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    Overview of 3G Mobile Networks and the MobileNext Broadband Gateway

    Third generation (3G) mobile networks define three components of the overall path from mobile station to IP network: the radio frequencies used, the air interface options used between the mobile device and base station, and the entire network architecture, including interfaces between components.

    Figure 1 shows the overall architecture of a 3G network. The MobileNext Broadband Gateway is configured as the gateway GPRS support node (GGSN) in this architecture.

    Figure 1: 3G Mobile Network Architecture

    3G Mobile Network Architecture

    Note: The GGSN is not properly part of the 3G “service network.”

    There are three major parts to a 3G mobile network:

    • A Radio Access Network (RAN). This is a hierarchical arrangement of cell towers and base stations. The base stations are called base transceiver stations (BTSs) or NobeBs in 3G. In some versions, there are also Radio Network Controllers (RNCs) that link to the BTSs to form a Radio Network Subsystem (RNS). A collection of RNSs using the Wideband CDMA (WCDMA) air interface option form the UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network (UTRAN). All of these are referred to as “network devices” in Figure 1. The important point is that all handovers between cell towers are centrally controlled in the 3G network hierarchy.
    • A core network (usually IP) tying the RAN to the 3G service network. The core network consists of all the switches, routers, and other network components required to transport mobile traffic.
    • A service network reached through the core network. Some of the services reached (the servers in Figure 1) are specific to the service provider, such as accounting information (current balance), short message service (SMS) texting, paging, and voice mail. Other services are reached through the GGSN (which is not properly part of the 3G service network), such as the Internet, other Internet service providers (ISPs), or corporate network virtual private networks (VPNs). The MobileNext Broadband Gateway can be configured as a GGSN.

    Together in 3G, the RAN, core network, and service network (and GGSN) make up the public land mobile network (PLMN). A PLMN (“land” network) is distinguished from a marine network.

    Published: 2011-11-16