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A cellular network or mobile network is a communication network where the last link is wireless. The network is distributed over land areas called "cells", each served by at least one fixed-location transceiver, but more normally, three cell sites or base transceiver stations. These base stations provide the cell with the network coverage which can be used for transmission of voice, data, and other types of content. A cell typically uses a different set of frequencies from neighbouring cells, to avoid interference and provide guaranteed service quality within each cell.
Wireless communication is the transfer of information or power between two or more points that are not connected by an electrical conductor. The most common wireless technologies use radio waves. With radio waves distances can be short, such as a few meters for Bluetooth or as far as millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications. It encompasses various types of fixed, mobile, and portable applications, including two-way radios, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless networking. Other examples of applications of radio wireless technology include GPS units, garage door openers, wireless computer mouse, keyboards and headsets, headphones, radio receivers, satellite television, broadcast television and cordless telephones. Somewhat less common methods of achieving wireless communications include the use of other electromagnetic wireless technologies, such as light, magnetic, or electric fields or the use of sound.
A transceiver is a device comprising both a transmitter and a receiver that are combined and share common circuitry or a single housing.
A cell site, cell tower, or cellular base station is a cellular-enabled mobile device site where antennae and electronic communications equipment are placed—typically on a radio mast, tower, or other raised structure—to create a cell in a cellular network. The raised structure typically supports antenna and one or more sets of transmitter/receivers transceivers, digital signal processors, control electronics, a GPS receiver for timing, primary and backup electrical power sources, and sheltering.
When joined together, these cells provide radio coverage over a wide geographic area. This enables numerous portable transceivers (e.g., mobile phones, tablets and laptops equipped with mobile broadband modems, pagers, etc.) to communicate with each other and with fixed transceivers and telephones anywhere in the network, via base stations, even if some of the transceivers are moving through more than one cell during transmission.
A mobile phone, cell phone, cellphone, or hand phone, sometimes shortened to simply mobile, cell or just phone, is a portable telephone that can make and receive calls over a radio frequency link while the user is moving within a telephone service area. The radio frequency link establishes a connection to the switching systems of a mobile phone operator, which provides access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Modern mobile telephone services use a cellular network architecture, and, therefore, mobile telephones are called cellular telephones or cell phones, in North America. In addition to telephony, 2000s-era mobile phones support a variety of other services, such as text messaging, MMS, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications, business applications, video games, and digital photography. Mobile phones offering only those capabilities are known as feature phones; mobile phones which offer greatly advanced computing capabilities are referred to as smartphones.
A tablet computer, commonly shortened to tablet, is a mobile device, typically with a mobile operating system and touchscreen display processing circuitry, and a rechargeable battery in a single, thin and flat package. Tablets, being computers, do what other personal computers do, but lack some input/output (I/O) abilities that others have. Modern tablets largely resemble modern smartphones, the only differences being that tablets are relatively larger than smartphones, with screens 7 inches (18 cm) or larger, measured diagonally, and may not support access to a cellular network.
A laptop computer is a small, portable personal computer (PC) with a "clamshell" form factor, typically having a thin LCD or LED computer screen mounted on the inside of the upper lid of the clamshell and an alphanumeric keyboard on the inside of the lower lid. The clamshell is opened up to use the computer. Laptops are folded shut for transportation, and thus are suitable for mobile use. Its name comes from lap, as it was deemed to be placed on a person's lap when being used. Although originally there was a distinction between laptops and notebooks, as of 2014, there is often no longer any difference. Laptops are commonly used in a variety of settings, such as at work, in education, for playing games, Internet surfing, for personal multimedia, and general home computer use.
Cellular networks offer a number of desirable features:
Major telecommunications providers have deployed voice and data cellular networks over most of the inhabited land area of Earth. This allows mobile phones and mobile computing devices to be connected to the public switched telephone network and public Internet. Private cellular networks can be used for researchor for large organizations and fleets, such as dispatch for local public safety agencies or a taxicab company.
