Showing posts with label UMTS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UMTS. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 April 2018

#CWHeritage Talk: The history of synchronisation in digital cellular networks

CW (a.k.a. Cambridge Wireless) held a very interesting event titled 'Time for Telecoms' at the Science Museum in London. I managed to record this one talk by Prof. Andy Sutton, who has also kindly shared slides and some other papers that he mentions in his presentation. You can also see the tweets from the event on Twitter.

The video playlist and the presentation is embedded below.

The papers referred to in the presentation/video available as follows:

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Introduction to 3GPP Security in Mobile Cellular Networks

I recently did a small presentation on 3GPP Security, looking at the how the security mechanism works in mobile cellular networks; focusing mainly on signaling associated with authentication, integrity protection and ciphering / confidentiality. Its targeted towards people with basic understanding of mobile networks. Slides with embedded video below.

You can also check-out all such videos / presentations at the 3G4G training section.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

RRC states in 5G

Looking back at my old post about UMTS & LTE (re)selection/handovers, I wonder how many different kinds of handovers and (re)selection options may be needed now.

In another earlier post, I talked about the 5G specifications. This can also be seen in the picture above and may be easy to remember. The 25 series for UMTS mapped the same way to 36 series for LTE. Now the same mapping will be applied to 38 series for 5G. RRC specs would thus be 38.331.

A simple comparison of 5G and LTE RRC states can be seen in the picture above. As can be seen, a new state 'RRC Inactive' has been introduced. The main aim is to maintain the RRC connection while at the same time minimize signalling and power consumption.

Looking at the RRC specs you can see how 5G RRC states will work with 4G RRC states. There are still for further studies (FFS) items. Hopefully we will get more details soon.

3GPP TS 22.261, Service requirements for the 5G system; Stage 1 suggests the following with regards to inter-working with 2G & 3G Legacy service support
The 5G system shall support all EPS capabilities (e.g., from TSs 22.011, 22.101, 22.278, 22.185, 22.071, 22.115, 22.153, 22.173) with the following exceptions:
- CS voice service continuity and/or fallback to GERAN or UTRAN,
- seamless handover between NG-RAN and GERAN,
- seamless handover between NG-RAN and UTRAN, and
- access to a 5G core network via GERAN or UTRAN.

Friday, 17 June 2016

History: 30 years of the mobile phone in the UK

In January 1985 the UK launched its first mobile networks. Now, thirty years on, many people and companies in the UK have been celebrating this enormous achievements and advances that have been made since then and which have seen the mobile evolve from a humble telephone into the multimedia pocket computer which has become such an essential part of modern life. It was simply not possible in 1985 to envisage a country that would be able to boast more active mobile phones than people or to have along the way clocked up several world firsts, and be now leading on the deployment of 4G and shaping the future 5G technologies.

Below is a series of talks in an event organised by University of Salford,

The following talks are part of playlist:

1. Launch of Vodafone – Nigel Linge, on behalf of Vodafone
2. Launch of Cellnet - Mike Short, O2
3. The emergence of GSM - Stephen Temple, 5GIC
4. The launch of Mercury one2one and Orange - Graham Fisher, Bathcube Telecoms
5. From voice to data - Stuart Newstead, Ellare
6. Telepoint - Professor Nigel Linge, University of Salford
7. 3G - Erol Hepsaydir, 3 UK
8. Handset evolution and usage patterns - Julian Divett, EE
9. 4G and onwards to 5G – Professor Andy Sutton, EE  and University of Salford.

For anyone interested in reading about the history of mobile phones in UK, read this book below with more facts and figures

If you have any facts to share, please feel free to add in the comments below.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

4G / LTE by stealth

In the good old days when people used to have 2G phones, they were expensive but all people cared about is Voice & SMS.

The initial 3G phones were bulky/heavy with small battery life, not many apps and expensive. There was not much temptation to go and buy one of these, unless it was heavily subsidised by someone. Naturally it took a while before 3G adoption became common. In the meantime, people had to go out of their way to get a 3G phone.

