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2 Overview

An MSC pool is a collection of MSCs that are configured to serve an MSC pool service area. The MSC pool service area consists
of several Location Areas (LAs).

When the Gs/SGs interface is active, the MSs or UEs can connect to both CS and PS services through the PS network. The
SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool feature enables the SGSN-MME to distribute the MSs or UEs among the MSCs in the pool.
When the Sv interface is active, the serving network can keep UE voice continuity from PS domain to CS domain through the
Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) handover procedure. The SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool feature enables the
SGSN-MME to distribute the UEs among the MSCs in the pool. For each LA, it is possible to configure a list of MSCs serving the
users in the LA. The MSC pool can be rebalanced by redistributing the MSs among the MSCs in the pool.

The network setup for SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool for GSM is described in Figure 1 and SGSN-MME Support for MSC in
Pool for LTE is described in Figure 2.

Figure 1 The Network Setup for SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool for GSM
Figure 2 The Network Setup for SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool for LTE

Note:
"MSC" in the document refers to "MSC/VLR" except in "MSC/VLR" or when it is used together with "pool" in phases
such as "SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool" and "MSC pool".

3 Distribution of MSs or UEs Within an MSC Pool

The SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool feature enables load distribution of the MSs or UEs among the MSCs that
belong to an MSC pool. To determine which MSC to contact, the SGSN-MME uses the following:

 The current Location Area Identity (LAI)


 The MSC selection algorithm based on the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) of the user
 The configured relative capacity
 A configurable unique ordinal number per MSC
The MSC selection algorithm distributes the MSs or UEs among the MSCs in proportion to the relative capacity
values of the MSCs.

The relative capacity value reflects the number of MSs or UEs an MSC is capable of handling in relation to the
total number of MSs or UEs that can be handled by the MSC pool. To achieve equal distribution of the MSs or UEs
in different SGSN-MMEs, the configurable ordinal number and relative capacity of each MSC must be the same
in all the SGSN-MMEs supporting the MSCs in the pool. For more information on the MSC selection algorithm, see
Section 6.

The MS or UE is served by the same MSC as long as the MS or UE stays within the MSC pool area and as long as
the MSC is available, if the MS or UE only moves between Ericsson SGSN-MMEs. Keeping the serving MSC when
moving to or from a non-Ericsson SGSN-MME requires coordination of the distribution algorithms in the two nodes.

3.1 Initial Registration


When information on serving MSC cannot be obtained, initial registration of an MS or UE toward an MSC is needed
in the serving SGSN-MME. Initial registration of an MS or UE is also needed when the MS or UE moves into an LA
where the previously serving MSC lacks coverage. When the SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool feature is active,
the MSC selection algorithm is used to select the MSC for the MS or UE at Combined Attach or Combined RAU or
TAU.

3.2 Known Registration


Usually, as a result of the MSC selection algorithm, the MSs or UEs are connected to the same MSC when moving
between SGSN-MMEs, if the MSs or UEs stay within the coverage area of that MSC.

The following situations when using the MSC selection algorithm can result in the MS or UE being directed to
another MSC when the MS or UE is moving to another SGSN-MME:

 A change of the MSC pool configuration between the initial registration of an MS or UE in an SGSN-MME
and the subsequent registration of that MS or UE in another SGSN-MME. The reason to change the MSC
pool configuration can be to add an MSC to the pool, or to change the capacity of an MSC in the pool.
 The MSC selection algorithm causes a change of MSC when the MS or UE moves between SGSN-MMEs that
both serve the same MSC, but the MSC is a shared MSC that serves two overlapping MSC pools.
When changing the SGSN-MME, change of MSC is kept to a minimum to reduce HLR/HSS signalling. The Ericsson
SGSN-MMEs reuse a known registration by sending information about the serving MSC from the old SGSN-MME to
the new SGSN-MME. The information is sent in the private extension information element in the (SGSN) Context
Response and Forward Relocation Request messages. The same MSC serves the MS or UE as long as this
information is available and the MS or UE remains within the coverage area of that MSC.

