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Appendix: UMTS fundamental concepts

1.1 What is UMTS?
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) represents the choice for the 3rd Generation Global Mobile Communications System in several countries/regions including almost all European countries, Japan and Australia. 3rd Generation mobile communication systems are intended to provide advanced global services to the customer, either circuitswitched (e.g. speech and new services like video calls) or packetswitched, new mobile multimedia services (e.g. streaming/mobile TV, location based services, Downloads, multi-user games and many more) giving more flexibility for the operator to introduce these new services to its portfolio and from the user point of view, more service choices and a variety of higher, on-demand data rates compared with current 2-2.5G mobile systems. The global feature means that the system is designed to reach global coverage (if required) through the use of Satellite Links, Macro-cells, Micro-Cells and Pico-Cells. From the Standards point of view, UMTS is a mobile communications system standardized by the 3GPP and the specifications are at the present time in their Release Number 6. The mobile operators that bought 3G licenses in Europe have already deployed their UMTS W-CDMA (Wideband CDMA: the chosen multiple access technology for UMTS) based networks, although the coverage is still not comparable with the currently huge, transnational coverage of GSM-GPRS networks. In fact, at least in the first years of deployment, UMTS networks are going to rely on GSM networks to reach zones where there is still no UMTS coverage, using a technique called Inter-RAT (RAT: Radio Access Technology) handovers. About the UMTS services, some commercial services have been available for the general customers, in the concrete case of The Netherlands, since the last year.

1.2 Technical characteristics

Technically speaking, the radio-access part (also called the air interface) is the most important difference regarding to the so-called 2-2.5G systems (e.g. GSM, GSM+GPRS). Instead of using the FDMA-TDMA combination (i.e. carriers and timeslots per carrier) as the access technology like in GSM, UMTS uses Wideband-CDMA, a technology based on the Direct Sequence (DS) Spread Spectrum principle. Direct Sequence makes reference to the usage of a special code to separate the signals (opposite to frequency hopping which is the other Spread Spectrum

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method and which is used for instance in Bluetooth technology). Spread Spectrum means that because of the special signal processing method of CDMA, the original information signal is spread in the frequency domain within the wider frequency range of the W-CDMA channel. In W-CDMA Systems, users belonging to a cell are separated by codes (i.e. special sequences of bits) and not by timeslots as in TDMA (timeslots in W-CDMA systems timeslots are not used for user separation, but to support periodic functions, e.g. UE reception of power control commands each timeslot). Another characteristic of W-CDMA is that the users share the complete frequency spectrum of near 5 MHz per UMTS channel all the time during their communication. In general, in CDMA systems, the way the uplink (i.e. mobile station to base station transmission) and downlink (i.e. base station to mobile station transmission) connections are separated is referred either by FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) or TDD (Time Division Duplex) modes respectively. For the UMTS public mode (W-CDMA), the choice has been the FDD mode, which uses different frequencies for both uplink and downlink (i.e. the mobile transmits in one frequency and receives in another). FDD is used for large outdoor cells because it can support more users than TDD mode. TDD uses the same frequency but different timeslots for each type of connection (UL-DL) and W-CDMA in TDD mode is intended to provide private indoor low-range communications. In practice, an operator needs 2 to 3 channels (2x5x2 or 2x5x3 MHz) to be able to build a high-speed, high-capacity network, probably using a layering approach, such as the so-called Hierarchical Cell Structure (HCS) scenarios, using different carriers for micro-cells and macro-cells. In the next graph, we can see the allocated spectrum in the concrete case of The Netherlands [Umtsworld].

Figure 1-1: Allocated UMTS spectrum in The Netherlands About the code usage, it is important to mention that CDMA requires two kinds of codes for its operation: channelization (spreading) code and

scrambling code. The usage of these codes depends on the direction of the communication (in Uplink, the transmitter is the mobile whereas in Downlink the transmitter is the Base station). The purpose of the channelization (spreading) codes in both UL and DL directions is to separate channels from a single transmitter, whereas the purpose of the scrambling codes is to separate transmitters (also applies to both UL and DL directions). The main difference in the frequency domain between both kinds of codes is that the Scrambling codes dont modify the bandwidth of the Information Signal, whereas the channelization codes do. As this is something very important in order to understand how UMTS works, in the next section the code usage is explained both in UL and DL.

