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I.

UMTS Architecture

UMTS Architecture

Module Objectives:

Introduction to UTRAN,

UTRAN Identifiers (RNTI),

UTRAN Functionalities,

UTRAN Protocol Models and Protocol Stacks.

1 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 2


I. UMTS Architecture

1 UMTS Network Architecture, Definitions

3 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

1.1 UMTS Network Domains


With the success of GSM and the increasing demand for pure data transmission
services, a new mobile communication system was necessary to support services with
higher needs for network resources.

For the ETSI (European Telecommunication Standards Institute) UMTS shall fulfill these
demands. UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) can be considered to
be the successor of GSM/GPRS. As GSM also UMTS follows the basic structure of all
communication networks. They can be divided into three parts:

User Equipment (UE): The user equipment consists of mobile equipment plus the
hard- and software that is necessary to provide services. The mobile equipment
itself mainly has the task to provide access and transport services to the network.

Access Network (AN): The Access Network is part of the fixed network. Any access
network AN has two tasks. First the AN is responsible to enable the UE (user
equipment) to access the network (e.g. establishing radio links between AN and UE).
The second task is to transparently transport information between UE and CN (core
network). In UMTS the AN has a special name : UTRAN (UMTS Terrestrial Radio
Access Network).

Core Network (CN): The Core Network CN is the second big part of the fixed
network. The CN is the network that is responsible for the basic telecommunication
service. This can be switching of circuits or routing of packets. The applications itself
can reside within the core network, but can also be in an external network (e.g. a
server in the internet).

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 4


I. UMTS Architecture

Me nu M enu

User Data User Data


UTRAN CN UTRAN
UE UE

Access / Transport Access / Transport Access / Transport Access / Transport


Signalling Signalling Signalling Signalling
Non Access Signalling Non Access Signalling

Application Data (User Data)

figure 1 Top level design of mobile communication network UMTS and types of information.

5 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

In this course we will deal with UMTS Release 3 (corresponds to UMTS Release 1999).
In this case the CN (core network) is taken from GSM/GPRS. This means the core
network of UMTS Release 3 contains a CSCNDomain (Circuit Switched Core
Network Domain), which is in fact a standard GSM network, and a PSCNDomain
(Packet Switched Core Network Domain), formed by the GSMGPRS network part
(SGSN, GGSN). These two parts, PS- and CSCNDomain, are independent of each
other. For the UTRAN this will mean that it has to serve two core networks.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 6


I. UMTS Architecture

Video/Telephony
Menu

UE 1

CS-CN
Menu

UE 2

Internet Session
PS-CN
Menu

Server
UE 3 UTRAN CN Internet

figure 2 Core network domains and corresponding services provided by UMTS.

7 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

To provide a consistent set of term definitions, the 3GPP/ETSI made the following
definition, that can be found in TS 23.101. These definitions divide the different network
blocks according to their function with respect to a provided service.

We have the following so called domains:

User Equipment Domain: The user equipment domain is the mobile part of the
network. It represents the UE as physical entity. There are two sub-domains inside:

USIM domain: The USIM (User Services Identity Module) is the entity that
contains the user identity and the user specific settings.

Mobile Equipment domain: This domain is the hard- and software in the
mobile phone, necessary to get access to the network and to support the core
network services.

Infrastructure domain: The infrastructure domain covers the fixed network part of
UMTS, that means all physical entities controlled by the network operators. There
are two sub- domains:

Access Network domain: The access network domain is the UTRAN that
serves the user.

