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Basic LTE Call Flow

before it can receive or transmit data. These steps can be


LTE a terminal must perform certain steps
categorized in cell search and cell selection, derivation of system information, and random access.
The complete procedure is known as LTE Initial Access

initial system information is


Successful execution of the cell search and selection procedure as well as acquiring
essential for the UE before taking further steps to communicate with the network. For this reason,
it is important to take a closer look at this fundamental physical layer procedure.

but I strongly recommend you to try to have some big picture of the whole process. Whenever you
have some issues or something for you to work, try to ask your self "Where is the current issue
located in the whole picture ?".

Step A: Initial synchronization:


Step A-1: Primary Synchronization Signal
The UE first looks for the primary synchronization signal (PSS) which is transmitted in the last OFDM
symbol of the first time slot of the first subframe (subframe 0) in a radio frame. This enables the
UE to acquire the slot boundary independently from the chosen cyclic prefix selected for this cell.
Based on the downlink frame structure (Type 1, FDD), which is shown in Figure 6, the primary
synchronization signal is transmitted twice per radio frame, so it is repeated in subframe 5 (in time
slot 11). This enables the UE to get time synchronized on a 5 ms basis, which was selected to
simplify the required inter-frequency and inter-RAT measurements.

Query_1: How does UE know to look for the PSS synchronization signal?
Well, UE doesn't need to worry much for this. As, the synchronization signal are always sent only on the center 62 sub carriers irrespective of the
channel bandwidth (1.25,3,5,10,20). Therefore, UE will look for the central sub carriers, i.e at the last OFDM symbol of the 1st time slot and again
at the last OFDM symbol of the 11th slot. With this UE synchronizes at the slot level.

Step A-2: Secondary Synchronization Signal


After the mobile has found the 5 ms timing, the second step is to obtain the radio frame timing and
the cells group identity. This information can be found from the SSS. In the xtime domain, the SSS
is transmitted in the symbol before the PSS . The SSS also has 5 ms periodicity, which means it is
transmitted in the first and sixth subframes (subframes 0 and 5).

Query_2: How does UE know to look for the SSS synchronization signal?
Once, when the PSS is identified, SSS is always send at the slot before the PSS is present. In other words, SSS
immediately precedes the PSS.

Let's see how the UE derives the Cell ID using these two signals:
From PSS: PHYSICAL LAYER CELL IDENTITY is derived. It carries the value of 0, 1 and 2.
From SSS: PHYSICAL LAYER CELL IDENTITY GROUP is derived. It can take the value to 0 to 167.

Formula:
CellID=(3*PHYSICALLAYERCELLIDENTITYGROUP)+PHYSICALLAYERCELLIDENTITY

Step A-3: Downlink Reference Signal


The UE is thus able to become fully synchronized with the radio cell because the reference signals
are transmitted in well-defined resource elements. In every sixth subcarrier in the frequency
domain a reference symbol from the generated reference signal pattern is transmitted. In the time
domain, every fourth OFDM symbol transmits a reference symbol . A resource block contains four
reference symbols.
Step B: Broadcast of essential system information
Step B-4: Master information block
From the MIB, UE gets the following information:
Channel bandwidth in terms of Resource Blocks
SFN (System Frame Number)
PHICH configuration (used for HARQ ACK/NACK)
Query_3: How does the UE read MIB?
The MIB is transmitted on physical channel (BCCH-BCH-PBCH) and it always occupies the central 72 sub carriers in the Frequency

domain irrespective of the channel bandwidth.


The first transmission of the MIB is scheduled in sub-frame number 0 of radio frames for which the SFN mod 4 = 0
repetitions are scheduled in sub-frame 0 of all other radio frames
Step B-5: SiB1
i) Cell Access Related Information - PLMN Identity List, PLMN Identity, TA Code, Cell
identity & Cell Status
ii) Cell Selection Information - Minimum Receiver Level
iii) Scheduling Information - SI message type & Periodicity, SIB mapping Info, SI Window
length

Step B-6:SiB2
i) Access Barring Information - Access Probability factor, Access Class Baring List, Access
Class Baring Time
ii) Semi static Common Channel Configuration - Random Access Parameter, PRACH
Configuration
iii) UL frequency Information - UL EARFCN, UL Bandwidth, additional emmission

