Friday, October 30, 2009

IP CAN Session Establishment

BBERF :- Bearer Binding and Event Reporting Function PCEF :- Policy Charging and Enforcement Function H-PCRF :- Home- Policy Charging and Rule Function V-PCRF :- Visited - Policy Charging and Rule Function

Monday, October 26, 2009

Do we need LTE any sooner?

Ok, I have been thinking real hard on this. When do we exactly need LTE? Next year? Two years from now or three years from now? I am trying to understand various article which try to justify the right time to launch LTE, but I could read none of the articles completely. Either they are too long or they go over my head. So I thought I should do it in a simple way.

Lets break things in to two here. First, what do we baldy need that is lacking now. Second, what do we fancy/love to have.

Note that first need is something that is lacking us from doing things while second one is more like wow to have or something like that.

Before we categorize the needs we need to look at the market segment. That is how many people need that badly and how many are fancying it. The things which few people badly need could be fancy to few.

If we replace "we" with "I" in above statements it would make more sense to various individuals as the next generation is all about personalization.

So if you ask me I dont need LTE. Honestly I dont see its need for me atleast in next 5 years. I work in office where we run pretty good internet connection. I get back home and have a nice wifi to use. I really dont have big fat mobile so I skip my emails if I am traveling and can live with it. I am not a facebook addict, infact I dont know why I am still using it. I prefer to call up people and have conversations rather than facebook messages or what ever. SMS is the best way for me to send a message. In case I need to be hooked on to email all the time I would go get a black berry and use exiting 2G or 3G network. The only thing I fancy is a data card. It would be good to carry a data card hooked on to my laptop so that I can be at a remote place and still be connected. This is the case with me and also with tons of my friends. What good is LTE is going to do to me? In fact the whole corporate breed in India can fall into my category.

I want to hear from you. Do you need LTE? I would really appreciate your comments on this. Cheers!!

P.S: Please dont ask me to go back to stone age. I understand that few people do need mission critical applications, that need high data rates, running on their mobile devices all the time. I am just trying to figure out what is the right time to deliver LTE considering the huge costs involved with it. I would get a heart ache if LTE fails because it was launched too soon or too late.

I will add three more constraints. Available spectrum, back haul and number of devices. How will the time lines look considering these too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

LTE Tidbits

Few more interesting things on LTE.


So, looking at the market I came to know that PMIPv6 is the one that will be deployed over S5 interface, no matter wether the existing service provider network is GSM based or CDMA based. Even I have been PMIP supporter for a while as it avoids complexity over S5. Reduces complexity? I was thinking over bearers one day and realized something.

In LTE a UE can have 11 bearers altogether established per APN. Note that EPS bearers are GTP based bearers. Now on S5 interface there is no concept of default bearer or dedicated bearer. That is there is only one bearer (PMIP) per UE per APN. The question is how are multiple bearers on S1_U interface mapped to single bearer on S5 interface. Lets call each bearer as a pipe with different quality of service running different applications. Since each pipe is identified by a TEID we can enforce all the QoS on it over S1_U. But how will the same be mapped over S5 interface? Interesting? Any clues?

Hint: There is an entity called PCRF which is responsible for bearer establishments, QoS enforcements etc. So SGW contacts the PCRF or rather PCRF informs to SGW on how to handle each GTP pipe over S5 interface.

More later.

Handovers & Tracking Area Update

Have you noticed that there are no NAS messages sent for handovers? That means all the handover decisions are taken by eNB based on the power measurements etc and UE is informed to modify its RRC connections.

But if you take a look at 23.401, there is a call flow for Tracking Area Update which gives us an illusion of handover. This is special case I guess so it is separately dealt, not as handover, in the spec. The difference between handover and Tracking Area Update is the later is UE initiated. Each MME(or SGW?) has a list of tracking areas which it tracks. This list is sent to UE during default bearer establishment. If UE detects that it has entered a new tracking area that is not present in the list sent by MME, then it will trigger a Tracking Area Update procedure.

Radio Bearers and EPS Bearers

If you look at the default bearer and dedicated bearer establishment procedure there is an interesting fact hidden with respect to radio and eps bearers. For default bearer, EPS bearer is established first and then the corresponding radio bearer is established. But for dedicated bearer radio bearer is established first and then the EPS bearer. Before I prove it, this fact leads to another two interesting facts. They are MME is responsible for assigning EPS Bearer Identities and we need modify bearer request for default bearer establishment. Let prove all the three.