With 4G, it was a different story. Once LTE was ready, the high end phones started adding 4G in their phones by default. What it meant was that if the operator enabled them to use 4G, these devices started using 4G rather than 3G. Other lower end devices soon followed suit. Nowadays, unless you are looking for a real cheap smartphone, your device will have basic LTE support, maybe not advanced featured like carrier aggregation.

The tweets below do not surprise me at all:

This is what I refer to as 4G or LTE by stealth.

Occasionally people show charts like these (just using this as a reference but not pin pointing anyone) to justify the 5G growth trajectory with 4G in mind. It will all depend on what 5G will mean, how the devices look like, what data models are on offer, what the device prices are like, etc.

I think its just too early to predict if there will be a 5G by stealth.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

5G Spectrum Discussions

While most people are looking at 5G from the point of new technologies, innovative use cases and even lumping everything under sun as part of 5G, many are unaware of the importance of spectrum and the recently concluded ITU World Radio Conference 2015 (WRC-15).

As can be seen in the picture above, quite a few bands above 24GHz were identified for 5G. Some of these bands have an already existing allocation for mobile service on primary basis. What this means is that mobile services can be deployed in these bands. For 3G and 4G, the spectrum used was in bands below 4GHz, with 1800MHz being the most popular band. Hence there was never a worry for those high frequency bands being used for mobile communication.

As these bands have now been selected for study by ITU, 5G in these bands cannot be deployed until after WRC-19, where the results of these studies will be presented. There is a small problem though. Some of the bands that were initially proposed for 5G, are not included in this list of bands to be studied. This means that there is a possibility that some of the proponent countries can go ahead and deploy 5G in those bands.

For three bands that do not already have mobile services as primary allocation, additional effort will be required to have mobile as primary allocation for them. This is assuming that no problems are identified as a result of studies going to be conducted for feasibility of these bands for 5G.

To see real benefits of 5G, an operator would need to use a combination of low and high frequency bands as can be seen in the picture above. Low frequencies for coverage and high frequencies for capacity and higher data rates.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, 5G will be coming in two phases. Phase 1 will be Rel-15 in H2, 2018 and Phase 2, Rel-16, in Dec. 2019. Phase 1 of 5G will generally consist of deployment in lower frequency bands as the higher frequency bands will probably get an approval after WRC-19. Once these new bands have been cleared for 5G deployment, Phase 2 of 5G would be ready for deployment of these high frequency bands.

This also brings us to the point that 5G phase 1 wont be significantly different from LTE-A Pro (or 4.5G). It may be slightly faster and maybe a little bit more efficient.

One thing I suspect that will happen is start of switching off of 3G networks. The most commonly used 3G (UMTS) frequency is 2100MHz (or 2.1GHz). If a network has to keep some 3G network running, it will generally be this frequency. This will also allow other international users to roam onto that network. All other 3G frequencies would soon start migrating to 4G or maybe even 5G phase 1.

Anyway, 2 interesting presentations on 5G access and Future of mmWave spectrum are embedded below. They are both available to download from the UK Spectrum Policy Forum (SPF) notes page here.

Further reading:

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Taking 5G from vision to reality

This presentation by Moray Rumney of Agilent (Keysight) in Cambridge Wireless, Future of Wireless International conference takes a different angle at what the targets for different technologies have been and based on that what should be the targets for 5G. In fact he has an opinion on M2M and Public safety as well and tries to combine it with 5G. Unfortunately I wasnt at this presentation but from having heard Moray speak in past, I am sure it was a thought provoking presentation.

All presentations from the Future of Wireless International Conference (FWIC) are available here.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Multi-RAT mobile backhaul for Het-Nets

Recently got another opportunity to hear from Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect, Network Strategy, EE. His earlier presentation from our Cambridge Wireless event is here. There were many interesting bits in this presentation and some of the ones I found interesting is as follows:

Interesting to see in the above that the LTE traffic in the backhaul is separated by the QCI (QoS Class Identifiers - see here) as opposed to the 2G/3G traffic.

