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Energy Efficient Small Cell Activation Mechanism
for Heterogeneous Networks
Athul Prasad† , Andreas Maeder† , and Chenghock Ng§

NEC Laboratories Europe, Kurfuersten-Anlage 36, 69115, Heidelberg, Germany.
§
NEC Corporation, 1753, Shimonumabe, Nakahara-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa, 211-8666, Japan.
Email: Athul.Prasad@neclab.eu, Andreas.Maeder@neclab.eu, ngcheng@da.jp.nec.com

Abstract—In this paper, we present a novel small cell activation characteristics as well as resource allocation and interference
mechanism for heterogeneous networks, which considers the conditions of the network.
energy saving gains obtained based on the amount of traffic In 3GPP, there is currently active interest towards devel-
load offloaded from the macro cell to small cells, while avoiding
UE QoS degradation. The main idea is to offload traffic to small oping mechanisms for energy efficient operation of hetero-
cells in energy saving mode, only when there is significant energy geneous networks, especially in scenarios where small cells
saving gains achievable from the process, thereby reducing the are deployed with overlaying macro cells [9], [10]. In such
total energy consumption of the network. The mechanism is network deployments, small cells are considered to be energy
evaluated using LTE-Advanced heterogeneous network system saving (ES) cells which could be switched off during low load
setting, in terms of energy saving gains as well as user throughput.
The results show that with the considered scheme, significant periods, and macro cells would be compensation (CS) cells
power savings can be achieved with acceptable tradeoffs in which provide coverage to all UEs within the system [10].
offloading performance, compared to an optimized proximity- With base stations consuming the highest share of power
based small cell activation scheme. consumption (about 80% [11]) and with the anticipated in-
crease of operational expenditure due to energy costs (by about
I. I NTRODUCTION 30% [12]), such energy saving studies have become relevant
Heterogeneous networks are considered to be one of the and important. One of the recent works which considers energy
key enablers of higher data rates and Quality of Service (QoS) efficient heterogeneous networks using the design and related
for future cellular systems. Heterogeneous networks consisting tradeoffs of sleeping strategies and dense deployment of small
of macro cells for wide area coverage and small cells for cells, is done in [13]. Various sleep strategies for macro base
capacity and coverage extension was the result of efforts to stations are considered, assuming that dense deployment of
bring Base Stations (BSs) closer to User Equipments (UEs), small cells would provide coverage for the users deployed
thereby making use of spatial reuse and increased spectral within the network.
efficiency [1], [2]. Detailed survey of heterogeneous networks In this work, we present an intelligent cell activation mecha-
was done in [1] and a study of various mobility related chal- nism, which considers the energy saving gains obtained based
lenges in such network deployments were done in [2]. Energy on the amount of traffic load offloaded from the macro cell
efficient discovery of small cells in heterogeneous network to small cells, while avoiding QoS degradation of the UE.
deployment setting is considered in [3]. Various aspects and The main idea is to offload traffic to small cells in energy
challenges of such network deployments are currently being saving mode, only when there is significant energy saving
studied in the academia, as well as in the industry as part of gains achievable from the process, thereby minimizing the
3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). total energy consumption of the network. The reduction of
With the perceived increase in energy consumption of about the energy consumption of the whole system, while taking this
40 % for wireless cellular networks from 2010 to 2020 [4], criteria into account has currently received limited attention.
