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3G LTE channel types

There are three categories into which the various data channels may be grouped.
Physical channels: These are transmission channels that carry user data and control messages.
Transport channels: The physical layer transport channels offer information transfer to Medium Access Control (MAC) and
higher layers.
Logical channels: Provide services for the Medium Access Control (MAC) layer within the LTE protocol structure.


3G LTE physical channels
The LTE physical channels vary between the uplink and the downlink as each has different requirements and operates in a different manner.
Downlink:

o Physical Broadcast Channel (PBCH): This physical channel carries system information for UEs requiring to access
the network. It only carries Master Information Block, MIB, messages. The modulation scheme is always QPSK and the
information bits are coded and rate matched - the bits are then scrambled using a scrambling sequence specific to the
cell to prevent confusion with data from other cells.

The MIB message on the PBCH is mapped onto the central 72 subcarriers or six central resource blocks regardless of
the overall system bandwidth. A PBCH message is repeated every 40 ms, i.e. one TTI of PBCH includes four radio
frames.

The PBCH transmissions has 14 information bits, 10 spare bits, and 16 CRC bits.
o Physical Control Format Indicator Channel (PCFICH) : PCFICH informs the UE about the format of the signal
being received. It indicates the number of OFDM symbols used for the PDCCHs, whether 1, 2, or 3. The information
within the PCFICH is essential because the UE does not have prior information about the size of the control region.

A PCFICH is transmitted on the first symbol of every sub-frame and carries a Control Format Indicator, CFI, field. The
CFI contains a 32 bit code word that represents 1, 2, or 3. CFI 4 is reserved for possible future use.

The PCFICH uses 32,2 block coding which results in a 1/16 coding rate, and it always uses QPSK modulation to
ensure robust reception.
o Physical Downlink Control Channel (PDCCH) :
The main purpose of this physical channel is to carry mainly scheduling information of different types:
Downlink resource scheduling
Uplink power control instructions
Uplink resource grant
Indication for paging or system information
The PDCCH contains a message known as the Downlink Control Information, DCI which carries the control information
for a particular UE or group of UEs. The DCI format has several different types which are defined with different sizes.
The different format types include: Type 0, 1, 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 2, 2A, 2B, 2C, 3, 3A, and 4.
o Physical Hybrid ARQ Indicator Channel (PHICH) : This channel is used to report the Hybrid ARQ status. It carries
the HARQ ACK/NACK signal indicating whether a transport block has been correctly received. The HARQ indicator is 1
bit long - "0" indicates ACK, and "1" indicates NACK.

The PHICH is transmitted within the control region of the subframe and is typically only transmitted within the first
symbol. If the radio link is poor, then the PHICH is extended to a number symbols for robustness.
Uplink:

o Physical Uplink Control Channel (PUCCH) : The Physical Uplink Control Channel, PUCCH provides the various
control signaling requirements. There are a number of different PUCCH formats defined to enable the channel to carry
the required information in the most efficient format for the particular scenario encountered. It includes the ability to
carry SRs, Scheduling Requests.

The basic formats are summarised below:

PUCCH FORMAT UPLINK CONTROL INFORMATION MODULATION SCHEME BITS PER SUB-FRAME NOTES
Format 1 SR N/A N/A
Format 1a 1 bit HARQ ACK/NACK with or without SR BPSK 1
Format 1b 2 bit HARQ ACK/NACK with or without SR QPSK 2
Format 2 CQI/PMI or RI QPSK 20
Format 2a CQI/PMI or RI and 1 bit HARQ ACK/NACK QPSK + BPSK 21
Format 2b CQI/PMI or RI and 2 bit HARQ ACK/NACK QPSK + BPSK 22
Format 3 Provides support for carrier aggregation.
o Physical Uplink Shared Channel (PUSCH) : This physical channel found on the LTE uplink is the Uplink counterpart
of PDSCH
o Physical Random Access Channel (PRACH) : This uplink physical channel is used for random access functions.
This is the only non-synchronised transmission that the UE can make within LTE. The downlink and uplink propagation
delays are unknown when PRACH is used and therefore it cannot be synchronised.

The PRACH instance is made up from two sequences: a cyclic prefix and a guard period. The preamble sequence may
be repeated to enable the eNodeB to decode the preamble when link conditions are poor.


