LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols White Paper Overview
White Paper
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols
By: Suyash Tripathi, Vinay Kulkarni and Alok Kuma
The journey which initially started with UMTS 99—aiming for high peak
packet data rates of 2Mbps with support for both voice and data services—
is approaching a new destination known as Long Term Evolution. LTE targets
to achieve 100Mbps in the downlink (DL) and 50 Mbps in the uplink (UL)
directions with user plane latency less than 5ms due to spectrum flexibility
and higher spectral efficiency. These exceptional performance requirements
are possible due to Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) and
Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (MIMO) functionality in the radio link at
the physical layer.
E-UTRAN, Functions within the Access
Stratum pg. 2
The Evolved UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network (E-UTRAN), the
very first network node in the evolved packet system (EPS), achieves high
data rates, lower control & user plane latency, seamless handovers, and
greater cell coverage. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the functions,
procedures, and importance of the access stratum—particularly the radio
access side protocols pertaining to E-UTRAN.
Cell Search, Slot and Frame Synchronization pg. 6
Radio Protocol Architecture Access Stratum,
User Plane Protocols, Control Plane Protocols pg. 3
Physical Layer for E-UTRAN, Physical Resource
in LTE pg. 4
Mapping of Physical, Transport and Logical
Channels, Cell Configuration, Link Adaptation,
Synchronization Procedures and System
Acquisition pg. 5
Random Access Procedure—System Access,
Contention-Based Random Access Procedure pg. 7
Non-Contention-Based Random Access
Procedure, Physical Layer Measurements,
Power Control, Layer 2 pg. 8
Transport of NAS Messages pg. 9
E-UTRAN Identities, ARQ and HARQ Processes,
ARQ Principles pg. 10
HARQ Principles, Uplink HARQ Operation,
Measurement Management pg. 11
QoS Management, QoS Parameters,
Bearer Service Architecture pg. 12
Scheduling, CQI Reporting for Scheduling,
Downlink Scheduling pg. 13
Uplink Scheduling, Non-Persistent (Dynamic)
Scheduling, Persistent Scheduling,
Semi-Persistent Scheduling pg. 14
Security, Security Termination Points,
Radio Resource Management pg. 15
Summary, References, Authors pg. 17
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
The E-UTRAN consists of eNodeBs (eNB) which provide
E-UTRA user plane (PDCP/RLC/MAC/PHY) and control
plane (RRC) protocol terminations toward the user
equipment (UE). The eNBs are interconnected with each
other by means of the X2 interface. The eNBs are also
connected by means of the S1 interface to the Evolved
Packet Core (EPC), more specifically to the Mobility
Management Entity (MME) by means of the S1-MME
interface and to the Serving Gateway (SGW) by means
of the S1-U interface. The S1 interface supports manyto-many relations between MMEs/Serving Gateways
and eNBs. The E-UTRAN architecture is illustrated in
Figure 1.
Functions within the
Access Stratum
The access stratum provides the ability, infrastructure,
and accessibility to the UE in acquiring the capabilities
and services of the network. The radio access protocols
in the E-UTRAN access stratum are comprised of
numerous functionalities:
• Radio Resource Management (RRM) performs
radio bearer control, radio admission control,
connection mobility control, and dynamic allocation
of resources to UEs in both UL and DL (scheduling)
• Traffic Management, in conjunction with radio
resource management, does the following:
Figure 1. E-UTRAN Architecture
• Selection of an MME at UE attachment when
no MME information is provided by the UE
• Routing of User Plane data toward the SGW
• Location Management: scheduling and transmission
of paging messages (originated from the MME)
• Scheduling and transmission of broadcast
information (originated from the MME or O&M)
• Measurement and measurement reporting
configuration for mobility and scheduling
˸˸ Supports real- and non-real-time user traffic
between the non-access stratum (NAS) of
the infrastructure side and the UE side
• Scheduling and transmission of Earthquake and
Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) messages
(originated from the MME)
˸˸ Supports different traffic types, activity levels,
throughput rates, transfer delays, and bit
error rates
• Provides initial access to the network, registration,
and attach/detach to/from the network
˸˸ Efficiently maps the traffic attributes used by
non-LTE applications to the attributes of the
radio access bearer layer of the access stratum
• IP header compression and encryption of user
data streams
• Handover Management—Intra-eNodeB, IntereNodeB, Inter-eNodeB—with change of MME,
Inter-eNodeB—with same MME but different SGW,
and Inter-RAT handovers
• Macro-diversity & Encryption
• Radio channel coding
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Radio Protocol Architecture
Access Stratum
Logically, LTE network protocols can be divided into
control plane (responsible for managing the transport
bearer) and user plane (responsible for transporting
user traffic).
User Plane Protocols
Figure 2 shows the protocol stacks for the user
plane, where PDCP, RLC, MAC, and PHY sublayers
(terminated at the eNB on the network side) perform
functions like header compression, ciphering,
scheduling, ARQ, and HARQ.