If the registration information cannot be obtained from the old SGSN-MME, an initial registration using the MSC
selection algorithm is performed in the new SGSN-MME, as described in Section 3.1.

3.3 Offloading or Unavailable MSC


When an MSC is to be taken out of service, it is necessary to prevent initial registrations toward this MSC by
setting the Offloading parameter of the MSC to true.

Enabling Offloading for an MSC also affects MSC selection during combined TAU or RAU under certain conditions:

 When combined TAU (intra-MME or inter-MME) is performed, a new MSC without Offloading enabled is
preferred in either of the following cases:
o The LaSelectionOption parameter is set to OldMSCPreferred or OldLaPreferred, and the old MSC
can no longer serve MS or UE.
o The LaSelectionOption parameter is set to Reselection.
 When combined inter-SGSN RAU is performed, a new MSC without Offloading enabled is preferred.

For more details, see MSC and VLR (CLI).

If there is a communication error towards a selected MSC which makes the MSC unavailable, an alternative MSC is
selected by the SGSN-MME. The MSs or UEs are then spread evenly over the remaining available MSCs supporting
the LA.

3.4 Distribution for SRVCC


During an SRVCC, the MME selects an MSC from the MSC pool over the Sv interface or selects an MSC based on
the mapping between the LAI and MSC.
3.4.1 When the MSC Pool Is Turned On

When the msc_pool_sv parameter is set to on, the MME first excludes the unavailable and offloading MSCs in the
pool, if any. Then the MME determines which MSC to select based on the following:

 If the UE is attached through the combined procedure and the attached MSC is a member of the MSC pool
over the Sv interface, the MME selects this MSC for SRVCC. For more information about the combined
procedure, see EPS Support for CS Services.
 If the UE is attached to the EPS only, the MME selects an available MSC through the IMSI hashing
algorithm with authenticated IMSI for SRVCC.
 If the SRVCC is for an emergency call with an unauthenticated IMSI, the MME randomly selects an
available MSC from the pool over the Sv interface for SRVCC.

Note:
If all the MSCs in the pool are unavailable or offloading, the MME still selects one MSC for SRVCC once.

For more information about how the MME detects the MSC status, see Sv Interface Description.

3.4.2 When the MSC Pool Is Turned Off

When the msc_pool_sv parameter is set to off, the MME selects an MSC-based on the configured
mapping between the LAI and MSC.

 If only one MSC is mapped to the LAI, the MME selects this MSC for SRVCC.
 If more than one MSC is mapped to the LAI, the MME selects the default MSC for SRVCC. If the
default MSC is offloading or unavailable, the MME randomly selects another available MSC that is
mapped to the same LAI for SRVCC. For more information about the default MSC, see Section 6.1.

4 Redistribution Within an MSC Pool

With the load redistribution function, it is possible to change the load distribution within an MSC pool.
This is useful when an MSC is down, unavailable, or overloaded. This function enables operators to empty
an MSC in a pool or repopulate an MSC that has been added to a pool. This function improves the
following:
 User experience for Mobile-Terminated services in cases of MSC failures
 Maintenance without downtime for features like CSFB and SMS
 Load balance within an MSC pool

Load can be redistributed within an MSC pool by changing the relative capacity values or initiating an
MSC pool move job. Load redistribution by changing the relative capacity values is a slow process, as
the value changes only affect MSs or UEs performing initial registration. Instead, Ericsson recommends
implementing load redistribution within an MSC pool by initiating an MSC pool move job. This is a faster
and more accurate method that can be used to move already registered MSs or UEs.

MSC pool move is supported for GSM and LTE.

The SGSN-MME can move a specified number of MSs or UEs from one source MSC to one or more target
MSCs, each of which is in the same MSC pool as the source MSC.

MSC pool move is performed in either of the following ways:

 The SGSN-MME waits for MSs or UEs to perform Combined RA/LA Update or Combined TA/LA
Update and then moves them to a target MSC.
 The MSs or UEs associated with the source MSC are IMSI detached, that is, only detached for non-
GPRS services, and forced to reattach to non-GPRS services. In the subsequent Combined RA/LA
Update or Combined TA/LA Update, the MSs or UEs are moved to a target MSC.

