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**Simulation of LTE Networks
**

Josep Colom Ikuno, Stefan Pendl, Michal

ˇ

Simko, Markus Rupp

Institute of Telecommunications

Vienna University of Technology, Austria

Gusshausstrasse 25/389, A-1040 Vienna, Austria

Email: {jcolom, spendl, msimko, mrupp}@nt.tuwien.ac.at

Web: http://www.nt.tuwien.ac.at/ltesimulator

Abstract—This paper presents an SINR prediction model for

LTE systems with the aim of improving the accuracy of physical

layer models used for higher-than-physical-level simulations.

This physical layer SINR abstraction for zero-forcing receivers

takes channel estimation errors into account. It allows for the

calculation of the post-equalization receive SINR of an LTE

MIMO transmission on a per-layer and subcarrier basis. This

estimate is further used as input for a link performance model

to accurately predict the receiver throughput. The accuracy

of the model is validated by simulations for 2×2 and 4×4

MIMO antenna conﬁgurations with different levels of spatial

multiplexing employing also the precoding matrices deﬁned in

the LTE standard. Memory requirements and complexity for the

model are quantiﬁed as well. The whole simulation environment

together with the fully reproducible results of this paper are

made available for download from our homepage.

I. INTRODUCTION

System-level simulations, also referred to as network-level

simulations, aim at evaluating the performance of networks.

Besides being able to test optimizations at the network level,

such as cell planning or transmitter placing in cellular net-

works, their purpose is also to evaluate whether improvements

at the link level still prove beneﬁcial when taking into ac-

count the structure of the whole network and undesired but

performance-limiting effects such as interference [2].

The accuracy of system-level simulations relies on models.

These abstract the link-level procedures at low complexity,

as full-ﬂedged simulations of all of the procedures performed

on every link would result in prohibitively computationally-

complex simulations when simulating whole networks. Simple

LTE single-link simulations take in the order of hours [3],

mostly due to the complexity of MIMO decoding [4], so setups

such as a typical wireless cellular network layout consisting

of two rings of transmitters each with three sectors are just

too unpractical to realize by means of link level simulations.

As such, evaluation of link-level improvements at system

level is only as accurate as the underlying PHY layer ab-

straction model [5], which should be able to capture as many

aspects as possible of the physical layer while still retaining

low complexity. In this paper, we present a post-equalization

SINR estimation model that aims at accurately predicting

the performance of LTE for the purpose of obtaining more

accurate throughput results in system level simulations. The

model proposed here addresses the following issues:

(i) Inclusion of channel estimation error in the SINR esti-

mation: while generally not taken into account in system level

simulations, channel estimation error does affect throughput

performance [6], which is in the end the ﬁnal system perfor-

mance measure of our system. This effect is at its strongest at

cell edge, and taking it into account is thus necessary if the

model is to be accurate.

(ii) Appropriate modeling of the post-equalization SINR:

the SINR, as seen by the channel decoder, depends not only

on the received interference powers, but also on the receiver

structure. While for SISO systems simpler models such as [7]

may sufﬁce, correct modeling of the peformance of the MIMO

receiver and the interference between the several data streams

being simultaneously transmitted is necessary if a meaningful

validation of link level concepts at system level is expected.

(iii) Results are shown to be accurate with non-i.i.d MIMO

channels, in this case using the Winner II+ channel model [8].

(iv) Although the performance of the Zero-Forcing (ZF)

receiver has already been studied [9], this model extends and

shows the accuracy of the model to more realistic LTE sce-

narios that include Closed Loop Spatial Multiplexing (CLSM)

MIMO transmission with precoders chosen from the LTE

codebook [10], and multi-cell scenarios.

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. In

Section II we explain the role of the SINR model in the

link abstraction and formulate its basis. In Section III, the

setup for the validation of the model is presented, as well as

simulation results for both a single-cell and a multi-cell setup.

Section IV analyzes the memory and complexity requirements

of the model for use in system level simulations. We conclude

the paper in Section V.

