What is BSS in mobile communications?

In mobile communications, the terminology BSS is used frequently in the context of business management. However, the term BSS is also used to refer to a system of network nodes within second-generation (2G) mobile networks. The BSS term representing the business systems is more frequently used in all telecom networks, including mobile networks, whereas the BSS in GSM refers to a very specific part of the network.

BSS in 2G mobile communications refers to the Base Station Subsystem that is the radio access part of a GSM network and comprises Base Transceiver Station (BTS) and Base Station Controller (BSC). BSS is connected to the circuit-switched core network in GSM called Network Switching System (NSS).

BSS in wider telecom networks, including mobile networks, refers to the Business Support System responsible for managing customer-facing business aspects of a network, including billing, charging, service fulfilment, revenue management, customer management, and order management and so on.

BSS in GSM networks stands for Base Station Subsystem

In second-generation (2G) GSM networks, BSS refers to 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. 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. Before the arrival of GPRS enhancement, the GSM networks only had the circuit-switching capability that was facilitated by the MSC (Mobile Switching Centre). MSC in GSM networks is part of the Network Switching Subsystem (NSS) and is responsible for controlling multiple Base Station Subsystems or BSSs.

When a mobile user is on the move, for example, in a car, the BSC keeps handing over the call from one base transceiver station (BTS) to another 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.

BSS in wider telecoms refers to Business Support Systems

In wider telecom networks, including 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks, BSS also refers to Business Support Systems, which is a system responsible for managing customer-facing business aspects of a mobile network. 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 the activities supported by the BSS.

Here are some helpful downloads

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helped you in developing a better understanding of cellular networks. Sometimes, we need extra support, especially when preparing for a new job, studying a new topic, or 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 the challenges considering 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 you 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 the product overview and product roadmap.

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