intelligent power consumption techniques needs to be devel- Using the power consumption model studied in [5], [11]
oped and deployed in such networks. Various studies have and [14], we evaluate the energy efficiency and offloading per-
been done in literature [5], [6], [7], [8] considering the various formance proposed mechanism using realistic traffic models,
aspects of energy efficient radio access networks for wireless in comparison to currently defined cell activation mechanisms
communications. In [5], a linear, load-dependant power con- available in LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) systems [15]. The main
sumption model is presented for modern base stations and difference with the work done in [13] is that in this work,
is similar to the power consumption model considered in this we consider the activation of small cells, always assuming
work. The energy efficient cell activation technique considered the presence of overlaid macro cells providing coverage. This
in this paper also satisfies the optimal criteria for efficient could be one of the preferred mode of deployment for network
operation of a heterogeneous network. The work done in [6], operators, since it provides flexible energy saving operation of
[7], [8] mainly considers the problem from a homogeneous the network without the probability of introducing coverage
deployment perspective, using criteria such as load, traffic holes in the network. The avoidance of coverage holes when

For cell i having a total of NTi resources. Here the total RMS transmit power [dBm] is:     SINR Pt = 10 log10 (1000/[W ] Pt [W] · NA ) (2) S = min Beff · log2 1 + . we considered the effective bandwidth model proposed where Pm [W] is the maximum RMS transmit power of the in [17]. We consider a system where each BS has a finite amount of resources and the load of the system depends on NU . the macro (CS) cell which provides wide area coverage From equations (1) and (4). Here we assume a system ES state could be pre-configured by network operators’ using with static load conditions. proposed scheme. each BS assumes to know the approximate SINR to a MS on ∆p the slope of the load dependant power consumption. the a short time period. ES cells initiates handover discusses the evaluated mechanism. Pt = 0 the throughput on the serving link as well as potential target cell. This could be done in an ( energy efficient manner. Exchange implemented at the BSs in a distributed manner. the network tries to achieve energy efficiency is important. so that MSs can estimate the SINR value total power consumed by the BS PC [W] is given by: possible if connected to the ES cell. small cells are deployed N Ui at capacity hotspot locations. (1). of such information is possible over the X2 interface using the Following the study done in [14]. administration and maintenance (OAM) would depend on the physical resource blocks (PRBs) used in entity and the mechanism considered in this work can be each cell. 0 < Pt ≤ Pm discontinuous transmission (DTX) mode [11]. S YSTEM M ODEL number of resources being used out of a total NT available We consider a heterogeneous network deployment with resources. for e. the load ρii and corresponding transmit power small cells are deployed in a dedicated carrier for offloading are given by: purposes. The load condition for entering by the BS depends on the load. Pt the serving link as well as estimated SINR to the ES cell. SINReff the SINR . using macro and pico (small) cells as shown in Figure 1(a). which could be similar to the X2 gives an overview of the system model used. we can observe that for the con- will provide connectivity for the MSs within the coverage sidered system. by switching on the ES cell in NA (P0 + ∆p Pt ). (3) N Ti state when their load is below a certain configurable threshold. Pt i = ρii · Pmi (4) during which its RF components are switched off. P0 the power consumption at zero RF output power. For simulating such a system. Considered scenario. ES and CS cells for communicating the cell activation and The rest of the paper is structured as follows: Section II deactivation messages. together with detailed performance results of the sending an activation request to the ES cell. The assumption is that. load vs SINR and signaling diagram.g. 1. the transmit power and total power consumed footprint of such ES cells.g. antennas. for a system with NA currently defined standards [15]. as compared to the total available PRBs. operations. The S · RBs power consumed by a BS in ES or CS state follows Equation where Beff is the bandwidth efficiency. This the Root Mean Square (RMS) transmit power [W] and Ps the could be estimated by configuring ES cell to be switched on for power consumption [W] when the BS is in sleep mode. [11]. (a) Considered HetNet Scenario (b) Load vs. the II. the load for e. Section III interface considered in LTE [15]. During this time. We assume the presence of an interface between the especially for provision of emergency services [16]. SINR (c) Signaling diagram of the mechanism Fig. Small cells enter energy saving ρii = . The capacity of the link S [b/s/Hz] is: base station. Section V gives summary of the paper. where NUi resources. For calculating PC = (1) N A Ps . Seff (5) SINReff The considered linear power consumption model for base R NU = (6) stations is similar to the ones presented in [5]. For a system such as LTE. Section IV presents the of all the MSs within its coverage area to CS cells before cell simulation assumptions and system level parameters used for deactivation and CS cells initiate cell activation procedure by simulations.

