PLMN: What is a Public Land Mobile Network ?

A public land mobile network (PLMN) is any wireless communications system intended for use by terrestrial subscribers in vehicles or on foot. Such a system can stand alone, but often it is interconnected with a fixed system such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The most familiar example of a Public Land Mobile Network end user is a person with a cell phone. However, mobile and portable Internet use is also becoming common.

Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN)

PLMN code

A Public Land Mobile Network is identified by a globally unique PLMN code, which consists of a MCC (Mobile Country Code) and MNC (Mobile Network Code). Hence, it is a five- to six-digit number identifying a country, and a mobile network operator in that country, usually represented in the form 001-01 or 001-001.

A PLMN is part of a:

  • Location Area Identity (LAI) ( Public Land Mobile Network and Location Area Code)
  • Cell Global Identity (CGI) (LAI and Cell Identifier)
  • IMSI (see PLMN code and IMSI)

PLMN code and IMSI

The IMSI, which identifies a SIM or USIM for one subscriber, typically starts with the Public Land Mobile Network code. For example, an IMSI belonging to the PLMN 262-33 would look like 262330000000001. Mobile phones use this to detect Roaming, so that a mobile phone subscribed on a network with a Public Land Mobile Network code that mismatches the start of the USIM’s IMSI will typically display an “R” on the icon that indicates connection strength.

PLMN services

A Public Land Mobile Network typically offers the following services to a mobile subscriber:

The availability, quality and bandwidth of these services strongly depends on the particular technology used to implement a Public Land Mobile Network.

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