Core Network domain: The core network domain represent that part of the
fixed network, that is responsible for the basic services (switching, routing,
SMS). The core network itself is a physical entity. According to their function
for a running service, the following logical domains can be distinguished:

o Serving CN domain: The serving CN domain represent that part of the


CN, that is currently serving the user.

o Home CN domain: The home CN domain is that part of the CN, the home
operator of the subscriber controls. In the home CN domain the permanent
subscriber data base for the user can be found (HLR).

o Transit CN domain: The transit CN domain covers all CN parts that do


not belong to the serving CN domain, but are used to transport user data.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 8


I. UMTS Architecture

Home
Network

Zu
U
Cu
S Mobile
Uu Iu Yu
I Equipment Serving Transit
M Network Network

UE UTRAN CN
Infrastructure

figure 3 Network functional domains of UMTS.

9 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

1.2 Communication between Network Functional


Domains Strata
The communication between the different domains can be divided according to their
task. In this course we will restrict ourselves to the point of concern, UTRAN.

As already mentioned UTRAN has to tasks :

access between UE and UTRAN,

transparent transport of signaling messages (not related to access) between UE


and CN.

Therefore we can distinguish three types of signaling between UE, UTRAN and CN:

access stratum (AS) : The access stratum covers all signaling exchange used to
control the access of an UE to the network. Access stratum messages occur
between UE and UTRAN and between UTRAN and CN. The difference between the
access stratum UE-UTRAN and UTRAN-CN is, that the UTRAN-CN access stratum
shall be independent of the radio technology used in UTRAN. This enables the CN
to use several different radio access technologies.

transport stratum : The transport stratum protocols and messages have the task to
transport higher layer PDUs (protocol data units) and user data. Because UTRAN
has the task to transparently transport data between UE and CN, there will be
transport stratum messages between UE and UTRAN and between UTRAN and CN.

non- access stratum (NAS) : The non-access stratum covers all messages of
higher layers and user data, that do not deal with access or transport tasks. This
covers pure application control (application stratum), service request and control
(serving stratum), handling of subscription data and subscriber specific services
(home stratum).

The strata are exactly defined in TS 23.101. It has to be noted, that a single protocol
can belong to different strata (e.g. RRC belongs to AS and transport stratum).

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 10


I. UMTS Architecture

UE UTRAN CN

Access Stratum Access Stratum

Transport Stratum
Transport Stratum
Transport Stratum

Non Access Stratum (NAS)

figure 4 Network strata relevant for UTRAN

11 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 12


I. UMTS Architecture

2 UTRAN Architecture and UTRAN Identifiers

13 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

2.1 UTRAN Network Architecture and Entities


The radio technology WCDMA, that is used in UMTS, in contained in the UMTS
Terrestrial Radio Access Network UTRAN. Now UTRAN is a cellular radio system like
GSM. This means that every coverage area of UTRAN is divided into cells. Every cell is
served by an antenna providing radio coverage of this cell.

The UTRAN architecture is strictly hierarchical. Every cell is served by one and only one
so called Node B. The task of the Node B is to control the antennae of every cell and to
perform the lowest layer tasks. This means the Node B handles the WCDMA physics.
One Node B can handle several cells.

The higher access and transport tasks of UTRAN are performed by a RNC (Radio
Network Controller). Every Node B is connected to one and only one RNC. Again one
RNC can support several Node Bs. The RNC provides for all cells of all connected
Node Bs the access and transport tasks between UE and UTRAN, and the RNC is
responsible to control the connection to the CN for the UE.

One RNC together with all its Node Bs and their cells form a RNS (Radio Network
Subsystem). The UTRAN itself consists of one or more RNS. UTRAN knows the
following interfaces:

Uu : Interface between UE and Node B (cell).

Iub : Interface between Node B and its controlling RNC.

Iur : Interface between two RNC. This interface is optional, it is necessary to support
soft handover. The Iur interface can be implemented via virtual channels.

Iu : Interface between RNC and CN. In fact one RNC can have at most one Iu
interface to a SGSN (PS-CN domain), one Iu interface to a MSC (CS-CN domain),
there can be multiple Iu interfaces to a broadcast domain (e.g. for cell broadcasting).