II. SINR MODEL

Physical layer abstraction, from which SINR modeling is

a component, is divided in two parts: (i) a link measurement

model and (ii) a link performance model. They abstract the

measured link quality and compute the link Block Error Ratio

(BLER) probability based on the previously calculated link

quality measure, respectively [11]. Figure 1 depicts the actual

model used for LTE. For each subcarrier, the post-equalization-

per-subcarrier SINR is calculated based on: the power al-

location of the useful signal

_

σ

2

x0

_

, MIMO channel matrix

2012 IEEE International Conference on Communications: ICC2012 10-15 June 2012, Ottawa, Canada

link performance model

BLER

.

.

.

link

measurement

model .

.

.

SINR - BLER

mapping

(AWGN curves )

SINR

compresion

(MIESM)

subcarrier SINR vector

AWGN-equivalent SINR

throughput

Modulation and Coding Scheme

RB allocation

target transmitter

interferers

noise

frequency-domain scheduling

Fig. 1. Physical layer abstraction for LTE system level modeling.

(H

0

), precoding matrix (W

0

), the corresponding parameters

for each of the N

int

interferers

_

σ

2

xi

, H

i

, W

i

_

, thermal noise

power

_

σ

2

n

_

, and frequency allocation, referred to as Resource

Block (RB) allocation in LTE. The SINR is calculated over

the decoded symbols (prior to channel decoding), and therefore

can be used to assess how well the decoding procedure will

perform. To allow for a non-multi-dimensional SINR-to-BLER

mapping, the set of subcarrier SINRs is non-linearly averaged

to a single value in the mutual information domain [12, 13]

and then mapped to BLER, from which the throughput can be

obtained.

The received signal for one subcarrier can be expressed as:

y = H

0

W

0

x

0

+n +

Nint

i=1

H

i

W

i

x

i

, (1)

where H

0

is the MIMO channel matrix of size number

of transmit antennas (N

TX

) times number of receive anten-

nas (N

RX

) of the target signal, x

0

a vector of ν symbols

which are being simultaneously transmitted over the channel

(ν ≤ min (N

TX

, N

RX

)). The precoding matrix W

0

maps the

ν symbols to the N

TX

transmit antennas. The same notation

is used for the N

int

interfering signals. Here, n denotes the

thermal noise vector of length N

RX

.

At receiver side, the ZF receiver ﬁlter G is expressed as

G =

_

ˆ

H

ˆ

H

0

ˆ

H

0

_

−1

ˆ

H

H

0

, (2)

ˆ

H

0

= H

0

+E, (3)

e

ij

∼ CN

_

0, σ

2

e

_

, (4)

where G is calculated as the pseudoinverse of the estimated

channel

ˆ

H

0

, denoted also in this paper as a generalized inverse

ˆ

H

−1

0

. The estimated channel is modeled as the actual channel

plus an error matrix whose entries (e

ij

) are modeled as

complex-normal with mean power σ

2

e

[9].

For convenience, an effective channel matrix

˜

H is deﬁned,

which also includes the precoding. Thus:

˜

H = HW, (5)

G = ((H

0

+E) W

0

)

−1

(6)

In the model, the mean power of each of the entries of the

channel matrix Hare normalized to one, and are assumed to be

ﬂat. This assumption is justiﬁed by the use of OFDM in LTE,

which as long as the cyclic preﬁx is of long enough, ensures

a ﬂat channel response per subcarrier. In order to account

for pathloss, the average symbol power σ

2

x

of each of the

transmitted symbols is scaled with a correspondent pathloss

factor L

i

, where i = {0, . . . , N

int

}

The estimated received symbol vector ˆ x

0

is obtained as

ˆ x

0

= Gy, (7)

where the average post-equalization SINR for the k-th symbol

(layer), expressed as γ

k

, can be expressed as

γ

k

=

σ

2

x0

e

k

H

MSE e

k

, (8)

where e

k

is an all-zero column vector of length ν except for

a one on its k-th position. The Mean Squared Error (MSE) of

the estimated received symbol ˆ x

0

is then calculated as

MSE = E

_

(ˆ x

0

−x

0

) (ˆ x

0

−x

0

)

H

_

. (9)

Applying a Taylor approximation at E = 0, i.e. valid for a

small variance σ

2

e

[14], and truncating after the linear terms,

the expression in (10) is obtained.