1.3 Channelization (Spreading) codes

In UL direction (UE transmits and Node B receives), channelization codes are used to separate physical data and control (i.e. signaling) channels from the same terminal. In DL (Node B transmits, UE Receives), channelization codes are used to separate connections to different users within one cell (users of the cell are sharing the code tree of that cell, that is, the pool of DL code resources of the tree). Once a channelization code is applied to the information signal, the Bandwidth of the information signal changes (in frequency domain) to a higher bandwidth, in other words is spread over the UMTS bandwidth channel (hereby the name of spread spectrum). In time domain, the effect is the change of rate of the information signal. To distinguish from the Information Rate, 3GPP calls the Rate of the channelization code as the Chip Rate, although physically the chips are also bits (although of higher frequency (smaller period) than the data or information bits). Therefore, after the channelization code is applied to the information signal, the result is a signal with a bit rate equal to the chip rate (the reference chip rate in UMTS is fixed to 3.84 Megachips / sec, and varying the number of chips per information bit we obtain different user speeds). The next figure helps to clarify the effects of the channelization code in both frequency and time domain.

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Bandwidth of baseband

Bandwidth after spreading

1 Voltage -1

f t

Figure 1-2: Effects of the channelization code in Time and Frequency domain The codes used for the channelization operations must have a special property called orthogonality. Orthogonal code means that the inner product of the code with the codes from the other users (called crosscorrelation property) or the product of the code with a shifted version of the code itself (called auto-correlation) has to be as small as possible. These codes are also known as OVSF (Orthogonal Variable Spreading Factor) codes. For orthogonality to work, the signals must be properly synchronized in time. Thats why in DL for instance, due to multi-path propagation, some of the orthogonality property is lost. This is had into account in CDMA capacity equations with the so-called orthogonality factor, which is a factor that varies between 0 (full orthogonality, no interference) and 1 (no orthogonality, full interference)*. The number of chips used for each data bit is known as the spreading factor (SF). Also, in the frequency domain, SF = W / R, where W = Bandwidth of the spread signal [Hz] and R = Bandwidth of baseband data [Hz]. Summarizing, in Time Domain: SF = Chip Rate / Data Rate coded channel And also, in Frequency Domain: SF = W / R (A1.2) (A1.1)

*: This definition is in line with the definition in Wines simulator documentation. However in some other references, for instance [Holma], 0 means no orthogonality and 1 means full orthogonality.

Where Data Rate coded channel means that this data rate has into account the overhead introduced by coding techniques and it doesnt corresponds

directly to the information rate (unless the coding factor is 1 of course). This is important to know because it is a common source of mistakes in calculations. If we have a low spreading factor it means that it is consuming more code resources from the code tree and the bit rate is higher, for instance with SF = 8, the data rate of the spread signal would be 480 Kbps, whereas with SF=256, the data rate of the spread signal would be 15 Kbps. Therefore, in Downlink, the number of codes (given by the maximum SF) is a scarce resource that can be in shortage and therefore must be carefully considered in any capacity analysis.

1.4 Scrambling codes

Scrambling codes separate different mobiles (in uplink) and different Node-B cells/sectors (in downlink). This is a code that does not affect the transmission bandwidth which was already transformed by the usage of the channelization code. The codes used for scrambling codes are known as Gold codes and there are two versions (long and short) depending on the features of the terminal/Node B either one or another version is used. In Uplink, the number of codes available is in the order of millions of codes (that guarantees no code shortage when trying to separate the transmitting users), but in Downlink this number is limited to 512; otherwise the cell-search procedure shouldnt be possible to solve in a reasonable time. Finally, in the reception side the same transmitters channelization code is applied and that allows the receiver to reconstruct the original transmitted signal. W-CDMA also involves a certain degree of security, in the sense that without the transmitters channelization code available, it is almost impossible to reconstruct the original signal, thus preventing tampering attacks in the air interface. Summarizing, the following schematic illustrates in a simple way the process of transmission and reception in UMTS involving all the elements mentioned.
Data bits

Recovered bits

Transmission medium

Spreading code

Spreading code

Scrambling code

Scrambling code

Figure 1-3: Simplified Transmission and Reception process in UMTS

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As the radio access part has changed with respect to previous 2-2.5G systems as GSM-GPRS, new methods have to be developed to estimate capacity and coverage of the W-CDMA system.

