Wednesday 20 June 2007

Continuous Packet Connectivity (CPC)

Packet-oriented features like HSDPA and HSUPA (HSPA) in UMTS systems provide high data rates forboth downlink and uplink. This will promote the subscribers’ desire for continuous connectivity, where theuser stays connected over a long time span with only occasional active periods of data transmission, andavoiding frequent connection termination and re-establishment with its inherent overhead and delay. Thisis the perceived mode to which a subscriber is accustomed in fixed broadband networks (e.g., DSL) andmay make a significant difference to the user experience.

The Fractional-DPCH feature was introduced in Rel-6 to support a high number of HSDPA users in thecode limited downlink, where effectively a user in the active state, not being transmitted with any data, isconsuming only a very small portion of the downlink capacity.

In the uplink, the limiting factor for supporting a similarly high number of users is the noise rise. For sucha high number of users in the cell it can be assumed that many users are not transmitting any user datafor some time (e.g., for reading during web browsing or in between packets for periodic packettransmission such as VoIP). The corresponding overhead in the noise rise caused by maintained controlchannels will limit the number of users that can be efficiently supported.

Since completely releasing the dedicated connection during periods of traffic inactivity would cause considerable delays for reestablishing data transmission and a correspondingly worse user perception,the Continuous Connectivity for Packet Data Users intends to reduce the impact of control channels onuplink noise rise while maintaining the connections and allowing a much faster reactivation for temporarily inactive users. This is intended to significantly increase the number of packet data users (i.e. HSPA users) in the UMTS FDD system that can stay in the active state (Cell_DCH) over a long time period,without degrading cell throughput. The objective aims also at improving the achievable UL capacity forVoIP users with its inherent periodic transmission through reducing the overhead of the control channels.

Delay optimization for procedures applicable to PS and CS Connections

In Rel-99, UMTS introduced a dedicated channel (DCH) that can be used for CS and PS connectionswhen UE is in CELL_DCH state. In addition to CELL_DCH state, Rel-99 introduced CELL_FACH statewhere signaling and data transmission is possible on common channels (RACH and FACH) andCELL_PCH and URA_PCH states, where the transmission of signaling or user data is not possible butenables UE power savings during inactivity periods maintaining the RRC connection between UE andUTRAN and signaling connection between UE and PS CN. The introduction of the CELL_PCH andURA_PCH states, the need of releasing the RRC connection and moving the UE to Idle mode for PSconnections was removed and thus the Rel-99 UTRAN can provide long living Iu-connection PS services.

On the other hand, when UE is moved to CELL_PCH or URA_PCH state, the start of data transmissionagain after inactivity suffers inherent state transition delay before the data transmission can continue inCELL_DCH state. As new packet-oriented features like HSDPA and HSUPA in Rel-5 and Rel-6 UMTSsystems respectively provide higher data rates for both downlink and uplink in CELL_DCH state, the statetransition delay has been considered to be significant and negatively influencing the end user experience.

In addition to RRC state transition delay, the radio bearer setup delay to activate new PS and CS serviceshas been seen as problematic in UMTS, due to signaling delays on CELL_FACH state where only lowdata rates are available via RACH and FACH, and due to activation time used to synchronize thereconfiguration of the physical and transport channel in CELL_DCH state.

To secure future competitiveness of UMTS and enhance the end user experience even further, the delayoptimization for procedures applicable to PS and CS connections work is targeted to reduce both setuptimes of new PS and CS services and state transition delays to, but still enable, excellent UE powersaving provided by CELL_PCH and URA_PCH states.

During the 3GPP Rel-6 time frame, the work was focused on solutions that can be introduced in a fastmanner on top of existing specifications with limited effects to the existing implementations. In addition,the solutions which allow the Rel-6 features to be used in the most efficient manner were considered.The agreed modifications can be summarized as: introduction of enhanced support of defaultconfigurations, reduced effects of the activation time, and utilization of HSPA for signaling. Thus, fromRel-6 onwards, the signaling radio bearers (SRBs) can be mapped on HSDPA and HSUPA immediatelyin RRC connection setup and default configurations can be used in radio bearer setup message and RRCconnection setup message in a more flexible manner.

The utilization of default configuration and mapping of the SRBs on HSDPA and HSUPA will reducemessage sizes, activation times, and introduce faster transmission channels for the signaling procedures,thereby providing significant enhancement to setup times of PS and CS services compared to Rel-99performance.

In the 3GPP Rel-7 time frame, the work will study methods of improving the performance even further,especially in the area of state transition delays. As the work for Rel-7 is less limited in scope of possiblesolutions, significant improvements to both RRC state transition delays and service setups times are expected.

3GPP TR 25.903: Continuous connectivity for packet data users (Release 7)

3G Americas: Mobile Broadband: The Global Evolution of UMTS/HSPA3GPP Release 7 and Beyond

Housam's Technology blog on CPC

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