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RadioRaiders How to: Switch Upgrade

Discussion in 'Cell Tower Hunting Club' started by RadioRaiders, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
    Senior Member

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    Ok, it's not exactly a "tower", it's a switch, but I figured this would belong more in the "Tower Hunting Club" than anywhere else. If I puit it in the "General" section, people looking for a new LG phone might get quickly bored with this...

    Back to the topic...I upgraded a RNC recently, and thought you guys and gals might be interested to see what is actually involved, so the next time you have a service outtage and your cellular operator says it was due to a "failed switch upgrade", you'll know exactly what they are talking about ;)

    A "RNC" (Radio Network Controller, in a UMTS network) is located physically somewhere between the tower (base station) and the MSC (Main Switch Center). The RNC controls around 100-200 base stations (most importantly sets up handovers to other cells), and trunks the calls to the MSC. While the RNC handles 100-200 base stations, the MSC can handle around 1000-2000 (these numbers can vary by equipment vendor, configuration, etc, but you get the general idea)

    The switch (MSC or in this case RNC) can be upgraded during the day, but it's quicker and less riskier to do it at night. Before starting the upgrade, the traffic (calls) are moved off the UMTS cells connected to this RNC by ramping the power down on them so the calls are forced to handover to the GSM network (if you don't have a GSM network to push them to, you have to do the upgrade in a different way).

    Once the calls have been moved to the GSM cells, the yellow lights on the cards stop flickering, and then you can lock down the cells and go to work and start pulling the cards out.

    Here's the main rack of the RNC. No yellow lights, so it's safe to pull the cards:
    [​IMG]

    (All the calls are coming in on the blure fibre optic cables.)

    Once the old cards have been pulled, you need to connect a laptop to the RNC and run some configuration changes and load the software for the new cards. The new cards are more powerful and can handle more complex things, which is why the upgrade is necessary, to improve the network.

    Here's one of the cards removed. It costs about $40,000 so I really shouldn't be leaving it on the floor too long ;)

    [​IMG]

    Once all the cards have been swapped, and the new configuration is done, the cells can be unlocked and start taking calls again. If the upgrade fails, you can put the old cards back in, and roll back to the previous configuration, and hopefully it at least returns to how it was before you screwed it up ;)

    So, next time your cellular operator screws one up and you have a service outtage, you can call them up and refer their service technicians to read this thread and hopefully they can find their mistake and get it up and running again ;) ...just kidding, it's alot more complicated that the breif outline given here, and there are alot of things that can go wrong. So please be tolerant of service outtages (...at least for my sake)
     
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    7 people like this.
  2. Jonathan Kramer

    Jonathan Kramer Telecom Atty/RF Engr.
    Senior Member

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    My Phone:
    Apple iPhone 4s
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Verizon Wireless (as of 8/13/08)
    RR: Outstanding information! Thanks.
     
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  3. COtech

    COtech Bronze Senior Member
    Senior Member

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    Sam. Galaxy SII Skyrocket
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    AT&T Mobility
    What's moving through the fiber connections? SONET (OC-n); or GE (Gigabit Ethernet) riding on 1310 nm IR light?

    COtech
     
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  4. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    .
    Glad everyone liked the post :)

    I'm in Europe, so it's not SONET but SDH (STM-x). This was probably a STM-1 line. Or could have been GE, but I'm not sure if they have IP in their backbone/core or not. It's not "my" network, it was just a one-time-contract kind of thing I did (a "hit-and-run" :D) ...my next few projects are fibre related, so I'll come back with more info about wavelengths and stuff like that later...
    .
     
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