the MS.
Abbreviations:
MSC Mobile Switching Centre
BSC Base Station Controller
BTS Base Transceiver Station
TRX Transceiver
MS Mobile Station
OMC Operations and Maintenance Centre

BSS Base Station Sub-system


HLR Home Location Register
VLR Visitor Location Register
AuC Authentication Centre
EIR Equipment Identity Register
PSTN Public Switched Telephone Network

The Mobile Station (MS)


The mobile station consists of:
Mobile equipment (ME)
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM).
The SIM stores permanent and temporary data about the mobile, the
subscriber and the network, including:
The International Mobile Subscribers Identity (IMSI)
MS ISDN number of subscriber
Authentication key and algorithms for authentication check.
The mobile equipment has a unique International Mobile
Equipment Identity (IMEI), which is used by the EIR.

The Base Station Sub System (BSS)


The BSS comprises:
Base Transceiver Station (BTS)
One or more Base Station Controllers (BSC).

BTS contains:
Radio Transmitter/Receiver (TRX).
Signal processing and control equipment.
Antennas and feeder cables.

The purpose of the BTS is to:


Provide radio access to the mobile stations
Manage the radio access aspects of the system

The Purpose of the BSC is to:


Allocates a channel for the duration of a call.
Maintains the call.
Monitoring quality.
Controlling the power transmitted by the BTS or MS.
Generating a handover to another cell when required.

Network Switching Subsystem (NSS)

The network subsystem acts as an interface between the GSM


network and the public networks, PSTN/ISDN. The main
components of the NSS are MSC, HLR, VLR, AUC, and EIR.

Multiple Access Scheme Technology


In GSM Networks
The objective of a cellular radio operation is to provide a service
where mobile subscribers can communicate with any subscriber in
the PSTN, where any subscriber in the PSTN can communicate with
any mobile subscriber, and where mobile subscribers can
communicate among themselves via the cellular radio system. In all
cases the service is full duplex. Ideally, for full-duplex service, a
portion of the bandwidth is assigned for transmission from a cell site
to mobile subscriber, and another portion is assigned for
transmission from a mobile user to a cell site.
In the next slide we will look into the bandwidth allocations assigned
to GSM Network.

GSM uses Paired Radio Channels


INK
L
P
U

W
DO

124

IN
NL

124

Feature /Bandwidth

GSM 900

GSM 1800

Uplink (MHz)
Downlink (MHz)
Number of available
channels

890915
935960
124

17101785
18051880
374

Multiple Access Mechanism


There are three main types of Access mechanisms that are
applied in Cellular Networks specially Networks comprising
of 1st and 2nd Generation.

Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA).


Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA).
Frequency and Time Division Multiple Access.

Frequency Division multiplex Access


Separation of the whole spectrum into smaller frequency bands
A channel gets a certain band of the
spectrum for the whole time.
k1
k2
k3
k4
k5
Advantages:
c
no dynamic coordination
necessary.
works also for analog signals.
Disadvantages:
waste of bandwidth
guard spaces
Prone to frequency
Interference.
t

k6

Time Division Multiple Access


(TDMA)
A channel gets the whole spectrum for a certain
amount of time
Advantages:
only one carrier in the
medium at any time.
throughput high even
for many users.

Disadvantages:
precise
synchronization
necessary.
t

k1

k2

k3

k4

k5

k6

c
f

Time and Frequency Multiplex


Combination of both methods
A channel gets a certain frequency band for a certain
amount of time
k1

k2

k3

k4

k5

k6

c
f

Continue

Time and Frequency Multiplex


Example: GSM
Advantages:
Better protection against
tapping.
Protection against frequency
selective interference.
Higher data rates compared to
code multiplex.

But: precise coordination


required
t

k1

k2

k3

k4

k5

k6

c
f

GSM combines FDMA and TDMA


Bandwidth is subdivided into channels of
200khz, shared by up to eight stations,
assigning slots for transmission on demand.

GSM Frame Structure


ONE FRAME duration 4.615 m Sec

FRAME 1

FRAME 2

FRAME 3

Guard Period

Normal Burst

Guard Period

Flag Bits

Tail Bits

Tail Bits

577 microseconds

Key Performance
Indicators (KPIs)
Its Significance and Importance in
Troubleshooting and optimizing Network

Key Performance Indicators


When we discuss about active monitoring of the GSM Network we
cannot neglect the importance of Indicators.
Definition:
A key performance indicator is a value based on one or more
observation counters and that is representative either of
system performance (BSS) or subscribers point of view.
Counters:
Counters are the record of events that took place during
initiation, failure or cancellation of any event that took place
in TRX, Cell and BSC Level.