Mobile computing is human–computer interaction in which a computer is expected to be transported during normal usage, which allows for transmission of data, voice and video. Mobile computing involves mobile communication, mobile hardware, and mobile software. Communication issues include ad hoc networks and infrastructure networks as well as communication properties, protocols, data formats and concrete technologies. Hardware includes mobile devices or device components. Mobile software deals with the characteristics and requirements of mobile applications.
The public switched telephone network (PSTN) is the aggregate of the world's circuit-switched telephone networks that are operated by national, regional, or local telephony operators, providing infrastructure and services for public telecommunication. The PSTN consists of telephone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave transmission links, cellular networks, communications satellites, and undersea telephone cables, all interconnected by switching centers, thus allowing most telephones to communicate with each other. Originally a network of fixed-line analog telephone systems, the PSTN is now almost entirely digital in its core network and includes mobile and other networks, as well as fixed telephones.
The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.
In a cellular radio system, a land area to be supplied with radio service is divided into cells in a pattern dependent on terrain and reception characteristics. These cell patterns roughly take the form of regular shapes, such as hexagons, squares, or circles although hexagonal cells are conventional. Each of these cells is assigned with multiple frequencies (f1 – f6) which have corresponding radio base stations. The group of frequencies can be reused in other cells, provided that the same frequencies are not reused in adjacent cells, which would cause co-channel interference.
Co-channel interference or CCI is crosstalk from two different radio transmitters using the same channel. Co-channel interference can be caused by many factors from weather conditions to administrative and design issues. Co-channel interference may be controlled by various radio resource management schemes.
The increased capacity in a cellular network, compared with a network with a single transmitter, comes from the mobile communication switching system developed by Amos Joel of Bell Labsthat permitted multiple callers in a given area to use the same frequency by switching calls to the nearest available cellular tower having that frequency available. This strategy is viable because a given radio frequency can be reused in a different area for an unrelated transmission. In contrast, a single transmitter can only handle one transmission for a given frequency. Inevitably, there is some level of interference from the signal from the other cells which use the same frequency. Consequently, there must be at least one cell gap between cells which reuse the same frequency in a standard FDMA system.
Channel capacity, in electrical engineering, computer science and information theory, is the tight upper bound on the rate at which information can be reliably transmitted over a communication channel.
Frequency division multiple access (FDMA) is a channel access method used in some multiple-access protocols. FDMA allows multiple users to send data through a single communication channel, such as a coaxial cable or microwave beam, by dividing the bandwidth of the channel into separate non-overlapping frequency sub-channels and allocating each sub-channel to a separate user. Users can send data through a subchannel by modulating it on a carrier wave at the subchannel's frequency. It is used in satellite communication systems and telephone trunklines.
Consider the case of a taxi company, where each radio has a manually operated channel selector knob to tune to different frequencies. As drivers move around, they change from channel to channel. The drivers are aware of which frequency approximately covers some area. When they do not receive a signal from the transmitter, they try other channels until finding one that works. The taxi drivers only speak one at a time when invited by the base station operator. This is a form of time-division multiple access (TDMA).
The first commercial cellular network, the 1G generation, was launched in Japan by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in 1979, initially in the metropolitan area of Tokyo. Within five years, the NTT network had been expanded to cover the whole population of Japan and became the first nationwide 1G network.
To distinguish signals from several different transmitters, time-division multiple access (TDMA), frequency-division multiple access (FDMA), code-division multiple access (CDMA), and orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) were developed.
With TDMA, the transmitting and receiving time slots used by different users in each cell are different from each other.
With FDMA, the transmitting and receiving frequencies used by different users in each cell are different from each other. In a simple taxi system, the taxi driver manually tuned to a frequency of a chosen cell to obtain a strong signal and to avoid interference from signals from other cells.
The principle of CDMA is more complex, but achieves the same result; the distributed transceivers can select one cell and listen to it.
Other available methods of multiplexing such as polarization-division multiple access (PDMA) cannot be used to separate signals from one cell to the next since the effects of both vary with position and this would make signal separation practically impossible. TDMA is used in combination with either FDMA or CDMA in a number of systems to give multiple channels within the coverage area of a single cell.