LTE transport channels
The LTE transport channels vary between the uplink and the downlink as each has different requirements and operates in a different
manner. Physical layer transport channels offer information transfer to medium access control (MAC) and higher layers.
Downlink:

o Broadcast Channel (BCH) : The LTE transport channel maps to Broadcast Control Channel (BCCH)
o Downlink Shared Channel (DL-SCH) : This transport channel is the main channel for downlink data transfer. It is
used by many logical channels.
o Paging Channel (PCH) : To convey the PCCH
o Multicast Channel (MCH) : This transport channel is used to transmit MCCH information to set up multicast
transmissions.


Uplink:

o Uplink Shared Channel (UL-SCH) : This transport channel is the main channel for uplink data transfer. It is used by
many logical channels.
o Random Access Channel (RACH) : This is used for random access requirements.


LTE logical channels
The logical channels cover the data carried over the radio interface. The Service Access Point, SAP between MAC sublayer and the RLC
sublayer provides the logical channel.
Control channels: these LTE control channels carry the control plane information:

o Broadcast Control Channel (BCCH) : This control channel provides system information to all mobile terminals
connected to the eNodeB.
o Paging Control Channel (PCCH) : This control channel is used for paging information when searching a unit on a
network.
o Common Control Channel (CCCH) : This channel is used for random access information, e.g. for actions including
setting up a connection.
o Multicast Control Channel (MCCH) : This control channel is used for Information needed for multicast reception.
o Dedicated Control Channel (DCCH) : This control channel is used for carrying user-specific control information, e.g.
for controlling actions including power control, handover, etc..


Traffic channels:These LTE traffic channels carry the user-plane data:

o Dedicated Traffic Channel (DTCH) : This traffic channel is used for the transmission of user data.
o Multicast Traffic Channel (MTCH) : This channel is used for the transmission of multicast data.
It will be seen that many of the LTE channels bear similarities to those sued in previous generations of mobile telecommunications.




Physical Channel Structure
Downlink physical channels:
Downlink physical channels carry layer 2 information but downlink physical signals are only used by the physical
layer.
Physical downlink shared channel (PDSCH)
Carries the DL-SCH and PCH. DL-SCH contains actual user data.
Physical downlink control channel (PDCCH)
Informs the UE about the resource allocation of PCH and DL-SCH, and HARQ information related to DL-SCH.
Carries the uplink scheduling grant.
Physical HARQ indicator channel (PHICH)
Carries ACK/NACKs in response to uplink transmissions.
Physical control format indicator channel (PCFICH)
Informs the UE about the number of OFDM symbols used for the PDCCHs; Transmitted in every subframe.
Physical broadcast channel (PBCH)
The coded BCH transport block is mapped to four subframes within a 40 ms interval.
Downlink physical signals:
Reference signal
Synchronization signal (P-SS and S-SS)

Uplink physical channels:
Uplink physical channels carries layer 2 information.
Physical uplink shared channel (PUSCH)
Carries the UL-SCH, ACK/NACK and CQI. UL-SCH contains actual user data.
Physical uplink control channel (PUCCH)
Carries ACK/NACKs in response to downlink transmission. Carries CQI (Channel Quality Indicator) report and SR
(Scheduling Request).
Physical random access channel (PRACH)
Carries random access preamble.
Uplink physical signals:
Demodulation reference signal (UL-RS), associated with transmission of PUSCH and PUCCH.
Sounding reference signal (SRS), not associated with transmission of PUSCH and PUCCH.
Layer 2
Transport channels, Layer2 structure, Logical channels, and the procedures are introduced in this section.
Transport Channels
Downlink transport channel types are:
Broadcast Channel (BCH) characterized by:
o fixed, pre-defined transport format
o requirement to be broadcast in the entire coverage area of the cell.
Downlink Shared Channel (DL-SCH) characterized by:
o support for HARQ
o support for dynamic link adaptation by varying the modulation, coding and transmit power
o possibility to be broadcast in the entire cell
o possibility to use beamforming
o support for both dynamic and semi-static resource allocation
o support for UE discontinuous reception (DRX) to enable UE power saving.
Paging Channel (PCH) characterized by:
o support for UE discontinuous reception (DRX) to enable UE power saving (DRX cycle is indicated by the network to
the UE)
o requirement to be broadcast in the entire coverage area of the cell
o mapped to physical resources which can be used dynamically also for traffic/other control channels.
Multicast Channel (MCH) (from Release 9) characterized by:
o requirement to be broadcast in the entire coverage area of the cell
o support for MBSFN combining of MBMS transmission on multiple cells
o support for semi-static resource allocation e.g., with a time frame of a long cyclic prefix.
Uplink transport channel types are:
Uplink Shared Channel (UL-SCH) characterized by:
o possibility to use beamforming (likely no impact on specifications)
o support for dynamic link adaptation by varying the transmit power and potentially modulation and coding
o support for HARQ
o support for both dynamic and semi-static resource allocation.
Random Access Channel(s) (RACH) characterized by:
o limited control information
o collision risk
Logical Channels