Key Performance
Indicator (KPI)
Call Setup Success Rate
Its Importance in monitoring and
Troubleshooting in GSM Network

Call Setup Success Rate


Definition:
Call Setup Success Rate is define as the ability of a cell/network to provide
traffic channel to call originating mobiles. Any failure in the assignment
phase is charged to the CSSR.
Formula:
CSSR= No. of TCH Assign/No. of Channel requests Speech

Factors That Effect CSSR and its Troubleshooting

List of Factors that Effect CSSR.

Faulty Radio (Transceiver)


Faulty Combiner/ jumper/Cable.
High rate of interference either Co-Channel or Adjacent Channel.
General increase in traffic beyond cell capacity resulting in
congestion and Degraded CSSR.

Continue

Factors That Effect CSSR


Faulty Transceiver
As its name suggests Transceiver is a hardware equipment
which is responsible for transmission & receiving of signal b/w
Mobile and Bts.
It is connected to Antenna network combiner and Antenna via
transmission cables.
Analysis:
Call efficiency on a particular transceiver is highly degraded.
Increase in Call drop observed with the degradation in CCSR.
Increase in Path loss observed on Transceiver level > 5 dB.

Troubleshooting Faulty Transceiver


On Analyzing Transceiver level stats we come up with the following
results.

BSC_NAME

CELL_NAME

TRX_
ID

DATE

IncHO
Attempts

CallSetup
Attempts

Call
Efficiency

Radio_Drops
(Number)

Drop
Handover

Moro

DKM5844E

25-Sep-10

418

2518

99.56314535

Moro

DKM5844E

26-Sep-10

822

5584

99.51647564

36

17

Moro

DKM5844E

27-Sep-10

593

3271

99.60256802

10

Moro

DKM5844E

28-Sep-10

875

6521

99.646096

18

13

Moro

DKM5844E

29-Sep-10

1443

7889

77.89326911

56

41

Moro

DKM5844E

30-Sep-10

320

2069

75.10874819

61

45

As can be seen from above table that call efficiency got degraded during
last days in the month of September.

Continue

Troubleshooting Faulty Transceiver


At this stage we have successfully analyze the problem. Now the step
needs to be taken to rectify the problem.

The first action taken by operations and maintenance radio is to reset


the Transceiver remotely because some times Transceiver got
stuck/hang due to its software related issues. We can take the same
example as some times our computer got stuck/hang due to the same
reason so we would reset it in order to make it operational again.
If the problem persists the best possible solution is to replace the
effected Transceiver as soon as possible.
If it is not possible to replace the Transceiver timely due to the fact that
site lies in a very remote area of which physical Access to site is not
easy. Then the effected Transceiver needs to be locked to avoid further
degradation in Call Setup Success Rate.

Factors That Effect CSSR


Faulty Combiner
As its name suggests Combiner is a hardware equipment which
is responsible for coupling transmission & receiving signals of
different TRXs connected to it.
At one end it is connected to set of TRXs and at other end it is
connected to antenna via feeder cables.
Analysis:
Call efficiency on all transceivers connected to cell is highly
degraded.
Increase in Call drop observed with the degradation in CCSR
for whole cell.
At O&M center VSWR (Voltage Standing Wave Ratio) alarm is
appearing on cell Level.

Troubleshooting Faulty Combiner


On Analyzing Transceiver level stats we come up with the following
results.
BSC_NAM CELL_NAM
TRX_ID
E
E

DATE

IncHO
CallSetup
Call
Radio_Dro
Drop
Attempts Attempts Efficiency
ps(No)
Handover

Moro

MOR6843A

25-Sep-10

718

2518

99.563145

Moro

MOR6843A

25-Sep-10

418

2518

99.563145

Moro

MOR6843A

26-Sep-10

934

5584

99.516476

36

17

Moro

MOR6843A

26-Sep-10

822

5584

99.516476

36

17

Moro

MOR6843A

27-Sep-10

593

3271

99.602568

10

Moro
Moro
Moro

MOR6843A
MOR6843A
MOR6843A

2
1
2

27-Sep-10
28-Sep-10
28-Sep-10

593
875
875

3271
6521
6521

99.602568
99.646096
99.646096

10
18
18

9
13
13

Moro

MOR6843A

29-Sep-10

1443

7889

77.893269

56

41

Moro

MOR6843A

29-Sep-10

1565

1082

53.529957

680

539

Moro

MOR6843A

30-Sep-10

320

1069

75.108748

61

45

Moro

MOR6843A

30-Sep-10

1934

2167

41.974439

952

601

As can be seen from above table that both TRXs Call efficiency got
degraded during last days in the month of September.

