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4G LTE Architectural and Functional Models

of Video Streaming and VoLTE Services

Sonia Forconi

Manuela Vaser

Department of Electronics Engineering

University of Rome Tor Vergata and
Department of Innovative Technologies and Processes
Guglielmo Marconi University
Rome, Italy

Department of Electronics Engineering

University of Rome Tor Vergata
Rome, Italy

multiple network level parameter (QoS) that impact overall

QoE. Thanks to this relationship, given a QoS measurement,
one could predict the expected QoE for a user.
This paper belongs to the research area of the QoE
management process [14], and in particular on the QoE
modeling. In this field, the aim is to identify, with specific
approaches, the relationship between QoE and QoS about
Internet services deliver through LTE network.
To this aim, the QoE modeling process follows these steps:
1) Implementing functional models of an LTE network for
QoE/QoS assessment, one for each service;
2) Establishing the mathematical interdependency of QoE
and QoS parameters for the Internet real time services
under study, by means of specific approach;
3) On the basis of the two points above, designing and
simulating the LTE functional model QoS/QoE. This
model will be used to calculate QoS parameters value
based on desired QoE factors.
This paper investigates the 1st point above, and illustrates
how to realize a possible challenging and innovative 4G
LTE functional model for the QoE assessment for real time
Internet services, in particular for VoLTE (Voice over LTE)
and Video Streaming services. The innovative aspect of the
article is the functional models creations that enrich the
standardized LTE architecture with extra architectural
nodes, not standardized but necessary for the Video
Streaming (CDN and OTT) and VoLTE operations. The
main contribution of this research is that the MNO could
adopt the 4G architectural LTE Video Streaming and
VoLTE network, based on the respectives functional model,
to conduct the accurate QoE assessment.
The organization of the paper is the following. Section II
presents a description about standardized LTE architecture.
Section III describes the LTE architectural model for Video
Streaming service. Section IV is dedicated to the description
of LTE architectural model for VoLTE service. In section
V, LTE functional models for the Video Streaming (CDN
and OTT), and the VoLTE are presented, while conclusions
and future works are drawn in Section VI.

Abstract User experience about the provisioning of a service

over LTE mobile networks has become a crucial aspect for
Mobile Network Operators. Monitoring network performances
may not be sufficient, because they have to be correlated to the
specific service experienced by the user. In order to do this, it is
important to model network architecture in relation to the
service. For this reason, in this paper, several LTE functional
models have been proposed, for real time services like VoLTE
and Video Streaming with MNOs CDN and OTT, in which the
standardized LTE architecture is strictly modeled on the
service offered to the user. The main contribution of this
research relies on the possibility for the MNO to adopt the 4G
architectural LTE Video Streaming and VoLTE network,
based on the respectives functional model, to conduct the
accurate QoE assessment.
Keywords User experience, LTE, real time services, network
performance, VoLTE, Video Streaming, CDN, OTT.



The 4th Mobile Generation radio technology, called LTE

(Long Term Evolution) [1-5], promises to deliver Internet
services like voice call or Internet connections, chat or
messaging, and activities in social networks with very high
performances and with the respect of quality. The concept of
quality takes two forms: QoE (Quality of Experience) [6-8]
and QoS (Quality of Service) [9,10]. Although the two
terms are defined in many ways, in this paper the QoE
relates to the perception of the end-to-end system
performance at the service level from the user perspective,
and it is an indication of how well the network meets the
users needs. The QoS relates to the performance at the
network level from the network parameters point of view,
such as packet loss, delay, and jitter. To achieve the users
satisfaction of LTE network, Mobile Network Operators
(MNO) need to define SLA (Service Level Agreement) [11
- 13] and to do so, MNO must know performances in terms
of quality of standardized LTE network, and be able to
establish the existing liaison with the user satisfaction
during the fruition of a service.
Despite this, the strong relationship between QoE and QoS
isnt clearly defined by LTE standard: tipically there will be

