What is GSM?

Categories: Networks, WIreless Technologies

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Introduced in the 1990s, GSM was a major leap in mobile communication technology. Key aspects of GSM include:

  1. Digital Communication: GSM marked the transition from analog first-generation (1G) networks to digital, significantly improving voice quality, security, and capacity.
  2. Global Standard: As its name suggests, GSM became a global standard for mobile communication, facilitating international roaming and compatibility.
  3. Network Components: GSM networks consist of key subsystems like the Base Station Subsystem (BSS), Network and Switching Subsystem (NSS), and the Operations and Support Subsystem (OSS).
  4. SIM Cards: GSM introduced the use of SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards, which store subscriber data and facilitate mobile device identification and authentication on the network.
  5. Data Services: Besides voice communication, GSM supports data services such as SMS (Short Message Service) and later, GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) for basic internet connectivity.
  6. Encryption and Security: GSM networks employ encryption to secure voice and data communication, enhancing privacy and security.
  7. Frequency Bands: GSM operates in multiple frequency bands, like 900 MHz and 1800 MHz in Europe and 850 MHz and 1900 MHz in the Americas, catering to different regional requirements.

GSM set the foundation for modern mobile communication and led to the development of more advanced technologies like 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE).

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