The equation in (10) can then be simpliﬁed by excluding

the Tr () parameter [9], obtaining

MSE =

_

σ

2

e

σ

2

x0

+ σ

2

v

_

_

˜

H

H

0

˜

H

0

_

−1

(16)

+

Nint

i=1

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

σ

2

xi

H

i

W

i

W

H

i

H

H

i

_

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

_

, (17)

where σ

xi

is the transmit power over all antennas for the i-th

user divided by its pathloss factor L

i

.

For the purpose of model validation, a ﬁxed value for σ

2

e

could be used. This setting would, however, not be realistic.

As the quality of the channel estimation varies with the quality

of the pilot symbols from which the estimation is done, it is

therefore a function of the signal level of the pilots. Adapting

from [15], we express the channel estimation error σ

2

e

as:

σ

2

e

=

c

e

σ

2

x0

_

σ

2

n

+

Nint

i=1

σ

2

xi

_

, (18)

where a typical value for c

e

for pedestrian simulations and an

LMMSE channel estimator would be 0.0544 [15, 16].

III. SIMULATION RESULTS

The SINR estimation algorithm has been validated in two

scenarios. In the ﬁrst one, no interfering transmitters were

present, so the simulation is over an SNR range. In the second

case, six interferers are placed on a hexagonal grid layout with

omnidirectional antennas and the simulation is run over all

points of the center sector instead of over an SNR range.

In both cases, the model is validated for 2×2 and 4×4

antenna conﬁgurations. The precoding book speciﬁed for

LTE [17] allows for transmission of ν spatial layers (i.e.

MSE = E

_

(ˆ x

0

−x

0

) (ˆ x

0

−x

0

)

H

_

(10)

≈

˜

H

−1

0

E

_

EW

0

x

0

x

H

0

W

H

0

E

H

_

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

(11)

+

˜

H

−1

0

E

_

nn

H

_

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

+

˜

H

−1

0

E

_

EW

0

˜

H

−1

0

nn

H

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

W

H

0

E

H

_

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

(12)

+

Nint

i=0

_

˜

H

−1

0

E

_

˜

H

i

x

i

x

H

i

˜

H

H

i

_

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

+

˜

H

−1

0

E

_

EW

0

˜

H

−1

0

˜

H

i

x

i

x

i

H

˜

H

H

i

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

W

H

E

H

_

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

_

(13)

=

_

σ

2

e

σ

2

x0

+ σ

2

v

+ σ

2

v

σ

2

e

Tr

_

_

H

H

0

H

0

_

−1

___

˜

H

H

0

˜

H

0

_

−1

(14)

+

I

i=1

_

˜

H

−1

0

_

σ

2

xi

H

i

W

i

W

H

i

H

H

i

+ σ

2

xi

σ

2

e

Tr

_

H

i

H

H

i

_

H

H

0

H

0

_

−1

__

˜

H

−1

0

_

H

__

(15)

simultaneous symbols), where ν ≤ min (N

TX

, N

RX

). The

model is validated for all the possible number of spatial layers

for each antenna conﬁguration. Thus, ν = {1, 2} (2 ×2 case)

and ν = {1, 2, 3, 4} (4 × 4 case). As the switching between

number of layers needs to be performed at run-time, it is not

in the scope of validating the accuracy of the model to show

the combined performance of the using a variable number of

layers rather than to evaluate whether the prediction for the

chosen one, whichever that may be, is accurate.

In both cases, the channel matrix is obtained from an

implementation of the Winner II+ channel model [8], and the

precoding matrix chosen so as to maximize the achievable

capacity [10]. Since no interference coordination is assumed,

each interferer is assigned a random precoding matrix from the

precoding codebook (i.e., the channel for which the interfering

eNodeB is optimizing its precoding and the actual interfering

channel are assumed uncorrelated). The output of the SINR

model, when used in the context of system level simulations, is

a per-subcarrier SINR estimation. Thus, in order to validate it,

the simulations are carried out on a single subcarrier: 15 kHz,

as in the most commonly deployed LTE settings [18].

