Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simultaneous CS & PS connections

Ever seen ATTs “Only AT&T's network lets your iPhone talk and surf at the same time” ad? If not here is the youtube link.
Ever wondered why so much emphasis on network rather than phone? Well, this is a new feature on network . Not new exactly; this feature has been there since Release 5. Good to see that it is actually rolled out to production; otherwise it seemed very stupid to own a smart phone. 
Ok! Here is how this is made possible. When a phone is switched on, it goes and attaches to the network. If phone is data capable, the phone does PS attach towards SGSN and CS attach towards MSC. Basically there are two separate radio control channels for data and voice and a phone can be hooked on to either one of it at a give time (not an expert on radio though).  So if you are browsing, and MSC is paging the phone for a voice call, phone has to disconnect the GPRS session and receive CS paging over CS signalling channel which does make a smartphone look stupid. 

For this sake 3GPP has done enhancements on network side. On the network side they introduced a new interface between MSC and SGSN, the Gs interface. This interface has been upgraded to SGs and further to Sv for CS Fallback and SRVCC features respectively. The additional Gs interface made phone to connect to both CS and PS service with one attach towards PS, which is referred to as combined attach. When a phone is powered on it looks for PS network and sends PS Attach Request with CS parameters towards SGSN. Based on the attach request, SGSN figures out the location area from routing area, finds out the MSC based on location area and sends location update towards it for CS attach. So with single attach UE is connected to both CS and PS services.  

All is good. Now assume a case where phone is using PS services and has an incoming call. MSC sees the incoming voice call and sends a CS Page request to SGSN, because that is where the location update request came from, instead of UE directly. Upon receiving the CS page, SGSN sends paging request towards MS over PS channel with CS indicator. Since the paging request has CS indication the phone prepares of a CS call. Phone responds to the paging and MSC pushes the phone call toward RNC via CS voice channels. But the best part is phone can still have its PS connection continued while still having a CS connection. The trick is to not make phone listen on both CS and PS channels instead use one signaling channel on radio side and make SGSN and MSC communicate for CS services. I tried to capture the same in above call flow. This is a brief overview, there are many more procedures inside this for feature to work flawlessly. Also the network mapping between location area and routing area needs to done correctly. It’s all easy for a green field operator, but networks like ATT does need a lot of time and money. Hence the ad :-)

For more details, refer to 3GPP TS 23.060

Sunday, March 4, 2012

OPNET Projects for Students

I should have done this long back, but never too late. I have had several requests from students across the globe regarding projects on LTE. Most of the requests were related to OPNET. Unfortunately I don’t have enough experience of the tool and neither have time to explore. 

This post is for the students who wish to share their experience/scripts/anything related to LTE for the benefit of other students. Please share your work under this post, also you can email me I will push it to the post. Students can use this blog as a platform to share their knowledge/Questions/experience with any tools/scripts. I will link this post to the right under “Projects for Students” section. Even students can get in touch with each other and share their work if they want to. Possibilities are limited to your discretion.

A new project by one of blog readers.

4G simulation based on OMNeT++ (similar to OPNET but free).
Code @ https://github.com/4gsim/4Gsim/tree/master/src
 At the moment only a simple attach request scenario is implemented. Feel free to check it out!

Thanks, Santosh