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 14


I. UMTS Architecture

CN CS-CN PS-CN BC-CN

Iu

RNS
RNC RNC
Iur
Iub Iub
Iub Iub

Node B Node B Node B Node B

cell
cell cell
cell cell cell
cell RNS

figure 5 UTRAN Architecture und functional entities.

15 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

2.2 Serving, Controlling and Drift RNC


There is a very strict management principle in UTRAN. Together with these principles
three terms, indicating the RNC functionality, are connected to. Every RNC can support
all three different functionality. It depends on the situation, which functionality has to be
applied.

The first term, that is going to be discussed, is controlling RNC (C-RNC). Every cell
has one and only one C-RNC. The C-RNC of a cell is exactly the RNC that is connected
with the Node B serving the cell. The tasks of the controlling RNC covers the following
areas:

admission control based on UL interference level and DL transmission power,

system information broadcasting,

allocation / de-allocation of radio bearers,

data transmission and reception.

This means the controlling RNC of a cell is responsible for all lower layer functions
related to the radio technology.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 16


I. UMTS Architecture

Controlling RNC

-admission control

- system information broadcasting


C-RNC

Iub - radio bearer allocation / release


( code allocation / release)

- data transmission and reception


Node B

cell

figure 6 Controlling RNC functionality.

17 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

For UTRAN the following principle is applied. An UE that is attached to an UTRAN is


served by one and only one RNC. This RNC is called the serving RNC (S-RNC). The
existence of a serving RNC does not imply that the UE is camped on a cell belonging to
the S-RNC. The serving RNC handles all higher layer functions related to radio access
and information transport through UTRAN. In detail the S-RNC performs the following
functions:

the S-RNC handles the Iu interface towards the CN for this UE,

the S-RNC handles the complete radio resource control for this UE,

location / mobility handling,

ciphering,

backward error correction (layer 2 functionality).

In UMTS it is possible that one UE is connected to more than one cell, or connected to
a cell, that does not belong to the S-RNC. This means the UE is connected with a cell
controlled by a RNC different to the S-RNC. This foreign RNC is called drift RNC (D-
RNC). In principle the D-RNC is the C-RNC of a cell the UE is connected to, but its not
the S-RNC. Therefore the D-RNC performs the C-RNC functions for the cells not
controlled by the S-RNC.

When a D-RNC is involved for a UE, then the data streams between UE and UTRAN
and UE-CN always pass the S-RNC. In the downlink the S-RNC sends the data to own
cells and to the D-RNC (soft handover), this is called splitting. The UE receives all the
data streams from the cells, it is connected to, and adds them together (RAKE receiver).
In the uplink the S-RNC receives data from the own cells and from the D-RNC. Here the
S-RNC combines the data streams. This combination is performed by the S-RNC in the
following way : the S-RNC takes only the data frame with the smallest bit error rate, all
other data frames will be discarded.

The usage of a D-RNC requires a Iur interface between D-RNC and S-RNC. Because
the implementation of an Iur interface is optional, it is a matter of network planning,
whether the usage of D-RNC is allowed or not. The interface itself does not need to be
a physical line, it can be implemented via virtual paths or virtual channels.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 18


I. UMTS Architecture

CN
Iu

Serving RNC
Iur
D-RNC S-RNC -Iu interface controlling
Iub Iub
- radio resource control

- location / mobility handling


Node B Node B
- encryption / integrity check

- backward error correction

- combining / splitting of data


streams
Menu

UE

figure 7 Serving RNC functionality.

19 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

2.3 Geographical and Entity Identifier


As in GSM there is a need to address different physical, geographical or logical entities
within UMTS. Here first of all the geographical and physical entities of UTRAN will be
described.

1. PLMN Id :
The PLMN-ID is used to address a PLMN in a world wide unique manner. As in GSM
the PLMN-ID consist of a MCC (mobile country code) and a MNC (mobile network
code). MCC and MNC are allocated by ITU-T and are specified within ITU-T E.212.
PLMN-ID = MCC + MNC.

