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.


Anonymous said...


Would be interested in more details about who is going to use PMIPv6 S5. I assumed GSM networks would upgrade their SGSN/GGSNs and still use GTP, and keep their IPv4 routers/networks.

Thanks for the insight!


Santosh said...

Hey Tom, I cannot announce publicly who are going to use PMIPv6 and who will deploy GTP. May be one on one email?

One more thing, no matter what GTP is must, the S11 interface is always GTP based. Its GSM or CDMA which determines the S5 interface. So we can safely assume that all CDMA operators will have PMIP deployed.

Cheers, Santosh

Md. Aliullah said...

Hi Santosh,
Nice article.
I have a question regarding deployment scenario of PMIP on S5 interface.Will it like all user will have PMIP under an operator? Or it can be either GTP or PMIP based on some criteria.

Md. Aliullah

Santosh Kumar Dornal said...

Well, you can deploy a mix of GTP and PMIP. But I doubt if this model is actually deployed.