After the above process the UE is synchronized with the network in the Downlink direction and have read SIB1 and SIB 2. Now, it needs
to synchronize in the Uplink direction.
The UE cannot start utilizing the services of the network immediately after downlink synchronization unless it is synchronized in the
uplink direction too.
Now, RAP (Random Access Procedure) is initiated

There are two types of RAP:


Contention based RAP
Non-contention based RAP

Typical 'Contention Based' RACH Procedure is as follows :

i) UE --> NW : RACH Preamble (RA-RNTI, indication for L2/L3 message size)


ii) UE <-- NW : Random Access Response (Timing Advance, T_C-RNTI, UL grant for L2/L3 message)
iii) UE --> NW : L2/L3 message
iv) Message for early contention resolution

Typical 'Contention Free' RACH Procedure is as follows :

i) UE <--NW : RACH Preamble Assignment


ii) UE --> NW : RACH Preamble (RA-RNTI, indication for L2/L3 message size)
iii) UE <--NW : Random Access Response (Timing Advance, C-RNTI, UL grant for L2/L3 message)

Contention based RAP


In contention based, multiple UE's attempt to connect to the network at the same time. The eNB is
intelligent enough to tackle this situation because every UE should be unique to the network.

The UE's can always send the same Preamble ID to the network, thereby resulting
on collisions. This kind of collision is called "Contention" and is known as
"Contention based" RACH Process. The network would go through additional process
to resolve these contention and hence this process is called "Contention
Resolution" step.
Step 1: In the first message the UE provides an indication to the network about it's resource
requirement. This carries the Preamble ID, RA-RNTI

Query_4: How does UE gets or selects these parameters:


a. Most of the information is passed on to the UE through SIB2 (click here, to know more about SIB2 parameters)
i. UE MAC layer has to select the Preamble sequence (Group A or Group B)
ii. UE will configure itself with the max retires it will try for sending RAP (if it doesn't receive RAR)
iii. Also, after every retry, how much power level has to be increased for transmitting the RAP
iv. UE MAC layer constructs the RAP message and passes it to the UE PHY layer. UE PHY layer will transmit this message through
PRACH
v. Once the UE has transmiited the RAP on PRACH, it will start looking for RAR immediately after 3 sub-frames. This number i.e. 3
sub-frame is specified by 3GPP.

Query_5: How long should UE monitor the frames for RAR?


This sub-frame number is again specified in SIB2 and is known as window length; so, after the 3 sub-frames as mentioned above, UE
will start looking for RAR in the sub-frames as mentioned by the Window length. If by that time UE doesn't receive RAR, it will go back
to transmit RAP

Step 2. The eNB conveys the resources reserved for this UE along with the Timing Advance (TA),
Preamble ID and T-CRNTI (a number generated by eNB and asks the UE to send the RRC connection)
Step 3. UE sends the RRC connection Request using resources given by the eNB. It also sends the
identifier (CRI) to the eNB which is used to resolve the Contention.
Step 4. The eNB runs an algorithm and generates C-RNTI which will be a permanent ID for the UE
till the connection is alive. The eNB sends the UE identifier. In this step, the UE which has received
the ID continues while other UE's will back off and try again.

Scenario:
Multiple UE's attempt to access the network:

1. So, the UEs initiates RACH with same Preamble sequence, RA-RNTI
2. Therefore, the UEs will receive the same T-C-RNTI and resource allocation from
eNB
3. All UEs would send msg 3 (RRCconnectionRequest) message through the same
resource allocation to the Network
4. Once, when msg3 is transmitted, two Timers are started:
a. T300 : Transmission of RRCconnectionRequest
b. Contention Resolution Timer: broadcasted in SIB2. If the UE doesn't receive
msg4 (Contention Resolution message) within this timer, then it go back to Step 1
i.e. transmitting RAP. If there is a HARQ NACK for msg3 (RRCconnectionRequest)
and it has to be re-transmitted then this Contention Resolution Timer will be re-
started

Query_6: Now the big question: How should the eNB behave?
1. One: The signals act as interference to each other and eNB decode neither of them. In this case, none of the UE would have any
response (HARQ ACK) from eNB and all UE will go back to Step 1.
2. Second: The eNB would successfully decode the message from only one UE and fail to decode from others. The decoded UE will get
HARQ ACK from eNB
3. Third: eNB receives msg3 (RRCconnectionRequest) from both the UE's. Here, eNB will send msg4 (Contention Resolution) with
MAC CRI (Contention Resolution Identity) to both the UE's. This CRI will carry a reflection of the RRCconnectionRequest as generated
by one of the UE. The MAC layer of the UE will match the CRI (as received from msg4) with the CRI embedded in the
RRCconnectionRequest. If it matches, then the UE will proceed to decode RRCconnectionSetup and the other UE's will back off and
return to Step1, i.e start the RA procedure again.