4.1 MSC Pool Move (GSM)


Figure 3 shows how an MSC pool move job is performed on an MS.
Figure 3 MSC Pool Move Job (GSM)

The following describes the process:

1. First, a move command is received from O&M. Then, optionally, the SGSN sends a Detach
Request message, indicating IMSI detach, to the MS. The MS replies with a Detach Accept
message.
2. The MS sends a Routing Area Update Request message to the SGSN, with type Combined
RA/LA Update or type Combined RA/LA Update with IMSI Attach.
3. The SGSN starts the Location Update procedure by sending the Location Update Request
message to the target MSC.
4. The target MSC sends an Update Location message to the HLR to update the location of the MS.
5. The HLR cancels the registered current location of the MS by sending a Cancel Location message
to the source MSC.
6. The source MSC sends the Cancel Location Ack message to the HLR.
7. The HLR sends an Insert Subscriber Data message to the target MSC.
8. The target MSC sends the Insert Subscriber Data Ack message to the HLR.
9. The HLR sends an Update Location Ack message to the target MSC.
10. The target MSC sends a Location Update Accept message to the SGSN.
11. The SGSN sends a Routing Area Update Accept message to the MS, including a new Temporary
Mobile Subscriber Identity (TMSI).
12. The MS acknowledges the new TMSI with a Routing Area Update Complete message.
13. The SGSN ends the process by sending a TMSI Reallocation Complete message to the target
MSC over the Gs interface.

Note:
Only MSs in NOM1 are affected by the redistribution of MSs in the SGSN. Move any other MSs by triggering the
redistribution function in the MSC.

One source MSC and one or more target MSCs must be specified. For each target MSC, the
number of MSs to be moved in must be specified. To restrict the move job to be valid only for
UEs within a given Geographical Area, apply a move filter at the start of the move job. The move
rate can be limited by specifying the allowed maximum move rate at the start of the move job.
The detach option can be used at the start of the move job or be changed during the move job.

When the SGSN has attempted to move a specified number of MSs from the source MSC to each
target MSC, the sgsnMscPoolMoveOperationCompleted event notifies the operator that the move
job is completed.

The move job settings, status, and progress can be viewed during and after a move job. It is
possible to view the move job status for each target MSC, for example, the number of MSs to be
moved, the attempted number, and the achieved number.
For more information about the related parameters and CLI commands, see MS MSC Move (CLI).

For information on how to perform an MSC pool move job for GSM, see Configuring and
Managing SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool.

4.2 MSC Pool Move (LTE)


Figure 4 shows how an MSC pool move job is performed on a UE.
Figure 4 MSC Pool Move Job (LTE)

The following describes the process:

1. First, a move command is received from O&M. Then, optionally, the MME sends a Detach
Request message, indicating IMSI detach, to the UE. The UE replies with a Detach
Accept message.
2. The UE sends a TAU Request message to the MME, with type Combined TA/LA Update or
type Combined TA/LA Update with IMSI Attach.
3. The MME starts the Location Update procedure by sending the Location Update
Request message to the target MSC.
4. The target MSC sends an Update Location message to the HSS to update the location of
the UE.
5. The HSS cancels the registered current location of the UE by sending a Cancel Location
message to the source MSC.
6. The source MSC sends the Cancel Location Ack message to the HSS.
7. The HSS sends an Insert Subscriber Data message to the target MSC.
8. The target MSC sends the Insert Subscriber Data Ack message to the HSS.
9. The HSS sends an Update Location Ack message to the target MSC.
10. The target MSC sends a Location Update Accept message to the MME.
11. The MME sends a TAU Accept message to the UE, including a new Temporary Mobile
Subscriber Identity (TMSI).
12. The UE acknowledges the new TMSI with a TAU Complete message.
13. The MME ends the process by sending a TMSI Reallocation Complete message to the
target MSC over the SGs interface.