2. CN-Domain Ids :
CS- and PS core network introduce their own regional area concept. This is the
concept of Location Area for CS and the concept of Routing Area for PS. This
exactly the same as in GSM/GPRS. We have:
LAI = PLMN-ID + LAC (Location Area Identity/Code)
RAI = PLMN-ID + LAC + RAC (Routing Area Identity/Code)

3. RNC Id:
Every RNC node has to be uniquely identified within UTRAN. Therefore every RNC
gets a RNC-ID. Together with the PLMN-ID the RNC-ID is unique world wide. The
RNC-ID will be used to address a RNC via Iu, Iur and Iub interface. For the serving
RNC the identifier is called S-RNC-ID, for the drift RNC it is denoted as D-RNC-ID
and the controlling RNC has a C-RNC-ID. For one RNC node these identifiers are
always the same. The RNC identifier itself is allocated by O&M.
Global RNC-ID = PLMN-ID + RNC-ID

4. Cell Id and UTRAN Cell Id:


The cell ID C-ID is used to address a cell within a RNS. The cell ID is set by O&M in
the C-RNC. Together with the RNC-ID the cell ID forms the UTRAN cell ID UC-Id.
UC-ID = RNC-ID + C-ID

5. Local Cell Identifier


The local cell identifier is used in the Node B to identify resources. There is a unique
relation UC-Id to local cell identifier.

6. Service Area Id :
UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 20
I. UMTS Architecture

Several cells of one location area can be defined to form a service area. Such a
service area is identified with a SAI (service area id):
SAI = PLMN-ID + LAC + SAC
It can be used to support location based services.

7. URA ID :
The UTRAN introduces its own are concept next to LA and RA. This is the UTRAN
registration area

Public Land
PLMN-ID 2 6 2 0 1
Mobile Network
MCC MNC

Location Area LAI


PLMN-ID LAC (2byte)

Routing Area RAI


PLMN-ID LAC (2byte) RAC (1byte)

Global
RNC
RNC-ID
PLMN-ID RNC-ID (12 bit)

UC-ID
UTRAN cell ID CRNC-ID (12 bit) C-ID (28 bit)

SAI
Service Area PLMN-ID LAC SAC (2 byte)
UTRAN registration URA-ID
area URA ID (2 byte)

figure 8 UTRAN identifiers for geographical areas and UTRAN entities.

21 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

2.4 UTRAN specific UE Identifiers


The UE and the subscriber can have several identifiers for the PLMN. Typically we can
distinguish two types of identifiers according to the point of generation of the identifier:

NAS (non access stratum) identifiers : These identifiers are allocated by the core
network. In detail there are IMSI, TMSI and P-TMSI (and IMEI).

UTRAN identifiers : UTRAN identifiers are always temporary. This means they are
allocated to the UE for the time of the need. After the last procedure the last
procedure the identifiers are released.

In this chapter only the UTRAN identifier are of interest. It is a typical principle in
communication and computing systems that every entity working on a specific task,
allocates its own identifier and handler. This is also the case for UTRAN. Every UTRAN
entity like RNC and Node B will provide their special identifier for the UE. These
identifiers are called Radio Network Temporary Identifier (RNTI). There are four types
of RNTI:

s-RNTI : The s-RNTI is allocated by the serving RNC. The S-RNC uses the s-RNTI
to address the UE. The D-RNC uses the s-RNTI to identify the UE to the S-RNC.
The s-RNTI uniquely addresses the UE in the S-RNC.

d-RNTI : The d-RNTI is allocated by a D-RNC, but the d-RNTI is never used on the
air interface Uu. Instead the S-RNC uses the d-RNTI to identify the UE to the D-
RNC. The d-RNTI uniquely identifies the UE in the D-RNC.