This is EE's implementation. As you may notice 2G and 4G use SRAN (Single RAN) while 3G is separate. As I mentioned a few times, I think 3G networks will probably be switched off before the 2G networks, mainly because there are a lot more 2G M2M devices that requires little data to be sent and not consume lots of energy (which is an issue in 3G), so this architecture may be suited well.

Finally, a practical network implementation which looks different from the text book picture and the often touted 'flat' architecture. Andy did mention that they see a ping latency of 30-50ms in the LTE network as opposed to around 100ms in the UMTS networks.

Mark Gilmour was able to prove this point practically.

Here is the complete presentation:

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Scalable UMTS (S-UMTS) to accelerate GSM Refarming

Looks like a good idea from LTE will possibly be applied to UMTS/HSPA and it will also help accelerate the re-farming of GSM spectrum. A recent presentation from Qualcomm below:

Available to download from here.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Fast Dormancy Timings

Nearly a year and half back, I posted a blog about Fast Dormancy here. This issue has surely been fixed in most of the devices and the networks are able to handle the issue even if the handsets have not been fixed. I found an interesting table in a Huawei journal that shows the timings used by different devices that are being reproduced for people who may be interested.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Redirection, Reselection, Handovers and other Inter-RAT combinations in LTE

Another one from Qualcomm's 4G World presentation. You can see the number of scenarios that would have to be taken into account for; this was one of the reasons I believed SVLTE may be a good choice.

Related posts:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

CELL_FACH to LTE Mobility

At the moment, transition from RRC states from UMTS to LTE can happen from CELL_DCH to E-UTRA_RRC_CONNECTED state via Handover or from UTRA_IDLE to E-UTRA_RRC_IDLE via Cell Reselection. There is a study ongoing to transition from CELL_FACH to LTE. The state has not been specified but my guess is that it would probably be E-UTRA_RRC_CONNECTED. The following is the reasoning based on RP-111208:

It is our understanding that some of the Cell_FACH enhancement proposals for Release 11 are targeted to make it more attractive to keep UEs longer in the Cell_FACH state than is expected with pre-Rel-11 devices. This expectation that the UEs may stay longer in the Cell_FACH state is in turn motivating the mobility from Cell_FACH state to LTE proposal.

For instance, as the network can already today release the Cell_FACH UE’s RRC Connection with redirection, network may want to redirect UE to the correct RAT and frequency based on the UE measurement. Specifically if the network strategy is to keep the UEs long time in Cell_FACH state, it would make sense to provide the network the tools to manage the UEs’ mobility in that state. In addition, the needs for mobility to LTE are somewhat different from mobility to e.g. GERAN, as the former would be typically priority based while the latter would happen for coverage reasons. Thus, if introduced, the network controlled mobility from UMTS Cell_FACH would be specifically interesting for the UMTS to LTE case.

Will update once I have more info.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Network Mode of Operation (NMO)

Picture Source: Tektronix

The Network Mode of Operation (NMO) is also sometimes referred to as Network Operation Mode (NOM). The Network Modes have different values and interpretation in UTRAN and GERAN

In both the cases the Operation modes is decided based on the Gs interface between the CS CN (core network) a.k.a. MSC and the PS CN a.k.a. SGSN


Network Operation Mode I (NMO-I) is used when the Gs interface is present. In this case during the registration a Combined Attach (includes GPRS Attach & IMSI Attach procedures) procedure can be performed. A GMM Attach Request message with the attach type set to Combined Attach is used. Upon completion of this procedure, MM Status is IMSI Attached and GMM State is Attached.

In Network Operation Mode II (NMO-II) the GS Interface is not present. So the GMM attach procedure and the IMSI Attach (via Location Update) has to be performed seperately. This causes additional signalling.

