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A survey on scheduling algorithms in LTE

Mohammad Reza Amini*, Mostafa Rezaei*, Morteza Bayat*

Abstract This paper contains recent related works to scheduling algorithms proposed in Long Term Evolution (LTE). Different criteria and utility (objective) functions are stated; furthermore some scheduling problem definitions with different constraints and their solution algorithms are mentioned. The differences between downlink and uplink in scheduling and Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MIMO) and Single Input and Single Output (SISO) models are discussed.

Index Terms LTE; Scheduling; CQI; Resource Block; Fairness; Round Robin .

he demand for wireless communication services is growing faster and faster every day so as their applications such as mobile web-browsing, video streaming, social networking, on line gamming and other applications. Different demands for applications and services mean higher data rate demands within limited and valuable bandwidth. There is one inevitable rule, the more the bandwidth has a system, the higher the bit rate it can serve. So utilizing the achievable bandwidth is a key issue for a system to satisfy its customers. Through the evolution of communication networks LTE is an important step. Commercial LTE network services started in Scandinavia in December 2009 and it is expected that carriers worldwide will shortly be starting their upgrades. The key design objectives behind LTE are higher user bit rates, lower delays, increase spectrum efficiency. The first version of LTE, 3GPP Release 8, lists the following requirements [1]: (1) peak rates of 100 Mbps (downlink) and 50Mbps (uplink); increased cell-edge bit rates; (2) a radioaccess network latency of less than 10ms; (3) two to four times the spectrum efficiency of 3GPP Release 6 (WCDMA/HSPA); (4) support of scalable bandwidths, 1.25, 2.5, 5, 10,15, and 20MHz; support for FDD and TDD modes; smooth operation with and economically viable transition from existing networks. LTE shares the bandwidth between

users in form of OFDMA in DL and SC-FDMA in UL, so to utilize the band width, the subcarriers must be allocated to users who want higher demand for data rate. But because of characteristics of wireless channels such as fading and path loss, users which have good channel quality can be served with high data rates. So this is unfair, for example scheduling users close to base stations (called eNB in LTE) may result in high spectral efficiency but would sacrifice other users data transmission. For a communication system to be a good choice, it has to serve all users with all demands as much as possible, exploiting allocated bandwidth and applying fairness among them. Therefore a good scheduler should provide a degree of fairness among users [2,3,4,5]. The purpose of this paper is to investigate some common scheduling algorithms. Section II discussed about some concepts of LTE physical layer. Section III describes some important scheduling methods and criteria and different scheduling problem definitions and modeling are presented in section IV. Finally some conclusions are given in the last section V.


In this section some concepts of LTE physical layer which are important for understanding scheduling problems are discussed. First we should know something about physical resource blocks and how the system allocates frequency and time to its users.

Mohammad Reza Amini was born at 1981. He is an Iranian telecommunication researcher. He is an academic member of Islamic Azad University, Borujerd branch ,Iran. Mostafa Rezaei was born at 1981. He is an Iranian electrical engineering researcher. He is an academic member of Islamic Azad University, Borujerd branch ,Iran. Morteza Bayat was born at 1981. He is an Iranian electrical engineering researche. Islamic Azad University, Borujerd branch ,Iran.


Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) is the core of LTE downlink transmission. So the bandwidth is divided into some sub-bandwidth in the form of subcarriers.

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Furthermore the users data transmit in time in the form of frames. Each frame consists of 10 subframes of 1ms and each subframe in turn divided into 2 slots each has 0.5ms duration in time. Each slot contain 6 or 7 OFDM symbol (in the case of normal cyclic prefix and extended cyclic prefix respectively ). So there is a time-frequency grid that the smallest part is called resource element bandwidth of one subcarrier that lasts one OFDM symbol duration. A Resource Block (RB) has a duration of 0.5 msec (one slot) and a bandwidth of 180 kHz (12 subcarriers). Figure 1 shows this resource grid.[1,3,4]

2.2 CHANNEL QUALITY INDICATOR It is clear that an accurate knowledge of channel quality is important for high-performance scheduler operation. The channel quality is reported back to the eNB by the UE (over the uplink) using a CQI value. The higher the CQI, the better the channel quality is[1,3,4,5]. Based on the CQI value for downlink reported by UE in uplink, which is quantized in 15 levels, link adaptation can be performed. It means that modulation scheme and channel coding for the link are determined. Figure 3 shows this process.