Continue

Troubleshooting Faulty Combiner


At this stage we have successfully analyze the problem. Now the step
needs to be taken to rectify the problem.

The first action taken by operations and maintenance radio is to


reset the Combiner remotely because some times combiner got
stuck/hang due to its software related issues. We can take the
same example as some times our computer got stuck/hang due to
the same reason so we would reset it in order to make it
operational again.
If the problem persist the best possible solution is to replace the
effected Combiner as soon as possible.
The important thing while dealing with combiner related problem
is that the degradation that it cause is far more critical than with
the single Transceiver having low efficiency because the problem
in combiner would effect the whole Cell Key Performance
Indicators rather than single Transceiver level Stats. The other
possible solution is to avoid further degradation it is suggested to
lock the affected Combiner but the drawback is that it would lock
the whole cell/sector because the combiner acts as interface
between cell/Transceiver. So the only possible solution is to
replace the combiner as soon as possible.

Factors That Effect CSSR


High rate of interference either Co-Channel or
Adjacent Channel
Channel Interference also plays an important role in degrading Call Setup
Success Rate. As mentioned earlier interference are of two types Co-Channel
and Adjacent Channel of which Co-channel interference effects highly our
concerned cell as compared to adjacent Channel interference.

Co-Channel Interference:
Interference caused by second wireless station which tuned on the
same frequency.

Adjacent Channel Interference:


Adjacent-channel interference or is a interference caused by
extraneous power from a signal in an adjacent channel.

Analysis for Investigating Co and Adjacent


Channel Interference
There are number of methods been applied while investigating Interference.
Degradation in level and Quality observed both in uplink and downlink.
High Rate of Quality and Level Handovers observed specially in downlink
direction.
On Transceiver level the effected assigned interfered frequency Transceiver
shows High rate of call setup failures, High rate of drop calls and Handover
Failures.
In case of interference the interferer cell shows same level of degradation
as our concerned cell it can be further confirmed by observing interferer cell
stats as well.
It can be further confirmed by conducting Drive Test.

Troubleshooting
Interference Issue
The only and best solution is to perform frequency Audit with the
most updated frequency plan available. While assigning different
frequency it should be keep under consideration that the new
assign frequency does not have Co and Adjacent Channel
interference to the existing assign neighboring cell frequencies.

Factors That Effect CSSR


Degraded CSSR due to General Increase in
Traffic beyond Cell Capacity.
Analysis:
High TCH Congestion rate.
Increase in TCH Assignment Preparation Failures.
High Directed Retry Rate if activated.
No neighboring site/cell was found down or in-operative.
No down or inoperative Transceivers found in concerned cell
or adjacent cell/site.
Significant Increase in traffic observed while comparing from
previous days.

Troubleshooting degraded CSSR


due to Increase in Traffic
Firstly Check on Transceiver level that Half Rate is enabled on all
Corresponding Transceivers connected to the cell because
depending on traffic behavior of the cell half rate been sometimes
disabled.
On Concentric Cells make sure that Traffic is equally distributed in
inner (DCS) and outer (GSM) Transceivers equally.
Cell level parameter called Traffic load Handover can set true to
avoid degradation in CSSR.
The best possible solution is to add new Dual rate Transceivers to
accommodate high increase in traffic which is called Expansion in
the cell.

Key Performance
Indicator (KPI)
Call Drop Rate
Its Importance in monitoring and
Troubleshooting GSM Network

Call Drop Rate


Definition:

The CDR is logically defined as the ratio


between the TCH drops occurring during
the conversation phase to the number of
successful seizures on the cell or area.
Formula:
Number of TCH drops after assignment/Total no. of
TCH Successful assignments.

Factors That Effect CDR and its Troubleshooting


The Call Drop Rate, as a KPI, has a great impact on customer service.
Therefore, it must be traced in routine network optimization. If a cell is having
CDR (above 1%), the cell is classified as a cell that needs to be carefully
investigated and successfully optimized.

List of Factors that Effect Call Drop Rate (CDR)


Low signaling Level (Lack of coverage).
Sector/Feeder Swap in between Adjacent Cells of Site.
Overshooting Cells.

Factors That Effect CDR


Low signaling Level (Lack of coverage)
Lack of coverage plays a vital role in increasing Call drop rate. It can be due to
coverage holes in a remote region with no dominant server or it can be in an
urban area where signal tends to weaken due to entering in premises like
tunnel, underground subway and in some cases a very thick walled concrete
building.

Analysis:

Degradation in signal observed with increase in Bad Rx Level and Rx Qual.


