Inter-cell interference coordination (ICIC) was introduced in Release-8/9 of the 3GPP LTE standards. The basic idea of ICIC is keeping the inter-cell interferences under control by radio resource management (RRM) methods. ICIC is inherently a multi-cell RRM function that needs to take into account information (e.g. the resource usage status and traffic load situation) from multiple cells.
Broadly speaking, the main target of any ICIC strategy is to determine the resources (bandwidth and power) available at each cell at any time. Then (and typically), an autonomous scheduler assigns those resources to users. Thus, from the Radio Resource Control perspective, there are two kind of decisions: (a) which resources will be allocated to each cell? and, (b) which resources will be allocated to each user?. Clearly, the temporality of such decisions is quite different. Whereas resources to users allocation is in the order of milliseconds, the allocation of resources to cells take much longer periods of time or can be fixed.
Static ICIC schemes are attractive for operators since the complexity of their deployment is very low and there is not need for new extra signaling out of the standard. Static ICIC mostly relies on the fractional reuse concept. This means that users are categorized according to their Signal-to-Noise-plus-Interference Ratio (SINR), that means basically according to their inter-cell interference, and different reuse factors are applied to them, being higher at regions with more interference, mostly outer regions of the cells. The total system bandwidth is divided into sub-bands which are used by the scheduler accordingly.
A simple way to explain ICIC is based on picture above. The users are divided into two categories, one is Cell Center User (CCU), and the other one is Cell Edge User (CEU). CCUs are the users distributed in the gray region of above figure, and CEUs are the users distributed in the above red, green and blue areas. CCU can use all the frequencypoints to communicate with the base station, while CEU must use corresponding specified frequency points to ensure orthogonality between different cells.
CEUs can be assigned a higher transmissionpower for the frequency reuse factor is greater than 1. The frequency points are not overlapped at the edges so the adjacent cell interference is small. CCU’s frequency reuse factor is 1; for the path loss is small and transmission power is low. Therefore the interference to the adjacent cells is not high either.
Dominant interference condition has been shown when Non-CSG/CSG users are in close proximity of Femto, in this case, Rel8/9 ICIC techniques are not fully effective in mitigating control channel interference, and hence, Enhanced interference management is needed At least the following issues should be addressed by any proposed solutions:
o Radio link monitoring (RLM)
o Radio Resource Management (including detection of PSS/SSS and PBCH)
o Interference from CRS
oo To PCFICH/PHICH/PDCCH
oo To PDSCH
o CSI measurement
o Interference from PDCCH masked with P-RNTI and SI-RNTI (for SIB-1 only) and associated PCFICH
As a result, from Release-10 onwards eICIC work was started. In Rel-10, two eICIC or Enhanced inter-cell interference coordination (also incorrectly referred to as Enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Cancellation) were being actively discussed. They are Time domain eICIC and autonomous HeNB power setting. More advanced ideas are being thought of beyong Rel-10 including Interference management techniques on carrier resolution ( optimally exploiting available Networks frequency assets (carriers in same or different bands) , combination with Carrier Aggregation; interference management schemes proposed both during LTE-Advanced Study Item phase, and during Rel-10 HetNet eICIC work.
From an earlier presentation in SON Conference:
- Effectively extends ICIC to DL control - time domain
- Requires synchronization at least between macro eNB and low power eNBs in its footprint
- No negative impact on legacy Rel 8 Use
- Refers to UE ability to connect and stay connected to a cell with low SINR
- Achieved with advanced UE receivers - DL interference cancellation (IC)
RE + eICIC technique:
– Eliminates coverage holes created by closed HeNBs
– Improves load balancing potential for macro network with low power eNBs and leads to significant network throughput increase
–Enables more UEs can be served by low power eNBs, which can lead to substantially higher network throughput
More details on eICIC is available in 3GPP CR's and TR's listed below:
- R1-105081: Summary of the description of candidate eICIC solutions, 3GPP TSG-WG1 #62, Madrid, Spain, August 23rd – 27th, 2010.
- R1-104942: Views on eICIC Schemes for Rel-10, 3GPP TSG RAN WG1 Meeting #62, Madrid, Spain, 23-27 August, 2010.
- R1-104238: eICIC Chairman’s note, 3GPP TSG RAN WG1 Meeting #61bis, Dresden, Germany, 28th June – 2nd July 2010.
- R1-103822: Enhanced ICIC considerations for HetNet scenarios, 3GPP TSG RAN WG1 #61bis Meeting, Dresden, Germany, June 28 – July 2, 2010.
You can also check out NTT Docomo's presentation on LTE Enhancements and Future Radio Access here.