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LTE Frequently Asked Questions

What is LTE?
What is goal of LTE?
What speed LTE offers?
What is LTE Advanced?
What is LTE architecture?
What is EUTRAN?
What are LTE Interfaces?
What are LTE Network elements?
What are LTE protocols & specifications?
What is VoLGA?
What is CS Fallback in LTE?
How does LTE Security works?
What is IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)?
How does measurements work in LTE?
What is Automatic Neighbour Relation?
How does Intra E-UTRAN Handover is performed?
How does policy control and charging works in LTE?
What is SON & how does it work in LTE?
How does Network Sharing works in LTE?
How does Timing Advance (TA) works in LTE?
How does LTE UE positioning works in E-UTRAN?
How many operators have committed for LTE?
What is Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC)?
How does Location Service (LCS) work in LTE network?
How does Lawful Interception works in LTE Evolved Packet System?
What is carrier aggregation in LTE-Advanced?
What is Relay Node and how does Relaying works in LTE-Advanced?

What is LTE?
LTE
i
(Long Term Evolution) is initiated by 3GPP
i
to improve the mobile phone standard to cope with
future technology evolutions and needs.
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What is goal of LTE?
The goals for LTE include improving spectral efficiency, lowering costs, improving services, making
use of new spectrum and reformed spectrum opportunities, and better integration with other open
standards.
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What speed LTE offers?
LTE provides downlink peak rates of at least 100Mbit/s, 50 Mbit/s in the uplink and RAN (Radio
Access Network) round-trip times of less than 10 ms.
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What is LTE Advanced?
LTE standards are in matured state now with release 8 frozen. While LTE Advanced is still under
works. Often the LTE standard is seen as 4G standard which is not true. 3.9G is more acceptable for
LTE. So why it is not 4G? Answer is quite simple - LTE does not fulfill all requirements of ITU 4G
definition.
Brief History of LTE Advanced: The ITU has introduced the term IMT Advanced to identify mobile
systems whose capabilities go beyond those of IMT 2000. The IMT Advanced systems shall provide
best-in-class performance attributes such as peak and sustained data rates and corresponding
spectral efficiencies, capacity, latency, overall network complexity and quality-of-service
management. The new capabilities of these IMT-Advanced systems are envisaged to handle a wide
range of supported data rates with target peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high
mobility and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility.
See LTE Advanced: Evolution of LTE for more details.
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What is LTE architecture?
The evolved architecture comprises E-UTRAN (Evolved UTRAN) on the access side and EPC
(Evolved Packet Core) on the core side.

The figure below shows the evolved system architecture


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What is EUTRAN?
The E-UTRAN (Evolved UTRAN) consists of eNBs, providing the E-UTRA user plane
(PDCP/RLC/MAC/PHY) and control plane (RRC) protocol terminations towards the UE. The eNBs
are interconnected with each other by means of the X2 interface. The eNBs are also connected by
means of the S1 interface to the EPC (Evolved Packet Core), more specifically to the MME (Mobility
Management Entity) by means of the S1-MME and to the Serving Gateway (S-GW) by means of the
S1-U.
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What are LTE Interfaces?
The following are LTE Interfaces : (Ref: TS 23.401 v 841)
S1-MME :- Reference point for the control plane protocol between E-UTRAN and MME.
S1-U:- Reference point between E-UTRAN and Serving GW for the per bearer user plane
tunnelling and inter eNodeB path switching during handover.
S3:- It enables user and bearer information exchange for inter 3GPP access network mobility
in idle and/or active state.
S4:- It provides related control and mobility support between GPRS Core and the 3GPP
Anchor function of Serving GW. In addition, if Direct Tunnel is not established, it provides the
user plane tunnelling.
S5:- It provides user plane tunnelling and tunnel management between Serving GW and
PDN GW. It is used for Serving GW relocation due to UE mobility and if the Serving GW
needs to connect to a non-collocated PDN GW for the required PDN connectivity.
S6a:- It enables transfer of subscription and authentication data for
authenticating/authorizing user access to the evolved system (AAA interface) between MME
and HSS.
Gx:- It provides transfer of (QoS) policy and charging rules from PCRF to Policy and
Charging Enforcement Function (PCEF) in the PDN GW.
S8:- Inter-PLMN reference point providing user and control plane between the Serving GW in
the VPLMN and the PDN GW in the HPLMN. S8 is the inter PLMN variant of S5.
S9:- It provides transfer of (QoS) policy and charging control information between the Home
PCRF and the Visited PCRF in order to support local breakout function.
S10:- Reference point between MMEs for MME relocation and MME to MME information
transfer.
S11:- Reference point between MME and Serving GW.
S12:- Reference point between UTRAN and Serving GW for user plane tunnelling when
Direct Tunnel is established. It is based on the Iu-u/Gn-u reference point using the GTP-U
protocol as defined between SGSN and UTRAN or respectively between SGSN and GGSN.
Usage of S12 is an operator configuration option.
S13:- It enables UE identity check procedure between MME and EIR.
SGi:- It is the reference point between the PDN GW and the packet data network. Packet
data network may be an operator external public or private packet data network or an intra
operator packet data network, e.g. for provision of IMS services. This reference point
corresponds to Gi for 3GPP accesses.
Rx:- The Rx reference point resides between the AF and the PCRF in the TS 23.203.
SBc:- Reference point between CBC and MME for warning message delivery and control
functions.
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What are LTE Network elements?
eNB
eNB interfaces with the UE and hosts the PHYsical (PHY), Medium Access
Control (MAC), Radio Link Control (RLC), and Packet Data Control
Protocol (PDCP) layers. It also hosts Radio Resource Control (RRC)
functionality corresponding to the control plane. It performs many
functions including radio resource management, admission control,
scheduling, enforcement of negotiated UL QoS, cell information
broadcast, ciphering/deciphering of user and control plane data, and
compression/decompression of DL/UL user plane packet headers.
Mobility Management Entity
manages and stores UE context (for idle state: UE/user identities, UE mobility state, user security
parameters). It generates temporary identities and allocates them to UEs. It checks the authorization
whether the UE may camp on the TA or on the PLMN. It also authenticates the user.