1.5 The processing Gain, SIR (Signal to Interference Ratio) and Eb/No concepts in UMTS [Vourekas]

Consider a single-cell CDMA system with N users where ideal power control is applied and consequently the signal from all the users reaches the node B demodulator with the same intensity S (figure 1-4).

N users

Figure 1-4: Derivation of the SIR and Eb/No relationship

The demodulator of the Node B processes one desired signal S, and N-1 interfering signals with total power equal to S*(N-1). The desired signal is shown in the graph as a continuous line and the rest in dotted lines. The interference sums up to (N-1)* S. The signal-to-interference power ratio, denoted SIR, is then:


S 1 = (N 1)S (N 1)


The bit energy to noise ratio, denoted as Eb/No, is obtained by dividing the signal power by the information (baseband) bit rate, and the interference power by the total RF frequency.

S Wrf EB 1 R = = N o ( N 1)S ( N 1) R Wrf


In the last part of equation (A1.4), the first term is equal to the signal to interference ratio (as defined in equation A1.3) and the second term is defined as the processing gain:

Gp =

TotalSpreadBandwidth Wrf = InformationBitRate R


Comparing (A1.5) with (A1.2), we see that the definition of Gp is equivalent to the definition of SF. The processing gain is a Gain achieved at the receiver during the de-spreading process and it is due to the fact that the W-CDMA receiver can sum-up coherently the multiple copies of the original data generated by the multi-path propagation, by means of a special receiver technique known as Rake Receiver. Therefore, making the equivalence between SF and Gp, we can say that the high data rate transmissions have low processing gain (low spreading factor). From the equations (A1.3), (A1.4) and (A1.5), we derive a relationship between the SIR and Eb/No that also involves the processing gain. So after de-spreading process:

Eb = SIR GP No
In another form:



1 Eb GP N o


Equation (1.6.1), when the quantities are expressed in dBs, becomes:


Eb Gp No


The following figure summarizes graphically this physical process.

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W Tx antenna

RF output
f 0 Data, Rb Rc f0 W= 5MHz f0

Spreading Code

Ec/Io + Gp = Eb/No, in dB or SIRtarget + Gp = Eb/No in dB

W Eb/No

Noise & interfering signals

RF input

Rx antenna

Ec/Io This is negative!

f f0 Rc W= 5MHz Spreading Code 0

Data, Rb

Figure 1-5: Physical meaning of SIR and Eb/No [Vourekas] To put a practical example: consider a speech signal with a bit-rate of 12.2kbps. So Rb=12.2 kbps and Rc= 3.84 Mchips/sec. Then the processing gain of the signal is:

Rc 3.84 10 6 2 = G p = 10 log 10 log 12.2 10 3 = 10 log 3.15 10 = 25dB R b

After despreading, the baseband (own) signal needs to be typically a few dB above the interference and noise power. This required signal power density above the noise power density after despreading is designated as Eb/No. This quantity is of capital importance because the quality targets are always expressed as a function of Eb/No as can be seen in the analysis presented in [Castro] where the Bit Error Rate probability is derived in terms of this figure. As the quality targets are expressed as function of Eb/No , the CDMA equations regarding capacity also use this important figure as it is going to be shown in a later section. The required signal power density below the interference power density before despreading is designated as SIR (Signal to Interference Ratio), and it is also known as Ec/Io (In fact, Ec/Io and Ec/No are the same thing. 3GPP just had to use different nomenclature than the IS-95 community).

For speech service Eb/No is typically in the order of 5dB. That means that after despreading the resulting baseband signal must be 5dB above noise in order to be successfully reconstructed at the decoder. Therefore, the required wideband SIR must 5 dB minus the processing gain. This follows also from equation A1.7. SIRtarget = 5dB-25dB = -20dB. In other words:

SIR + G p = Eb / N o 20dB + 25dB = 5dB

(Gains or ratios that are expressed in dBs can be added and subtracted. In the dB scale multiplication is translated into addition). But, what exactly does SIR of 20dB mean? It means that the signal can be buried far below the interference. In fact for our example the chip power density signal is 100 times smaller than the noise +interference level.

