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GPRS architecture in wireless communication

Last Updated : 09 Apr, 2024
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GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Service. It is the modified version of GSM architecture. GPRS is a packet-oriented mobile data mechanism, that can carry data packets as well. In GSM architecture, only voice signals can be transported, so being an enhanced version GPRS is able to transmit voice as well as data packets. It uses the same physical radio channel as GSM does, the only difference is it has a new logic defined for the radio channel.

GPRS Network Architecture

GPRS tries to make maximum use of the existing physical structure of GSM. It has introduced a new entity named GPRS support nodes(GSN) whose responsibility is to route and deliver a data packet. GSN is of two types:

  • Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN)
  • Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN)
 GPRS Architecture

GPRS Architecture 

Components of GPRS Architecture

Mobile Station(MS)

GPRC requires enhanced mobile stations, as existing mobile stations were designed according to the GSM network, and they were unable in handling enhanced data packets. A variety of high-speed mobile stations are available to support enhanced data packets. These mobile stations are also capable of handling the GSM architecture to make voice calls. 

Base Station Controller (BSC)

 In GSM architecture there is one component called BSC. But in GPRS there is one component is added to BSC called PCU. PCU stands for Packet Control Unit. If the signal comes to BSC and that signal contains data, then PCU routes to the SGSN. The interface is used between BSC and PCU is the FRI interface. After the signal comes to SGSN, it delivers the data packet to the GGSN. GGSN routes the data packet to the data network (PDN- Predefined Data Network).

GPRS Support Nodes

GPRS support nodes are of two types:

1. Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN)

It is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Packet Delivery
  • Mobility management
    • apply/ sign off of terminals
    • localization
  • LLC (Logical Link Control) management
  • Authentication
  • billing

2. Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN)

It is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Mediator between GPRS between backbone and external data networks.
  • Saves current data for the SGSN address of the participant as well as their profile and data for authentication and invoice.

Internal Backbone Network

It is an IP-based network that is used to support the working of GPRS and this is responsible to carry new packets between different GSNs. The tunneling is used between SGNSs and GGSNs to exchange information without informing the internal backbone.

Mobility Support

GPRS has the following mechanism to support mobility in the network:

  1. Attachment Procedure
  2. Location and Handoff Management

Routing Area

This is similar to the location area in GSM the only difference is routing area use fewer cells as routing areas are smaller than the location area. 


GSM introduced a mechanism of Short Messaging Service(SMS) which is similar to peer-to-peer Instant messaging.

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