Serving Gateway
The SGW routes and forwards user data packets, while also acting as the mobility anchor for the
user plane during inter-eNB handovers and as the anchor for mobility between LTE and other 3GPP
technologies (terminating S4 interface and relaying the traffic between 2G/3G systems and PDN
GW).
Packet Data Network Gateway
The PDN GW provides connectivity to the UE to external packet data networks by being the point of
exit and entry of traffic for the UE. A UE may have simultaneous connectivity with more than one
PDN GW for accessing multiple PDNs. The PDN GW performs policy enforcement, packet filtering
for each user, charging support, lawful Interception
and packet screening.
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What are LTE protocols & specifications?
In LTE architecture, core network includes Mobility Management Entity (MME), Serving
Gateway (SGW), Packet Data Network Gateway (PDN GW) where as E-UTRAN has E-UTRAN
NodeB (eNB).
See LTE protocols & specifications for specification mappings.
Protocol links are as below
Air Interface Physical Layer
GPRS Tunnelling Protocol User Plane (GTP-U)
GTP-U Transport
Medium Access Control (MAC)
Non-Access-Stratum (NAS) Protocol
Packet Data Convergence Protocol (PDCP)
Radio Link Control (RLC)
Radio Resource Control (RRC)
S1 Application Protocol (S1AP)
S1 layer 1
S1 Signalling Transport
X2 Application Protocol (X2AP)
X2 layer 1
X2 Signalling Transport
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What is VoLGA?
VoLGA stands for "Voice over LTE via Generic Access". The VoLGA service resembles the 3GPP
Generic Access Network (GAN). GAN provides a controller node - the GAN controller (GANC) -
inserted between the IP access network (i.e., the EPS) and the 3GPP core network.

The GAN provides an overlay access between the terminal and the CS core without requiring
specific enhancements or support in the network it traverses. This provides a terminal with a 'virtual'
connection to the core network already deployed by an operator. The terminal and network thus
reuse most of the existing mechanisms, deployment and operational aspects.