Ec Ec Ec 1 10 log = 2 N = 10 2 N o = 100 Ec N = 20dB log N o o o

Thus the required wideband SIR is so tolerant that the signal can be buried in interference of a power density that is 100 times larger! Still is that SIR good enough for the signal to be recovered. Compare this with the 9 to 18 dBs of SIR required for good voice quality in GSM systems [Holma]. As we have seen so far, within any given channel bandwidth (chip rate) we will have a higher processing gain for lower user data bit rates than for high. With high data rates some robustness of the WCDMA against interference is clearly compromised. Summarizing, we have to remember the equation (all quantities in dBs): SIRtarget + Gp = Eb/No (A1.8)

Expressed in dB the received SIR is negative. It is then multiplied with the processing gain, an addition in dB scale. If now the processing gain is not large enough the resulting Eb/No will be too small and will not rise above the interference. In case the Eb/No < 0 there is no detection at all.

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This fact gives us the first impression of why the Interference levels in the network are so important in the radio planning process of UMTS systems, because if the interference level is high in some cells (because the interference contribution of many users sharing the air interface and probably using different data rates), then the Eb/No level of some links is not going to be enough to make their signal to rise above the interference level and therefore the call would be dropped (i.e. the capacity in terms of number of supported users per cell is modified) and the cell-size (coverage) would be reduced (phenomena known as cell breathing effect). This is the main reason why in UMTS capacity and coverage planning cannot be separated processes, as it can be done for instance in other mobile systems such as GSM where first predictions of the path loss are evaluated in order to ensure the coverage of the desired area, and then capacity is dimensioned as a second step (capacity in a GSM cell it is given by the number of available channels, which is a function of the reuse factor and the number of carriers per cell [Umtsforum6] and therefore the sensitivity level at the base stations (i.e. the minimum power level of the incoming signal at the receiver in order to be detected) can be assumed as a constant. On the contrary, in UMTS the sensitivity of the base stations is a random variable that depends on the number of users and the bit rates / services being used at any given time, then it is clear that capacity influences coverage and a separate planning of capacity and coverage cannot be performed, as the interference should be taken into account already in the coverage prediction.

1.6 UMTS Architecture (Rel99)

The following section aims to introduce shortly the network elements and interfaces of the UMTS architecture (Release 99), including UTRAN and Core Network. The Core Network however, it is presented here just for the sake of the architecture completeness but its analysis is out of the scope of this study.


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CS Networks (PSTN,


Iub Node B RNC Iu-CS MSC/V



.... Node B



Uu (air interface)

.... Node B



Simulation Scope
Figure 1-6: UMTS Architecture (Rel-99) UE (User Equipment)

PS Networks (Internet..)

The UE, as defined in [21.905] is the mobile equipment with one or several UMTS Subscriber Identity Modules (USIMs). Therefore, the UE consists of two parts, the ME which is the radio terminal itself, and the USIM which is the smartcard, analog to the SIM cards of the GSM phones but with some advanced extra-features (secure downloading of applications, possible inclusion of payment methods, etc). UTRAN (UMTS Radio Access Network) UTRAN is a logical grouping that includes one or more Radio Network Subsystem (RNS). Two of them (RNS1, RNS2) are depicted in the figure 4. A RNS is a sub-network within UTRAN and consists of one Radio Network Controller (RNC) and one or more Node Bs. For simulation purposes, only one RNS is simulated. In the following section, the main components of the RNS are explained. Node B The Node-B is analog in functionality to the BTS in GSM networks. Its main function is to provide the radio link between the UE and the UMTS network. It performs radio functions related to the air interface, which is the logical interface (known as Uu interface in 3GPP specifications) between the UE and the Node B. Higher layer functions (e.g. Medium Access Control) and control of the Node Bs is performed by the RNC. Some of its main tasks are the implementation of Radio Resource
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