c-RNTI : The c-RNTI is allocated by a controlling RNC when the UE accesses a new
cell of this C-RNC. The c-RNTI is unique in the cell. The corresponding C-RNC shall
be able to translate the c-RNTI into s-RNTI (if C-RNC=S-RNC) or into d-RNTI (if C-
RNC=D-RNC). The c-RNTI is used by UE to identify itself to the C-RNC, and is used
by the C-RNC to address the UE.

u-RNTI : The u-RNTI (UTRAN RNTI) consist of RNC-Id and s-RNTI


u-RNTI = RNC-ID + s-RNTI.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 22


I. UMTS Architecture

So the u-RNTI is unique world wide. The u-RNTI will be used by UE and S-RNC to
identify the UE on common radio channels and during paging and cell access.

23 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

CN RNTI

- allocated by RNCs
s-RNTI
Iu
d-RNTI - 16 bit length
(u-RNTI 32 bit)
Iur - used within UTRAN
d-RNTI s-RNTI and on Uu only
D-RNC s-RNTI d-RNTI S-RNC
Iub c-RNTI B, C c-RNTI A Iub

Node B Node B

u-RNTI or
c-RNTI A
u-RNTI or Me nu

c-RNTI B, C

UE

figure 9 Radio Network Temporary Identifiers RNTI and their usage and allocation.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 24


I. UMTS Architecture

25 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

3 UMTS Protocol Stacks Overview

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 26


I. UMTS Architecture

3.1 Protocols UE UTRAN CN for CS Domain


In this section the protocol stack used for circuit switched services is discussed. The
protocols between UE UTRAN and UTRAN CN for the control plane are shown in
the first figure. There are the following important protocol layer :

Physical Layer (PHY): The physical layer on the air interface provides access to the
WCDMA radio interface. Therefore it performs spreading, scrambling, modulation,
channel coding, rate matching, .

Medium Access Control (MAC): The MAC protocol belongs to layer 2. The tasks of
MAC are the control of random access and the multiplexing/de-multiplexing of
different UE onto shared radio resources.

Radio Link Control (RLC): As MAC also the RLC protocol is a layer 2 protocol.
RLC provides three reliability modes for every radio bearer. These modes are :
Acknowledged (AM), Unacknowledged (UM) and Transparent (TM).

Radio Resource Control (RRC): The RRC protocol is the first protocol of layer 3.
The RRC protocol performs all higher layer tasks related to the access stratum on
the air interface (e.g. radio bearer setup).

NAS Protocol: On top of RRC there are the control protocols for the non access
stratum (NAS). For the circuit switched services these are : MM (mobility
management), CC (Call Control), SS (Supplementary Services) and SMS (Short
Message Service), if it is not provided by the packet switched protocol stack.

Radio Access Network Application Part (RANAP): RANAP is between UTRAN


and CN. It performs all tasks related to transport stratum for control signaling and
access stratum between UTRAN and CN. It is the counterpart to RRC.

Signaling Connection Control Part (SCCP): The SCCP has mainly transport
tasks. It is used to establish a signaling connection for a UE. So the UE can then be
identified by the signaling connection and not by an explicit identifier.

MTP3B, SAAL, AAL5, ATM: These protocols belong to the transport network (ATM).
They provide a signaling bearer to transport SCCP and RANAP.

27 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UE RNS MSC
MM, CC, MM, CC,
SS, SMS Relay SS, SMS

RRC RRC RANAP RANAP


SCCP SCCP
RLC RLC
MTP 3 B MTP 3 B

MAC MAC SAAL / AAL5 SAAL / AAL5


ATM ATM
PHY PHY Layer 1 Layer 1

SAAL : Signalling ATM Adaptation Layer


ATM : Asynchronous Transfer Mode
AAL 5 : ATM Adaptation Layer type 5
MTP 3B : Message Transfer Part level 3 for Broadband

figure 10 Control protocols between UE-UTRAN-CN for CS domain.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 28