They could also be exchanged using the standardized based on fingerprint mechanism similar to the one considered X2 interface between LTE-A BSs. to ES cell k in sleep mode. Assuming ρii = ρik . forming altogether 21 macro consumed for this operation is not considered. based on load ρii vs SINR curves of the considered model is as shown the QoS class identifier (QCI) characteristics for the bearers of in Figure 1(b) for various values of R. in [3]. by Fig. If SINR to CS cell. The ES cell activation is proximity-based. This means that energy based on equations (1). we get:   NAk P0k − Psk + ∆pk ρik Pmk ρii ≥ (8) N Ai P m i ∆ p i For implementing the mechanism in a real system. The offloaded traffic value ρik in Equation (8) denote the current traffic load when users have constant or Guaranteed Bit Rate (GBR) efficiency. where the ES cell is at locations where high density of users are expected such as activated only if the process gives energy saving gains for the offices. and the energy sites with three sectors each. etc. We consider the tradeoff between amount of Detailed system level parameters are as shown in Table I. BS Transmit Power vs Actual Power Consumption first calculating NU using equations (5) and (6).   it is beneficial to keep the ES cell in sleep mode in order to NAi Pti ∆pi ≥ NAk P0k + ∆pk ρik Pmk − Psk (7) reduce the overall power consumption of the system. The aware of the bit rate requirements of the users for e. This could be decided the BSs. load from CS cell that can be offloaded to the ES cell. The values used in Equation (5) for throughput calculations Thus. we get the BS actual power users to the ES cell which is in sleep mode or dormant state. Simulation Assumptions done in an energy efficient manner.. which could 1. we consider offloading users to ES cells only if the is as shown in the table. When users are engaged in non. From equations (4) and (7). the traffic to the ES cell. etc. using mechanisms considered in [3]. etc.70% traffic is is given by: offloaded from the CS cell to an ES cell. S IMULATION R ESULTS as defined in LTE-A systems. stadiums. We consider a heterogeneous network with seven macro BSs for e. entire system. These pico cells acts as a capacity hotspot and are assumed to be deployed In this work. For a CS cell i having the potential to offload NUi resources. It We mainly consider two scenarios for evaluation: Scenario- is assumed that BS is aware of this parameter. the CS cell needs to know the load caused by the MSs ρii . and the mostly aligned with HetNet specific parameters considered corresponding reduction energy for the CS cell. for e. can cause traffic such as ftp. based on substituting the transmit power values from the table assuming static load conditions. cells. E NERGY E FFICIENT C ELL ACTIVATION M ECHANISM and minimum pico-to-pico distance of 60 m. and QoS characteristics of the traffic is known.g. consumption values as shown in Figure 2. to Equation (8). for a system with max. 2. BSs are also data rate of R will use NU RBs given by Equation (6). [19]. real time online gaming.70%. even a user having R = 2Mbps. guaranteed bit rate (CBR) traffic and data users with full buffer The possible signaling diagram of the evaluated mechanism traffic. we consider a scheme. we get ρii ≥ 2..g. based on values presented in [17] for corresponding reduction in power consumed by CS cell is ≥ 2x2 MIMO with space frequency coding (SFC). There are four pico cells randomly dropped in each macro cell with minimum macro-to-pico distance of 175 m III. Below this value. sleep mode is done as defined in [15]. From the figure. as compared in [2]. where there is a mix of voice users having constant correspond to UE-AMBR parameter in LTE-A systems [15]. a user voice or video calls. as well as estimate the load caused to the ES cell. Here we assume that the cell users as well as maximum bit rate (MBR) users. IV. or by sending cell activation requests to all ES cells and deactivating those cells not having any UEs in its proximity. Substituting transmit power related parameters to the additional energy spent for activating and offloading from the table to Equation (1). For traffic.g. spectral efficiency Seff . The transmit power and they are activated only if an active MS engaged data transfer antenna parameter values are assumed to be pre-configured in is present in the proximity of the cell. ρik can be calculated using Equation (3).e. where there are voice and data CBR is as shown in Figure 1(c). This operation is assumed to be A. (3) and (4) the condition for activation savings gain can be obtained only if at least 2. i. ρik indicates significant load to the serving cell at low SINRs. while using applications such as conversational a system having NT = NRB RBs each with size RBs . and Scenario-2. if the MSs are handed over. Inter-frequency small cell discovery is assumed to be done in an energy efficient manner. The value of the additional energy consumed for activating and offloading R in Equation (6) for CBR and MBR traffic users is as shown .CBR or GBR can observe that. the potential traffic load due to aggregated maximum bit rate of all the users within the coverage area of the ES cell k. peer-to-peer file sharing. with a flexible activation request sent by CS cell requesting ES cell to exit the traffic model. we such traffic [18]. shopping centers. ρik .

