Telecommunication has evolved over the years. From a simple landline, to a pager system, and then the mobile handsets has become a member of every household. It has made our lives convenient and easy. All we have to do is pick up our handset, dial and there we go! It’s all done and sounds so simple. If we stop to think, just for a second as to what is involved in the backdrop of the call connectivity? What makes one call connect to another? How is it that we are able to connect in a few seconds and communicate? Well, here lies the answer to these questions. There is a whole process that happens from the time we dial the number to the point it is connected to the person on the other end. The radio waves travel from one place to another facilitating the call. It does so, with the help of a network called Radio Access Network (or) RAN.

In the technology and the wireless era (signals travelling with the help of devices or a chip instead through wires) for a telecommunication to be work the manner it is meant to be, one needs a strong radio access network. Let us get some perspective and understanding of this radio access network and its related aspects.

A Radio Access Network (RAN) implements a radio access technology and is part of a mobile telecommunication  system. It is like the invisible master doing the magic in connecting one device to another. It conceptually resides between any two communicating devices such as a mobile phone, a computer or a laptop, or a remotely controlled machine connecting it to its core network (CN).

Examples of radio access network types are:

  • GRAN: GSM (Global System of Mobile) Radio Access Network (Commonly known as 2G)
  • UTRAN: Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service RAN (Commonly known as 3G)
  • E-UTRAN: Evolved UTRAN (Commonly known as 4G OR LTE)

Architecture of RAN Networks:

  • RAN Network consists of following devices:

What happens when you dial a number from a handset in a 2G, 3G, or 4G?

A RAN network comprise of multiple Base Transceiver Station (BTSs) which are controlled by BSCs.  When you dial a number, the mobile handset, the radio waves travels and sends signal to the transceiver station (BTS).

The BTSs connects to the BSC over a transmission network and not if both are collocated.  Then BSC is connected with Core Network.

The technology changes in case of 3G. Here, the BTS is taken over by NodeB and BSC is replaced by RNC. The 4G technology has removed the need of any BSC or RNC for controlling. The 4G network (eNodeB) directly connects with the Core network (CN).

The 2G, 3G, and 4G build:

  • Recollect those basic mobile phones?  They were built for a call and messaging services.  This was the initial start of the wireless network and used a 2G network for communication. The 2G network was primarily designed for voice service and supported only SMS services. Hence, the maximum 2G network data limits were 100kbps for 2G GPRS and 300kbps for 2G EDGE.
  • The 3G network got advanced compared to the 2G. Its network supports both voice and data services. With this enhancement, the download and upload speed increased to 42 mbps and 22 mbps respectively.
  • The 4G network and technology brought about a revolution in the wireless space with a jump in its download and upload speed from the 3G network.  4G provides a maximum download and upload speed of 300 mbps and 75 mbps respectively.

Each BTS cell is divided into 3 different sectors called Alfa, Beta and Gamma. It starts from North, first sector known as Alfa, second is Beta and third is Gamma, if we go clockwise. When a mobile moves from its current cell to its neighboring cell, a control process is initiated and is known as handoff or handover. We do not like a network connectivity to be disrupted when we keep moving from one place to another. The connection also needs to be intact and not get disconnected especially, while we are using the handset.

BSC and RNC are further connected with MSC (Mobile Switching Centre).

How does it work?

Before we look into how it works, let us familiarize with certain terminologies.

  • Softer handoff: When the mobile user moves from one sector to another within the same BTS is known as Softer handoff.
  • Soft handoff: When the mobile user moves from one BTS to another BTS (within same BSC) it is known as a Soft handoff.
  • Hard handoff: When a mobile user moves from one BSC to another BSC then it is known as Hard Handoff.

Unified Inventory Management

  • This entire RAN network can be designed using ORACLE UIM. UIM gives us the facility of designing Physical Device, Rack, Shelf, Slot, Card, Port, Pipe, Connectivity, Logical Device, Device Interface and Network.
  • Using Pipe and Connectivity feature we can connect various devices (Like BTS to Access Network to Aggregate Network to Core).
  • UIM has got the feature of designing of STM paths (where we can configure various levels like VC12, VC3, VC4, STM-1, STM4 and so on), Ethernet paths (we can configure various levels like 1M, 10M, 100M, 1G and so on).
  • Further we can stitch these networks and connectivity that gives us end-to-end network overview and Connectivity Schematic Diagram which can help Engineers to maintain their inventories and keep alive their network.
  • Inventory management (real time status of available inventory and services) provides support for New, or Modify requests on a faster and automated way.

Have a look at:

 

   1.RAN Network Topological view using UIM below:


2. Connectivity Schematic Diagram in UIM: