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Multisite Field Trial for LTE and Advanced Concepts

Multisite Field Trial for LTE and Advanced Concepts

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Published by Thinh T. Pham

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Published by: Thinh T. Pham on Jun 23, 2012
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The mobile Internet has finally arrived with the worldwide deployment of high-speed packetaccess (HSPA) networks and broad availabilityof third-generation (3G) terminals, mobilebroadband USB sticks, and, increasingly, note-books with integrated HSPA modules. With flat-rate data tariffs, the usage of mobile Internethas skyrocketed in 2008. Third-generation tech-nology was developed more than a decade ago,and the uptake after launch was below expecta-tions in many cases. There are various reasonsfor that, including initial lack of handset avail-ability and initial technology performance belowpredictions.The Next Generation Mobile Networks(NGMN) Alliance has set out requirements forfuture mobile networks [1], and the Third Gen-eration Partnership Program (3GPP) is address-ing them with the development of long-termevolution (LTE). Among the requirements forLTE are increased average and peak data rates,reduced latency, spectrum flexibility addressingbandwidths of up to 20 MHz, and, last but notleast, reduced cost of ownership. The targets inNGMN and LTE are set challenges to ensure asignificant performance step from HSPA to anew technology generation.The performance of LTE meets the essentialNGMN requirements, but not the preferredrequirements in important key performance indi-cators (KPIs) like spectral efficiency and cell-edge throughput. Therefore, development of LTE technology is continuing beyond Release 8to address operator requirements as well asthose of the International TelecommunicationsUnion (ITU) for future technologies in thenewly identified spectrum. 3GPP has initiatedthe “LTE-Advanced” study item and definedrequirements in [2].The research project Enablers for AmbientServices and Systems — Part C Wide Area Cov-erage (EASY-C) is developing technologies forfuture wireless systems such as LTE-Advanced.The special feature of EASY-C is that researchideas are tested in research field testbeds at thesystem level. In EASY-C, 16 partners worktogether across the value chain, including aca-demic institutions, mobile operators, networkinfrastructure, antenna, and test equipment pro- viders, terminal chipset vendors and semiconduc-tor companies, and network planning specialists.
The radio interface of 3GPP LTE/SAE Release8 uses orthogonal frequency-division multipleaccess (OFDMA) with cyclic prefix in the down-link and single-carrier frequency-division multi-ple access (SC-FDMA) with cyclic prefix in theuplink. The physical layer of LTE is defined in abandwidth agnostic way and supports varioussystem bandwidths up to 20 MHz. Radioresources are subdivided into physical resourceblocks (PRBs) consisting of 12 subcarriers with15 kHz spacing and a time duration of 1 ms.PRBs are dynamically allocated to users in orderto realize multi-user diversity gain in both timeand frequency domains, leveraging adaptivemodulation and coding (AMC) with hybrid auto-matic repeat request (HARQ).To meet the performance requirements [3],LTE Release 8 relies on multi-antenna-basedmultiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) trans-mission and reception techniques, with 2
2MIMO as the baseline for downlink and 1
IEEE Communications Magazine • February 2009
0163-6804/09/$25.00 © 2009 IEEE
The 3GPP LTE standard is stable now in its firstrelease (Release 8), and the question is howgood its performance is in real-world scenarios.LTE is also a good base for further innovations,but it must be proven that they offer perfor-mance advantages for the price of their complex-ity. This article evaluates the performance of LTE Release 8 as a baseline and advanced con-cepts currently in discussion such as cooperativeMIMO based on system-level simulations, andmeasurements in the laboratory and a multisitefield testbed within the EASY-C project.
Ralf Irmer, VodafoneHans-Peter Mayer, Andreas Weber, Volker Braun, Michael Schmidt, Michael Ohm, and Norbert Ahr, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs André Zoch, Signalion GmbHCarsten Jandura, Patrick Marsch, and Gerhard Fettweis, Technische Universität Dresden
Multisite Field Trial forLTE and Advanced Concepts
IEEE Communications Magazine • February 2009
MIMO for uplink. However, higher order anten-na configurations are supported. In the downlinkclosed-loop MIMO with code-book-based linearprecoding can be applied, which allows for spa-tial multiplexing with dual code-word transmis-sion on up to four transmission layers with fastrank adaptation. Additionally, an Alamouti-typetransmit-diversity technique called space-fre-quency block coding (SFBC) is supported. In theuplink multi-user (“virtual”) MIMO is used forcapacity enhancement, in which pairs of spatiallynear-orthogonal users may transmit concurrentlyon the same physical resource blocks.
 As mentioned previously, the performance of 3Gnetwork equipment and terminals was not veri-fied to the full extent when 3G was launched inearly deployments. This is one lesson learned;therefore, NGMN [1] requested performanceevaluation and field trials in parallel to standardsdevelopment. NGMN and 3GPP have initiatedthe LTE/SAE Trial Initiative (LSTI), which con-ducts trial activities and facilitates interoperabili-ty tests of LTE equipment.Provided the metrics are meaningful and themethodology reflects realistic networks, simula-tions are a good way to compare different con-cepts and predict absolute values of networkperformance. The NGMN performance evaluationmethodology [4] is well established and allowscomparison of different standards. However, thereare still a lot of effects that are hard to foresee ormodel realistically in simulations; therefore, fieldtrials are essential to assess the performance. Also,field trials are a good proof of concept for innova-tive system-level concepts with lots of interdepen-dencies such as advanced concepts addressinginterference. Field trials also allow the calibrationof simulations and allow research and develop-ment to be focused on tackling the right issues.Cellular networks cannot be characterized well by single links. Interference, resource allo-cation, and propagation environment all impactsystem performance. To capture all effects, asufficiently high number of interferers must bepresent, and multiple sectors and sites have tobe involved.Simulations and field trials focus mainly ontechnical KPIs such as throughput and latency.However, it has to be kept in mind that the ulti-mate criterion for the mobile Internet is