Figure 2. User Plane Protocol Stacks
Control Plane Protocols
Figure 3 shows the protocol stacks for the control
plane, where:
• PDCP sublayer performs ciphering and integrity
• RLC, MAC, and PHY sublayers perform the same
functions as in the user plane
• RRC performs functions like System Information
Broadcast, Paging, RRC connection management,
RB control, Mobility Control, and UE measurement
reporting and control
Figure 4 depicts the access side protocol suite
consisting of RRC, PDCP, RLC, MAC, and PHY layers.
RRC configures the lower layers—PDCP, RLC, MAC
& PHY—for respective parameters required at run
time for their functionalities. Radio Bearers (RB) exist
between RRC & PDCP which are mapped to various
logical channels lying between RLC & MAC. There is
well-defined mapping between logical channels to
transport channels to physical channels as highlighted
in Figure 7.
Figure 3. Control Plane Protocol Stacks
Figure 4. Access Side Protocol Suite at eNodeB
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Physical Layer for E-UTRAN
Frame Type in LTE
LTE downlink and uplink transmissions are organized
into radio frames with 10ms duration. LTE supports
two radio frame structures:
• Type 1, applicable to FDD (paired spectrum)
• Type 2, applicable to TDD (unpaired spectrum)
Figure 5.1. Frame Structure Type 1
Frame structure Type 1 is illustrated in Figure 5.1.
Each 10ms radio frame is divided into ten equally
sized sub-frames (1ms each). Each sub-frame consists
of two equally-sized slots of 0.5ms length. In FDD,
uplink and downlink transmissions are separated in
the frequency domain.
Frame structure Type 2 is illustrated in Figure 5.2. Each
10ms radio frame consists of two half-frames of 5ms
each. Each half-frame consists of eight slots of length
0.5ms and three special fields: DwPTS, GP, and UpPTS.
The length of DwPTS and UpPTS is configurable subject
to the total length of DwPTS, GP, and UpPTS equal to
1ms. Subframe 1 in all configurations, and subframe 6
in the configuration with 5ms switch-point periodicity,
consist of DwPTS, GP, and UpPTS. Subframe 6 in
the configuration with 10ms switch-point periodicity
consists of DwPTS only. All other subframes consist
of two equally-sized slots.
Figure 5.2. Frame Structure Type 2
For TDD, GP is reserved for downlink-to-uplink
transition. Other subframes/fields are assigned
for either downlink or uplink transmission. Uplink
and downlink transmissions are separated in the
time domain.
Physical Resource in LTE
The LTE physical resource is a time-frequency resource
grid where a single resource element corresponds to
one OFDM subcarrier during one OFDM symbol interval
with carrier spacing (Δf = 15kHz). 12 consecutive
subcarriers are grouped to constitute a resource block,
the basic unit of resource allocation. In normal CP
(cyclic prefix) mode, one time slot contains 7 OFDM
symbols and in extended CP there are 6 symbols.
Figure 6. Physical Resource in LTE
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Mapping of Physical,
Transport and Logical
Figure 7 depicts the mapping between different types
of logical channels, transport channels, and physical
channels in LTE.
Cell Configuration
When an eNodeB comes up, it involves initialization
of hardware and performs hardware tests (memory
and peripherals) followed by the bringing up of cells.
An eNodeB can be associated with more than one
cell, of course, and bringing up of a cell involves
configuring various common resources. The following
configurations happen as part of cell configuration:
• Physical layer resources (bandwidth, physical
channel resources, etc.)
• Layer 2 MAC resources (logical channel
configuration, transport channel configuration,
scheduling configuration, etc.)
• Layer 2 RLC resources (common radio bearers
for broadcast, paging, SRB0, etc.)
A camped UE on a cell shall be able to do the following:
• Receive system information from the Public Land
Mobile Network (PLMN)
• If the UE attempts to establish an RRC connection,
it can do this by initially accessing the network on
the control channel of the cell on which it is camped
• Listen to paging messages
• Receive ETWS notifications
Some of the cell parameters might be reconfigured and
the same is reflected to UEs by means of broadcasted
system information.
Figure 7. Mapping of Different Channels at the eNodeB
Link Adaptation
LTE link adaptation techniques are adopted to
take advantage of dynamic channel conditions.
Link adaptation is simply the selection of different
modulation and coding schemes (MCS) according to
the current channel conditions. This is called adaptive
modulation and coding (AMC) applied to the shared
data channel. The same coding and modulation is
applied to all groups of resource blocks belonging to
the same L2 protocol data unit (PDU) scheduled to
one user within one transmission time interval (TTI)
and within a single stream. The set of modulation
schemes supported by LTE are QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM,
and BPSK. The various types of channel coding
supported in LTE different for different channels are
Turbo coding (Rate 1/3), Convolution coding (Rate
1/3 Tail Biting, Rate 1/2), Repetition Code (Rate 1/3),
and Block Code (Rate 1/16 or repetition code).