Fig. 1. LTE resource grid

MIMO technique is also support in LTE to utilize either spatial multiplexing and diversity, the former is used to increase capacity and the later is to robust the communication system against fading channels and to increase the SNR at the receiver.[1,4,5]

Fig. 3. CQI values and related transmission schemes

Fig. 2. MIMO scheme



Fig. 5. Round Robin scheduling Fig. 4. CQI-SNR mapping model

3.2 Best CQI scheduling As the name implies, this scheduling strategy assigns resource blocks to the user with the best radio link conditions as illustrated in Figure 6. This method is also called MAX SINR or MAX C/I scheduling [6,7]. It is obvious that this kind of scheduling has the best throughput. Mathematically seen, it schedules the user j who (1) Where is the instantaneous data rate experienced by user i. The main disadvantage of this method is the lack of fairness. For example, when a User Equipment (UE) is far away from the base station and its mobility is low, it may never be scheduled![7]

Scheduling is the process of dynamically allocating the physical resources among the UEs based on some set of rules, i.e. scheduling algorithm. Usually in LTE the RBs are allocated as a resource. The scheduler may use various algorithms in order to decide which users are to be scheduled and which resources to be allocated to the scheduled users. These te chniques may take different parameters into account such as spectral efficiency delay, power levels and fairness. Some of the basic algorithms are described below. 3.1 Round Robin (RR) scheduling The simplest method for allocating RBs to users is to schedule them in turn without considering the channel quality. The RR scheduler is fair in the sense that each user are allocated the same resource in time and in frequency. But it has low spectral efficiency and throughput. Figure 5 shows this type of scheduling[5,6]

Fig. 6. Best CQI scheduling

3.3 Round Robin and Best CQI in turn in order to set a trade-off between throughput and fairness the author in [3] defines an algorithm that operates



somewhere between Round Robin and Best CQI scheduling. In LTE, an individual frame consists of 10 sub-frames each consisting two slots and each slot in turn consists of 6 or 7 OFDM symbols. By combining the two mentioned scheduling methods in the simplest form, the author in [3] schedules each of the two slots in a sub-frame according to Round Robin and Best CQI respectively. it means that the RBs or OFDM symbols in the first slot in a sub-frame are scheduled according to fairness and those of in the second slot are scheduled to have the maximum throughput. Figure 7 shows this scenario when there are three UEs are being scheduled. in the first slot, OFDM symbols are scheduled their CQI metrics but in the second one, each UE are served in turn.

Where indicates the HOL packet delay of user i, represent the upper delay bound tolerable by user i and is practically the percentage of users which can tolerate this delay value according to their specific services. For the scheduler to take the delay into account, should be inserted directly to the selection criteria so that the user who experiences more delay values has a higher priority than others. But the delay value in this case is not the only parameter should be considered, certainly the type of the service demanded for user is also important, because different services have different tolerable delay values, so a multiplier which contains service information should be added to the criteria. Here the scheduler select the user i who (3) The multiplier depends on proportionally [7,8]. For the extreme case of the other criteria should be considered. 3.6 Expo-Linear (EL) This algorithm introduces the delay as a exponential term to better consider the weighted delay. In this case when the delay is low, the PF factor, i.e. , dominates the decision.

Fig. 7. Round Robin and Best CQI in turn

3.4 Proportional Fair (PF) scheduling A good scheduler is the one which can keep a kind of balance between fairness and spectral efficiency. The PF scheduler serves the user j who (2) Where is defined above and is the average data rate for user i. in this way the better the instantaneous channel quality for a user i at time t (time for scheduling) and also the worse the average channel condition up to time t for that user , the more priority the user i has in order to be scheduled.

At the other hands, when the HOL delay approaches the delay bound, the total priority increases in an exponential manner. (4)

4 Scheduling problem different constraints



4.1 PF with power constraint in LTE In [9] the author tried to find the solution for PF scheduler with transmit power constraint. It is assumed that a system has K user and N subcarrier (or equivalently N RBs being allocated to users in LTE). Different data rates are assigned to each subcarrier and each subcarrier could be assigned only to one user at the scheduling period. So is the data rate of user k which is assigned to subcarrier n. since the problem should be solved for all states of assigning users to subcarrier and afterwards the best answer in the solution space would be determined, an indicator is needed to specify whether the subcarrier n is assigned to user k. this indicator is a binary one which can get a values of {0,1} for assigned and not assigned conditions respectively. is also the transmit power of subcarrier

3.5 Modified Largest Weighted Delay First (M-LWDF) Up to now, the discussed algorithms do not consider delay experienced by each user, so in a network with high data traffic or in a peak period time these algorithms are not suitable for real time services. M-LWDF as proposed by [7,8] is an algorithm to keep the probability of delayed packets exceeding the discard bound below the maximum allowed SDU error ratio



n when user k transmits data. This metric is dependent to . The problem could be written as follows: (5) For each user at the beginning of scheduling period there is a weight factor wk that corresponds to fairness. It could be the average data rate experienced by the user k up to current scheduling period . the constraints are:

RB c with MIMO mode j. Effective data rate

, is

is defined for the average transmit data rate of user i on introduced as a new concept, because different MIMO modes have different error probability and by defining this concept and using it instead of conventional data rate, the MIMO mode also can be introduced in the optimization problem and it can be determined. It is formulated as : (6) Where is the error probability in MIMO mode j (D: Diversity, M: Multiplexing). The problem in this case would be (7) And the constraints are:

where is the maximum allowed rate of subcarrier n and P is the total power limitation of the base station. The first constraint denotes that the total transmit power of the base station is limited to a value of P. The second constraint denotes that the data rate of each link (each subcarrier) is limited to a maximum value that is the capacity of nth link. The third constraint denotes that each RB could be allocated only to one user at each scheduling period. The author proved that this problem is NPhard and then by applying Lagrangian relaxation procedure, the problem is divided to a set of n sub-problem which can lead to a sub-optimal solution that could be implemented easily and at the end the simple algorithm is proposed. 4.2 PF WITH MIMO CONSTRAINTS IN LTE Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) is an important technique in any modern cellular system that refers to the use of multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver sides. Enhanced MIMO is considered as one of the main aspects of LTE-Advanced that will allow the system to meet the IMTAdvanced rate requirements established by the ITU-R. The majority of the MIMO technologies already introduced in LTE are expected to continue playing a fundamental role in LTEAdvanced, namely beam forming, spatial multiplexing and spatial diversity [5,10]. In [10] the author considered a MIMO model of 2*2 antennas, m RBs and n users in the system, here multiple RBs can be assigned to one user in the form of as single-stream diversity mode or dual-stream spatial multiplexing MIMO mode and this is the difference between SISO and MIMO model. Scheduling is exactly the same as previous section, the author uses the variables , and but with a bit difference. Another index j is added for MIMO mode. So is the instantaneous data rate of user i with MIMO mode j on RB c at time t, and indicates whether or not RB c is assigned to user i with MIMO mode j (D: Diversity, M: Multiplexing) at time instance t. in the same way

The author proved that this is a kind of NP-hard problem and bring some approximation algorithms. 4.3 PF scheduling in LTE uplink The main difference of scheduling LTE uplink from its downlink emanates from SC-FDMA as a multiple access scheme. Because SC-FDMA allocates a group of contiguous subcarrier to a single user, the scheduler must assign contiguous RBs to a specific scheduled user. So the difference between UL and DL scheduling is in contiguous constraint and the rest of conditions are the same. four algorithms are presented in [11] for UL scheduling. The algorithms are named 1) carrier-by-carrier in turn 2) largestmetric-value-RB-first 3) riding peaks 4) RB grouping.



Fig. 8. contiguous scheduling in UL

The first one schedules data from RB1 to RBm in sequence, and for each RB c it assigns the best user i who 1) has the maximum PF metric value on c and 2) satisfies the contiguity constraint. The second algorithm schedules RBs with largest metric value first. As an example RB3 is first assigned to i, then the next largest value one is RB5 of i. If RB4 is already assigned to other user, then the contiguity constraint prohibits i from being assigned to RB5. To keep the contiguous condition the scheduler assigns RB5 to user i. The third algorithm benefits from a fundamental physical layer characteristic which is that in multi-carrier systems the channel SNR values (i.e. CQI) are correlated in both time and frequency (depending on the Doppler effect and the delay spread). In other words, if for each user i RB c has good channel rate, then the neighboring RBs (c1, c+1) have high channel rate as well with high probability. This algorithm acts in this way: 1) look at large value RBs first; 2) augment them by one neighbor RB. This second rule enforces a bit conservative contiguity condition (i.e. for a certain user i a candidate RB must be adjacent to RBs already assigned to i)[11].

Fig. 9. riding peaks

However, in general the correlation in the frequency-domain is not as strong as the one in the time domain (frequency-selective fading distortion). That implies that there is the overall frequency correlation but its granularity may not be as small as one RB. The last algorithm is actually an RB grouping kind of algorithm 3, i.e. riding peaks with a granularity of one group RB.

In this paper, the study of scheduling in LTE was presented. Important scheduling criteria for allocating resources were discussed and the way of modeling the scheduling problem and applying constrains was compared. Scheduling MIMO and SISO and the limitation of scheduling in LTE uplink were also discussed.

This Study was supported by Islamic Azad University , Borujerd Branch , Iran. The authors would like to acknowledge staffs of university.

[1] Bruno Clerckx,Angel Lozano, Stefania Sesia, Cornelius van Rensburg,


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Mohammad Reza Amini was born at 1981. He is an Iranian telecommunication researcher. He is an academic member of Islamic Azad University, Borujerd branch ,Iran.

Mostafa Rezaei was born at 1981. He is an Iranian electrical engineering researcher. He is an academic member of Islamic Azad University, Borujerd branch ,Iran. Morteza Bayat was born at 1981. He is an Iranian electrical engineering researche. Islamic Azad University, Borujerd branch ,Iran.