The key characteristic of a cellular network is the ability to re-use frequencies to increase both coverage and capacity. As described above, adjacent cells must use different frequencies, however, there is no problem with two cells sufficiently far apart operating on the same frequency, provided the masts and cellular network users' equipment do not transmit with too much power.
The elements that determine frequency reuse are the reuse distance and the reuse factor. The reuse distance, D is calculated as
where R is the cell radius and N is the number of cells per cluster. Cells may vary in radius from 1 to 30 kilometres (0.62 to 18.64 mi). The boundaries of the cells can also overlap between adjacent cells and large cells can be divided into smaller cells.
The frequency reuse factor is the rate at which the same frequency can be used in the network. It is 1/K (or K according to some books) where K is the number of cells which cannot use the same frequencies for transmission. Common values for the frequency reuse factor are 1/3, 1/4, 1/7, 1/9 and 1/12 (or 3, 4, 7, 9 and 12 depending on notation).
In case of N sector antennas on the same base station site, each with different direction, the base station site can serve N different sectors. N is typically 3. A reuse pattern of N/K denotes a further division in frequency among N sector antennas per site. Some current and historical reuse patterns are 3/7 (North American AMPS), 6/4 (Motorola NAMPS), and 3/4 (GSM).
If the total available bandwidth is B, each cell can only use a number of frequency channels corresponding to a bandwidth of B/K, and each sector can use a bandwidth of B/NK.
Code-division multiple access-based systems use a wider frequency band to achieve the same rate of transmission as FDMA, but this is compensated for by the ability to use a frequency reuse factor of 1, for example using a reuse pattern of 1/1. In other words, adjacent base station sites use the same frequencies, and the different base stations and users are separated by codes rather than frequencies. While N is shown as 1 in this example, that does not mean the CDMA cell has only one sector, but rather that the entire cell bandwidth is also available to each sector individually.
Depending on the size of the city, a taxi system may not have any frequency-reuse in its own city, but certainly, in other nearby cities, the same frequency can be used. In a large city, on the other hand, frequency-reuse could certainly be in use.
Recently also orthogonal frequency-division multiple access based systems such as LTE are being deployed with a frequency reuse of 1. Since such systems do not spread the signal across the frequency band, inter-cell radio resource management is important to coordinate resource allocation between different cell sites and to limit the inter-cell interference. There are various means of Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (ICIC) already defined in the standard.Coordinated scheduling, multi-site MIMO or multi-site beamforming are other examples for inter-cell radio resource management that might be standardized in the future.
Cell towers frequently use a directional signal to improve reception in higher-traffic areas. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) limits omnidirectional cell tower signals to 100 watts of power. If the tower has directional antennas, the FCC allows the cell operator to broadcast up to 500 watts of effective radiated power (ERP).
Although the original cell towers created an even, omnidirectional signal, were at the centers of the cells and were omnidirectional, a cellular map can be redrawn with the cellular telephone towers located at the corners of the hexagons where three cells converge.Each tower has three sets of directional antennas aimed in three different directions with 120 degrees for each cell (totaling 360 degrees) and receiving/transmitting into three different cells at different frequencies. This provides a minimum of three channels, and three towers for each cell and greatly increases the chances of receiving a usable signal from at least one direction.
The numbers in the illustration are channel numbers, which repeat every 3 cells. Large cells can be subdivided into smaller cells for high volume areas.
Cell phone companies also use this directional signal to improve reception along highways and inside buildings like stadiums and arenas.
Practically every cellular system has some kind of broadcast mechanism. This can be used directly for distributing information to multiple mobiles. Commonly, for example in mobile telephony systems, the most important use of broadcast information is to set up channels for one-to-one communication between the mobile transceiver and the base station. This is called paging. The three different paging procedures generally adopted are sequential, parallel and selective paging.
The details of the process of paging vary somewhat from network to network, but normally we know a limited number of cells where the phone is located (this group of cells is called a Location Area in the GSM or UMTS system, or Routing Area if a data packet session is involved; in LTE, cells are grouped into Tracking Areas). Paging takes place by sending the broadcast message to all of those cells. Paging messages can be used for information transfer. This happens in pagers, in CDMA systems for sending SMS messages, and in the UMTS system where it allows for low downlink latency in packet-based connections.