Synchronization Procedures
and System Acquisition
The eNodeB provides all the necessary signals and
mechanisms through which the UE synchronizes with
the downlink transmission of the eNB and acquires
the network to receive services.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Cell Search
Cell search is the procedure by which a UE acquires
time and frequency synchronization with a cell and
detects the cell ID of that cell. E-UTRA cell search
supports a scalable overall transmission bandwidth
corresponding to 6 resource blocks (i.e., 72 subcarriers) and upwards. E-UTRA cell search is based
on various signals transmitted in the downlink such
as primary and secondary synchronization signals,
and downlink reference signals. The primary and
secondary synchronization signals are transmitted
over the center 72 sub-carriers in the first and sixth
subframe of each frame. Neighbor-cell search is based
on the same downlink signals as the initial cell search.
Slot and Frame
The UE, once powered-up and after performing
memory and peripheral hardware tests, initiates
downlink synchronization and a physical cell identity
acquisition procedure. The UE attempts to acquire
the central 1.4MHz bandwidth in order to decode the
Primary sync signal (PSCH), Secondary sync signal
(SSCH), and the system information block (SIB). The
eNodeB transmits this information on the subcarriers
within the 1.4MHz bandwidth consisting of 72
subcarriers, or 6 radio blocks.
In order to perform slot synchronization, the
UE attempts to acquire the Primary sync signal
which is generated from Zadoff-Chu sequences.
There are three possible 62-bit sequences helping
the UE to identify the start and the finish of slot
transmissions. Next, the UE attempts to perform
frame synchronization so as to identify the start
and the finish of frame transmission. In order to
achieve this, Primary sync signals are used to acquire
Secondary sync signals. The Secondary sync signal (a
62-bit sequence) is an interleaved concatenation of
two length-31 binary sequences scrambled with the
Primary synchronization signal. Once PSCH and SSCH
are known, the physical layer cell identity is obtained.
Figure 8. Position of Physical Channels in the Time-Frequency Domain in LTE
The physical layer cell identities are grouped into 168
unique physical layer cell identity groups, with each
group containing three unique identities. The grouping
is such that each physical layer cell identity is part of
one and only one physical layer cell identity group.
There are 168 unique physical-layer cell-identity groups
(ranging from 0 to 167), and three unique physical-layer
identities (0, 1, 2) within the physical layer cell identity
group. Therefore, there are 504 unique physical layer
cell identities.
Figure 8 depicts the placement of PSCH, SSCH,
and PBCH along with other physical channels in
the central 1.4MHz (6 RBs, or 72 subcarriers).
The UE is now prepared to download the master
information block (MIB) that the eNodeB broadcasts
over the PBCH. The MIB (scrambled with cellid) reception provides the UE with LTE downlink
bandwidth (DL BW), number of transmit antennas,
system frame number (SFN), PHICH duration, and
its gap. After reading the MIB, the UE needs to
get system information blocks (SIBs) to know the
other system-related information broadcasted by
the eNodeB. SIBs are carried in the PDSCH, whose
information is obtained from the PDCCH indicated by
the control format indicator (CFI) field. In order to get
CFI information, the UE attempts to read the PCFICH
which are broadcasted on the first OFDM symbol of the
subframe as shown above in Figure 8. Once bandwidth
selection is successful, the UE attempts to decode the
DCI (DL control information) to acquaint with SIB Type
1 and 2 to get PLMN id, cell barring status, and various
Rx thresholds required in cell selection.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Random Access
System Access
The UE cannot start utilizing the
services of the network immediately
after downlink synchronization
unless it is synchronized in the uplink
direction too. The Random Access
Procedure (RAP) over PRACH is
performed to accomplish the uplink
synchronization. RAP is characterized
as one procedure independent of
cell size and is common for both
FDD & TDD. The purpose of RAP is
highlighted in Figures 9, 10, and 11.
Figure 9. Purposes of Random Access Procedure
The RAP takes two distinct forms:
contention-based (applicable to all five
events mentioned in Figure 9)
and non-contention-based (applicable
only to handover and DL data arrival).
Normal DL/UL transmission can take
place after the RAP.
Random Access
Figure 10. Contention-Based RACH Procedure
Multiple UEs may attempt to access
the network at the same time,
therefore resulting in collisions
which make contention resolution
an essential aspect in the RAP.
The UE initiates this procedure by
transmitting a randomly chosen
preamble over PRACH.
Figure 11. Non-Contention-Based RACH Procedure
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Random Access Procedure
The network initiates this procedure, when the UE
is already in communication with the eNodeB, by
transmitting an allocated preamble to the UE. There
are no collisions with other UEs because the eNodeB
controls the procedure and hence has the necessary
information to support a non-contention-based RAP.
