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Showing posts with label VoLTE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VoLTE. Show all posts

Friday, 18 April 2014

International LTE Data and VoLTE Roaming - NTT Docomo


Quick recap of the Bearer Architecture: Remember the interface between S-GW and P-GW is known as S5/S8. S5 in case the S-GW and P-GW are part of the same network (non-roaming case) and S8 in case where P-GW belongs to another network than S-GW (roaming case). The S5/S8 interfaces are generally exactly the same. There is a possibility of different types of S5/S8 interfaces like GTP based and PMIP based but lets not discuss that here.

NTT Docomo published an excellent article in their magazine recently showing the different approaches to International Data roaming.


The different scenarios above are based on the guidelines provided in GSMA PRD IR.88. Each operator has to adopt one of the scenarios above, NTT Docomo has selected scenario 4. The Home PLMN (HPLMN) and the Visited PLMN (VPLMN) connect via IP eXchange (IPX).


As can be seen above, the MME in VPLMN communicates with HSS in HPLMN using Diameter Edge Agent (DEA).



Finally, it is well known that NTT Docomo is not launching VoLTE untill 2015. The above is their proposal on how they handle VoLTE while in Japan and when roaming.

The paper is an interesting read, embedded below:



Another article worth a read is the VoLTE roaming with RAVEL here.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

VoLTE Roaming with RAVEL (Roaming Architecture for Voice over IMS with Local Breakout)


Voice over LTE or VoLTE has many problems to solve. One of the issues that did not have a clear solution initially was Roaming. iBasis has a whitepaper on this topic here, from which the above picture is taken. The following is what is said above:

The routing of international calls has always been a problem for mobile operators. All too often the answer—particularly in the case of ‘tromboning’ calls all the way back to the home network—has been inelegant and costly. LTE data sessions can be broken out locally, negating the need for convoluted routing solutions. But in a VoIMS environment all of the intelligence that decides how to route the call resides in the home network, meaning that the call still has to be routed back.

The industry’s solution to this issue is Roaming Architecture for Voice over LTE with Local Breakout (RAVEL). Currently in the midst of standardisation at 3GPP, RAVEL is intended to enable the home network to decide, where appropriate, for the VoIMS call to be broken out locally. 

Three quarters of respondents to the survey said they support an industry-wide move to RAVEL for VoLTE roaming. This is emphatic in its enthusiasm but 25 per cent remains a significant share of respondents still to be convinced. Just over half of respondents said they plan to support VoIMS for LTE roaming using the RAVEL architecture, while 12.3 per cent said they would support it, but not using RAVEL.

Until RAVEL is available, 27.4 per cent of respondents said they plan to use home-routing for all VoLTE traffic, while just under one fifth said they would use a non-standard VoLTE roaming solution.

Well, the solution was standardised in 3GPP Release-11. NTT Docomo has an excellent whitepaper (embedded below) explaining the issue and the proposed solution.

In 3GPP Release 11, the VoLTE roaming and interconnection architecture was standardized in cooperation with the GSMA Association. The new architecture is able to implement voice call charging in the same way as circuit-switched voice roaming and interconnection models by routing both C-Plane messages and voice data on the same path. This was not possible with the earlier VoLTE roaming and interconnection architecture.

Anyway, here is the complete whitepaper




Saturday, 31 August 2013

VoLTE Bearers

While going through Anritsu whitepaper on VoLTE, I found this picture that explains the concepts of bearers in a VoLTE call well. From the whitepaper:

All networks and mobile devices are required to utilize a common access point name (APN) for VoLTE, namely, “IMS”. Unlike many legacy networks, LTE networks employ the “always-on” conception of packet connectivity: Devices have PDN connectivity virtually from the moment they perform their initial attach to the core network. During the initial attach procedure, some devices choose to name the access point through which they prefer to connect. However, mobile devices are not permitted to name the VoLTE APN during initial attach, i.e., to utilize the IMS as their main PDN, but rather to establish a connection with the IMS AP separately. Thus, VoLTE devices must support multiple simultaneous default EPS bearers.

Note that because the VoLTE APN is universal, mobile devices will always connect through the visited PLMN’s IMS PDN-GW. This architecture also implies the non-optionality of the P-CSCF:

As stated, VoLTE sessions employ two or three DRBs. This, in turn, implies the use of one default EPS bearer plus one or two dedicated EPS bearers. The default EPS bearer is always used for SIP signaling and exactly one dedicated EPS bearer is used for voice packets (regardless of the number of active voice media streams.) XCAP signaling may be transported on its own dedicated EPS bearer – for a total of three active EPS bearers – or it may be multiplexed with the SIP signaling on the default EPS bearer, in which case only two EPS bearers are utilized.