I. UMTS Architecture

The control plane discussed before is used to exchange signaling for access, transport
and service related control. Like all modern communication system also UMTS
transports the control signaling and the user data over the same transport network.
This immediately implies, that there have to be protocols supporting the user data
transfer. In the next figure the protocols used for this purpose are shown. In the lowest
layers there are the same protocols as for the control plane. This results from the fact,
that user data and control signaling use the same transport system. In detail there are
the following protocols involved into the user data transport:

PHY, MAC, RLC: The air interface transport system is built out of PHY, MAC and
RLC as for the control plane. The same basic stack is used for the user plane.

user data stream: The user data streams are generated by the applications using
the circuit switched core network services (switched channels). These data streams
are directly input to the RLC.

ATM: The transport system for the Iu interface between UTRAN and CN is again
ATM.

AAL 2: To provide a circuit switched like transport bearer on Iu, the AAL 2 protocol is
used. This adaptation layer provides a bearer channel (virtual channel of AAL type 2)
with certain QoS guarantees. Additionally the any AAL 2 virtual channel includes
time stamps in the transport frames. This allows synchronization and timing control
between sender and receiver.

Iu User Plane protocol (Iu UP): The Iu User Plane protocol is on top of AAL2. This
protocol can provide different stages of user data stream support. So the Iu UP
protocol can perform backward error correction, data rate controlling and can be
used to optimize the buffer sizes for transmission to minimize the delay jitter. This
protocol transports the user data and can create own signaling messages. The
signaling messages of Iu UP protocols are transmitted as in-band signaling within
the AAL 2 virtual channels used for the user data.

29 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UE RNS MSC
RNS MM, CC,
SS, SMS
User data User
RANAPdata
streams Relay streams
SCCP
RLC RLC Iu UP Iu UP
MTP 3 B

MAC MAC AAL 2 SAAL


AAL/ AAL5
2
ATM ATM
PHY PHY Layer 1 Layer 1

figure 11 User plane protocols between UE-UTRAN-CN for CS domain.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 30


I. UMTS Architecture

3.2 Protocols UE-UTRAN-CN for PS Domain


For packet switched service there are different procedures. So there is a need for
special protocols for packet switched services. In fact these special protocols are on the
higher layers, so that the lower layer will prove to be the same as for the circuit switched
services.

The packet switched control plane consists of:

PHY, MAC, RLC, RRC: The transport and access stratum protocols on the air
interface are the same for PS and CS. UMTS has been designed to support both
types of services, so that there are no special protocols.

ATM, AAL 5, SAAL, MTP 3B: Also the transport and access stratum on the Iu-PS
interface is similar to the Iu interface towards the MSC.

SCCP, RANAP: SCCP and RANAP are the same as for CS. The SCCP is mainly
used to set up a signaling connection to the SGSN in the core network. RANAP
handles all signaling transport and access related tasks.

NAS protocols: The only special protocols for the packet switched service are the
non access stratum protocols. Because there are essential differences how to
handle a packet switched service request, the PS core network has its own mobility
management GMM (GPRS Mobility Management). To set up a data session the SM
(Session Management) protocol is used. The SMS is in fact the same as for CS.

31 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UE RNS SGSN
GMM, SM, SMS GMM, SM, SMS
Relay

RRC RRC RANAP RANAP


SCCP SCCP
RLC RLC
MTP 3 B MTP 3 B

MAC MAC SAAL / AAL5 SAAL / AAL5


ATM ATM
PHY PHY Layer 1 Layer 1

SAAL : Signalling ATM Adaptation Layer


ATM : Asynchronous Transfer Mode
AAL 5 : ATM Adaptation Layer type 5
MTP 3B : Message Transfer Part level 3 for Broadband

figure 12 Control protocols between UE-UTRAN-CN for PS domain.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 32


I. UMTS Architecture

In contrast to the control planes, that look very similar for PS and CS, the user plane
has important differences. This is clear, because circuit switched data needs other
transport mechanisms (switching) as packet switched data (routing).