Basic air interface signalling in case of NMO2 is shown here.


Network operation mode 1. A network which has the Gs interface implemented is referred to as being in network operation mode 1. CS and PS paging is coordinated in this mode of operation on either the GPRS or the GSM paging channel. If the mobile device has been assigned a data traffic channel then CS paging will take place over this data channel rather than the paging channel (CS or PS).

Network operation mode 2. The Gs interface is not present and there is no GPRS paging channel present. In this case, paging for CS and PS devices will be transferred over the standard GSM common control channel (CCCH) paging channel. Even if the mobile device has been assigned a packet data channel, CS paging will continue to take place over the CCCH paging channel and thus monitoring of this channel is still required.

Network operation mode 3. The Gs interface is not present. CS paging will be transferred over the CCCH paging channel. PS paging will be transferred over the packet CCCH (PCCCH) paging channel, if it exists in the cell. In this case the mobile device needs to monitor both the paging channels.

The GERAN part above is extract from the book Convergence Technologies for 3G Networks.

The Gs interface, has a number of subtle but important advantages:

During an ongoing GPRS / EDGE data transfer (TBF established), mobiles can't detect incoming voice calls and SMS messages as they are focused on receiving packets and thus can not observe the paging channel. In NMO-1, the circuit switched part of the network forwards the paging message to the packet switched side of the network which then forwards the paging message between the user data blocks while a data transfer is ongoing. Mobiles can thus receive the paging message despite the ongoing data transfer, interrupt the session and accept the voice call or SMS.

Location/Routing area updates when moving to a cell in a different location/routing area are performed much faster as the mobile only communicates with the packet switched part of the network. The packet switched network (the SGSN) then forwards the location update to the circuit switched part of the network (to the MSC) which spares the mobile from doing it itself. This is especially important for ongoing data transfers as these are interrupted for a shorter period of time.

Cell reselections from UMTS to GPRS can be executed much faster due to the same effect as described in the previous bullet. Whithout NOM-1 an Inter RAT (Radio Access Technology) cell reselection with Location and Routing Area update requires around 10 to 12 seconds. With NOM-1 the time is reduced to around 5 to 6 seconds. An important difference as this reduces the chance to miss an incoming call during the change of the radio network. Also, ongoing data transfers are interrupted for a shorter time,an additional benefit that should not be underestimated.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

ETWS detailed in LTE and UMTS

Its been couple of years since the introductory post on 3GPP Earthquake and Tsunami Warning service (ETWS). The following is more detailed post on ETWS from the NTT Docomo technical journal.

3GPP Release 8 accepted the standard technical specification for warning message distribution platform such as Area Mail, which adopts pioneering technology for faster distribution, in order to fulfil the requirements concerning the distribution of emergency information e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis and so on in LTE/EPC. The standard specifies the delivery of emergency information in two levels. The Primary Notification contains the minimum, most urgently required information such as “An earthquake occurred”; the Secondary Notification includes supplementary information not contained in the Primary Notification, such as seismic intensity, epicentre, and so on. This separation allows implementation of excellent information distribution platforms that can achieve the theoretically fastest speed of the warning distribution.

The purpose of the ETWS is to broadcast emergency information such as earthquake warnings provided by a local or national governments to many mobile terminals as quickly as possible by making use of the characteristic of the widespread mobile communication networks.

The ETWS, in the same way as Area Mail, detects the initial slight tremor of an earthquake, the Primary Wave (P wave - The first tremor of an earthquake to arrive at a location), and sends a warning message that an earthquake is about to happen to the mobile terminals in the affected area. ETWS can deliver the first notification to mobile terminals in the shortest theoretical time possible in a mobile communication system (about four seconds after receiving the emergency information from the local or national government), which is specified as a requirement by 3GPP.