Contention Resolution process is again of two types:


1. MAC based Contention Resolution
=> C-RNTI on PDCCH
=> uses the DCCH logical channel
=> used in HO scenarios
==>The rule is: if the UE has a valid C-RNTI and is going for RA procedure then it will be a MAC based Contention Resolution
procedure

2. L1 based Contention Resolution


=> CRI (Contention Resolution Identity) on DL-SCH based
=> Contention Resolution is addressed to T-CRNTI
=> uses CCCH logical channel
==>The rule is: if the UE doesn't has a valid C-RNTI and is going for RA procedure then it will be L1 based Contention Resolution
procedure

Query_6: Exactly when and Where a UE transmit RACH ?


you need to refer to 3GPP specification TS36.211 - Table 5.7.1-2.
Did you open the specification now ? It shows exactly when a UE is supposed to send RACH depending on a parameter called "PRACH
Configuration Index".

For example, if the UE is using "PRACH Configuration Idex 0", it should transmit the RACH only in EVEN number SFN(System Frame
Number). Is this good enough answer ? Does this mean that this UE can transmit the RACH in any time within the specified the SFN ?
The answer to this question is in "Sub Frame Number" colulmn of the table. It says "1" for "PRACH Configuration Idex 0". It means the
UE is allowed to transmit RACH only at sub frame number 1 of every even SFN.

Query_7: How does Network knows exactly when UE will transmit the RACH ?
It is simple. Network knows when UE will send the RACH even before UE sends it because Network tells UE when the UE is supposed
to transmit the RACH. (If UE fails to decode properly the network information about the RACH, Network will fail to detect it even though
UE sends RACH).
Following section will describe network informaton on RACH.
Which RRC Message contains RACH Configuration ?
It is in SIB2 and you can find the details in 3GPP 36.331.

Query_8:Exactly when and where Network transmit RACH Response


We all knows that Network should transmit RACH Response after it recieved RACH Preamble from UE, but do we know exactly when,
in exactly which subframe, the network should transmit the RACH Response ? The following is what 3GPP 36.321 (section 5.1.4)
describes.
Once the Random Access Preamble is transmitted and regardless of the possible occurrence of a measurement gap, the UE shall
monitor the PDCCH for Random Access Response(s) identified by the RA-RNTI defined below, in the RA Response window which
starts at the subframe that contains the end of the preamble transmission [7] plus three subframes and has length ra-
ResponseWindowSize subframes.
It means the earliest time when the network can transmit the RACH response is 3 subframe later from the end of RACH Preamble.
Then what is the latest time when the network can transmit it ? It is determined by ra-ResponseWindowSize. This window size can be
the number between 0 and 10 in the unit of subframes. This means that the maximum time difference between the end of RACH
preamble and RACH Response is only 12 subframes (12 ms) which is pretty tight timing requirement.

Query_9: Why/when UE send another PRACH? / When/How soon do I have to send the next PRACH?
Backoff Indicator provide the answer to this question.
Backoff Indicator is a special MAC subheader that carries the parameter indicating the time delay between a PRACH
and the next PRACH. (As per 36.321). For example, if the BI field value is 10, Backoff Parameter value is 320 ms. This
means UE can send PRACH any time in between 0 and 320 ms from now.
you would notice that BI (Backoff Indicator) field is made up of 4 bits, implying that it can carry the value from 0~15.

BI subheader should always be at the beginning of the whole MAC header. If you see more carefully, you would notice
that BI subheader is shown with 'dotted' rectangle. It means that this is optional, implying that the network send or
does not send BI depending on the situation.
If you see even more carefully, you would notice that BI subheader does not have any corresponding payload part. It
means "Backoff Indicator" information is carried directly by the MAC header/subheader and it doesn't use any payload
field.
--

What is an antenna port and their mapping?