In a primitive taxi system, when the taxi moved away from a first tower and closer to a second tower, the taxi driver manually switched from one frequency to another as needed. If communication was interrupted due to a loss of a signal, the taxi driver asked the base station operator to repeat the message on a different frequency.
In a cellular system, as the distributed mobile transceivers move from cell to cell during an ongoing continuous communication, switching from one cell frequency to a different cell frequency is done electronically without interruption and without a base station operator or manual switching. This is called the handover or handoff. Typically, a new channel is automatically selected for the mobile unit on the new base station which will serve it. The mobile unit then automatically switches from the current channel to the new channel and communication continues.
The exact details of the mobile system's move from one base station to the other vary considerably from system to system (see the example below for how a mobile phone network manages handover).
The most common example of a cellular network is a mobile phone (cell phone) network. A mobile phone is a portable telephone which receives or makes calls through a cell site (base station) or transmitting tower. Radio waves are used to transfer signals to and from the cell phone.
Modern mobile phone networks use cells because radio frequencies are a limited, shared resource. Cell-sites and handsets change frequency under computer control and use low power transmitters so that the usually limited number of radio frequencies can be simultaneously used by many callers with less interference.
A cellular network is used by the mobile phone operator to achieve both coverage and capacity for their subscribers. Large geographic areas are split into smaller cells to avoid line-of-sight signal loss and to support a large number of active phones in that area. All of the cell sites are connected to telephone exchanges (or switches), which in turn connect to the public telephone network.
In cities, each cell site may have a range of up to approximately 1⁄2 mile (0.80 km), while in rural areas, the range could be as much as 5 miles (8.0 km). It is possible that in clear open areas, a user may receive signals from a cell site 25 miles (40 km) away.
Since almost all mobile phones use cellular technology, including GSM, CDMA, and AMPS (analog), the term "cell phone" is in some regions, notably the US, used interchangeably with "mobile phone". However, satellite phones are mobile phones that do not communicate directly with a ground-based cellular tower but may do so indirectly by way of a satellite.
There are a number of different digital cellular technologies, including: Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), cdmaOne, CDMA2000, Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO), Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT), Digital AMPS (IS-136/TDMA), and Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN). The transition from existing analog to the digital standard followed a very different path in Europe and the US.As a consequence, multiple digital standards surfaced in the US, while Europe and many countries converged towards the GSM standard.
A simple view of the cellular mobile-radio network consists of the following:
This network is the foundation of the GSM system network. There are many functions that are performed by this network in order to make sure customers get the desired service including mobility management, registration, call set-up, and handover.
Any phone connects to the network via an RBS (Radio Base Station) at a corner of the corresponding cell which in turn connects to the Mobile switching center (MSC). The MSC provides a connection to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The link from a phone to the RBS is called an uplink while the other way is termed downlink.
Radio channels effectively use the transmission medium through the use of the following multiplexing and access schemes: frequency division multiple access (FDMA), time division multiple access (TDMA), code division multiple access (CDMA), and space division multiple access (SDMA).
Small cells, which have a smaller coverage area than base stations, are categorised as follows:
As the phone user moves from one cell area to another cell while a call is in progress, the mobile station will search for a new channel to attach to in order not to drop the call. Once a new channel is found, the network will command the mobile unit to switch to the new channel and at the same time switch the call onto the new channel.
With CDMA, multiple CDMA handsets share a specific radio channel. The signals are separated by using a pseudonoise code (PN code) that is specific to each phone. As the user moves from one cell to another, the handset sets up radio links with multiple cell sites (or sectors of the same site) simultaneously. This is known as "soft handoff" because, unlike with traditional cellular technology, there is no one defined point where the phone switches to the new cell.
In IS-95 inter-frequency handovers and older analog systems such as NMT it will typically be impossible to test the target channel directly while communicating. In this case, other techniques have to be used such as pilot beacons in IS-95. This means that there is almost always a brief break in the communication while searching for the new channel followed by the risk of an unexpected return to the old channel.