The biggest difference between Area Mail and the ETWS is the disaster notification method (Figure 1). Earthquake warnings in Area Mail have a fixed-length message configuration that notifies of an earthquake. ETWS, on the other hand, achieves distribution of the highest priority information in the shortest time by separating out the minimum information that is needed with the most urgency, such as “Earthquake about to happen,” for the fastest possible distribution as a Primary Notification; other supplementary information (seismic intensity, epicentre, etc.) is then distributed in a Secondary Notification. This distinction thus implements a flexible information distribution platform that prioritizes information distribution according to urgency.

The Primary Notification contains only simple patterned disaster information, such as “Earthquake.” When a mobile terminal receives a Primary Notification, it produces a pre-set alert sound and displays pre-determined text on the screen according to the message content to notify users of the danger. The types of disaster that a Primary Notification can inform about are specified as “Earthquake,” “Tsunami,” “Tsunami + Earthquake,” “Test” and “Other,” regardless of the type of radio access.

The Secondary Notification contains the same kind of message as does the existing Area Mail service, which is, for example, textual information distributed from the network to the mobile terminal to inform of the epicentre, seismic intensity and other such information. That message also contains, in addition to text, a Message Identifier and Serial Number that identifies the type of disaster.

A major feature of the ETWS is compatibility with international roaming. Through standardization, mobile terminals that can receive ETWS can receive local emergency information when in other countries if the local network provides the ETWS service. These services are provided in a manner that is common to all types of radio access (3G, LTE, etc.).

Network Architecture

The ETWS platform is designed based on the Cell Broadcast Service (CBS). The ETWS network architecture is shown in Figure 2. Fig. 2 also shows the architecture for 3G network to highlight the features differences between LTE and 3G.

In the ETWS architecture for 3G, a Cell Broadcast Centre (CBC), which is the information distribution server, is directly connected to the 3G Radio Network Controller (RNC). The CBC is also connected to the Cell Broadcast Entity (CBE), which distributes information from the Meteorological Agency and other such sources.

In an LTE radio access network, however, the eNodeB (eNB) is directly connected to the core network, and eNB does not have a centralized radio control function as the one provided by the RNC of 3G. Accordingly, if the same network configuration as used for 3G were to be adopted, the number of eNB connected to the CBC would increase and add to the load on the CBC. To overcome that issue, ETWS for LTE adopts a hierarchical architecture in which the CBC is connected to a Mobility Management Entity (MME).

The MME, which acts as a concentrator node, is connected to a number of eNBs. This architecture gives advantages to the network, such as reducing the load in the CBC and reducing the processing time, and, thus preventing delay in distribution.

Message Distribution Area

In the 3G ETWS and Area Mail systems, the distribution area can be specified only in cell units, which creates the issue of huge distribution area database in CBC. In LTE ETWS, however, the distribution area is specified in three different granularities (Figure 3). This allows the operator to perform area planning according to the characteristic of the warning/emergency occasions, e.g. notice of an earthquake with a certain magnitude needs to be distributed in a certain width of area, thus allowing efficient and more flexible broadcast of the warning message.

1) Cell Level Distribution Area: The CBC designates the cell-level distribution areas by sending a list of cell IDs. The emergency information is broadcasted only to the designated cells. Although this area designation has the advantage of being able to pinpoint broadcast distribution to particular areas, it necessitates a large processing load in the network node (CBC, MME and eNB) especially when the list is long.

2) TA Level Distribution Area: In this case, the distribution area is designated as a list of Tracking Area Identities (TAIs). TAI is an identifier of a Tracking Area (TA), which is an LTE mobility management area. The warning message broadcast goes out to all of the cells in the TAIs. This area designation has the advantage of less processing load when the warning message has to be broadcast to relatively wide areas.

3) EA Level Distribution Area: The Emergency Area (EA) can be freely defined by the operator. An EA ID can be assigned to each cell, and the warning message can be broadcasted to the relevant EA only. The EA can be larger than a cell and is independent of the TA. EA is a unit of mobility management. EA thus allows flexible design for optimization of the distribution area for the affected area according to the type of disaster.