Physical Layer Measurements
The LTE physical layer measurements to support
mobility are classified as:
• Within E-UTRAN (intra-frequency, inter-frequency)
• Between E-UTRAN and GERAN/UTRAN (inter-RAT)
• Between E-UTRAN and non-3GPP RAT (Inter-3GPP
access system mobility)
For measurements within the E-UTRAN, at least two
basic UE measurement quantities shall be supported:
• Reference symbol received power (RSRP)
• E-UTRA carrier received signal strength indicator
Power Control
Apart from providing high data rates and greater
spectral efficiency, efficient usage of power is another
crucial aspect being considered in LTE. Power control
is being supported in both uplink as well as downlink
directions. Implementation of intelligent power control
schemes is a critical requirement for all eNodeBs.
Power control efficiencies focus on:
• Limiting power consumption
• Increasing cell coverage, system capacity,
and data rate/voice quality
• Minimizing interference at the cell edges
Uplink power control procedures are relevant in
controlling transmit power for the uplink physical
channels. Power control procedures on PRACH are
slightly different from those on the PUCCH and
PUSCH channels.
During the RAP the physical layer takes care of
the preamble transmission. Since there is no RRC
connection established at this point, the actual
transmission power must be estimated by the UE.
This is done through estimating the downlink path
loss with the help of parameters alpha and TPC step
size available in the SIB2 broadcasted by the eNodeB.
While controlling the transmit power on PUCCH and
PUSCH, the eNodeB continues to measure the uplink
power and compares it with the established reference.
Based on the comparison, the eNodeB issues the power
corrections known as transmit power control (TPC)
commands through the DCI format to the UE. This TPC
command carries the power adjustment information,
and upon receiving power adjustments the UE aligns
itself to the value assigned by the eNodeB.
Apart from standard power control procedures, there
are a few other features that assist in effective power
utilization at the UE. Discontinuous Reception (DRX)
is one such feature which is leveraged from previous
technologies such as GERAN and UMTS. The eNodeB
can instruct a UE to control its PDCCH monitoring
activity, the UE’s C-RNTI, TPC-PUCCH-RNTI, TPCPUSCH-RNTI, and Semi-Persistent Scheduling C-RNTI
(if configured).
Layer 2
Layer 2 is divided into the three sublayers: Medium
Access Control (MAC), Radio Link Control (RLC),
and Packet Data Convergence Protocol (PDCP).
PDCP: PDCP provides data transfer, header
compression using the Robust Header Compression
(RoHC) algorithm, ciphering for both user and control
planes, and integrity protection for the control plane.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Figure 12. Layer 2 Structure in LTE
RLC: RLC performs segmentation and reassembly and
error correction functions using ARQ (in Acknowledged
MAC: MAC maps logical channels (mapped to radio
bearers) to transport channels, multiplexes/demultiplexes MAC SDUs from one or more logical
channels onto transport blocks on transport channels,
performs scheduling of resources, error correction
using HARQ, and transport format selection.
Figure 12 highlights various functional modules or
entities in the different sublayers of LTE Layer 2.
Transport of NAS Messages
The access stratum (AS) provides reliable in-sequence
delivery of non-access stratum (NAS) messages
in a cell. In E-UTRAN, NAS messages are either
concatenated with RRC messages or carried in RRC
without concatenation.
In the downlink direction, when an evolved packet
system (EPS) bearer establishment or release
procedure is triggered, the NAS message is
concatenated with the associated RRC message.
When the EPS bearer and/or radio bearer are/is
modified, the NAS message and associated RRC
message are concatenated.
In the uplink direction, concatenation of NAS messages
with an RRC message is used only for transferring
the initial NAS message during connection setup.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
• Unique identification at cell level
• Identifies RRC connection
• Used for scheduling
Semi-Persistent Scheduling C-RNTI
• Unique identification used for semi-persistent scheduling
Temporary C-RNTI
• Identification used for the random access procedure
• Identification used for the power control of PUSCH
• Identification used for the power control of PUCCH
• Unambiguously identifies which time-frequency resource was
utilized by the UE to transmit the Random Access preamble
• Identify the current MME for UE
• S-TMSI contains MME-Id
• E-UTRAN Cell Global Identifier
• Identifies Cells globally using MCC, MNC, ECI
• Identifies cells within PLMN
• Broadcasted in every cell
• Identifies eNB within a PLMN
• Contained within ECI
Global eNB Id
• Identifies eNB globally with MCC, MNC, eNB-Id
• Tracking Area Identity [MCC, MNC, TAC]
• Broadcasted in every cell
EPS Bearer Id
• Identify EPS Bearer used at Uu interface
• Identify E-RAB allocated to UE used at S1 & X2
• The value of E-RAB Id is same to EPS Bearer Id
• Temporary UE Id on S1-MME interface in eNB
• Identifies PLMN of the cell providing access
• Broadcasted in every cell
Table 1. E-UTRAN Identities
E-UTRAN Identities
ARQ Principles
Table 1 lists different identities and their purposes
allocated to identify the UE or network elements.
