MPT1327 Trunked Radio Standard

- summary or overview of Trunking using MPT1327 Private or Professional Mobile Radio PMR and the technology used in MPT1327 trunking.

A trunked version of the Private Mobile Radio (PMR) concept that is defined under the standard MPT1327 or MPT 1327 is widely used and provides significant advantages over the simpler single station systems that are in use. MPT1327 enables stations to communicate over wider areas as well as having additional facilities.

In view of the very high cost of setting up trunked networks, they are normally run by large leasing companies or consortia that provide a service to a large number of users. In view of the wider areas covered by these networks and the greater complexity, equipment has to be standardised so that suppliers can manufacture in higher volumes and thereby reduce costs to acceptable levels. Most trunked radio systems follow the MPT1327 format.

MPT1327 trunked radio basics

To implement trunked PMR a network of stations is set up. These stations are linked generally using land lines, although optical fibres and point to point radio communications links are also used. In this way the different base stations are able to communicate with each other.

In order to be able to carry the audio information and also run the variety of organisational tasks that are needed the system requires different types of channel to be available. These are the control channels of which there is one in each direction for each base station or Trunking System Controller (TSC).

A number of different control channels are used so that adjacent base stations do not interfere with one another, and the mobile stations scan the different channels to locate the strongest control channel signal. In addition to this there are the traffic channels. The specification supports up to 1024 different traffic channels to be used. In this way a base station can support a large number of different mobile stations that are communicating at the same time. However for small systems with only a few channels, the control channel may also act as a non-dedicated traffic channel.

The control channels use signalling at 1200 bits per second with fast Frequency Shift Keying (FFSK) subcarrier modulation. It is designed for use by two-frequency half duplex mobile radio units and a full duplex TSC.

For successful operation it is essential that the system knows where the mobiles are located so that calls can be routed trough to them. This is achieved by base stations polling the mobile stations using the control channel.

To make an outgoing call the mobile transmits a request to the base station as requested in the control channel data stream from the base station. The mobile transmits its own code along with that of the destination of the call, either another mobile or a control office. The control software and circuitry within the base station and the central control processing area for the network sets up the network so that a channel is allocated for the audio (the traffic channel). It also sets up the switching in the network to route the call to the required destination.

To enable the mobile station to receive a call, it is paged via the incoming control channel data stream to indicate that there is an incoming call. Channels are allocated and switching set up to provide the correct routing for the call.

There is no method to "handover" the mobile from one base station to the next if it moves out of range of the base station through which a call is being made. In this way the system is not a form of cellular telephone. It is therefore necessary for the mobile station to remain within the service area of the base station through which any calls are being made.

MPT1327 control channel signalling

The MPT1327 control channel signalling structure is defined so that all mobiles know what to expect and what data is being sent. Signalling on the forward control channel is nominally continuous with each slot comprising 64 bit code words. The first type is the Control Channel System Codeword (CSCC). This identifies the system to the mobile radio units and also provides synchronisation for the following address codeword. As mentioned the second type of word is the address codeword. It is the first codeword of any message and it defines the nature of the message. It is possible to send data over the control channel. When this occurs, botht he CSCC and the address codewords are displaced with the data appended to the address codeword. The mobile radio unit data structure is somewhat simpler. It consists fundamentally of synchronism bits followed by the address codeword.

There are a number of different types of MPT1327 control channel messages that can be sent by the base station to the mobiles:

  1. Aloha messages   -- Sent by the base station to invite and mobile stations to access the system.
  2. Requests   -- Sent by radio units to request a call to be set up.
  3. "Ahoy" messages   -- Sent by the base station to demand a response from a particular radio unit. This may be sent to request the radio unit to send his unique identifier to ensure it should be taking traffic through the base station.
  4. Acknowledgements   -- These are sent by both the base stations and the mobile radio units to acknowledge the data sent.
  5. Go to channel messages   -- These messages instruct a particular mobile radio unit to move to the allocated traffic channel.
  6. Single address messages   -- These are sent only by the mobile radio units.
  7. Short data messages   -- These may be sent by either the base station or the mobile radio unit.
  8. Miscellaneous messages   -- Sent by the base station for control applications.

Random access transmission protocol

One of the problems encountered by mobile signalling systems is that of clashes when two or more mobile radio units try to transmit at the same time on the control channel. This factor is recognised by the system and is overcome by a random access protocol that is employed. This operates by the base station transmitting a synchronisation message inviting the mobile radio units to send their random access message. The message from the base station contains a parameter that indicates the number of timeslots that are available for access. The mobile radio unit will randomly select a slot in which to transmit its request but if a message is already in progress then it will send its access message in the next available slot. If this is not successful then it will wait until the process is initiated again.

MPT1327 summary

MPT1327 trunked PMR is widely used for business communications. Although the specification is based on a UK document, the system is used around the world and the MPT1327 trunking system has become an international standard. It has now been in use for many years, and technology has moved on, and other standards such as TETRA are being deployed. MPT1327 uses analogue voice, although the data is transmitted as digital information. Nevertheless MPT1327 works very well and there are many systems in use around the globe.

By Ian Poole

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