In detail there are the following protocols involved:

user data: The user data for packet switched services is usually dedicated to
external packet data networks (e.g. internet). These external data network have their
own special network protocols (e.g. TCP/IP). When a UMTS user wants to be
connected with such an external network, the UE has to send packets of this special
network protocol, for the UMTS network this is only data. But because of its special
role, the network protocol of the external network is called Packet Data Protocol
(PDP). It is the task of the UMTS network to provide a tunnel (PDP context) for
transparent transport of the PDP packets.

Packet Data Convergence Protocol (PDCP): This protocol performs header


compression of the PDP packet header. This shall increase the efficiency of the air
interface usage.

RLC, MAC, PHY: The transport layers are the same as for control plane.

GPRS Tunneling Protocol User plane (GTP-U): The PDP packets are transported
in a GTP-U frame on Iu. GTP-U organizes addressing and identification of the
originator and destination of the data between RNC and SGSN.

UDP / IP: To route from RNC to SGSN the standard UDP / IP protocol stack is used.
This is a connection less, unreliable transport service. In principle only routing is
performed with UDP / IP.

AAL 5 / ATM: The UDP / IP datagrammes (packets) are transmitted on ATM using
the adaptation layer 5.

33 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UE RNS SGSN
Application,
PDP Relay

PDCP PDCP GTP - U GTP U


UDP UDP
RLC RLC
IP IP

MAC MAC AAL5 AAL5


ATM ATM
PHY PHY Layer 1 Layer 1

figure 13 User plane protocols between UE-UTRAN-CN for PS domain.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 34


I. UMTS Architecture

35 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

4 UTRAN Protocol Model and Protocols

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 36


I. UMTS Architecture

4.1 UTRAN Protocol Model for Iu Interfaces


The transport system used within UTRAN is ATM. There is an essential difference
between the usage of ATM and the use of PCM lines in a GSM BSS. ATM supports
different types of bearer service labeled AAL type 1, AAL type 2, AAL type 3/4 and AAL
type 5. In UTRAN only AAL type 2 and AAL type 5 are used. Bearers of AAL type 2 have
to be set up with explicit signaling. This means before a AAL type 2 virtual channel can
be used, there has to be signaling between the corresponding ATM switches.

This behavior results in a new protocol model, where protocols for user bearer set up
and release occur. The model is built out of two layers:

Transport Network Layer : The transport network layer consists of all protocols
used for the transport network solution. This includes the physical layer and its
transport frame layer, also the bearer service protocols are included.

Radio Network Layer : The radio network layer contains all protocols, that are
specific to the radio access and transport stratum. Also all other data streams, to be
transported through UTRAN, belong to this layer.

This division into layers is also called horizontal structure. There is also a vertical
structure. The elements of this vertical structure are planes. A plane is principle nothing
else than a protocol stack. More than one plane can coexist next to each other. In detail
there are the following planes:

Control Plane : The control plane consists of all application protocols that are used
for radio network controlling. To transport the messages of an application protocol,
one or several signaling bearers, provided by the transport network, are necessary.

User Plane : The user plane supports the data streams for user data. Therefore the
data streams are packed into frame protocols. These frame protocols will be
transmitted via data bearers. In contrast to the signaling bearers of the control plane,
the data bearers can require to be set up with explicit signaling.

Transport Network Control Plane : The transport network control plane contains
the ALCAP (Access Link Control Application Part). The ALCAP protocols are used to
set up and release the data bearers of the user plane. Also ALCAP messages
require a signaling bearer for transmission. It is not necessary to use the ALCAP for
37 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols
I. UMTS Architecture

all data bearers. Especially the transport network control plane is not necessary,
when pre-configured bearers only are used.