The ARQ within the RLC sublayer has the following
ARQ and HARQ Processes
• Re-transmits RLC PDUs; retransmissions
are based on RLC status reports
The E-UTRAN provides ARQ and HARQ functionalities.
The ARQ functionality provides error correction by
retransmissions in acknowledged mode at Layer 2.
The HARQ functionality ensures delivery between
peer entities at Layer 1.
• Polling for RLC status report is used
when needed by RLC
• Status reports are triggered by upper layers
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
HARQ Principles
Downlink Direction
Uplink Direction
Asynchronous adaptive HARQ
Synchronous HARQ
The HARQ within the MAC sublayer has the following
Uplink ACK/NACK in response to downlink (re)transmissions sent on PUCCH/PUSCH
Maximum number of retransmissions
configured per UE & not per radio bearer
• N-process Stop-And-Wait
PDCCH signals HARQ process number
Downlink ACK/NACK on PHICH
• Transmits and retransmits transport blocks
Retransmissions are always scheduled
through PDCCH
Refer Table 3 for UL HARQ operation
Uplink HARQ Operation
Table 2. HARQ Process at E-UTRAN
• NACK: UE performs a non-adaptive retransmission,
i.e., a retransmission on the same uplink resource
as previously used by the same process
HARQ Feedback
Seen by the UE
• ACK: UE does not perform any UL (re)transmission
and keeps the data in the HARQ buffer. A PDCCH
is then required to perform a retransmission,
i.e., a non-adaptive retransmission cannot follow
Measurement Management
The E-UTRAN controls the measurements to be
performed by a UE for intra/inter-frequency mobility
using broadcast or dedicated control. In the RRC_IDLE
state, a UE shall follow the measurement parameters
defined for cell reselection specified by the E-UTRAN
broadcast. In the RRC_CONNECTED state, a UE shall
follow the measurement configurations specified by
RRC at the eNB via the RRCConnectionReconfiguration
message (e.g., measurement control procedure).
A UE is instructed by the source eNB to perform
intra-frequency and inter-frequency neighbor cell
measurements. Intra-frequency and inter-frequency
measurements are differentiated on the basis of
whether current and target cells operate on the
same or different carrier frequencies, respectively.
Measurement configuration includes the following
parameters (see Table 4).
Seen by the UE
UE Behavior
New Transmission
New transmission according to PDCCH
Retransmission according to PDCCH
(adaptive retransmission)
No (re)transmission, keep data in HARQ
buffer and a PDDCH is required to resume
Non-adaptive retransmission
Table 3. UL HARQ Operation
Measurement Objects
• Objects on which the UE shall measure measurement quantities
• Carrier Frequency,
blacklisted cells,
Offset Frequency
Reporting Criteria
• Criteria triggering UE to send measurement report
• Periodical
• Event (A1 to A5)
Measurement Identity
• Identify a measurement configuration
• Links measurement object and
reporting configuration
• Reference number in
measurement report
Quantity Configurations
• Measurement quantities and filtering coefficients for all
event evaluation and reporting
• Filtering Coefficients
• Quantity: cpich-RSCP,
cpich-Ec/No, pccpch RSCP, RSSI, pilot strength
Measurement Gaps
• Periods UE uses to perform measurements
• No UL/DL transmissions • Gap Assisted
(Inter/Intra Freq)
• Non-Gap Assisted
(Intra Freq)
Table 4. Measurement Configuration
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
QoS Management
One EPS bearer/E-RAB is established when the UE
connects to a PDN, and that remains established
throughout the lifetime of the PDN connection to
provide the UE with always-on IP connectivity to that
PDN. That bearer is referred to as the default bearer.
Any additional EPS bearer/E-RAB that is established
to the same PDN is referred to as a dedicated bearer.
The default bearer QoS parameters are assigned
by the network based upon subscription data. The
decision to establish or modify a dedicated bearer can
only be taken by the EPC, and the bearer level QoS
parameter values are always assigned by the EPC.
QoS Parameters
The bearer level (per bearer) QoS parameters are
QCI, ARP, GBR, and AMBR. Each EPS bearer/E-RAB
(GBR and Non-GBR) is associated with the following
bearer level QoS parameters:
• QoS Class Identifier (QCI): A scalar that is used
as a reference to access node-specific parameters
that control bearer level packet forwarding
treatment (e.g., scheduling weights, admission
thresholds, queue management thresholds,
link layer protocol configuration, etc.); it is preconfigured by the operator owning the eNodeB
• Allocation and Retention Priority (ARP): The
primary purpose of ARP is to decide whether a
bearer establishment/modification request can be
accepted or rejected in case of resource limitations;
in addition, the ARP can be used by the eNodeB to
decide which bearer(s) to drop during exceptional
resource limitations (e.g., at handover); the ARP
is treated as “Priority of Allocation and Retention”
Each GBR bearer is additionally associated with
bearer-level QoS parameters:
• Guaranteed Bit Rate (GBR): It denotes the
bit rate that can be expected to be provided
by a GBR bearer
• Maximum Bit Rate (MBR): It limits the bit rate that
can be expected to be provided by a GBR bearer
Figure 13. EPS Bearer Service Architecture
Each APN access, by a UE, is associated with the
following QoS parameter:
• Per APN Aggregate Maximum Bit Rate (APN-AMBR)
Each UE in state EMM-REGISTERED is associated with
the following bearer aggregate level QoS parameter:
• Per UE Aggregate Maximum Bit Rate (UE-AMBR)
An EPS bearer/E-RAB is the level of granularity
for bearer-level QoS control in the EPC/E-UTRAN,
i.e., SDFs mapped to the same EPS bearer receive
the same bearer-level packet forwarding treatment.