My understanding is that initially when the UE is switched on, a default bearer with QCI 9 (see old posts on QoS/QCI here) is established that would be used for all the signalling. Later on, another default bearer with QCI 5 is established with the IMS CN. When a VoLTE call is being setup, a dedicated bearer with QCI 1 is setup for the voice call. As the article says, another dedicated bearer may be needed for XCAP signalling. If a Video call on top of VoLTE is being used than an additional dedicated bearer with QCI 2 will be setup. Note that the voice pat will still be carried by dedicated bearer with QCI 1.

Do you disagree or have more insight, please feel free to add the comment at the end of the post.

The whitepaper is embedded below and is available to download from slideshare.



Related posts:

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

VoLTE, Battery Issues and Solutions


Sometime back we had news about how VoLTE is battery killer and how it would suck our 4G phones dry. Well, I agree. I am no fan of VoLTE and think that CSFB solution can suffice in mid-term. Having said that, there is a solution which would be soon available to sort this battery issue during VoLTE call. I had a post on this topic earlier titled SPS and TTI Bundling. I am not sure about exactly how much saving would occur if either of the features are implemented.

ST Ericsson has recently released a whitepaper on this topic that is embedded below. If you have more idea on this, please add it in comments.



Sunday, 26 August 2012

Voice-Over-LTE (VoLTE) Signalling

MetroPCS has recently launched rolled out VoLTE in USA using LG connect phones. More operators would be rolling it out soon so here is example of Signaling in VoLTE.




To read in detail, please see the article from NTT Docomo technical journal here.

Friday, 1 June 2012

On LTE Roaming ...

The IP eXchange (IPX) is used for data when the users roam between different networks. GPRS Roaming eXchange (GRX) is a service within IPX. One of the main areas of discussion within the LTE World Summit 2012 in the Signalling Focus day was roaming on LTE. Different vendors have different proposals and solutions; couple of them are as follows:



Interesting to see that iBasis has proposed LTE Signalling eXchange (LSX) as a way forward.

A presentation from Acme Packet (for an earlier conference) has interesting VoLTE roaming options proposal.

Finally, while everyone was focussing on LTE-LTE roaming, only Diametriq was looking at LTE-LTE/3G/2G Roaming. The relevant part of their presentation is embedded below.
Happy to hear more on this topic if anyone else wants to contribute. Please feel free to add comments.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

SPS and TTI Bundling Example

I have blogged about Semi-Persistent Scheduling (SPS) and Transmit Time Interval (TTI) Bundling feature before. They are both very important for VoIP and VoLTE to reduce the signalling overhead.



It should be noted that as per RRC Specs, SPS and TTI Bundling is mutually exclusive. The following from RRC specs:

TTI bundling can be enabled for FDD and for TDD only for configurations 0, 1 and 6. For TDD, E-UTRAN does not simultaneously enable TTI bundling and semi-persistent scheduling in this release of specification. Furthermore, E-UTRAN does not simultaneously configure TTI bundling and SCells with configured uplink.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

ETSI INT IMS/EPC Interoperability Standardisation: Motivation, Roadmap & First Results

INT = IMS Network Testing. ETSI INT website here. More details below the presentation:

This was presented by Giulio Maggiore, Telecom Italia, ETSI TC INT Chairman in the 2nd FOKUS FUSECO Forum 2011, Berlin 17-18 Nov. 2011

From the ETSI leaflet (note that this is quite old information but still on the ETSI website here):

IMS interoperability is a key issue for boosting IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) roll-out and more specifically network interconnection between operators. Only through thorough testing in practical scenarios can operators ensure operational excellence in a multi-vendor and multi-provider environment.


IMS comprises a set of specifications designed to enable network operators to implement IP-based networks that can carry services for both fixed and mobile customers simultaneously.


IMS was developed originally in the mobile world (specifically in the specifications created by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, 3GPP), and was adopted for fixed networks by ETSI’s TISPAN Technical Committee (Telecoms & Internet Converged Services & Protocols for Advanced Networks).


However this promise of advanced communications over the next generation network will only be delivered if those same networks can interconnect.


ETSI’s Technical Committee INT: IMS Network Testing


ETSI is bridging the existing gap between 3GPP IMS Core Network standards and the initial industry IMS implementations through the organization of IMS interoperability events in connection with ETSI’s Centre for Testing & Interoperability (CTI) and Plugtests™ interoperability testing service.