If there is no ongoing communication or the communication can be interrupted, it is possible for the mobile unit to spontaneously move from one cell to another and then notify the base station with the strongest signal.
The effect of frequency on cell coverage means that different frequencies serve better for different uses. Low frequencies, such as 450 MHz NMT, serve very well for countryside coverage. GSM 900 (900 MHz) is a suitable solution for light urban coverage. GSM 1800 (1.8 GHz) starts to be limited by structural walls. UMTS, at 2.1 GHz is quite similar in coverage to GSM 1800.
Higher frequencies are a disadvantage when it comes to coverage, but it is a decided advantage when it comes to capacity. Picocells, covering e.g. one floor of a building, become possible, and the same frequency can be used for cells which are practically neighbors.
Cell service area may also vary due to interference from transmitting systems, both within and around that cell. This is true especially in CDMA based systems. The receiver requires a certain signal-to-noise ratio, and the transmitter should not send with too high transmission power in view to not cause interference with other transmitters. As the receiver moves away from the transmitter, the power received decreases, so the power control algorithm of the transmitter increases the power it transmits to restore the level of received power. As the interference (noise) rises above the received power from the transmitter, and the power of the transmitter cannot be increased anymore, the signal becomes corrupted and eventually unusable. In CDMA-based systems, the effect of interference from other mobile transmitters in the same cell on coverage area is very marked and has a special name, cell breathing .
One can see examples of cell coverage by studying some of the coverage maps provided by real operators on their web sites or by looking at independently crowdsourced maps such as OpenSignal. In certain cases they may mark the site of the transmitter, in others, it can be calculated by working out the point of strongest coverage.
A cellular repeater is used to extend cell coverage into larger areas. They range from wideband repeaters for consumer use in homes and offices to smart or digital repeaters for industrial needs.
The following table shows the dependency of the coverage area of one cell on the frequency of a CDMA2000 network:
|Frequency (MHz)||Cell radius (km)||Cell area (km2)||Relative Cell Count|
Lists and technical information:
Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) was an analog mobile phone system standard developed by Bell Labs, and officially introduced in the Americas on October 13, 1983, Israel in 1986, Australia in 1987, Singapore in 1988, and Pakistan in 1990. It was the primary analog mobile phone system in North America through the 1980s and into the 2000s. As of February 18, 2008, carriers in the United States were no longer required to support AMPS and companies such as AT&T and Verizon Communications have discontinued this service permanently. AMPS was discontinued in Australia in September 2000, in Pakistan by October 2004,, in Israel by January 2010, and Brazil by 2010.
Code-division multiple access (CDMA) is a channel access method used by various radio communication technologies.
Time-division multiple access (TDMA) is a channel access method for shared-medium networks. It allows several users to share the same frequency channel by dividing the signal into different time slots. The users transmit in rapid succession, one after the other, each using its own time slot. This allows multiple stations to share the same transmission medium while using only a part of its channel capacity. TDMA is used in the digital 2G cellular systems such as Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), IS-136, Personal Digital Cellular (PDC) and iDEN, and in the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard for portable phones. TDMA was first used in satellite communication systems by Western Union in its Westar 3 communications satellite in 1979. It is now used extensively in satellite communications, combat-net radio systems, and passive optical network (PON) networks for upstream traffic from premises to the operator. For usage of Dynamic TDMA packet mode communication, see below.
The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard. Developed and maintained by the 3GPP, UMTS is a component of the International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard set and compares with the CDMA2000 standard set for networks based on the competing cdmaOne technology. UMTS uses wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) radio access technology to offer greater spectral efficiency and bandwidth to mobile network operators.
A wireless network is a computer network that uses wireless data connections between network nodes.
In telecommunications and computer networks, a channel access method or multiple access method allows more than two terminals connected to the same transmission medium to transmit over it and to share its capacity. Examples of shared physical media are wireless networks, bus networks, ring networks and point-to-point links operating in half-duplex mode.