An EPS bearer/E-RAB is referred to as a GBR bearer
if dedicated network resources related to a GBR value
are permanently allocated at bearer establishment/
modification. Otherwise, an EPS bearer/E-RAB is
referred to as a Non-GBR bearer. A dedicated bearer
can either be a GBR or a Non-GBR bearer while a
default bearer is a Non-GBR bearer.
Bearer Service Architecture
The EPS bearer service layered architecture is
depicted in Figure13.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
The shared channel transmission in DL-SCH and ULSCH is efficiently controlled by the scheduler at the
MAC layer managing the resource assignments in the
uplink and downlink directions. The scheduler takes
account of traffic volume and QoS requirements (GBR,
MBR, and QCI) and AMBR of each UE and associated
radio bearers. Schedulers assign resources considering
instantaneous radio-link conditions (channel quality)
at the UE figured out through measurements made
at the eNB and/or reported by the UE. This is known
as channel-dependent scheduling. Schedulers can be
classified as downlink (DL-SCH) and uplink (UL-SCH)
CQI Reporting for Scheduling
Information about downlink channel conditions
required for channel-dependent scheduling—in
order to determine coding and modulation schemes
dynamically—is fed back from the UE to the eNB
through the channel quality indicator (CQI).
The eNB controls time and frequency resources
used by the UE to report CQI which can be periodic
or aperiodic. A UE can be configured to have both
periodic and aperiodic reporting at the same time. In
the case when both periodic and aperiodic reporting
occurs in the same subframe, only the aperiodic report
is transmitted in that subframe. The eNB configures
a set of sizes and formats of the reports; size and
format depend on whether the report is transmitted
over PUCCH or PUSCH and whether it is a periodic or
aperiodic CQI report.
For efficient support of localized and distributed
transmissions, E-UTRA supports three types of CQI
reporting and UE can be configured in either of three
types (see Table 6).
When a CQI report is transmitted together with uplink
data on PUSCH, it is multiplexed with the transport
block by L1 (i.e., the CQI report is not part of uplink
transport block).
Modes of Reporting
Periodic Reporting
• When UE is allocated PUSCH resources, periodic CQI report
is transmitted together with uplink data on the PUSCH
• Otherwise, periodic CQI reports are sent on the PUCCH
Aperiodic Reporting
• The report is scheduled by the eNB via PDCCH
• Transmitted together with uplink data on PUSCH
Table 5. Modes of CQI Reporting
Type of CQI Reporting
Wideband CQI
Provide channel quality information for entire system bandwidth of the cell
UE selected Subband CQI
UE selects a subband (a subset of RB) to report CQI value;
eNB allocates resources out of that subband to UE
Higher Layer configured CQI
Used only in aperiodic CQI reporting; network instructs
the UE about the subbands
Table 6. Types of CQI Reporting
Downlink Scheduling
In the downlink direction, E-UTRAN dynamically
allocates resources to UEs at each TTI via C-RNTI
on PDCCH(s). The downlink scheduler attempts
to schedule all those UEs which have data to be
transmitted in the downlink. A UE always monitors
PDCCH(s) to find possible allocation when its downlink
reception is enabled. Each UE scans through the
contents of PDCCH for Downlink Control Information
(DCI) Format 1 associated to C-RNTI. DCI Format 1
provides information such as resource allocation type,
bitmap for allocation, modulation and coding scheme
(MCS), and index to HARQ process and transmit power
control. Resource allocation information provides
information to the UE about how and which PDSCH to
be accessed. Information about the downlink channel
conditions is provided by the UE via channel-quality
reports called Channel Quality Indication (CQI). CQI
reports are based on the measurements of downlink
reference signals. Schedulers also consider buffer status
and priorities in their scheduling decisions; priority
depends upon service types and subscription types.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Uplink Scheduling
The fundamental functionality of the uplink scheduler
is similar to that of the downlink scheduler. It
dynamically identifies the mobile terminals that are
ready to transmit data on UL-SCH. Various inputs to
the eNB uplink scheduler may include a scheduling
request (SR) from the UE, buffer status report (BSR)
for logical channels, QoS requirements, logical
channel priority, power requirement and conditions,
etc. The uplink scheduler associates each service
with a priority and a resource type (GBR or non-GBR)
based on the QCI provided for the service. The Buffer
Status Report (BSR) from the UE reports buffer sizes
of the Logical Channel Groups (LCGs) and the uplink
scheduler performs allocations per LCG. The uplink
scheduler manages priorities taking into account the
priorities of other UEs in the cell based on the highest
priority LCG eligible for allocation, UEs with the
highest priority service, and CRNTI-based contention
resolution (highest priority).