Our Technical Committee for IMS Network Testing (TC INT) is actively establishing close contact with a number of industry fora and organizations dealing with IMS interoperability, including 3GPP, GSMA, MSF (Multi Service Forum), IMS Forum and the ITU-T. TC INT develops IMS test specification according to conformance, network integration and interoperability testing methodologies. Other ongoing work includes development of tests for Supplementary Services based on regulatory requirements and IMS tests with legacy networks (e.g. SIP-I).


ETSI has already held two IMS interoperability events. The first examined interconnection aspects of 3GPP IMS Release 6, including such issues as basic call on the Mw interface. The second event had a wider scope that included the testing of 3GPP IMS Release 7 interworking, roaming, border control, and integration of application servers executing selected Multimedia Telephony supplementary services.


Future ETSI activities and events will go even deeper towards bridging 3GPP IMS standards and industry implementations. These will include the organization of further IMS interoperability events designed to boost the roll-out and take-off of IMS services and operators’ network interconnections.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Roaming with the IP eXchange (IPX)


From Wikipedia:

Traditionally, voice traffic interconnection between different operators has utilized the international SS7/TDM networks. However, lately the all-IP paradigm with VoIP is being rapidly introduced by different operators in various forms, such as IMS. In order to minimize the number of conversions between packet-switched voice and circuit-switched voice there is a clear need to deploy an IP based NNI (Network-to-Network Interface) and therefore an IP based interconnection network.

It is also evident that a large number of IP based services (such as Presence or IM) simply cannot be interconnected using a SS7/TDM network, further increasing the need for evolution into an IP based interconnection network.

Since the year 2000 GSM operators have been using GRX (GPRS Roaming Exchange) network for routing the IP based commercial roaming traffic between visited and home operators. Mainly 2.5G and 3G data roaming has been using GRX. GRX is a private IP network (separated from internet) consisting of multiple different GRX carriers that are connected to each other via peering points. However, GRX is limited only to GSM operator community and not all GRX's are capable of meeting the demands of real-time services.

Even though the GRX environment is not entirely suitable as a common IP network for interconnection and roaming, it offers a good starting point for the development of IPX. IPX development has been done in various GSM Association projects and working groups since 2004.


The following presentation is from LTE World Summit:

Friday, 27 May 2011

Dual Radio Solution for Voice in LTE

I did mention in the Twitter conversations post from LTE World Summit 2011 that there are now certain analysts and players in the market who think that it should be possible to have two radios. Here is a slide from ZTE that shows that they are thinking in this direction as well.


Click on the pic to enlarge.

Tri-SIM phones have been available for quite a while but now there are Quad-Sim Shanzhai phones that are available in China. I am sure there is a market for these kind of phones.

With the battery life and the mobile technology improving, these are no longer the concerns when talking about dual radio possibility in the devices. Another common argument is that there may be additional interference due to multiple radios simultaneously receiving/transmitting. I am sure these can be managed without much problem.

Another problem mentioned is we may need multiple SIM cards but the SIM cards used is actually a UICC. There can be multiple SIM applications and IMSI's on it. The network may need some very minor modifications but they should be able to manage this with no problems. In the good old days, we used to have mobiles with built in Fax. The mobile number used to be different from the Fax number. It was a similar kind of problem but managed without problem.

So there may still be time to keep LTE simple by standardising the dual-radio solution rather than having CSFB, VoLTE, SRVCC, VoLGA, etc.

Any thoughts?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Advanced Telephony Services for LTE

With LTE World Summit just round the corner, I was going through the last year's presentations and realised that we didn't talk of this one before.

The concept for the advanced telephony services has been around since the early days of IMS and this was one of the ways IMS was sold. Unfortunately IMS didn't take off as planned and only now with the standardisation of VoLTE, there is a possibility of the advanced services becoming a reality.

The following presentation summarises some of these advanced telephony services concepts.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

VoLTE: Semi-Persistent Scheduling (SPS) and TTI Bundling

The following is from the recently released 4G Americas paper '4G Mobile Broadband Evolution: 3GPP Release-10 and beyond:

With the support of emergency and location services in Rel-9, interest in Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has increased. This is because the Rel-9 enhancements to support e911 were the last step to enable VoLTE (at least in countries that mandate e911) since the Rel-8 specifications already included the key LTE features required to support good coverage, high capacity/quality VoLTE. There are two main features in Rel-8 that focus on the coverage, capacity and quality of VoLTE: Semi-Persistent Scheduling (SPS) and TTI Bundling.