According to 3GPP, several types of data transfer services are offered by MAC. Each logical channel type is defined
by the type of information to be transferred.
A general classification of logical channels is into two groups:
Control Channels (for the transfer of control plane information)
Traffic Channels (for the transfer of user plane information).
Control Channels:
Control channels are used for transfer of control plane information only. The control channels offered by MAC are:
Broadcast Control Channel (BCCH)
A downlink channel for broadcasting system control information.
Paging Control Channel (PCCH)
A downlink channel that transfers paging information and system information change notifications.
This channel is used for paging when the network does not know the location cell of the UE.
Common Control Channel (CCCH)
Channel for transmitting control information between UEs and network. This channel is used for UEs having no RRC
connection with the network.
Dedicated Control Channel (DCCH)
A point-to-point bi-directional channel that transmits dedicated control information between a UE and the network.
Used by UEs having an RRC connection.
Traffic Channels:
Traffic channels are used for the transfer of user plane information only. The traffic channels offered by MAC are:
Dedicated Traffic Channel (DTCH)
A Dedicated Traffic Channel (DTCH) is a point-to-point channel, dedicated to one UE, for the transfer of user
information. A DTCH can exist in both uplink and downlink.
Multicast Traffic Channel (MTCH) (from Release 9)
A point-to-multipoint downlink channel for transmitting traffic data from the network to the UE. This channel is only
used by UEs that receive MBMS.

RRC Protocol
According to 3GPP TS 36.331, the RRC protocol includes the following main functions:
Broadcast of system information:
o Including NAS common information
o Information applicable for UEs in RRC_IDLE, e.g., cell (re-)selection parameters, neighboring cell information and
information (also) applicable for UEs in RRC_CONNECTED, e.g., common channel configuration information.
o Including ETWS notification
RRC connection control:
o Paging
o Establishment/modification/release of RRC connection, including e.g., assignment/ modification of UE identity (C-
RNTI), establishment/ modification/ release of SRB1 and SRB2, access class barring
o Initial security activation, i.e., initial configuration of AS integrity protection (SRBs) and AS ciphering (SRBs, DRBs)
o RRC connection mobility including e.g., intra-frequency and inter-frequency handover, associated security handling,
i.e., key/ algorithm change, specification of RRC context information transferred between network nodes
o Establishment/ modification/ release of RBs carrying user data (DRBs)
o Radio configuration control including e.g., assignment/ modification of ARQ configuration, HARQ configuration, DRX
configuration
o QoS control including assignment/ modification of semi-persistent scheduling (SPS) configuration information for DL
and UL, assignment/ modification of parameters for UL rate control in the UE, i.e., allocation of a priority and a
prioritized bit rate (PBR) for each RB
o Recovery from radio link failure
Inter-RAT mobility including e.g., security activation, transfer of RRC context information
Measurement configuration and reporting:
o Establishment/ modification/ release of measurements (e.g., intra-frequency, inter-frequency and inter- RAT
measurements)
o Setup and release of measurement gaps
o Measurement reporting
o Other functions including e.g., transfer of dedicated NAS information and non-3GPP dedicated information, transfer of
UE radio access capability information, support for E-UTRAN sharing (multiple PLMN identities)
o Generic protocol error handling
o Support of self-configuration and self-optimization
NOTE: Random access is specified entirely in the MAC including initial transmission power estimation.
Figure 20 : RRC States (from 3GPP TS 36.331)

Signaling Radio Bearers (SRB) are defined as Radio bearers that are used only to transmit RRC and NAS messages.
SRBs are classified into
Signaling Radio Bearer 0: SRB0: RRC message using CCCH logical channel.
Signaling Radio Bearer 1: SRB1: is for transmitting NAS messages over DCCH logical channel.
Signaling Radio Bearer 2: SRB2: is for high priority RRC messages


Layer 2 Structure
According to 3GPP, Layer 2 structure consists of PDCP/RLC/MAC layers. Transport channels are located
between physical layer and MAC layer. MAC multiplexes RLC links and scheduling and priority handling
serving via logical channels. Layer 2 downlink and uplink structures are shown in Figure 16 and Figure 17.

Figure 16: Layer 2 Downlink Structure

Figure 17: Layer 2 Uplink Structure

Logical Channels