user  experienc
e. This is hard to define, depends onparticular applications, and changes over time —and is beyond the scope of this article.
Two testbeds have been built and operated with-in the above mentioned research project EASY-C. In this article we concentrate on a physicallayer focused testbed in downtown Dresden,Germany, using existing 2G/3G network sites of operators Vodafone and T-Mobile. Both opera-tors are also involved in the trials. An additionaltestbed focused on applications enabled throughLTE and advanced concepts is being set up inBerlin.The chosen testbed location in downtownDresden covers various propagation conditions, which are of special interest for evaluation of fourth-generation (4G) systems with MIMOlinks and interference conditions typical in
 fre- quency reuse one
networks like LTE, and for thedevelopment of advanced algorithms such ascooperative MIMO:A representative area of a medium-sizedEuropean cityHills in the south causing signal reflectionsA river through the city causing superrefrac-tions and tropospheric refractionUrban areas with multistory buildings, lead-ing to shadowing effectsAn average intersite distance of 500 mThe testbed is being built in three phases. Inthe first phase, one site with three cells startedoperating in April 2008. This central site is locat-ed near Dresden’s main railway station, as shownin Fig. 1. The antenna height is 55 m. The sec-ond phase will cover a tier of sites around thiscentral site and consist of six sites with a total of 18 cells. In the final stage the testbed will com-prise 10 sites with a total of 25 cells. Additionalinterferers will surround outer cells in order toemulate the interference intensity and distribu-tion of a network with three tiers of sites. Such arather extensive setup is necessary to capture alleffects of a real-world deployment.
Figure 1.
 Field test area in Dresden.
Vodafone sitesPhase 1T-Mobile sitesPhase 2Phase 3
IEEE Communications Magazine • February 2009
 At these locations new base station antennas,feeders, and microwave link equipment areinstalled.With this three-tier network, realistic scenar-ios can be set up to investigate LTE andadvanced algorithms beyond LTE Release 8.Furthermore, the baseline trial setup consistsof a testbed platform of base stations and mobileequipment provided by the project partner Sig-nalion. Other project partner’s equipment (i.e.,base stations, mobile, and chip prototypes) willbe inserted into the testbed for various test cases.This infrastructure enables well defined andreproducible interference scenarios in bothuplink and downlink.
Figure 2 shows a test base station with a base-band unit, radio frequency (RF) hardware(including duplex filters and power amplifiers),antenna columns, and microwave backhaul units.LTE does not require GPS controlled referenceclocks for synchronization, but they are includedin this trial to investigate advanced multicellalgorithms. The sensitivity of these algorithms tosynchronization errors is one major researchtopic. The backhaul between the sites is accom-plished by low-latency microwave links. Theselinks operate in the 5 GHz frequency band andhave a maximum throughput of 300 Mb/s.
Within the testbed a number of tests areplanned. For characterization of the radio envi-ronment, channel-sounding campaigns and cov-erage measurements are conducted. Theobjective of these measurements is, on one hand,the calibration of raytracing tools and the devel-opment of prediction algorithms for multicellMIMO operation in LTE-Advanced. On theother hand, cell edges can be identified: geo-graphical locations where signals from severalcells impinge with similar signal strengths.Figure 3 shows the coverage map of the trialarea based on drive tests.
Laboratory tests with pre-standard equipmentand fading emulators have been carried out toassess the data rates and latencies that can beexpected with LTE Release 8. The results werepartly used by Alcatel-Lucent and Signalion toleverage the proof-of-concept work of LSTI.Examples of the earlier laboratory test resultsare presented here to highlight inherent LTEcapabilities such as AMC or frequency-selectivescheduling. Further laboratory tests will be per-formed to prepare and complement the plannedfield trial activities, with particular emphasis onMIMO features.Figure 4 depicts the physical layer cellthroughput measured from downlink single-input single-output (SISO) as a function of aver-age signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) with thefollowing configurations:10 MHz system bandwidthAMC, hybrid ARQ, and multi-user schedul-ing in downlink (DL) under control of theeNodeBAcknowledgment (ACK)/negative ACK (NACK) and channel quality reporting inthe uplink (UL)Single cell with a single user (blue curve) ortwo users (red curve) in the cellFull queue in the eNodeB for each userPedestrian A 3 km/h fading channels indownlink and static channels in uplinkFigure 4 illustrates the capability of the AMCto finely adjust the user data rate to the channelquality. This is achieved in the downlink byreporting channel quality indicators (CQIs) backto the eNodeB from the user equipment (UE).In this example the update rate is 1 kHz/sub-band. The peak data rate observed in Fig. 4 canbe scaled to the often quoted 88.7 Mb/s by
Figure 3.
Signal coverage of the trial area based on drive tests.
RSCP [dBm] @ 10 MHz-59 --50 dBm-64 --60 dBm-69 --65 dBm-74 --70 dBm-79 --75 dBm-84 --80 dBm-89 --85 dBm-94 --90 dBm-98 --95 dBm< -99 dBm
Figure 2.
Test base station with antennas and microwave link at central site.

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