Friday, September 17, 2010

SDF, QCI and Dedicated bearers

I had an interesting discussion with one of my friends regarding the dedicated bearers and QCI and thought of posting the same.

SDF- Service Data Flow- An aggregate set of packet flows that matches a set of filters.
QCI – QoS Class Identifier – A parameter that is typically associated to packet forwarding/scheduling etc treatments.

QCI values can be from 1 to 9. Since QCI is an 8 bit field it can have 255 values. Values 10 to 255 are operator specific. A bearer is always associated with a QCI. A UE can have a max of 11 bearers but QCI are from 1 to 9. Which means the QCI can be repeated for the bearers.

Each bearer is also associated with TFT. Yes, even the default bearer can be assigned a TFT after the recent spec changes. TFT can have multiple packet filters resulting in multiple SDFs. Now the confusion is with this statement - “Each Service Data Flow (SDF) is associated with one and only one QoS Class Identifier (QCI).”

Since two dedicated bearers can have same QCI the above statement leads to confusion. Reading the statement again makes sense. A bearer is associated with QCI and set of packet filters that will lead to multiple SDF’s. This means multiple SDF’s can be treated with same type of service but one SDF cannot be given multiple treatments. This also means that you cannot assign same packet filter to two dedicated bearers. Hence the above statement!