What is BSS in mobile communications?

If you are someone who is familiar with the GSM network architecture, then you may have come across the BSS confusion before.

BSS in mobile communications stands for two very different network systems or entities. One of them is ‘Business Support Systems’ and the other is ‘Base Station Subsystem’. The first one deals with the business side of things, while the other represents the GSM radio network.

Business Support Systems

‘Business Support Systems’ is a system responsible for managing customer-facing business aspects in mobile networks. So basically it includes activities like billing, service fulfilment, revenue management, customer management, order management, product catalogues and charging and so on. As you can see, the focus is on the business side of the network rather than the technology side. The BSS works alongside another very important part of the mobile network called the OSS or Operations Support Systems. If you work in mobile communications, you may often see the words OSS and BSS being referred to together, and most network vendors provide both OSS and BSS as part of one solution.

Usually, BSS comprises CRM, ordering, charging, billing, self-service, product catalogue and even partner/dealer management capabilities which are all required for the general business operations. Within an operator, the information available via BSS can also be used to create reports for the management teams as well as the individual teams that manage with the activities supported by the BSS.

Base Station Subsystem

The other BSS is the Base Station Subsystem which is responsible for managing the radio network resources within a GSM mobile network. It consists of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), Base Station Controllers (BSC) and Transcoders. It is connected to the MSC (Mobile Switching Centre), which controls multiple Base Station Subsystems or BSSs. BSS manages the radio path, signalling, mobility management and synchronisation. Base Station Controller (BSC) is a vital part of the BSS which controls multiple base stations. The BSC within a BSS decides which frequency should be allocated to a mobile phone to successfully continue a phone call.

When a mobile user is on the move, for example, in a car, the BSC keeps handing over the call from one base station to the other in order to make sure that the call continues in acceptable quality. When the user moves from the location covered by the current BSC to the location covered by another BSC, the call is handed over to a new base station within the new BSC with better signal strength.

Here are some helpful downloads

Thank you for reading this post, I hope it helped you in developing a better understanding of cellular networks. But sometimes, we need some extra support especially when preparing for a new job, or studying a new topic, or maybe just buying a new phone. Whatever you are trying to do, here are some downloads that can help you:

Students & fresh graduates: If you are just starting, the complexity of the cellular industry can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, I have created this FREE ebook so you can familiarise yourself with the basics like 3G, 4G etc. As a next step, check out the latest edition of the same ebook with more details on 4G & 5G networks with diagrams. You can then read Mobile Networks Made Easy which explains the network nodes e.g. BTS, MSC, GGSN etc.

Professionals: If you are an experienced professional but new to mobile communications, it may seem hard to compete with someone who has a decade of experience in the cellular industry. But not everyone who works in this industry is always up to date on the bigger picture and challenges given how quickly the industry evolves. The bigger picture comes from experience which is why I’ve carefully put together a few slides to get you started in no time. So if work in sales, marketing, product, project or any other area of business where you need a high-level view, Introduction to Mobile Communications can give you a quick start. Also, here are some templates to help you prepare your own slides on product overview and product roadmap.

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