Looking at default bearer establishment, Create session request is sent from MME to SGW after it receives Initial UE message with PDN connectivity request+Attach request. Create session request includes the EBI and same is informed to SGW. SGW sends the response if the bearer is accepted along with its user plane information. With Create Session Response the EPS bearer is established (EBI is assigned & SGW user plane info is known). Later MME goes ahead with establishment of Radio bearers for the same using the EBI. Once the radio bearer is established (eNB user plane info is known) the same is indicated to SGW in modify bearer request. This proves the third fact.

Next, take a look at dedicated bearer establishment. Dedicated bearer is network initiated. That means Create Bearer request is coming from SGW and it contains LBI, SGW user plane info, TFT etc but no EBI (set to 0?). Once this message is received by MME, MME assigns an EBI and goes ahead with establishment of radio bearer. Once the radio bearer is established (eNB fteid is known), then MME informs the same to SGW in create bearer response along with the EBI. This proves another fact that MME has to assign EBI, but not SGW.

So the above two explanations prove the first fact.

Why EBI is of 4 bits?

EBI is 4 bits because NSAPI is of 4 bits. NSAPI is used to uniquely identify a PDP context in GSM/UMTS networks. To maintain the compatibility EBI is also set to 4 bits. This means there cannot be more than 16 values for EBI. Out of these 16 values 5 are reserved which explains why there cannot be more than 11 bearers. Dont ask me my NSAPI is of 4 bits :-)

Thats it folks, I have run out the ideas. More to follow. As usual any corrections or comments are are greatly welcome.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

LTE Backhaul

Let me start by wishing you all a very happy diwali.

Long back I wrote about MPLS being considered as backhaul for LTE. I believe it is still the choice. More random thoughts on the same below.

Many have said that with LTE bandwidths will explode, infact I say even with HSPA the bandwidths will explode. Lets not look at this from GPRS or UMTS or LTE perspective. The simple logic is if there are many users even with GPRS, bandwidth will explode if the link between SGSN and GGSN is thin. What is happening now is there is only one IP link in wireless core network, so there is not much emphasis on it. The case is same with HSPA. With LTE there are several IP links, devices that run on IP have increased and more over relation between these devices is many to many. The wireless core architecture is moving close towards the wired architecture.

Many IP devices bring in a Central management unit along with various OAM tools. So if Verizon wants to deploy LTE, how is it going to choose the EPC vendors. I dont think using MME from from NSN and SGW from ALU will be a good idea. This also means that EPC solution providers should also come up with Central management units for their devices. One place to configure and monitor the devices.

Next challenge is to keep up the service level agreements and end user quality of experience. This is very very challenging. I will touch base on this pretty soon.

Another challenge is the actual backhaul it self. While the fiber will be widely used there are other backhaul techniques like microwave and copper. I am not sure how many microwave links we will see, but yes, there are some solutions based on these links deployed and are running fine.

Next point is infrastructure sharing. Atleast in India I have seen BSNL lending its network to private operators. The same can be done with LTE.

Quite a few things lined up, it would interesting to see how they will shape up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cisco enters LTE?

First, I am neither a market researcher nor an analyst. These are the thoughts of a newbie in wireless segment.

Today Cisco (CSCO) announced that it is going to acquire Starent Networks (STAR). Read here.

What does this acquisition mean to Cisco? Cisco is huge company with lot of network equipment. But since the start of LTE, Cisco hardly made any noise. As far as I know Cisco was not big in the wireless segment. I am still not aware how many are using SGSN/GGSN's from Cisco. While its counter parts Alcatel Lucent and NSN were aloud with there wireless solutions.

Starent on the other hand is evolving organization. It is small, but it proved its point in wireless segment. Verzion, Sprint Nextel and Vodafone has announce Satrent as one of their EPC solution provider. Starent net revenue was high compared to last year. So Cisco did what it is best at doing, went ahead and bought Starent.

Now Cisco will have a strong foot hold in wireless division. More over both Cisco and Starent supported the Wimax. I am happy to see this deal happening. Signs of market recovery?

Friday, October 9, 2009

LTE Whitepaper from Wired n Wireless

I have been working on this White paper for quite long time and finally could finish. Here it is, all my work in LTE in single document. The document talks of LTE interfaces, network elements, radio network, user plane and control plane and handover scenarios. I havent gone too deep into technology as things are definitely complicated.

I hope it will be useful. I shall appreciate if you could take a look at it and pass on your comments.

I have uploaded the same in my Google code section here. The document is also available in scribd.

Direct link to the paper here. (Courtesy

LTE Whitepaper

Sunday, October 4, 2009

LTE End to End Signalling

LTE Initial Attach/Default Bearer Establishment


LTE Dedicated Bearer Establishment


Thanks to Zahid of 3G4G blog for the RRC call flows. (here and here)