Information on all subscribers in the network is stored permanently or semi-permanently in the home location register HLR, including information on the services the subscriber has access to and the subscriber's current location. The subscriber information comprises e. One IMSI may have several telephone numbers. The visitor location register VLR is usually connected to one mobile switching centre MSC, but it may also serve several centres. When the mobile station MS is active i. The VLR needs this information to process calls which terminate to or originate from the mobile station included in its registers.
The quality of services provided by the network is monitored in a network management subsystem NMS, or to be more precise, in an operation and maintenance centre OMC located in the NMS. From the operation and maintenance centre OMC the network operator can monitor the function of the network elements and change different network parameters. Operation and maintenance units OMU located in the network elements function as interfaces between the network element and the operator.
The operator can give local or remote-controlled commands to the network elements through this interface. The operation and maintenance centre may also comprise smaller operation and maintenance centres, one of them being the main operation and maintenance centre. In addition to prior art monitoring means, the mobile communication system implementing the functionality of the present invention also comprises means for tracing signalling messages, i.
Implementation of these means does not require changes to the equipment because the existing network elements comprise processors and memory which the functions of the invention can employ. All changes needed to implement the invention can be carried out by adding or updating software routines in the network elements which comprise functions, according to the invention.
The mobile communication system uses a mobile application part MAP for transmitting mobile network specific information between the different entities of the same mobile communication network and between the entities in different mobile communication networks. The MAP protocol is a general name for protocols between the functional elements, and MAP protocols are usually processed as a single protocol.
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The different network elements or processes must support the MAP protocol to exchange the necessary information so that mobile services can be transmitted. If the functional elements are integrated into the same network element, they must use the MAP protocol for external communication, and thus they also preferably use the MAP protocol in their internal communication. In their internal data transmission the functional elements can alternatively use another protocol which is, however, used for performing the functions the mobile application part MAP requires. All these protocols use signalling transfer which is provided by the MTP protocol Message Transfer Part of the lowest layer.
In other mobile communication systems the MAP protocols may use protocols of other signalling systems than SS7. If in the example illustrated in FIG. If A and B are located in different network elements, signalling occurs between network elements. In both cases network elements receive and transmit messages. A received message means a message received in the signalling between two network elements, and a transmitted message means a message transmitted from a network element. If internal signalling of a network element is involved, in the first preferred embodiment one of the processes is chosen as the process whose received and transmitted messages are monitored.
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In another embodiment both processes can be monitored. In the example of FIG. A may be e. B represents these other parties of the dialogue in FIG. The signalling message comprises at least the information required for identifying the subscriber, such as the mobile subscriber identifier IMSI or the subscriber's telephone number MSISDN.
It is also possible to use other subscriber identifiers, such as a temporary identifier TMSI. If signalling messages of several subscribers are to be traced, the signalling message 3 - 1 may include separate identification data of each subscriber or only e. The signalling message 3 - 1 also indicates the tracer. Depending on the embodiment, the signalling message either always includes the tracer's address or the fact that the address is missing indicates that a default tracer is used or the tracer is the sender of the send command.
The tracer may be an element in the operation and maintenance centre OMC, and traced messages are sent to the address of this element. The tracer's address may also be a record in the memory of the network element, from which the information is loaded e. The tracer is by no means connected with the element which gives the trace command, although usually the element that gives the trace command also functions as the tracer.
The signalling message 3 - 1 may also contain information on the desired message type, e.
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After A has received message 3 - 1 , it writes down the subscriber, the tracer and the possible message type in its monitoring table. A monitoring table is described in greater detail in connection with FIG. Then A starts to monitor the messages it has received and transmitted in a manner to be explained more closely in connection with FIG. In the first preferred embodiment of the invention A continues monitoring and copying until it receives a command to stop tracing from the OMC in message 3 - 3 StopTrace. The stop command contains all the information A needs in order to know which trace is to be stopped.
In the first preferred embodiment of the invention message 3 - 3 includes the same parameters as message 3 - 1. If message 3 - 1 identifies more than one subscriber, tracing can be stopped one subscriber at a time. If several tracers have asked to trace messages related to the same subscriber, tracing is preferably stopped one tracer at a time. Having received message 3 - 3 , A removes the subscriber or subscribers indicated in the message from the monitoring table and stops tracing of their messages. In another preferred embodiment of the invention the trace command 3 - 1 is always valid for the duration of one dialogue.
When the dialogue ends, A removes the message from the monitoring table and message 3 - 3 is not needed. The signalling messages described above in connection with FIG. The messages may also contain other data and they may be combined freely. Furthermore, the names of the messages may change. In addition, other messages, such as acknowledgement messages of messages 3 - 1 and 3 - 3 , may be transmitted between these messages. In the first preferred embodiment of the invention tracing of signalling messages starts as a dialogue begins.
If the MAP dialogue is related to a specific subscriber, the subscriber's identification data is usually transmitted in the first MAP message. In some cases, e. In these cases the second message is regarded as the starting message of the dialogue related to the subscriber. Messages of different types can be transmitted during the MAP dialogue. At its shortest the dialogue comprises the first message and its acknowledgement. If the signalling message includes an identifier, it initiates the dialogue.
In that case it is checked in step whether the dialogue is to be traced, i. If the dialogue is to be traced, it will be added to the list of dialogues to be traced in step Then it is checked in step whether the message is of the desired type.
If the message is of the desired type, the signalling message is copied in step and a copy is sent to the tracer in step The tracer's address and possibly the desired message type are obtained from the monitoring table and this information may be copied into the list of dialogues to be traced. Then we proceed to step where the signalling message is forwarded according to the prior art. Forwarding means that a received message is transferred for processing and a message to be transmitted is transmitted to the other party of the dialogue.
If it is detected in step that the message does not include an identifier, it is checked in step whether the message belongs to a dialogue related to the subscriber, i. If the message does not belong to a dialogue related to the subscriber, we proceed to step where the message is forwarded.
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If the dialogue belongs to a dialogue related to the subscriber, we proceed to step where it is checked whether the dialogue is on the list of the dialogues to be traced. If this is not the case, we proceed to step where the message is forwarded. If the dialogue is on the list of dialogues to be traced, it is checked in step whether the message stops the dialogue, i.