When investigating call level trends it was found that call duration was
significantly low.
On Air interface frame-level high rate of SACCH frames got corrupted.
On conducting drive it was found average level of a call was found to be
above -95 dBm which follows with the degraded voice quality.

Troubleshooting low Signal Level


When Troubleshooting the cases facing with low signal
level the best possible solution is to commissioned
new Sites/cells to overcome coverage issues in
regions specially remote . When dealing with urban
area environment the possible solution is to add micro
sites in an area facing with coverage issues like
mentioning Subways, tunnels and buildings with thick
concrete and metal structure. Multilayer environment
in which introducing dual band frequencies also
improves the drop call rate of the area.

Sector/Feeder Swap in between


Adjacent Cells of Site
As the name suggests, this happens when the feeder
cables of two different sectors are completely crossed,
which in turn leads to the fact that the coverage areas
of the two adjacent cells are swapped. Drive tester
may observe a lot of HO failures and call drops.
A better understanding can be done while observing
coverage level b/w Swap Sectors E and F of Site
NFZ0378 in next slide.

Continue

Sector/Feeder Swap in between


Adjacent Cells of Site

As can be observed from above snap that on the coverage area of


sector F of NFZ0378 its adjacent cell NFZ0378 of Sector E is serving
whereas same condition applies for Sector E where NFZ0378F is
serving instead of Sector E of NFZ0378.

Continue

Troubleshooting Sector Swap Issue


After confirming Sector Swap issue through
drive results the mentioned case was escalated
to operations departments to physically
intervene the site and resolve issue. In the
mean while when team was attempting to visit
the site if the KPIs become highly degraded. It
was highly suggested to lock the affected cells
to avoid further degradation.

Over Shooting Cell


This is a very important problem thats need be addressed carefully
and efficiently to counter increasing Drop Call Radio issue in a cell
which does not face any coverage related issues, Hardware Failures,
Down Sites/Cells and no External interference. The cause of this
problem arises when a dominant cell provides a lot of scattered
coverages inside other cells territory, due to propagation conditions of
the radio waves. The consequence of this spurious coverages is the
probable production of a high level of interference.
It may happen for example that some peculiar propagation conditions
exist at one point in time that provide exceptional quality and level
although the serving BTS is far and another is closer and should be the
one the mobile should be connected to if the conditions were normal.
It may then happen that these exceptional conditions suddenly drop
and the link is lost, which would not have happened if the mobile had
been connected to the closest cell and therefore call drops suddenly.

Analysis for Investigating Degraded CDR of Over


Shooting Cell
No degradation observed on Transceivers Efficiency connected to
the concerned cell which follows with no Hardware Failures
combiner, splitter etc. No Down Sites/Cells either Adjacent or
neighbour.
High increase in drop radio due to sudden drop in radio conditions
observed on cell level.
It can be further confirmed by observing TA Samples distribution
report. Whereas TA stands for Timing Advance. TA is defined as
the distance from Mobile Station to Base Transceiver Station. It is
been instructed to MS by BSS to send TA measurements reports
accordingly so as to avoid radio end propagation delays.
It can be further proved by conducting Drive Test on that area.

Troubleshooting Over Shooting


Cell problem
To avoid further degradation in Call Drop Rate we can
reduce Timing advance values so now the BTS can
only camp on to the Mobile Stations which are lying in
a dominant coverage area of the serving BTS.
Therefore by decreasing the upper timing advance
values the overshooting cell after changing Timing
advance value just does not allow an MS to talk to a
BTS if it is too far away with no effect on loss of
coverage.

Key Performance
Indicator (KPI)
Handover Success Rate
Its Importance in monitoring and
Troubleshooting GSM Network

Handover Success Rate


Definition:
Handover is define as Switching over of a Mobile Station from one BTS cell to other
one in dedicated mode without call drop or subscriber irritation.
Formula:
(NB_OUT_EXT_HO_SUCC+NB_OUT_INT_HO_SUCC)/
(NB_OUT_EXT_HO_REQ+NB_OUT_INT_HO_REQ)
As mentioned in its formula the Handover success rate is a combination of two
important values that is number of outgoing handover success rate to the
neighbour cells lies in the boundaries of other BSC and number of outgoing
success rate to the cells lies within the boundaries of the same BSC. Divided
by combination of both Handover requests External (Requests generated for
those cells lies in different BSC) and Internal (Requests generated for those
cells lies in same BSC). Therefore any degradation in any of the values would
result in degrading the HSR value.

Factors That Effect HSR and its Troubleshooting


The process of handover within any cellular system is of great importance. It is
a critical process and if performed incorrectly handover can result in the loss of
the call. Dropped calls are particularly annoying to users and if the number of
dropped calls rises, customer dissatisfaction increases and they are likely to
change to another network.