Message Distribution

The method of distributing emergency information to LTE radio networks is shown in Figure 4. When the CBC receives a request for emergency information distribution from CBE, it creates the text to be sent to the terminals and specifies the distribution area from the information in the request message (Fig. 4 (1) (2)).

Next, the CBC sends a Write-Replace Warning Request message to the MME of the specified area. This message contains information such as disaster type, warning message text, message distribution area, Primary Notification information, etc. (Fig. 4 (3)). When the MME receives this message, it sends a response message to the CBC to notify that the message was correctly received. The CBC then notifies the CBE that the distribution request was received and the processing has begun (Fig. 4 (4) (5)). At the same time, the MME checks the distribution area information in the received message (Fig. 4 (6)) and, if a TAI list is included, it sends the Write-Replace Warning Request message only to the eNB that belong to the TAI in the list (Fig. 4 (7)). If the TAI list is not included, the message is sent to all of the eNB to which the MME is connected.

When the eNB receives the Write-Replace Warning Request message from the MME, it determines the message distribution area based on the information included in the Write-Replace Warning Request message (Fig. 4 (8)) and starts the broadcast (Fig. 4 (9) (10)). The following describes how the eNB processes each of the specified information elements.

1) Disaster Type Information (Message Identifier/Serial Number): If an on-going broadcast of a warning message exists, this information is used by the eNB to decide whether it shall discard the newly received message or overwrite the ongoing warning message broadcast with the newly received one. Specifically, if the received request message has the same type as the message currently being broadcasted, the received request message is discarded. If the type is different from the message currently being broadcast, the received request message shall overwrite the ongoing broadcast message and the new warning message is immediately broadcasted.

2) Message Distribution Area (Warning Area List): When a list of cells has been specified as the distribution area, the eNB scans the list for cells that it serves and starts warning message broadcast to those cells. If the message distribution area is a list of TAIs, the eNB scans the list for TAIs that it serves and starts the broadcast to the cells included in those TAIs. In the same way, if the distribution area is specified as an EA (or list of EAs), the eNB scans the EA ID list for EA IDs that it serves and starts the broadcast to the cells included in the EA ID.

If the received Write-Replace Warning Request message does not contain distribution area information, the eNB broadcasts the warning message to all of the cells it serves.

3) Primary Notification Information: If Primary Notification information indication exists, that information is mapped to a radio channel that is defined for the broadcast of Primary Notification.

4) Message Text: The eNB determines whether or not there is message text and thus whether or not a Secondary Notification needs to be broadcasted. If message text exists, that text is mapped to a radio channel that is defined for the broadcast of Secondary Notification. The Secondary Notification is broadcast according to the transmission intervals and number of transmissions specified by the CBC. Upon the completion of a broadcast, the eNB returns the result to the MME (Fig. 4 (11)).

Radio Function Specifications

Overview : In the previous Area Mail service, only mobile terminals in the standby state (RRC_IDLE) could receive emergency information, but in ETWS, emergency information can be received also by mobile terminals in the connected state (RRC_CONNECTED), and hence the information can be delivered to a broader range of users. In LTE, when delivering emergency information to mobile terminals, the eNB sends a bit in the paging message to notify that emergency information is to be sent (ETWS indication), and sends the emergency information itself as system information broadcast. In 3G, on the other hand, the emergency information is sent through the paging message and CBS messages.

Message Distribution method for LTE: When the eNB begins transmission of the emergency information, a paging message in which the ETWS indication is set is sent to the mobile terminal. ETWS-compatible terminals, whether in standby or connected, try to receive a paging message at least once per default paging cycle, whose value is specified by the system information broadcast and can be set to 320 ms, 640 ms, 1.28 s or 2.56 s according to the 3GPP specifications. If a paging message that contains an ETWS indication is received, the terminal begins receiving the system information broadcast that contains the emergency information. The paging message that has the ETWS indication set is sent out repeatedly at every paging opportunity, thus increasing the reception probability at the mobile terminal.