One source MSC and one or more target MSCs must be specified. For each target MSC, the
number of UEs to be moved in must be specified. To limit the move rate, specify the allowed
maximum move rate at the start of the move job. The detach option can be used at the start of
the move job.

When the MME has attempted to move a specified number of UEs from the source MSC to each
target MSC, the mscPoolMoveOperationCompleted event notifies the operator that the move job
is completed.

During and after a move job, it is possible to view the move job settings, status, and progress.
It is also possible to view the move job status for each target MSC, for example, the number of
UEs to be moved, the attempted number, and the achieved number.

For more information about the related parameters and CLI commands, see MSC Pool Move
(CLI).
For information on how to perform an MSC pool move job for LTE, see Configuring and Managing
SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool.

4.3 Characteristics
When an MSC pool move job starts, the CPU load on the SGSN-MME increases. The increase rate
depends on the move rate, hardware configurations, and traffic load. An ongoing MSC pool move
can also increase signaling on the MSC/VLR and HLR for GSM, or MSC/VLR, HSS, and eNodeB for
LTE.

5 Dependencies on Other Features and Procedures

This section describes the dependencies of the SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool feature on
different features.

5.1 (GSM) Combined Procedures, Gs Interface


The Combined Procedures, Gs Interface feature enables CS attach over the PS network and thus
reduces air interface signaling. This feature is a use case for activating the SGSN-MME Support
for MSC in Pool feature for GSM.

For more information on how the Combined Procedures, Gs Interface feature has dependencies
on the SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool feature, see Configuring and Managing SGSN-MME
Support for MSC in Pool.

5.1.1 CS Paging

The CS Paging procedure is used by an MSC to send a paging request message to an MS


through the GPRS service, when the MS is simultaneously attached to both GPRS and non-GPRS
services. The SGSN relays the paging request to the BSC, but the paging response is sent
directly from the BSC to the MSC. During IMSI paging, the BSC must be provided with an
identity of the requesting MSC. The Global Core Network (CN-ID) of the MSC is included in the
paging request and relayed by the SGSN to the BSC.
For more information on CS Paging, see GSM Mobility Management.

5.1.2 SGSN Pool

When using a pool of MSCs with an SGSN Pool, all SGSNs in the pool must have Gs interfaces to
all MSCs in the pool. Furthermore, all LAs that are, through corresponding RAs, included in an
SGSN pool area must have the same LA-MSC configuration in all members of the SGSN pool.

The move job in the SGSN between MSCs within an MSC pool and the move job between SGSNs
within an SGSN pool are mutually exclusive. This means that only one move job is allowed at
the same time.

For more information about the SGSN Pool feature, see SGSN Pool.

5.2 (LTE) SMS over SGs


The SMS over SGs feature provides a transparent transfer of SMS between the UE and the
MSC/VLR through signaling relay by the SGSN-MME. NAS messages sent over the S1-MME
interface are used towards the UE, and the SGs interface is used towards the MSC/VLR. This
feature is a use case for activating the SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool feature for LTE. For
more information on how the SMS over SGs feature has dependencies on the SGSN-MME
Support for MSC in Pool feature, see Configuring and Managing SGSN-MME Support for MSC in
Pool.

5.2.1 MME Pool

When using a pool of MSCs with an MME Pool, all MMEs in the pool must have SGs interfaces to
all MSCs in the pool. Furthermore, all LAs that are, through corresponding TAs, included in an
MME Pool Area must have the same LA-MSC configuration in all members of the MME Pool. For
more information about the MME Pool feature, see MME Pool.

5.3 (LTE) SRVCC


The SRVCC feature enables LTE to WCDMA/GSM transfer of voice calls that are anchored in the
IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). SRVCC from LTE to WCDMA with PS handover is supported.
SRVCC from LTE to GSM with PS handover is not supported. When both the SRVCC and the
SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool features are activated, the SGSN-MME distributes UE
devices among MSCs in pool during the SRVCC procedures.

6 Configuration and Engineering Guidelines

This section describes the necessary preparation in the SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool
feature.

