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Telektronikk 3.2004

100th Anniversary Issue: Perspectives in telecommunications

Section 3: GSM - ideas, origin and milestones - a Norwegian perspective

The engagement of Televerket in the specification of GSM

Bjørn Løken, Telenor Nordic Mobile

A short introduction to the section.

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How it all began

Thomas Haug, Telia

This article describes the background for the European Telecom Administrations’ decision to start the work on the GSM mobile communication system and the fundamental issues the committee was faced with in the first five years, as well as how they were dealt with.

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My work in the GSM services area - An interview with Helene Sandberg

Finn Trosby, Telenor Nordic Mobile

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Wideband or narrow band? World championships in mobile radio in Paris 1986

Torleiv Maseng, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment

The story I will tell started in 1981 when I came back to ELAB/SINTEF in Trondheim after exile in the Netherlands working for SHAPE Technical Center in The Hague. My assignment was to propose a new digital mobile system replacing the successful analogue Nordic Mobile Telephone system. The new digital system which was to be defined was coined “Fremtidig Mobilkommunikasjonssystem” (FMK). Jan Audestad at Televerkets Forskningsinstitutt at Kjeller outside Oslo had formulated the task and given the project to ELAB.

In the beginning, this was a lonely assignment since I worked alone and few others took part in our project. Audestad did his best in linking us with other activities in the Nordic countries. The work towards FMK was arranged through Nordic meetings in various subcommittees.

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GSM Working Party 2 - Towards a radio sub-system for GSM

Rune Harald Rækken, Telenor R&D;

The task of designing GSM was a complex issue requiring extended co-operation by several players. The overall design criteria for GSM was, amongst others, that the system should be at least as spectrum efficient as the analogue systems, and that the speech quality should be comparable to or better than that of NMT 900. The work on the radio sub-system involved computer simulations to evaluate the advantages and drawbacks of the different candidates, and the goal was always to optimise the solutions. However, the final solutions often turned out to be sub-optimal due to the system complexity. Another lesson learned is also that standardisation is sometimes about finding the best technical solution, and sometimes it is just about politics.

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The Mobile Application Part (MAP) of GSM

Jan A. Audestad, Telenor

This is the story of how the Mobile Application Part was developed. MAP is the neural system interconnecting the distributed computer infrastructure of GSM (VLRs, MSCs, HLRs and other entities). The work on MAP started as a study of the general architecture of mobile systems in ITU two years before the GSM group was established. In 1985 the work was taken over and later completed by the GSM group. MAP was the first protocol of its kind in telecommunications systems. After long and difficult negotiations with the community of switching and signalling experts, MAP got its final structure in 1988. This included the use of Signalling System No. 7 as carrier and the support of services such as roaming, call handling, non-interruptive handover, remote switching management and management of security functions. MAP is one of the real technological triumphs of GSM.

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Signalling over the radio path

Knut Erik Walter, Telenor R&D;

“Mobile to network signalling” – it doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? Nevertheless, it is a fact that this area is the very central part of the GSM system since it reflects the logic (or intelligence?) of the functionality that makes a GSM mobile with its SIM-card the powerful communication tool that we know. It contains a number of different protocol levels and procedures that perform the necessary housekeeping which together allows the user of a mobile station to concentrate entirely on the services. This article contains a short description of the protocol levels and main procedures, and a personal impression of the story of their invention.

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The 1987 European Speech Coding Chamionship

Jon Emil Natvig, Telenor R&D;

From the outset the fundamental working assumption was that the GSM system would be based on digital transmission [1]. It was believed that digital technology would not only enable a more efficient management of scarce frequency resources, it would also provide high speech quality and advanced features such as security and data communications.

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SMS, the strange duckling of GSM

Finn Trosby, Telenor Nordic Mobile

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The Norwegian GSM industrialisation - An idea that never took off

Rune Harald Rækken, Telenor R&D;

While Sweden has Ericsson and Finland has Nokia, what did Norway get out of the intense participation, breakthrough of ideas and the acquired knowledge from the GSM specification work? From a scientific point of view, there is no doubt that the Norwegian effort put into the GSM work was a huge triumph. The choice of a narrowband solution for GSM gave a cost saving in the range of billions of kroner (NOK) during GSM deployment in the sparsely populated Norway, compared to wideband solutions proposed and strongly supported by other GSM players and even at political level. In the 1980s Televerkets Forskningsinstitutt (Telenor R&D;) had a role as a national telecommunications industrial locomotive, and put a lot of effort into paving the way for the Norwegian GSM industry. The utilisation of the Norwegian GSM position from the national industry players is however nothing less than the largest disappointment that has been seen in the history of Telenor R&D.; It is now the time to reveal some of the events that happened in the late 1980s when an effort was made to start growing a national GSM industry based on the research and standardisation effort done by Televerket and the Electronic Laboratory in Trondheim – ELAB.

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MOU of the GSM-MoU: Memorizing Old Undertakings of the GSM-Memorandum of Understanding

Petter Bliksrud, Telenor Nordic Mobile

When the GSM specifications were mainly finished in the late 1980s, European operators were reluctant to invest in a new and immature system without knowing whether other countries would do the same. In order to move forward, the Western European community needed a declaration, and in 1987 the GSM Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by 13 countries. The article goes through the ideas and contents of the MoU document as well as the cooperation under it. The operators took on a heavy commitment and worked together for the success of GSM. The opportunity called, and it is not certain that the regulative framework, market conditions and business willingness will combine to allow similar undertakings again.

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