For the modeled case, the average post-equalization SINR

for each channel realization is calculated. For comparison,

an actual transmission of symbols is performed, with enough

symbols per channel realization so as to ensure enough av-

eraging. The sum-over-all-streams achievable capacity from

the actual SINR and the one from the model, calculated

without taking into account the maximum rate of the LTE

system, is then compared. Since the aim is to value the

accuracy of the SINR estimation in in the terms of capacity,

the omission of this ceiling is not relevant. On both cases,

each simulation point consists of 100 channel realizations, for

which 50 different symbol/noise realizations are transmitted.

For each case, the overall mean achievable capacity for each

channel realization H

0

is calculated as:

C

sum

=

ν

i=1

log

2

_

1 +

1

γ

i

_

. (19)

0 5 10 15 20 25 30

0

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

SNR [dB]

A

c

h

i

e

v

a

b

l

e

c

a

p

a

c

i

t

y

[

b

i

t

/

s

/

H

z

]

1 layer

2 layers

Fig. 2. 2×2 results. Solid line: achievable capacity calculated from the SINR

model, Dashed line: achievable capacity obtained from the SINR calculated

from the actual transmission.

A. No-interference case

Figures 2 and 3 show the results for the no-interference

scenario for the 2×2 and 4×4 antenna conﬁguration cases

respectively. In this scenario, σ

2

x

is kept normalized to one

and σ

2

n

varied accordingly over an SNR range

_

SNR = 1/σ

2

n

_

,

with c

e

set to 0.0544 [15].

In the simulation results in Figures 2 and 3, we can see

that since in a realistic scenario, σ

2

e

is a linear function of σ

2

n

,

the result is that no effect of the channel estimation error is

actually present. As the channel estimation error is always

12 dB below the noise level, its inﬂuence in the MSE is

negligible. Therefore the perfect ﬁt of the two lines and the

need of a more elaborate validation scenario.

B. Interference case

For this scenario, a simple hexagonal deployment of

eNodeBs with omnidirectional antennas has been employed.

Although not representing a more computationally complex

tri-sector cell layout such as in [19], it still validates whether

the SINR model is capable predicting the average achievable

capacity in an interference-limited scenario. The simulation

parameters used in this simulation set are listed in Table I.

0 5 10 15 20 25 30

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

SNR [dB]

A

c

h

i

e

v

a

b

l

e

c

a

p

a

c

i

t

y

[

b

i

t

/

s

/

H

z

]

1 layer

2 layers

3 layers

4 layers

Fig. 3. 4×4 results. Solid line: achievable capacity calculated from the SINR

model, Dashed line: achievable capacity obtained from the SINR calculated

from the actual transmission.

TABLE I

SIMULATION PARAMETERS FOR THE INTERFERENCE CASE.

Inter-eNodeB distance 500 m

Noise density -173 dBm/Hz

Bandwidth 15 kHz

Pathloss L = 128.1 + 37.6 log

10

(R) [19]

Antenna type Omnidirectional, 0 dB gain

Minimum coupling loss 70 dB [19]

Number of points in the target sector 8 658

For each of the points in the center cell, as depicted on

Figure 4, each value for σ

2

xi

, x = {0, . . . , N

int

} is calculated as

1/L

i

, where L

i

is the pathloss from each of the transmitters to

the simulated point, x

0

being the target transmitter and x

1−Nint

the interferers.

So as to visualize the network layout, Figure 4 depicts the

average SINR, expressed as Γ and not to be confused with the

post-equalization SINR, calculated as:

Γ(x, y) =

min (L

i

(x, y))

(−min (L

i

(x, y)) + σ

2

n

+

L

i

(x, y))

, (20)

where for each point (x, y), min (L

i

(x, y)) represents the

minimum pathloss over the transmitter set, and L

i

(x, y) the

pathloss from the i-th cell.

Figures 5 and 6 show the results of the accuracy of the

model for the 2×2 and 4×4 antenna conﬁguration cases

respectively. As opposed to the results in Section III-A, since

in this case σ

2

e

=

ce

σ

2

x

0

_

σ

2

n

+

Nint

i=1

σ

2

xi

_

, the effect of channel

estimation error is, with respect to the noise power, of a higher

order of magnitude.