The ETWS message itself is sent as system information broadcast. Specifically, the Primary Notification is sent as the Warning Type in System Information Block Type 10 (SIB10) and the Secondary Notification is sent as a Warning Message in SIB11. By repeated sending of SIB10 and SIB11 (at an interval that can be set to 80 ms, 160 ms, 320 ms, 640 ms, 1.28 s, 2.56 s, or 5.12 s according to the 3GPP specifications), the probability of the information being received at the residing mobile terminal can be increased. In addition, the SIB10 and SIB11 scheduling information is included in SIB1 issued at 80-ms intervals, so mobile terminals that receive the ETWS indication try to receive SIB10 and SIB11 after first having received the SIB1. By checking the disaster type information (Message Identifier and Serial Number) contained in SIB10 and SIB11, the mobile terminal can prevent the receiving of multiple messages that contain the same emergency information.

3G Message Distribution Method: For faster information delivery and increased range of target uers in 3G also, the CBS message distribution control used in Area Mail was enhanced. An overview of the 3G radio system is shown in Figure 5.

In the Area Mail system, a Common Traffic Channel (CTCH) logical channel is set up in the radio link, and emergency information distribution is implemented by sending CBS messages over that channel. To inform the mobile terminals that the CTCH logical channel has been set up, the RNC orders the base station (BTS) to set the CTCH Indicator information element in the system information broadcast to TRUE, and transmits the paging message indicating a change in the system information broadcast to the mobile terminals. When the mobile terminal receives the CTCH Indicator, it begins monitoring the CTCH logical channel and can receive CBS messages.

In ETWS, by including the Warning Type in the paging message indicating a change in the system information broadcast, processing for a pop-up display and alert sound processing (Primary Notification) at the mobile terminals according to the Warning Type can be executed in parallel to the processing at the mobile terminals to start receiving the CBS messages. This enhancement allows users whose terminals are in the connected state (RRC_CONNECTED) to also receive emergency information. In the previous system, it was not possible for these users to receive emergency information. Also including disaster type information (Message Identifier and Serial Number) in this paging message makes it possible to prevent receiving multiple messages containing the same emergency information at the mobile terminal.

More detailed information (Secondary Notification) is provided in CBS messages in the same way as in the conventional Area Mail system, thus achieving an architecture that is common to ETWS users and Area Mail users.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

LTE to 3G Handover Procedure and Signalling

It may be worthwhile brushing up the LTE/SAE Interfaces and Architecture before proceeding.

1) Overview of Handover Operation

With EPC, continuous communication is possible, even while the terminal switches from one type of radio access system to another.

Specifically, in order to achieve the internal network path switching required to change radio access systems, the S-GW provides a mobility management anchor function for handover between 3GPP radio access systems, and the P-GW provides the function for handover between 3GPP and non-3GPP radio access systems. In this way, the IP address does not change when the terminal switches radio access systems, and communications can continue after handover.

In handover between the 3GPP radio access systems, LTE and 3G, handover preparation is done before changing systems, including tasks such as securing resources on the target radio access system, through cooperation between the radio access systems (Figure 3 (a)(A)). Then, when the actual switch occurs, only the network path needs to be switched, reducing handover processing time (Fig.3 (a)(B)). Also, loss of data packets that arrive at the pre-switch access point during handover can be avoided using a data forwarding function (Fig.3 (b)).

In this way, through interaction between radio access systems, fast handover without packet loss is possible, even between radio access systems such as LTE and 3G which cannot be used simultaneously.

2) Handover Preparation Procedure (Fig.3 (a)(A))

The handover preparation procedure for switching radio access from LTE to 3G is shown in Figure 4.

Step (1):The terminal sends a radio quality report containing the handover candidate base-stations and other information to the eNodeB. The eNodeB decides whether handover shall be performed based on the information in the report, identifies the base station and RNC to switch to, and begins handover preparation.

