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How does GSM Network propagates its name in the signals?

Posted on 2006-06-27
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Last Modified: 2008-02-01
I would like to know why each of the mobile phone models understand the network name differently.  I would like to illustrate the following situation.

Test Mobile Models: Nokia 3315, Nokia 6030, Nokia 1108, Motorola T 190
Network (GSM): Airtel Chennai, Aircel Tamil Nadu

When we switch on the mobile model, the following are shown as logged on network.

3315: INA Airtel
6030: IND Airtel
T 190: SkyCell (SkyCell has been the old name of Airtel till 1993 and then it was changed by them)
1108: Airtel

Similarly, for Aircel, a combination of values like Aircel, INA Aircel, RPG, RPG MAA are shown.

I would like to know how these are propagated. I am sure the SIM Card would not have these stored in its network since in Roaming, this might be different.  How come the handset is able to get the very old name and/or the most latest name dynamically? Would the GSM networks preserve and send all the info in the signals it propagates.
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Question by:deepaknet
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Expert Comment

by:hiteshgupta1
ID: 16991605
Haven't seen such difference till now(nactually never tried to observe this)!
ervice providers keep track of two databases
HLR and VLR
HLR(home location reguster)
VLR(Visit Location Registor)
HLR keeps the information of the base location for a particular sim card while VLR keeps changing as and when the user roams from one area to another
in this way location should be same for a particular service provider on different hand sets
will try to find it why it os not like that!!
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Assisted Solution

by:AndrewGustely
AndrewGustely earned 100 total points
ID: 16991883
My best guess is the service network transmits its name over through some sort of id. Which the phone then translates into a network name. Thus giving network "A" the arbitrary ID of 3353T one phone might have 3353T as INA Airtel another as IND Airtel, depending on how they were programmed and the whims of the particular phone manufacturer/programmer. I think we can determine with little guessing that the cellphone tower is NOT broadcasting multiple names depending on the type of phone it happens to be broadcasting to. Rather it is broadcasting some sort of ID and the interpretations are the reason for the discrepency you are seeing.
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Okigire earned 150 total points
ID: 16993756
It's in the phone... I've done research on this in the past and concluded that it was in the phone.  I don't remember all the details, but it basically boiled down to this:

All GSM cellular providers have a network code that identifies their network.  For example, CINGULAR in the United States operates on the network code of 310-380 (they may have more than one).  Your phone connects to the network "310-380" and looks up the name in the internal list.  If you have an old phone, it will most likely say "AT&T" or something.  If you have a really old phone and the name doesn't exist in the list, it will simply say "310-380."

As far as I know, this is is not updated (over the air).  A new firmware flash should update the list.
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