Both Figures 5 and 6 show the achievable rate ECDF for

each of the antenna conﬁgurations and possible number of

layers. Since the model is based on a Taylor approximation at

E = 0, the model is expected to be less accurate the higher

σ

2

e

is, as visible in Figures 5 and 6, where, specially for the

four-layer 4×4 case, the model is pessimistic compared to the

expected result due to the application of the Taylor approxi-

mation, although still retaining a good level of accuracy.

x pos [m]

y

p

o

s

[

m

]

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

−600 −400 −200 0 200 400 600

−500

−400

−300

−200

−100

0

100

200

300

400

500

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

Fig. 4. Network layout used for the multi-cell simulation. The highlighted

area encompasses the points taken into account for the simulation (i.e. the

center cell).

0 5 10 15 20 25

0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

0.9

1

Achievable capacity [bit/s/cu]

F

(

x

)

1 layer

2 layers

Fig. 5. 2 ×2 results. Solid line: achievable capacity ECDF calculated from

the SINR model, Dashed line: achievable capacity ECDF obtained from the

SINR calculated from the actual transmission.

IV. MEMORY AND COMPLEXITY REQUIREMENTS OF THE

MODEL

In this section, we analyze the complexity requirements

the proposed model. To reduce run-time complexity, channel

traces are loaded in memory and, given a long enough trace,

segments from it starting at random points can be assumed to

be uncorrelated [11]. Although matrix inversions at run-time

can be avoided by storing

˜

H

−1

0

in the trace (i.e. creating a

trace including the precoding), this method would not allow

to retain the ﬂexibility to implement other transmission modes

such as Cooperative Multi-Point (CoMP) [20]. As such, H is

stored instead together with a precalculated (single-user-based)

optimum W precoding index from the LTE codebook [10].

Such trace structure still allows to execute run-time optimum

precoding calculation if methods such as cooperative beam-

forming were to be applied. Thus, the following parameters

are stored in memory on a per-TTI-and-subcarrier basis:

H →C

NRX×NTX

: channel coefﬁcients (21)

W→Z

1×1

: precoding matrix index for H (22)

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35

0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

0.9

1

Achievable capacity [bit/s/cu]

F

(

x

)

1 layer

2 layers

3 layers

4 layers

Fig. 6. 4 ×4 results. Solid line: achievable capacity ECDF calculated from

the SINR model, Dashed line: achievable capacity ECDF obtained from the

SINR calculated from the actual transmission.

Table II depicts the needed memory requirements per second

of stored trace (1 000 TTIs), assuming the maximum LTE

system bandwidth of 20 MHz and a subsampling of a factor

of six (calculating the subcarrier SINR of one every six

subcarriers only) [11, 21]. Single-precision storage of complex

numbers is assumed (eight bytes/number). Since the optimal

precoder has to be calculated for each possible value of ν, the

number of needed bytes per TTI (B) can be expressed as

B = 2 · N

RB

· (8 · N

TX

N

RX

+ 4 · min (N

TX

, N

RX

)) , (23)

where N

RB

is the number of RBs in the simulated bandwidth.

For a bandwidth of 20 MHz, N

RB

= 100.

TABLE II

SINR MODEL TRACE SIZE: 20 MHZ BANDWIDTH (N

RB

= 100)

N

TX

2 4 4 8 8

N

RX

2 2 4 4 8

B [MB/1000 TTIs] 7.62 13.73 27.47 51.88 103.76

V. CONCLUSIONS

We introduced an SINR prediction model which includes

channel estimation error that is capable of predicting the

post-equalization SINR in LTE systems. We evaluate via

simulations the accuracy of the presented model, showing

its accuracy on a realistic system-level simulation scenario

by comparing the achievable capacity based on the estimated

post-equalization SINR from the model and an actual trans-

mission. The complexity of the model is additionally also

analyzed.

All data, tools and scripts are available online in order to

allow other researchers to reproduce our results [1].

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors would like to thank C.F. Mechklenbr¨ auker and

the LTE research group for continuous support and lively dis-

cussions. This work has been funded by the Christian Doppler

Laboratory for Wireless Technologies for Sustainable Mobil-

ity, KATHREIN-Werke KG, and A1 Telekom Austria AG.

The ﬁnancial support by the Federal Ministry of Economy,

Family and Youth and the National Foundation for Research,

Technology and Development is gratefully acknowledged.

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