see VoLGA - Voice over LTE via Generic Access for more details.
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What is CS Fallback in LTE?
LTE technology supports packet based services only, however 3GPP does specifies fallback for
circuit switched services as well. To achieve this LTE architecture and network nodes require
additional functionality, this blog is an attempt to provide overview for same.
In LTE architecture, the circuit switched (CS) fallback in EPS enables the provisioning of voice and
traditional CS-domain services (e.g. CS UDI video/ SMS/ LCS/ USSD). To provide these services
LTE reuses CS infrastructure when the UE is served by E UTRAN.
See Understanding CS Fallback in LTE for more details.
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How does LTE Security works?
The following are some of the principles of 3GPP E-UTRAN security based on 3GPP Release 8
specifications:
The keys used for NAS and AS protection shall be dependent on the algorithm with which
they are used.
The eNB keys are cryptographically separated from the EPC keys used for NAS protection
(making it impossible to use the eNB key to figure out an EPC key).
The AS (RRC and UP) and NAS keys are derived in the EPC/UE from key material that was
generated by a NAS (EPC/UE) level AKA procedure (KASME) and identified with a key
identifier (KSIASME).
The eNB key (KeNB) is sent from the EPC to the eNB when the UE is entering ECM-
CONNECTED state (i.e. during RRC connection or S1 context setup).
See LTE Security Principles for more details.
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What is IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)?
The 3GPP IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology provides an architectural framework for
delivering IP based multimedia services. IMS enables telecom service providers to offer a new
generation of rich multimedia services across both circuit switched and packet switched networks.
IMS offers access to IP based services independent of the access network e.g. wireless access
(GPRS, 3GPPs UMTS, LTE, 3GPP2s CDMA2000) and fixed networks (TISPANs NGN)
IMS defines a architecture of logical elements using SIP for call signaling between network elements
and Provides a layered approach with defined service, control, and transport planes. Some of IMS
high level requirements are noted below:
The application plane provides an infrastructure for the provision and management of services,
subscriber configuration and identity management and defines standard interfaces to common
functionality.
The IMS control plane handles the call related signaling and controls transport plane. Major element
of control plane is the Call Session Control Function (CSCF) , which comprises Proxy-CSCF (P-
CSCF), Interrogating-CSCF (I-CSCF) and Serving-CSCF (S-CSCF). The CSCF (Call/Session
Control Function) is essentially a SIP server.
The IMS transport plane provides a core IP network with access from subscriber device over
wireless or wireline networks.
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How does measurements work in LTE?
In LTE E-UTRAN measurements to be performed by a UE for mobility are classified as below
Intra-frequency E-UTRAN measurements
Inter-frequency E-UTRAN measurements
Inter-RAT measurements for UTRAN and GERAN
Inter-RAT measurements of CDMA2000 HRPD or 1xRTT frequencies
See Measurements in LTE E-UTRAN for details.
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What is Automatic Neighbour Relation?
According to 3GPP specifications, the purpose of the Automatic Neighbour Relation (ANR)
functionality is to relieve the operator from the burden of manually managing Neighbor Relations
(NRs). This feature would operators effort to provision.
Read Automatic Neighbour Relation in LTE for more details.
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How does Intra E-UTRAN Handover is performed?
Intra E-UTRAN Handover is used to hand over a UE from a source eNodeB to a target eNodeB
using X2 when the MME is unchanged. In the scenario described here Serving GW is also
unchanged. The presence of IP connectivity between the Serving GW and the source eNodeB, as
well as between the Serving GW and the target eNodeB is assumed.

The intra E-UTRAN HO in RRC_CONNECTED state is UE assisted NW controlled HO, with HO
preparation signalling in E-UTRAN.
Read LTE Handovers - Intra E-UTRAN Handover for more details.
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How does policy control and charging works in LTE?
A important component in LTE network is the policy and charging control (PCC) function that brings
together and enhances capabilities from earlier 3GPP releases to deliver dynamic control of policy
and charging on a per subscriber and per IP flow basis.
LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC) EPC includes a PCC architecture that provides support for fine-
grained QoS and enables application servers to dynamically control the QoS and charging
requirements of the services they deliver. It also provides improved support for roaming. Dynamic
control over QoS and
charging will help operators monetize their LTE investment by providing customers with a variety of
QoS and charging options when choosing a service.
The LTE PCC functions include:
PCRF (policy and charging rules function) provides policy control and flow based charging
control decisions.
PCEF (policy and charging enforcement function) implemented in the serving gateway, this
enforces gating and QoS for individual IP flows on the behalf of
the PCRF. It also provides usage measurement to support charging
OCS (online charging system) provides credit management and grants credit to the PCEF
based on time, traffic volume or chargeable events.
OFCS (off-line charging system) receives events from the PCEF and generates charging
data records (CDRs) for the billing system.
Refer following whitepapers for more details.
Introduction to Evolved Packet Core
Policy control and charging for LTE networks
Quality of Service (QoS) and Policy Management in Mobile Data Networks
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What is SON & how does it work in LTE?
Self-configuring, self-optimizing wireless networks is not a new concept but as the mobile networks
are evolving towards 4G LTE networks, introduction of self configuring and self optimizing
mechanisms is needed to minimize operational efforts. A self optimizing function would increase
network performance and quality reacting to dynamic processes in the network.
This would minimize the life cycle cost of running a network by eliminating manual configuration of
equipment at the time of deployment, right through to dynamically optimizing radio network
performance during operation. Ultimately it will reduce the unit cost and retail price of wireless data
services.
See Self-configuring and self-optimizing Networks in LTE for details.
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How does Network Sharing works in LTE?
3GPP network sharing architecture allows different core network operators to connect to a shared
radio access network. The operators do not only share the radio network elements, but may also
share the radio resources themselves.
Read Network Sharing in LTE for more.
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How does Timing Advance (TA) works in LTE?
In LTE, when UE wish to establish RRC connection with eNB, it transmits a Random Access
Preamble, eNB estimates the transmission timing of the terminal based on this. Now eNB transmits
a Random Access Response which consists of timing advance command, based on that UE adjusts
the terminal transmit timing.
The timing advance is initiated from E-UTRAN with MAC message that implies and adjustment of
the timing advance.
See Timing Advance (TA) in LTE for further details.
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How does LTE UE positioning works in E-UTRAN?
UE Positioning function is required to provide the mechanisms to support or assist the calculation of
the geographical position of a UE. UE position knowledge can be used, for example, in support of
Radio Resource Management functions, as well as location-based services for operators,
subscribers, and third-party service providers.
See LTE UE positioning in E-UTRAN for more details.

