Support for dynamic TCH / PDCH switching

OpenBSC, OsmoPCU and OsmoBTS gain support for dynamic TCH/PDCH switching
Added by laforge 6 months ago

The classic ETSI/3GPP specifications about GSM, particularly those related to A-bis, assume a fairly static allocation of the timeslots of a TRX inside a BTS. This means that the administrator configures each timeslot in the BSC to be one of the permitted channel combinations, for user traffic that's either SDCCH, TCH/F, TCH/H or PDCH.

The Osmocom project software, including OsmoBSC, OsmoNITB, OsmoBTS and OsmoPCU followed this static timeslot allocation when first implementing the related standards and systems.

This static allocation, particularly between circuit-switched calls and packet data leads to sub-optimal use of available (scarce) resources. What if there are no voice calls, but a high demand for packet data? Or why not (as an operator policy) provide more voice channels on demand, at the expense of packet data?

In 2013 years, Osmocom developer Andreas Eversberg did a BSC-side implementation of dynamic PDCH switching in OsmoNITB. However, related code unfortunately never made it to Osmocom master and it exposed some bit-rot over the years.

Neels Hofmeyr has recently picked up those patches, extended, fixed and forward-ported them to current master. They were subsequently merged. Corresponding changes inside OsmoBTS have been made with osmo-bts-sysmo and osmo-bts-litecell15, and have also been merged. Implementation for osmo-bts-trx is still ongoing (but difficult due to the desolate state of osmo-bts-trx with lack of a current maintainer).

With this first series of changes, only switching between TCH/F and PDCH is possible. Neels is currently working on making TCH/F, TCH/H and PDCH dynamic, resulting in even more flexibility even among full-rate and half-rate voice channels.