Space-division multiple access (SDMA) is a channel access method based on creating parallel spatial pipes next to higher capacity pipes through spatial multiplexing and/or diversity, by which it is able to offer superior performance in radio multiple access communication systems. In traditional mobile cellular network systems, the base station has no information on the position of the mobile units within the cell and radiates the signal in all directions within the cell in order to provide radio coverage. This method results in wasting power on transmissions when there are no mobile units to reach, in addition to causing interference for adjacent cells using the same frequency, so called co-channel cells. Likewise, in reception, the antenna receives signals coming from all directions including noise and interference signals. By using smart antenna technology and differing spatial locations of mobile units within the cell, space-division multiple access techniques offer attractive performance enhancements. The radiation pattern of the base station, both in transmission and reception, is adapted to each user to obtain highest gain in the direction of that user. This is often done using phased array techniques.
IS-54 and IS-136 are second-generation (2G) mobile phone systems, known as Digital AMPS (D-AMPS), and a further development of the North American 1G mobile system Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS). It was once prevalent throughout the Americas, particularly in the United States and Canada since the first commercial network was deployed in 1993. D-AMPS is considered end-of-life, and existing networks have mostly been replaced by GSM/GPRS or CDMA2000 technologies.
Base station is – according to the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Radio Regulations (RR) – a "land station in the land mobile service."
The base station subsystem (BSS) is the section of a traditional cellular telephone network which is responsible for handling traffic and signaling between a mobile phone and the network switching subsystem. The BSS carries out transcoding of speech channels, allocation of radio channels to mobile phones, paging, transmission and reception over the air interface and many other tasks related to the radio network.
This article discusses the mobile cellular network aspect of teletraffic measurements. Mobile radio networks have traffic issues that do not arise in connection with the fixed line PSTN. Important aspects of cellular traffic include: quality of service targets, traffic capacity and cell size, spectral efficiency and sectorization, traffic capacity versus coverage, and channel holding time analysis.
The air interface, or access mode, is the communication link between the two stations in mobile or wireless communication. The air interface involves both the physical and data link layers of the OSI model for a connection.
Node B is the telecommunications node in particular mobile communication networks, namely those that adhere to the UMTS standard. The Node B provides the connection between mobile phones (UEs) and the wider telephone network. UMTS is the dominating 3G standard.
This is a comparison of standards of mobile phones. A new generation of cellular standards has appeared approximately every tenth year since 1G systems were introduced in 1979 and the early to mid-1980s.
Radio resource management (RRM) is the system level management of co-channel interference, radio resources, and other radio transmission characteristics in wireless communication systems, for example cellular networks, wireless local area networks, wireless sensor systems radio broadcasting networks. RRM involves strategies and algorithms for controlling parameters such as transmit power, user allocation, beamforming, data rates, handover criteria, modulation scheme, error coding scheme, etc. The objective is to utilize the limited radio-frequency spectrum resources and radio network infrastructure as efficiently as possible.
A mobile phone signal is the signal strength received by a mobile phone from a cellular network. Depending on various factors, such as proximity to a tower, any obstructions such as buildings or trees, etc. this signal strength will vary. Most mobile devices use a set of bars of increasing height to display the approximate strength of this received signal to the mobile phone user. Traditionally five bars are used.
The Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO) is the mobile equivalent of a PSTN Central Office. The MTSO contains the switching equipment or Mobile Switching Center (MSC) for routing mobile phone calls. It also contains the equipment for controlling the cell sites that are connected to the MSC.
CDMA spectral efficiency refers to the system spectral efficiency in bit/s/Hz/site or Erlang/MHz/site that can be achieved in a certain CDMA based wireless communication system. CDMA techniques are characterized by a very low link spectral efficiency in (bit/s)/Hz as compared to non-spread spectrum systems, but a comparable system spectral efficiency.
In cellular telecommunications, the terms handover or handoff refer to the process of transferring an ongoing call or data session from one channel connected to the core network to another channel. In satellite communications it is the process of transferring satellite control responsibility from one earth station to another without loss or interruption of service.