6.1 Default MSCs


An SGSN running the Combined Procedures, Gs Interface feature must always know the MSC
that handles the LA. An MME running the SMS over SGs feature must always know the MSC that
handles the LA. Furthermore, an MME supporting the SRVCC feature must always know the MSC
that handles the LA.

Before deactivating the Support for MSC in Pool feature, prepare the definition of default MSC
for each pooled LA in any of the following scenarios:

 When the Combined Procedures, Gs Interface feature is activated.


 When the SRVCC feature is activated.
 When the SMS over SGs feature is activated and one pooled or non-pooled LA is
associated with more than one MSC supporting the SGs interface.

The default MSC can be defined during or after the creation of the LAs, or after the creation by
modifying the LA configuration. Ericsson recommends defining different MSCs as default MSCs
for different LAs.

For more information on default MSCs, see Configuring and Managing SGSN-MME Support for
MSC in Pool.

6.2 Pool Configuration


The SGSN-MME uses an MSC selection algorithm to select the serving MSC for an MS or UE that
makes an initial registration in a pooled LA. This algorithm selects an MSC by calculating a value
V, that is used to look up the corresponding MSC in a table, as listed in Table 1. V is calculated
using the following equation:

V = [ (IMSI DIV 10) modulo 1000 ]

For more information on this equation, see 3GPP TS 23.236.

The range of V values 0–999 is divided into value sub ranges, one value sub range for each MSC
in the pool. A unique ordinal number is used to pair each MSC and value sub range. The
ordinal number defines in which order the value sub ranges are assigned to the MSCs in the
MSC pool. Each value sub range corresponds to a set of IMSI numbers. The MSC with the lowest
ordinal number gets the first sub range, the MSC with the second lowest ordinal number gets
the second sub range, and so on. The ordinal number for an MSC must be the same in all
SGSN-MMEs supporting the MSCs in the MSC pool. The ordinal number has the same value
range 0–4095, as the CN-ID, to make it possible to coordinate these two parameters.

The size of a value sub range is determined by the relative capacity of the corresponding MSC
in the pool. The relative capacity value reflects the number of MSs or UEs an MSC is capable of
handling in relation to the other MSCs in the pool. The purpose is to enable a proportional
spreading of the MSs or UEs among the MSCs supporting a specific LA.

The relative capacity has a range of 1–255 for each MSC. When defining relative capacity
values, select the largest possible values in the range, for more accurate fine-tuning of the load
distribution among the MSC pool members. Consider leaving some room in the range for future
changes of the MSCs capacities.

The MSC pool consists of MSC1, MSC2, and MSC3. The MSCs are configured with ordinal
number 1, 2 and 3, and relative capacity values of 160, 190, and 150. The MSCs are assigned
value sub ranges as listed in Table 1.

Table 1 Distribution of Value Sub Ranges to MSCs in Pool


MSCs in Pool Ordinal Number Relative Capacity Share of V Values Value Sub Ranges
Value
MSC1 1 160 160/500 0-319
MSC2 2 190 190/500 320-699
MSC3 3 150 150/500 700-999

During SRVCC handover for an emergency call with unauthenticated IMSI, the MME randomly
selects an MSC from the MSC pool over the Sv interface.

6.3 Load Redistribution


When an MSC must be emptied, Ericsson recommends setting the MSC Offloading parameter
to true, which makes the MSC non-selectable for initial registrations. To empty an MSC, run the
move job in all SGSN-MMEs connected to that MSC. To move MSs not running NOM1, apply the
MSC pool redistribution function in the MSC.

To learn how many MSs/UEs are associated with the source MSC at the start of an MSC move
job or remain associated afterward, check the MM.NbrGsAssociatedSubMSC.G or
MM.NbrSgsAssociatedSubMsc.E gauge value.

Note:
If the redistribution function is run in parallel in several SGSN-MMEs, the individual move rates and the load on the
MSCs can be affected.

For more information on how to perform an MSC pool move job for load redistribution,
see Configuring and Managing SGSN-MME Support for MSC in Pool.