0 (0. path Shadowing Standard Deviation Macro cell Pico cell 8 dB 10 dB loss. consuming all the The considerable increase in power from no full buffer users free resources available in the network.0) LM = 128.3) LP = 140. The throughput loss is significantly smaller for In scenario-2. TABLE I in the table.g. NRB 50 PRB size.95 loss from pico cell to the terminal. with some users having guaranteed users which are not offloaded to ES small cells. This means that the baseline scheme could be considered as the case where. Such a scenario is to 10% case is due to the fact that. as compared to the baseline mechanism is less than 2% loss as compared to significant gains observed in Figure 3(b). the probability of switching on a small cell in ES state rest video traffic. ES cells are always S YSTEM L EVEL S IMULATION PARAMETERS switched on. In Figure 4(a).0 (4. traffic. Simulation Results and Analysis reduces by 2. SIN Reff 0. with data rates as mentioned in Table I. the throughput results for varying significant increase in system power consumption. Basic Radio Configuration Parameters [19] Simulations were run as a series of snapshots. For scenario-1. Here R [km] is the distance Macro-User Placement Random. slow fading. Macro-to-Pico Distance 60 m 175 m Currently standardized mechanism in LTE-A release-11 Traffic (Scenario-1) CBR Voice Users [kbps] 64 considers activating all ES cells when the load of the CS cell Data Users Full Buffer increases beyond a limit. since a small cell consumes only 4% of power as number of MSs per macro site. RBs 180 kHz macro BS to mobile terminal and LP corresponds to the path Bandwidth Efficiency. since ρik = 1 for these users. the of full buffer data users. The path loss models used for evaluation follows Cell Range Expansion Offset 12 dB Transmit Power Related Parameters [14] 3GPP case 1 model defined in [20]. 60] MSs per site between the transmitter and receiver. The path-loss is: NA (per cell) Macro (Pico) 2 (2) P0 [W] Macro (Pico) 130. Beff 0. based on subscription agreements in Figure 3(b). We have also considered the scheme where all pico cells are active as a reference case for comparison.7% and 3% energy efficient small cell activation mechanism in terms of respectively with 10% full buffer data users in the system. etc. Also. and for scenario-2. the throughput results full buffer traffic users in the system. From the figure. impact on throughput performance. constant bit rates. Pico-to-Pico Distance Min. and are activated based on 34% gains for NMS = 60 case.1% In this section we present the simulation results of the for NMS = 60 without full buffer users and 1. (10) Other Simulation Parameters Spectral Efficiency. the system moves from suitable for evaluating the performance of the system at full low load conditions to fully loaded conditions.65 SINR Efficiency. with higher number of users in the assumed that 80% of CBR users have voice traffic and the system.5) Ps [W] Macro (Pico) 75. Seff 4. the total energy savings of the system observe that the impact on throughput for the proposed scheme in terms of percentages are lower as observed in Figure 3(c).0 where LM corresponds to distance dependant path-loss from No. Min. for different at full load. we consider users with CBR since more small cells are activated. The total power consumption of the considered system is as shown in Figure 3(c). of RBs. Due to the traffic offload scenario-1. normalized to the data . evaluations were done by varying the percentage and energy saving constraints of the considered scheme. In this work. 40. whereas other users have their maximum The total power consumption due to pico cells is as shown throughput limited. Spectrum Allocation 10 MHz Channels Macro and Pico in separate carriers Uncorrelated slow fading was used for simulations since Pico Max Tx Power [dBm] 30 Macro Max Tx Power [dBm] 46 mobility was not considered. 30% gains for NMS = 40. 17% reduction in energy consumption due to small cells for The ES cells are assumed to enter sleep mode once their load NMS = 20 case.7 + 36. For low load conditions. For full-buffer data users.1 + 37.6 log10 (R) (9) Pm [W] Macro (Pico) 20. consuming more power. we can compared to macro cell.7 log10 (R). We consider a macro-pico scenario for evaluation. For increases for the baseline mechanism. with the Macro cell ISD 500 m simulation settings such as MS and small cell positions. but small cells are activated. The energy saving gains of MBR users with maximum rates as shown in the table is are reduced as the load of the system increases.4% for NMS = 20 and approximately 4. for e.8) ∆p Macro (Pico) 4.0 (6. we consider the system performance using a the NMS = 20 case. the percentage activation of small cells is optimized. parameters of which are as shown Antenna Gain [dB] Macro (Pico) 15 (5) in Table I. In Figure 3(a). even percentage of full buffer traffic users is shown. due to the low load caused by the CBR finite buffer traffic model. it is gains is due to the fact that.7 (4. of throughput. when there are no with network operator. The reason for increase in the mechanism described in Section III. NMS = [20. as well as full buffer traffic users. since more varied. and approximately goes below a configured threshold. we consider activation Traffic (Scenario-2) Voice 64 CBR Users [kbps] only of those ES cells which are in the vicinity of active Video 512 MBR Data Users [Mbps] 2 MSs engaged in data transfer as the baseline mechanism. Total system power consumption B. as well as energy saving The gains reduce with increase in number of full buffer users gains achieved. remaining static during each snapshot. with the power consumption values a similar approach would be applicable for other small cells converging when all the UEs are full buffer users. For scenario-2. ρik = 0. such as operator deployed open access femtocells as well. since all available resources are utilized by presence of one full buffer user in a cell due to which there is a the users. there is approximately for the considered scenario is shown. even with the load conditions.