Steps (2) to (3): The eNodeB sends a handover required to the MME, sending the RNC identifier and transmission control information for the target radio access system. The MME identifies the SGSN connected to the target RNC based on the received RNC identifier and sends the communication control and other information it received from the eNodeB to the SGSN in a forward relocation request signal. The information required to configure the communications path between the S-GW and SGSN, which is used for data transmission after the MME has completed the handover, is sent at the same time.

Steps (4) to (5): The SGSN forwards the relocation request to the RNC, notifying it of the communications control information transmitted from the eNodeB. The RNC performs the required radio configuration processing based on the received information and sends a relocation response to the SGSN. Note that through this process, a 3G radio access bearer is prepared between the SGSN and RNC.

Step (6): The SGSN sends a forward relocation response to the MME in order to notify it that relocation procedure has completed. This signal also includes data issued by the SSGN and required to configure a communications path from the S-GW to the SGSN, to be used for data forwarding.

Steps (7) to (8): The MME sends a create indirect data forwarding tunnel request to the S-GW, informing it of the information issued by the SSGN that it just received. From the information that the S-GW receives, it establishes a communications path from the S-GW to the SGSN for data forwarding and sends a create indirect data forwarding tunnel response to the MME.

Through this handover preparation, target 3G radio-access resources are readied, the radio access bearer between the SGSN and RNC is configured, and the data forwarding path from the
S-GW to the SGSN configuration is completed.

3) Handover Procedure for Radio Access System Switching (Fig. 3(a)(B)):

The handover process after switching radio access system is shown in Figure 5.

Steps (1) to (2): When the handover preparation described in Fig.4 is completed, the MME sends a handover command to the eNodeB. When it receives this signal, the eNodeB sends a handover from LTE command for the terminal to switch radio systems. Note that when the eNodeB receives the handover command from the MME, it begins forwarding data packets received from the S-GW. Thereafter, packets for the terminal that arrive at the S-GW are forwarded to the terminal by the path: S-GW, eNodeB, S-GW, SGSN, RNC.

Steps (3) to (6): The terminal switches to 3G and when the radio link configuration is completed, notification that it has connected to the 3G radio access system is sent over each of the links through to the MME: from terminal to RNC, from RNC to SGSN, and from SGSN to MME. This way, the MME can perform Step (10) described below to release the eNodeB resources after a set period of time has elapsed.

Step (7): The MME sends a forward relocation complete acknowledgement to the SGSN. A set period of time after receiving this signal, the SGSN releases the resources related to data forwarding.

Step (8): The SGSN sends a modify bearer request to the S-GW to change from the communications path before the handover, between the S-GW and eNodeB, to one between the S-GW and SGSN. This signal contains information elements required to configure the path from S-GW to SGSN, including those issued by the SGSN. When the S-GW receives this signal, it configures a communications path from the S-GW to the SGSN. In this way, the communications path becomes: S-GW, SGSN, RNC, terminal; and data transmission to the target 3G radio access system begins.

Note that after this point, data forwarding is no longer needed, so the S-GW sends a packet to the eNodeB with an “End Marker” attached, and when the eNodeB receives this packet, it releases its resources related to data forwarding.

Steps (9) to (10): The S-GW sends a modify bearer response to the SGSN, indicating that handover procedure has completed. The MME also releases eNodeB resources that are no longer needed.

Through this handover procedure, data is forwarded during the handover, the switch of radio access bearer is completed, and the communications path from the P-GW to the terminal is updated.

In the examples above, we described the handover procedure between 3GPP radio access systems in which the S-GW did not change, but handovers with S-GW relocation are also possible. In these cases, the P-GW provides the anchor function for path switching, as with switches to non-3GPP access systems.


Anchor function: A function which switches the communications path according to the area where the terminal is located, and forwards packets for the terminal to that area.

Relocation: Switching communications equipment such as area switches during communication.