(Dynamic) Scheduling
Non-persistent (dynamic) scheduling requires the
repetition of buffer status reports (BSR) and scheduling
requests (SR) to acquire UL grants in order to transmit
data and buffer status reports (BSR). It means granted
UL resources (resource blocks) cannot be reused for
data transmission.
Persistent Scheduling
For VoIP users, control channel signals required for
voice services increase significantly, making dynamic
scheduling an inefficient mechanism for scheduling
the resources, which in turn prompted the need for
persistent scheduling. Persistent assignment allows
the eNB to assign resources (grants) for repeated
transmissions for a relatively long period of time (e.g.,
talk-spurt period) as configured by RRC. Although the
persistent scheduling reduces overheads of control
Figure 14. S
emi-Persistent Scheduling (Combination of Persistent
and Dynamic Scheduling)
channel signals, it is very inefficient in achieving
channel-dependent scheduling. Persistent scheduling
also does not help in terminating the allocation of
resources assigned to a scheduled user (and potentially
making them available to other users when they are
not used by the allocated user). This is referred to as
early-termination gain in VoIP domain.
Semi-Persistent Scheduling
Semi-Persistent Scheduling is an intermediate
approach aimed at achieving the advantages of
both dynamic scheduling and persistent scheduling
concepts. Semi-persistent scheduling achieves both
channel-dependent scheduling as well as early
termination gain, which is very important for VoIP
services. UL grants are requested at the start of a talk
period by the UE through a scheduling request. The
eNB assigns a semi-persistent UL grant indicated by
semi-persistent C-RNTI. The resource allocation is
persistent with a periodicity configured by RRC, and it
continues with periodic transmission on the allocated
resource as long as ACK is received. In case of NACK,
the eNB selects dynamic scheduling for retransmission.
Once there is no transmission of packets, resources are
allocated to other UEs. See Figure 14.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
LTE security mechanisms are divided into two broad
categories—user to network security and network
domain security. Ciphering, authentication, and
integrity procedures protect data (user data packets
and RRC signaling messages) exchange between the
UE and the eNB using security keys provided by the
MME to the eNB. NAS independently applies integrity
protection and ciphering to NAS messages. Network
Domain Security (NDS) involves the protection of user
data and signaling exchanges across the interfaces
between the E-UTRAN and the EPC.
Security Termination Points
Table 8 describes the security termination points.
User/Control Plane
• User Plane
• Signaling Plane
• User Plane
• Signaling Plane
Table 7. Security Functions at the S1 & X2 Interfaces
Integrity Protection
NAS Signalling
Required and terminated in MME
Required and terminated in MME
U-Plane Data
Required and terminated in eNB Not required
RRC Signalling (AS)
Required and terminated in eNB
Required and terminated in eNB
MAC Signalling (AS)
Not required
Not required
Table 8. Security Termination Points
Radio Resource Management
The purpose of radio resource management (RRM)
is to ensure efficient usage of the available radio
resources. In particular, RRM in E-UTRAN provides a
means to manage (e.g., assign, re-assign, and release)
radio resources in single and multi-cell environments.
RRM may be treated as a central application at the
eNB responsible for inter-working between different
protocols, namely RRC, S1AP, and X2AP, so that
messages can be properly transferred to different
nodes at the Uu, S1, and X2 interfaces as depicted in
Figure 15. RRM may interface with OAM in order to
control, monitor, audit, reset the status, and log errors
at a stack level.
Radio Resource Management is
comprised of the following functions:
Radio Admission Control (RAC)
The RAC functional module accepts or rejects the
establishment of new radio bearers. Admission
control is performed according to the type of required
QoS, current system load, and required service. RAC
ensures high radio resource utilization (by accepting
radio bearer requests as long as radio resources are
available) and proper QoS for in-progress sessions
(by rejecting radio bearer requests if they cannot be
accommodated). RAC interacts with RBC module to
perform its functions.
Figure 15. Interfaces of Radio Resource Manager (RRM)
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
Radio Bearer Control (RBC)
Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (ICIC)
The RBC functional module manages the establishment,
maintenance, and release of radio bearers. RBC involves
the configuration of radio resources depending upon the
current resource situation as well as QoS requirements
of in-progress and new sessions due to mobility or
other reasons. RBC is involved in the release of radio
resources associated with radio bearers at session
termination, handover, or other occasions.