for the considered scenario. pico and system power consumption results for scenario-2. as well as there is no significant impact on the throughput performance the baseline mechanism. The curves show the energy users in the system. From a network operators’ perspective. The slight affected due to admission control procedure reserving required lowering in gains is due to the relatively higher load for the resources for those users. significant reduction in energy due to active pico cells for various user and traffic distribu. even for cases with higher number of 24 hours is as shown in Figure 5. for a duration of required resources. consumption is possible. full buffer data user traffic results. pico and system power consumption results for scenario-1. the figure. The total system power consumption results can the MBR users would be paying a higher subscription fee to be observed in Figure 4(c). The trend in terms of energy get better data rates. with approximately 3% reduction in total system power the figure. case when all pico cells are active (All Active).5% for NMS = 60 case. 4. tions. as compared to the less than 1%. full buffer data user traffic results. energy saving procedures not impacting savings remain the same as the one observed for scenario- their throughput performance is a key consideration. 3. Throughput. But. for both the considered scenarios. From 1. the impact on throughput performance is saving gains for the proposed mechanism. The energy saving gains are similar to the ones observed more pico cells are activated for providing capacity enhance- .(a) Mean user throughput values normalized to 10% (b) Total power consumption due to pico cells. the system is always able to allocate mechanism. Fig. (a) Mean user throughput values normalized to 10% (b) Total power consumption due to pico cells. rates using the baseline mechanism with 10% MBR users for the full buffer case. (c) Total system power consumption. there is consumption for NMS = 60. Since the data rates of CBR users are not NMS = 20 and 25. we can observe that during low load. even for Figure 4(b) shows the energy consumption in the network low number of active users. we can observe that. Throughput. As the load of the system increases. (c) Total system power consumption. Fig. This means that. the throughput rates for MBR users case without data users due to the higher CBRs compared to are presented. From due to the considered energy saving mechanism. for various user distributions. no impact on throughput due to the proposed scheme. with approximately 17% gains for in the system. since scenario-1. since The total system energy savings [kWh] due to the activation there are only few users. when NMS = 20.

3. Techniques for LTE-Advanced Heterogeneous Network Deployments..” in IEEE VTC. resulting in up to 10 kWh energy savings. 5. May 2011. is due to the fact that even having 10% full buffer users in macro cells would negate the impact of additional power consumption due to not offloading voice users to pico cells.” IEEE Commun. 5.3. IEEE Wireless Commun.. Networks. vol. 11. Study on energy saving enhancement for E-UTRAN. [8] C. 6.” Jan. [3] A. Frenger et al. ver.. Yokohama. 0. 10–21. Currently defined information elements such as Radio Resource Status [21]. 18. M. . 12. with 46–54. of information elements currently defined in LTE-A. “Further Advancements of E-UTRA: Physical Layer [6] K.. Overall Description. QoS degradation is also avoided.” March 2013. pp. “Reducing Energy Consumption in LTE with Cell funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework DTX. The European Union and its agencies are Passau. May 2013.” in Proc. 2012. vol. 11. vol. [14] G.. 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[12] J.ments.” IEEE Commun. “Mobile Networks Unplugged. Manner et al. pp.. Parts of the research leading to these results has received [11] P. pp. and H. to implement the proposed mechanism in a fully distributed manner. April 2007. ACKNOWLEDGMENT [10] 3GPP TR 36. Correia et al. ver. “LTE Capacity Compared to the Shannon Bound. no. Istanbul. 6. [4] G.” [17] P. Heterogeneous Networks. could be used to communicate the PRB usage on both GBR and non-GBR bearers in both UL and DL. its content reflects the view of its authors only. Damnjanovic et al. no.” 247733 EARTH Deliverable D2. no. “Energy Efficient Heterogeneous Cellular Networks. The mechanism can be implemented in a Characteristics of 4G LTE Networks. Mobility Enhancements in Heterogeneous Aware Mobile Radio Networks. “Study on Energy Saving Enhancement for E- UTRAN. Prasad et al. Lopez-Perez et al.” March 2012. Huang et al. vol.” IEEE Commun. “Mobility Management Challenges in 3GPP 2. 72–81. as (a) Scenario-1 well as reduction in interference levels for co-channel de- ployments. with less than 3% loss in [7] J. “E-UTRA.. June 2011.. Dublin.5.00. Biczók et al. V. 2010. Kountouris. Using LTE-Advanced heterogeneous network setting. 2012. pp. 840–850. significant en- ergy saving gains can be achieved in an LTE-A heteroge- neous network. 5. X2-AP. 0. we can conclude that using the proposed mechanism. Germany. UK. not liable or otherwise responsible for the contents of this [13] Y. “Policy and Charging Control Architecture. Simulation results indicate that.1. 0. Shin.0.423. C ONCLUSION In this work.” March 2010. ver. The slight increase in gains from 0 to 10% in Figure 5(a).. 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