978-1-4799-8993-5/15/$31.00 2015 IEEE


ICUFN 2015





In this section an overview of LTE general architecture is

LTE/SAE (Long Term Evolution / System Architecture
Evolution) 4G cellular network is a standard developed by
3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project), starting from
the Release 8, to the last LTE-Advanced. It is the most
performing cellular network, in terms of data rates, spectrum
efficiency, better QoS support, lower end-to-end latency, by
reducing the number of network elements, and support to
multiple radio access technologies. It is the first cellular
network designed to support only Packet-Switched IP
connectivity between users. It is also designed to provide
seamless interworking with other access technologies, and
with different type of end user device, called UE (User
The Access Network, E-UTRAN (Evolved UMTS Terrestrial
Radio Access Network), is a network of base stations, called
evolved NodeB (eNodeB), where there is no centralized
controller, with the intelligence distributed among the
eNodeBs [4].
The eNodeB is responsible for the RRM (Radio Resource
Management), i.e. allocating radio resources and scheduling
traffic according to the QoS. This node has an important
role in the MM (Mobility Management) procedures.
EPC (Evolved Packet Core) is the core network, and it is
based on IP (Internet Protocol) to transport all the services
in an all Packet-Switched architecture. This implementation
generates a flat architecture, where there are few network
nodes, without continuous protocol conversions [5].
The eNodeBs are connected to the EPC via S-GW (Serving
Gateway), that is the local mobility anchor for data bearers
in case of handover, and interworking with legacy cellular
access network. It acts both in the Control Plane and in the
User Plane, as it tunnels user data traffic to the P-GW
(Packet Data Network Gateway) [15].
The P-GW (Packet Data Network Gateway) is the edge
node between the EPC and IP Backbone. The P-GW, based
on the indications given by the PCRF (described in the next
subsection), allocates the IP address to the UE, when the UE
requests a PDN connection, establishing the bearer thanks to
PCEF entity, which implements the indications given by the
PCRF, described in the following subsection.
MME (Mobility Management Entity) handles control plane
functions like authentication and security, bearer mobility
and connection management. It further concurs to reduce the
network overhead, holding information about UEs, to ensure
a service continuity when UEs are in idle state.
The PCRF (Policy and Charging Resource Function) is the
Control Plane node responsible for Policy Charging and
Control (PCC), and QoS management. It makes decisions on
how to handle the services in terms of QoS Class Identifier
and bit rates, and provides to the PCEF located in the P-GW







UE )))))) eNodeB












Figure 1: LTE architecture

the information of PCC, necessary to establish a bearer with

the UE.
HSS (Home Subscription Server) is the subscription
repository for all permanent user data, and it acts only in the
Control Plane. The HSS is a database that contains the
master copy of subscriber profile [3] [16]. Fig. 1 depicts the
basic configuration.



The Video Streaming service allows viewing audio and

video content through wired and wireless network. It
includes the E-learning, video conference, Video OnDemand, and in general all the real-time services. Streaming
refers to a stream of audio/video data transmitted from a
source to one or more destinations. The Video Streaming
belongs to the category of "multimedia" services,
characterized by a series of requirements such as a
minimum demand on the amount of resources, a low delay
and high bandwidth, that once satisfied, it can allow a good
QoS perceived by the end user (QoE). Fig. 2 shows the LTE
network to provide the video streaming services.
In Fig. 2 the information exchange between a UE and a
Video Server through the LTE network is shown, composed
by the E-UTRAN and the EPC.
MNOs can provide the service through its own
infrastructure with CDN (Content Delivery Network)
technologies to provide a better QoS through the OTT (Over
the Top). CDN is an infrastructure [17 - 20] that allows the
content delivery optimization, through the replication and
storage of audio/video contents, by caching them in the
MNO networks. This means that there will be at most a user
who will access to the video server. Following this first
video request, it will be caching inside the CDN
infrastructure. The subsequent users will get the video
content directly from the CDN, with considerable
advantages in terms of speed download, video availability,
low delay and packet loss. The OTT [21, 22] are companies
that offer their Internet service (e.g. YouTube), but do not
have their own network infrastructure and deliver the
service through the network infrastructure of a MNO.