SPS is a feature that significantly reduces control channel overhead for applications that require persistent radio resource allocations such as VoIP. In LTE, both the DL and UL are fully scheduled since the DL and UL traffic channels are dynamically shared channels. This means that the physical DL control channel (PDCCH) must provide access grant information to indicate which users should decode the physical DL shared channel (PDSCH) in each subframe and which users are allowed to transmit on the physical UL shared channel (PUSCH) in each subframe. Without SPS, every DL or UL physical resource block (PRB) allocation must be granted via an access grant message on the PDCCH. This is sufficient for most bursty best effort types of applications which generally have large packet sizes and thus typically only a few users must be scheduled each subframe. However, for applications that require persistent allocations of small packets (i.e. VoIP), the access grant control channel overhead can be greatly reduced with SPS.

SPS therefore introduces a persistent PRB allocation that a user should expect on the DL or can transmit on the UL. There are many different ways in which SPS can setup persistent allocations, and Figure below shows one way appropriate for VoLTE. Note that speech codecs typically generate a speech packet every 20 ms. In LTE, the HARQ interlace time is 8 ms which means retransmissions of PRBs that have failed to be decoded can occur every 8 ms. Figure below shows an example where a maximum of five total transmissions (initial transmission plus four retransmissions) is assumed for each 20 ms speech packet with two parallel HARQ processes. This figure clearly shows that every 20 ms a new “first transmission” of a new speech packet is sent. This example does require an additional 20 ms of buffering in the receiver to allow for four retransmissions, but this is generally viewed as a good tradeoff to maximize capacity/coverage (compared to only sending a maximum of two retransmissions).

The example in Figure above can be applied to both the DL and UL and note that as long as there are speech packets arriving (i.e. a talk spurt) at the transmitter, the SPS PRBs would be dedicated to the user. Once speech packets stop arriving (i.e. silence period), these PRB resources can be re-assigned to other users. When the user begins talking again, a new SPS set of PRBs would be assigned for the duration of the new talkspurt. Note that dynamic scheduling of best effort data can occur on top of SPS, but the SPS allocations would take precedent over any scheduling conflicts.


TTI bundling is another feature in Rel-8 that optimizes the UL coverage for VoLTE. LTE defined 1 ms subframes as the Transmission Time Interval (TTI) which means scheduling occurs every 1 ms. Small TTIs are good for reducing round trip latency, but do introduce challenges for UL VoIP coverage. This is because on the UL, the maximum coverage is realized when a user sends a single PRB spanning 180 kHz of tones. By using a single 180 kHz wide PRB on the UL, the user transmit power/Hz is maximized. This is critical on the UL since the user transmit power is limited, so maximizing the power/Hz improves coverage. The issue is that since the HARQ interlace time is 8 ms, the subframe utilization is very low (1/8). In other words, 7/8 of the time the user is not transmitting. Therefore, users in poor coverage areas could be transmitting more power when a concept termed TTI bundling (explained in the next paragraph) is deployed.

While it’s true that one fix to the problem is to just initiate several parallel HARQ processes to fill in more of the 7/8 idle time, this approach adds significant IP overhead since each HARQ process requires its own IP header. Therefore, TTI bundling was introduced in Rel-8 which combined four subframes spanning 4 ms. This allowed for a single IP header over a bundled 4 ms TTI that greatly improved the subframe utilization (from 1/8 to 1/2) and thus the coverage (by more than 3 dB).

Martin Sauter puts it in a simpler way in his blog as follows: The purpose of TTI Bundling is to improve cell edge coverage and in-house reception for voice. When the base station detects that the mobile can't increase it's transmission power and reception is getting worse it can instruct the device to activate TTI bundling and send the same packet but with different error detection and correction bits in 2, 3 or even 4 consecutive transmit time intervals. The advantage over sending the packet in a single TTI and then detecting that it wasn't received correctly which in turn would lead to one or more retransmissions is that it saves a lot of signaling overhead. Latency is also reduced as no waiting time is required between the retransmissions. In case the bundle is not received correctly, it is repeated in the same way as an ordinary transmission of a packet. Holma and Toskala anticipate a 4dB cell edge gain for VoIP with this feature which is quite a lot. For details how the feature is implemented have a look at 3GPP TS 36.321.

A whitepaper explaining the concepts of TTI Bundling is available on Slideshare here.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Presentation: IMS for 3G Voice Services and Migration Strategies

Very interesting presentation from NTT DoCoMo in the IMS workshop I blogged about yesterday. It shows their strategy to move from legacy core network to an All IP Network (AIPN).