ICIC manages radio resources such that inter-cell
interference is kept under control. ICIC is inherently a
multi-cell RRM function that considers resource usage
status and the traffic load situation from multiple cells.
Connection Mobility Control (CMC)
The CMC functional module manages radio resources
in both the idle and connected mode. In idle mode,
this module defines criteria and algorithms for cell
selection, reselection, and location registration that
assist the UE in selecting or camping on the best
cell. In addition, the eNB broadcasts parameters that
configure UE measurement and reporting procedures.
In connected mode, the module manages the mobility
of radio connections without disruption of services.
Handover decisions may be based on measurement
results reported by the UE, by the eNB, and other
parameters configured for each cell. Handover
procedure is composed of measurements, filtering
of measurement, reporting of measurement results,
algorithms, and finally execution. Handover decisions
may consider other inputs, too, such as neighbor
cell load, traffic distribution, transport and hardware
resources, and operator-defined policies. Inter-RAT
RRM can be one of the sub-modules of this module
responsible for managing the resources in inter-RAT
mobility, i.e., handovers.
Dynamic Resource Allocation (DRA)—
Packet Scheduling (PS)
The task of dynamic resource allocation (DRA) or
packet scheduling (PS) is to allocate and de-allocate
resources (including resource blocks) to user and
control plane packets. PS typically considers the
QoS requirements associated with the radio bearers,
the channel quality information for UEs, buffer status,
interference situation, etc. DRA may also take into
account restrictions or preferences on some of the
available resource blocks or resource block sets due
to inter-cell interference coordination considerations.
Load Balancing (LB)
Load balancing has the task of handling uneven
distribution of the traffic load over multiple cells.
The purpose of LB is to:
• Influence the load distribution in such a manner
that radio resources remain highly utilized
• Maintain the QoS of in-progress sessions to
the extent possible
• Keep call-dropping probabilities sufficiently small
LB algorithms may result in hand-over or cell
reselection decisions with the purpose of redistributing
traffic from highly-loaded cells to underutilized cells.
Inter-RAT Radio Resource
Management (IRRRM)
Inter-RAT RRM is primarily concerned with the
management of radio resources in connection with
inter-RAT mobility, notably inter-RAT handover. At
inter-RAT handover, the handover decision may take
into account the involved RATs resource situation as
well as UE capabilities and operator policies. Inter-RAT
RRM may also include functionality for inter-RAT load
balancing for idle and connected mode UEs.
Subscriber Profile ID (SPID) for RAT/
Frequency Priority
RRM maps SPID parameters received via the S1
interface to a locally-defined configuration in order
to apply specific RRM strategies (e.g., to define
RRC_IDLE mode priorities and control inter-RAT/
inter-frequency handover in RRC_CONNECTED mode).
SPID is an index referring to user information such as
mobility profile and service usage profile. The SPID
information is UE-specific and applies to all of its
Radio Bearers.
LTE E-UTRAN and its Access Side Protocols | Radisys White Paper
The 3GPP LTE standards aim to achieve groundbreaking data rates (with and without MIMO, exploiting
spectral efficiency and lower radio network latency),
spectral flexibility with seamless mobility and enhanced
QoS over the entire IP network. The next couple of
years are going to be very exciting as commercial
LTE deployments start illuminating the many benefits
of this new technology.
3GPP TS 36.300 v 8.9.0 (June 2009): E-UTRA
and E-UTRAN Overall description
Trillium LTE software from Radisys addresses LTE
Femtocells (Home eNodeB) and pico/macro eNodeBs
as well as the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) Mobility
Management Entity (MME), Serving Gateway (SWG),
Evolved Packet Data Gateway (ePDG), and so on.
Trillium eNodeB side protocols are compliant to the
latest versions of 3GPP LTE specifications, enabling
customers to rapidly develop LTE infrastructure to
compete for early design wins in the dynamic LTE
Suyash Tripathi Technical Lead (3G & LTE Wireless)
3GPP LTE specifications RRC, PDCP, RLC,
MAC and PHY protocols of June 2009 versions.
Whitepaper “Unlocking LTE: A Protocol Perspective”
Vinay Kulkarni Technical Lead (3G & LTE Wireless)
Alok Kumar Director of Engineering
Wireless R&D Group)
Trillium LTE offers multiple benefits to customers:
• Pre-integrated software to simplify development
and enable more focus on application development
• Reference applications for key LTE interfaces
including LTE-Uu, S1, S6, S7, S10, X2, etc.
• Consistent TAPA architecture for rapid development
& simplified future upgrades
• Platform-independent software with integrated
support for all major operating systems
• Optimized performance meeting or exceeding
network requirements
• Integration with leading LTE silicon solution
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©2011 Radisys Corporation.
Radisys, Trillium, Continuous Computing and Convedia
are registered trademarks of Radisys Corporation.
*All other trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.
September 2011
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