Figure 2: LTE Network scheme for the provision of Video Streaming


The OTT services become more competitive compared to

the same service provided by the MNO in terms of its profit.
This is due primarily to the ease of use of the OTT
When a MNO delivers the Video Streaming service by the
LTE architecture, specific architectural nodes are involved
in addition to the LTE standardized architectural nodes,
shown in Fig. 3.
UAC (User Agent Client) is a software client through which
the user requests Internet services provided by the operator.
AAA radius (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service)
[23, 24] is a network node that provides Authentication,
Authorization and Accounting (AAA) management for users
who connect and use a network service.
CDN node realizes the functions above illustrated in this
section, and together with standard nodes (S-GW, PDNGW, PCRF), composes POP (Point of Presence), that
delimit LTE core network nodes engaged in Video
Streaming service. Server Video isnt a LTE node, but a
general server in Internet network. In Fig. 3, for a Video
Streaming service managed by the MNO, we will consider
Server Video and CDN nodes, while for a Video Streaming
service delivered by OTT provider, we will consider OTT
Server Video node without CDN node.

Figure 3: LTE architecture extra nodes for the mobile operator providing
video streaming service (CDN and OTT)
















UE )))))) eNodeB









Figure 4: LTE standardized LTE architecture with IMS

All voice data traffic generated by the user, or addressed to

it, passes through the P-CSCF assigned to that user. The
actions of P-CSCF depend on the access network to which
the user is attached. The most important functions of the PCSCF are listed below.
- It administrates authentication procedures, by managing
the coexistence between fixed and mobile users;
- It guarantees integrity and confidentiality of signaling
- It compresses and decompresses SIP signaling messages
sent over radio access networks (so, also LTE);
- It interacts with the PCRF for billing and PCC rules (QoS
- It maintains a Security Association with the UE (via Gm
interface with SIP protocol);
- It identifies and forwards the emergency calls, by sending
them to the E-CSCF (Emergency-Call Session Control
S-CSCF is the heart of an IMS core network for a VoLTE
session, by determining the resources in order to handle the
call successfully. It acts as a registrar server, and in some
cases also as a redirect server. The S-CSCF also locates the
right PDN-GW to reach the targeted UAC, if it is attached in
an LTE network. Otherwise, S-CSCF establishes the right
gateway to reach the targeted UAC in a PSTN (Public
Switched Telephone Network), or another access network. It
handles the registration and authentication process, by
copying user profile from HSS.
The most important I-CSCF function is to locate a S-CSCF
when it receives the request from the P-CSCF. The I-CSCF



VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE, and it is a voice service

totally delivered in an all-IP Packet Switched domain, in
which the MNO provides the service by means of its own
network, and then it can manage all the phases of the
service, instead of what happens for Voice over IP service,
in which the service is offered by OTT companies. The
main advantage in such a solution is that the MNO can
guarantee to the user a quality of voice service comparable
to voice calls in Circuit Switched domain.
VoLTE calls provisioning is possible thanks to the presence
of specific architectural elements composing the so called
IMS (Internet Multimedia Subsystem), standardized by
3GPP in [25, 26]. Fig. 4 shows standardized LTE
architecture with IMS, where the UAC is indicated withUE.
P-CSCF (Proxy-Call Session Control Function) is the first
point of contact when a UAC is trying to establish a VoLTE
call, by using SIP protocol signaling information. It selects
the right I-CSCF (Interrogating-Call Session Control
Function), and the I-CSCF selects the right S-CSCF
(Serving-Call Session Control Function).


is always in the home network of the VoLTE user. It can

locate the S-CSCF by two instances:
1. P-CSCF sends a SIP Registration message to the I-CSCF,
based on the domain of the caller user;
2. I-CSCF receives the SIP Invite message from the S-CSCF
of the called user.
After receiving message type 1 or 2, I-CSCF consults the
HSS via Diameter Protocol, in order to locate the right SCSCF for the caller user.
When a MNO delivers the VoLTE service by the LTE
architecture, specific architectural nodes are involved in
addition to the LTE standardized architectural nodes, shown
in Fig. 5.
The LTE architecture is the same showed in Fig. 3 and
detailed in the relative section III for the most part of the
architectures. The difference is in the LTE core network,
where in case of VoLTE service providing it is necessary
the presence of the IMS (detailed in section IV), and of the
node called SBC (Session Border Controller). The SBC [36,
37] isnt a standardized LTE node, and it is responsible for
the control over signaling information in voice packet
services, exchanged between the EPC and the IMS.