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How many operators have committed for LTE?
List of operators committed for LTE has been compiled by 3GAmericas from Informa Telecoms &
Media and public announcements. It includes a variety of commitment levels including intentions to
trial, deploy, migrate, etc.
For latest info visit http://ltemaps.org/
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What is Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC)?
Along with LTE introduction, 3GPP also standardized Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) in
Release 8 specifications to provide seamless continuity when an UE handovers from LTE coverage
(E-UTRAN) to UMTS/GSM coverage (UTRAN/GERAN). With SRVCC, calls are anchored in IMS
network while UE is capable of transmitting/receiving on only one of those access networks at a
given time.
See Evolution of Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) for more details.
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How does Location Service (LCS) work in LTE network?
In the LCS architecture, an Evolved SMLC is directly attached to the MME. The objectives of
this evolution is to support location of an IMS emergency call, avoid impacts to a location session
due to an inter-eNodeB handover, make use of an Evolved and support Mobile originated location
request (MO-LR) and mobile terminated location request MT-LR services.
Release 9 LCS solution introduces new interfaces in the EPC:
SLg between the GMLC and the MME
SLs between the E-SMLC and the MME
Diameter-based SLh between the HSS and the HGMLC
For details read LCS Architecture for LTE EPS and LTE UE positioning in E-UTRAN
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How does Lawful Interception works in LTE Evolved Packet System?
3GPP Evolved Packet System (EPS) provides IP based services. Hence, EPS is responsible only
for IP layer interception of Content of Communication (CC) data. In addition to CC data, the Lawful
Interception (LI) solution for EPS offers generation of Intercept Related Information (IRI) records
from respective control plane (signalling) messages as well.
See Lawful Interception Architecture for LTE Evolved Packet System for more details.
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What is carrier aggregation in LTE-Advanced?
To meet LTE-Advanced requirements, support of wider transmission bandwidths is required than the
20 MHz bandwidth specified in 3GPP Release 8/9. The preferred solution to this is carrier
aggregation.
It is of the most distinct features of 4G LTE-Advanced. Carrier aggregation allows expansion of
effective bandwidth delivered to a user terminal through concurrent utilization of radio resources
across multiple carriers. Multiple component carriers are aggregated to form a larger overall
transmission bandwidth.
See Carrier Aggregation for LTE-Advanced for more details.
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What is Relay Node and how does Relaying works in LTE-Advanced?
For efficient heterogeneous network planning, 3GPP LTE-Advanced has introduced concept of
Relay Nodes (RNs). The Relay Nodes are low power eNodeBs that provide enhanced coverage and
capacity at cell edges. One of the main benefits of relaying is to provide extended LTE coverage in
targeted areas at low cost.
The Relay Node is connected to the Donor eNB (DeNB) via radio interface, Un, a modified version of
E-UTRAN air interface Uu. Donor eNB also srves its own UE as usual, in addition to sharing its radio
resources for Relay Nodes.