The LTE standard defines what are known as antenna ports. These antenna ports do not
correspond to physical antennas, but rather are logical entities distinguished by their
reference signal sequences. Multiple antenna port signals can be transmitted on a single
transmit antenna (C-RS port 0 and UE-RS port 5, for example). Correspondingly, a single
antenna port can be spread across multiple transmit antennas (UE-RS port 5, for
example).The LTE standard defines what are known as antenna ports. These antenna
ports do not correspond to physical antennas, but rather are logical entities distinguished
by their reference signal sequences. Multiple antenna port signals can be transmitted on
a single transmit antenna (C-RS port 0 and UE-RS port 5, for example). Correspondingly,
a single antenna port can be spread across multiple transmit antennas (UE-RS port 5, for
example).

The 3GPP TS 36.211 LTE standard defines antenna ports for the downlink. An antenna
port is generally used as a generic term for signal transmission under identical channel
conditions. For each LTE operating mode in the downlink direction for which an
independent channel is assumed (e.g. SISO vs. MIMO), a separate logical antenna port is
defined. LTE symbols that are transmitted via identical antenna ports are subject to the
same channel conditions. In order to determine the characteristic channel for an antenna
port, a UE must carry out a separate channel estimation for each antenna port. Separate
reference signals (pilot signals) that are suitable for estimating the respective channel
are defined in the LTE standard for each antenna port. FIG 1 shows the antenna ports
defined in the LTE standard in Releases 8,9 and 10.

The way in which these logical antenna ports are assigned to the physical transmit
antennas of a base station is up to the base station, and can vary between base stations
of the same type (because of different operating conditions) and also between base
stations from different manufacturers. The base station does not explicitly notify the UE
of the mapping that has been carried out, rather the UE must take this into account
automatically during demodulation (FIG 2). As far asThe way in which these logical
antenna ports are assigned to the physical transmit antennas of a base station is up to
the base station, and can vary between base stations of the same type (because of
different operating conditions) and also between base stations from different
manufacturers. The base station does not explicitly notify the UE of the mapping that has
been carried out, rather the UE must take this into account automatically during
demodulation (FIG 2).

Let us consider antenna ports used for PDSCH allocations since they probably have the
most variations. Initially, the 89600 VSA's LTE demodulator supported only analysis of
PDSCH transmitted on Antenna Ports 0, (0 and 1), (0, 1, 2), or (0, 1, 2, 3). These ports are
considered C-RS antenna ports, and each port has a different arrangement of C-RS
resource elements. Various configurations are defined that use these C-RS antenna ports,
including 2- or 4-port Tx Diversity and 2-, 3-, or 4-port Spatial Multiplexing.

Then beamforming support was added and single-layer PDSCH allocations transmitted on
Port 5 could be analyzed. The LTE demodulator has since been enhanced to support the
LTE Release 9 which added Transmission Mode 8--Dual-Layer Beamforming (i.e.
beamforming + spatial multiplexing)--where PDSCH is transmitted on Antenna Ports 7
and 8 (note that single-layer beamforming in Rel 9 can also use port 7 or port 8 in
addition to port 5). In Rel 10 of the standard, the new transmission mode 9 (TM9) added
up to 8-layer transmissions using Ports 7-14. TM9 is supported by the LTE-Advanced
demodulator.

As Ports 0-3 are indicated by the existence of C-RS, so Ports 5 and 7-14 are indicated by
the UE-specific Reference Signal (UE-RS). The following is a table that summarizes the
various PDSCH mappings that can be used along with the corresponding reference signal
and antenna ports.

In a MIMO or Tx Diversity configuration, each C-RS antenna port must be transmitted on


a separate physical antenna to create spatial diversity between the paths. Single-layer
beamforming, on the other hand, is accomplished by sending the same signal to each
antenna but changing the phase of the each antenna's signal relative to the others. Since
the same UE-RS sequence is sent from each antenna, the 89600 VSA can compare the
received UE-RS sequence with the reference sequence and calculate the weights that
were applied to the antennas to accomplish the beamforming.

Multi-layer beamforming adds some complexity to beamforming by transmitting as many


UE-RS sequences as there are layers to allow demodulation of each layer's PDSCH data.
The UE-RS sequence for each antenna port is orthogonal to the others, either in
time/frequency domain or in the code domain. This can be thought of as beamforming of
each layer independently. N-layer beamforming is an extension of dual-layer
beamforming and supports up to 8 data layers with the ability to beamform each layer
separately.