Figure 5: LTE architecture extra nodes for the mobile operator providing
VoLTE service (managed by MNO)

represents the UE's physical connectivity to the MNO

network. The UE establishes the RRC (Radio Resource
Control) [28] connection with the eNodeB, inside EUTRAN block in Fig. 5, to request the resources from the
network for its service needs. Then the UE sends an uplink
NAS (Non Assess Stratum) messages, containing the attach
request message together with a PDN connectivity request
for the PDN (IP) to the MME, so the eNodeB establishes the
S1 logical connection with the MME for this UE.
Subsequently through the Update Location Procedure [29,
30], the MME sends the Update Location request message
to the HSS in order to update the HSS with the location of
the UE; it also requests the subscriber profile from the HSS
using this message. The HSS will update its database and
send, in the answer message, the UE subscriber profile
Step 2 refers to the LTE Network Attach procedure named
phase B (dashed blue arrow with number 2). In this second
phase, an attach request is sent from the access network to
the core network EPC (i.e. the S-GW and PDN-GW). To
this aim, the MME sends a Create Session Request to the
PDN-GW, toward the S-GW, to establish the end-to-end
default bearer connectivity. The PDN-GW can contact the
AAA radius, if it is present in the MNO network (AAA
radius isnt a standardized LTE architectural node, so its
presence depends on MNO decisions), for a further UE's
verification. If the verification is successful, the PDN-GW
allocates an IP address for the UE, allowing the
establishment of the PDN connection. Then the PDN-GW
sends the positive response to create the default bearer to the
S-GW, that sends a Create Session Response to MME. At
this point start the Default Bearer establishment [31] and the
UE is now ready to use the network services.
Step 3 depends on the type of service that UE requires.
Following section explain the step 3 for the services under



Realizing a functional model is the first essential step in the

QoE/QoS relationship assessment. Functional model is a
representation of all the phases of the service provisioning,
that involves both standardized and non-standardized
architectural nodes, such as the standardized messages and
procedures that these nodes forward among them. So, the
aim of a functional model is to establish the operational
phases of service set-up, provisioning, and end-up. Next
step is the realization of the simulation model, on the basis
of the procedures implemented with the functional model,
that will give performance results, in order to establish and
validate the mathematical relation between QoE and QoS.
Fig. 6 - 8 [43] show the LTE functional models for the
Video Streaming (with CDN or OTT) and VoLTE MNO
managed services. To get service from the network, the UE
needs to synchronized itself with the network in both the
downlink as well as the uplink direction. The downlink
synchronization occurs when UE performs network and cell
selection, the uplink synchronization instead happens
through the Random Access Procedure (RAP) [27].
Assuming UE has performed synchronization with the
network, next step needed by UE to use the services, is the
registration with the network. This registration is known as
the LTE network attachment and the operation flows to
service delivery follows three steps derived by 3GPP:
Step 1: LTE Network Attach (phase A)
Step 2: LTE Network Attach (phase B)
Step 3: Service deliver
Step 1 refers to the LTE Network Attach procedure, named
phase A (dashed blue arrow with number 1), and it


The Video Streaming functional model with CDN

Step 3 for the Video Streaming service will now be

described using Fig. 6. When a particular piece of content,
like a video, is requested multiple times, the MNO would
cache it into the CDN inside the POPs.


Figure 6: Video Streaming functional model with CDN[50]

In this case, CDN is a part of the LTE packet core network.