List of Factors that Effect Handover Success


Rate(HSR)
Missing Adjacencies/Neighbors.
Non Symmetrical (One Way Neighbors)
Degradation in HSR due to Sector/Feeder Swap
in between Adjacent Cells of a Single Site.

Factors That Effect CSSR


Missing Adjacencies/Neighbors.
Missing Adjacencies/Neighbors is considered as common
issue while monitoring network on day to day basis in
which the problem arises of which serving Site/Cell
neighbors are not properly assigned. By assigning
neighbors it means that certain adjacencies should be
defined at OMC in order to carry out successful handover.
Correct adjacency definitions are the basic requirement for
mobility. Optimization of neighbour cell lists saves BS and
MS transmission powers, since MSs are connected to
optimal cells. Also, the number of dropped calls is reduced.
Continue

Missing Adjacencies/Neighbors

As can be observed from above snap that our concerned cell shown in red is
defined neighbors/adjacencies to the cells shown in blue so whenever there is a
requirement for handover generated the call can easily be transferred to a
defined neighbor cell shown in blue on the basis of level or quality but what
would happen if a particular relation not defined like consider the example
shown above our concerned cell shown in red try to initiate outgoing Handover
to its immediate neighbor shown in yellow but was unable to initiate handover
simply because it was not defined a potential candidate at OMC end to accept

Troubleshooting Missing
Adjacencies/Neighbors
The best possible way to troubleshoot
Handover failures due to missing neighbor is
to perform visual neighbor audit and add any
missing neighbor on both ways which were
found during neighbor audit.

Non Symmetrical (One Way Neighbors)


Non Symmetrical neighbors are those neighbors
which were defined at OMC end in one direction
only which means that our serving cell can
successfully handover its call to adjacent
neighbor successfully but at the same time not
been able to accept any handover request from
its adjacent neighbour. A better understanding
can be done by observing the following snap.

Continue

Non Symmetrical (One Way Neighbors)

As can be seen from above snap that our serving cell NRP6361A is defined
one way neighbor to its Adjacent Neighbor cell NRP6360A at OMC end that
means any subscriber camp on NRP6361A will successfully execute out
going Handover to its adjacent cell NRP6360A but on the other hand
NRP6361A cannot allow any reception of Handover from NRP6360A
because it not defined as a potential neighbor for NRP6361A to receive
incoming request from NRP6360A. This kind of situation would result
increase in Incoming HO Failures to NRP6361A and Out Going HO Failures to

Troubleshooting Non Symmetrical


(One Way Neighbors)
The best possible way to troubleshoot
Handover failures due to Non Symmetrical
(One Way Neighbors) is to check neighbor
level stats of which it was found that b/w two
adjacencies requests are generating on one
way afterwards perform visual neighbor audit
and add any missing neighbor on both ways
which were found during neighbor audit.

Sector/Feeder Swap in between


Adjacent Cells of Site
As the name suggests, this happens when the feeder
cables of two different sectors are completely crossed,
which in turn leads to the fact that the coverage areas
of the two adjacent cells are swapped. Drive tester
may observe a lot of HO failures and call drops.
A better understanding can be done while observing
coverage level b/w Swap Sectors E and F of Site
NFZ0378 in next slide.

Continue

Sector/Feeder Swap in between


Adjacent Cells of Site

As can be observed from above snap that on the coverage area of


sector F of NFZ0378 its adjacent cell NFZ0378 of Sector E is serving
whereas same condition applies for Sector E where NFZ0378F is
serving instead of Sector E of NFZ0378.

Continue

Troubleshooting Sector Swap Issue


After confirming Sector Swap issue through
drive results the mentioned case was escalated
to operations departments to physically
intervene the site and resolve issue. In the
mean while when team was attempting to visit
the site if the KPIs become highly degraded. It
was highly suggested to lock the affected cells
to avoid further degradation.

Analysis for Investigating Degraded CDR of Over


Shooting Cell
No degradation observed on Transceivers Efficiency connected to
the concerned cell which follows with no Hardware Failures
combiner, splitter etc. No Down Sites/Cells either Adjacent or
neighbour.
High increase in drop radio due to sudden drop in radio conditions
observed on cell level.
It can be further confirmed by observing TA Samples distribution
report. Whereas TA stands for Timing Advance. TA is defined as
the distance from Mobile Station to Base Transceiver Station. It is
been instructed to MS by BSS to send TA measurements reports
accordingly so as to avoid radio end propagation delays.
It can be further proved by conducting Drive Test on that area.

Thank you