Generic Access Network

What Does Generic Access Network Mean?

In telecommunication systems, a generic access network (GAN) is used by cellular device users to connect and interact with other types of communication devices. GAN protocols primarily evolved for wireless communication systems, allowing mobile phones to perform functions seamlessly between wireless local area networks (WLANs) and wide are networks (WANs) without interrupting the communication session. Modern GAN technology permits a subscriber to interact via voice, data, IP multimedia subsystem and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) applications.


Prior to 2005, a generic access network was commercially known as unlicensed mobile access (UMA).

Techopedia Explains Generic Access Network

Initially, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project supported the specification made by a group of vendors and operator companies for the GAN interface. The LAN is generally based on private unlicensed technology like 802.11, which allows a mobile handset to interact with the base station over the air through a base station controller. Popular WAN services are based on the Global System for Mobile Communications, general packet radio service or the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System.

The core function of GAN technology is a dual-mode handset service, which enables mobile phone subscribers to seamlessly hand over connections between wireless LANs and WANs. This enhanced feature of seamless roaming allows users to connect with individuals all over the world at a lower cost using handset devices.

The use of GAN technology is causing changes in the structure of cell phones. Currently, GAN involves two different accessible modes, so every phone has two transceivers. One is reserved for conventional cellular service, while the other is used for covering advanced applications like Wi-Fi.

Along with its advantages, GAN has some limitations. Because UMA uses different frequencies, GAN subscriber services are prone to interference. Cellular devices that use multiple signals of both LAN and WAN via GAN are relatively expensive and reduce the mobile device’s talk and standby time.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…