Since that, any request for that content will be delivered
from the MNO's network instead Internet network. The
CDN increases the speed to the content deliver to end user.
The signaling path, depicted in Fig. 6 by the dashed red
arrow with number 3, represents the signaling packet flow
of the video content caching from the Video Server into the
CDN (triangulation path between PDN-GW, Video Server
and CDN). This content acquisition is defined by ETSI as
ingestion [37]. When the video content is available into the
CDN, data path, depicted in Fig. 6 by the continue black
arrow with number 3, is used to deliver the required video
content to the UE. The most common video streaming
protocol used for the signaling packets is the RTCP, while
for the for the data packets is the RTP protocol.


Figure 7: OTT Video Streaming functional model [50]


The VoLTE functional model

Step 3 for the VoLTE service will now be described using

Fig. 8, in which the functional model is showed. VoLTE
service delivering requires the coordination between the
EPC and the IMS [32, 26]. IMS realizes multimedia
communications between 3GPP communication services
through the use of SIP protocol [33], used on the Internet
and in Internet phones.
After the functions described in steps 1 and 2, by which a
proper default bearer is activated, Step 3 is necessary in
order to establish a VoLTE session. At the beginning of the
VoLTE calling by the UAC caller, a SIP signal bearer is
allocated for the calling signal data packet, showed in Fig. 8
with a dashed red arrow with number 3, and it is maintained
until detach, by means of a SIP registration request sent by
the UAC to the P-CSCF. This request contains the home
domain of the UAC, and this information is used by the
P-CSCF for a consultation with the DNS server, in order to
identify the I-CSCF in UACs home network. Once I-CSCF
is identified, P-CSCF forwards SIP registration request to
the I-CSCF, and ultimately I-CSCF sends it to the S-CSCF.
Control messages between EPC and IMS are sent through
the SBC [34, 35]. After the SIP signal bearer activation, a
bearer for voice packets will be activated, and it is showed
in Fig. 8 with a continue black arrow with number 3. The
P-CSCF contacts the PCRF in order to request a bearer path
for the voice packet. The PCRF contacts the PDN-GW and
the S-GW to reserve bearer resource for voice packet with
the respect of the QoS requirements. The result is the setting
up of bearer for voice packets between the UAC and the
EPC, through the RTP (Real Time Protocol) and RTCP
(Real Time Control Protocol) protocols [36].

The OTT Video Streaming functional model

The OTT Video Streaming functional model aims to deliver

OTT applications like YouTube. These applications dont
support 3GPP standards. The OTT Video Streaming
application delivers video and audio media streams via the
Internet through the LTE network. OTT service is delivered
through Internet data protocols (HTTP protocol), and it uses
the open Internet which is by definition an unmanaged
network. In this scenario, the OTT player asks to MNO the
support of adaptive streaming protocols [38 - 41] in order to
transmit in the best effort traffic class, but with a certain
level of quality. In the functional model, shown in the Fig.
7, step 3 allows to deliver OTT application through the LTE
network, where the requests and protocols for the exchange
of signaling and data packets are managed by the OTT
provider, showed respectively with dashed red and continue
black arrows with number 3. Even though the OTT concept
is related to an unmanaged network, as in this case where
OTT application are delivered by the LTE network, the
PCRF remains an integral component that determines the
QoS levels that OTT applications will receive [42],
particularly for a cooperation and partner up between MNO
and OTT provider (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Adobe), that
ensure business convenience and the possibility that the
users should not be limited in any way from enjoying the
variety of services offered by the OTT provider.



In this paper LTE functional models designed for QoE

assessment for Video Streaming and VoLTE services have
been proposed. The authors are working on the analysis of
the mathematical inter-dependency between QoE and QoS
parameters for the services above. In the next future, new
publications about this argument will be presented.


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[24] IETF Tool - RFC 2866, "RADIUS Accounting", June 2000.

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Figure 8: VoLTE functional model [50]

At the same time, a simulation model of the functional

models has been realized with OPNET Modeler, and results
of simulation in order to validate the framework will be
The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Prof. Giuseppe Iazeolla (University of Study Guglielmo
Marconi and University of Rome "Tor Vergata") and
Maurizio Siviero (Telecom Italia), for their support in the
PhD thesis and the production of technical reports [43] [44].



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