Radio Control User


Network
Layer Plane Plane
Application Data
Protocols Streams

Transport Transport Network


Network Control Plane
Layer
ALCAP

Signalling Signalling Data


Bearer Bearer Bearer

Transport Frame and Physical Layer

figure 14 UTRAN protocol model for Iu, Iub and Iur interfaces.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 38


I. UMTS Architecture

The use of the ALCAP is dependent on the type of bearer to be used. The signaling
bearers are usually pre-configured. This means there is no dynamical set up and
release for signaling bearers.

Data bearers have to be set up and released with ALCAP, when they are not pre-
configured. In this case the set up runs in the following manner:

1. The set up or release of a bearer is always controlled by an application protocol.


But to avoid the restriction to a single transport system, the application protocols
shall not be specific to a certain transport solution. Therefore the application
protocol can control the bearer via abstract parameters (QoS parameters) only. This
principle is the same as for BICC (Bearer Independent Call Control). To trigger the
set up of a bearer first the application protocol starts a procedure to the destination
node.

2. After the application protocol triggered the procedure, the ALCAP, that is specific to
the bearer to be set up, performs all necessary procedures to configure the bearer.

3. When the application part receives the notification of a successful bearer set up, the
application protocol procedure can be finished, and the application can be informed
to start the data stream transmission.

39 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

1a Application Protocol : Bearer Setup Request

2a ALCAP : Bearer Establishment Request

2c ALCAP : Bearer Establishment Confirmed

Network 3a Application Protocol : Bearer Setup Complete Network


Element A Element B

3b
Application Data
Protocols 1b Streams

ALCAP
2b
Signalling Signalling Data
Bearer Bearer Bearer

Transport Frame and Physical Layer

figure 15 Inter-working between control, network control and user plane in UTRAN protocol model.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 40


I. UMTS Architecture

4.2 Iur Interface Protocols between S-RNC and D-RNC


The discussed protocol model is applied to the UTRAN interfaces Iur, Iub and Iu. The
application protocol on the Iur interface between two RNCs is the RNSAP (Radio
Network Subsystem Application Part). All in all there are the following protocols on
the control plane:

RNSAP (Radio Network Subsystem Application Part): The RNSAP protocol is


responsible for the communication between S-RNC and D-RNC. This covers
resource allocation for a UE in a cell of the D-RNC, soft handover procedures and
procedures to transfer the S-RNC functionality to a D-RNC (SRNS relocation).

SCCP (Signaling Connection Control Part): The SCCP is used to set up a


signaling connection between S-RNC and D-RNC for the UE. This means the S-
RNC sets up one SCCP signaling connection for every D-RNC and UE. The
signaling connection will be used for fast identification of the UE in signaling
messages.

MTP 3B, SAAL, AAL 5, ATM: These protocols form the signaling bearer used for the
RNSAP protocol messages.

The user plane of the Iur interface has the tasks to transport uplink and downlink data
for the UE connected to a drift RNC. This tasks requires the following protocols:

Frame Protocols: The data to and from the UE will be encapsulated into a frame.
These frames are defined by so called frame protocols. These frame protocols also
allow traffic management with in-band signaling.

AAL 2, ATM: The frame protocols, that encapsulate the UE data, are transported
over AAL 2 virtual channels of ATM. These AAL 2 virtual channels have to be set up
first.

Because the AAL 2 virtual channels require a dynamical set up, there is a need for a
transport network control plane. This plane contains the following protocols:

AAL type 2 signaling protocol: This protocol is an ITU-T protocol, used to set up,
release and modify AAL 2 virtual channels. This is the Iur ALCAP.

41 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

STC, MTP 3B, SAAL, AAL 5, ATM: These protocols provide the signaling bearer for
the AAL type 2 signaling protocol. The STC (Signaling Transport Converter) provides
functionality for congestion handling and load control. The protocol suite MTP 3B,
SAAL, AAL5 and ATM can be shared with the signaling bearer of RNSAP of the
control plane.

The physical layer used for to transport the ATM cells on Iur is not specified. It is up to
the operator to choose an appropriate physical transmission system (e.g. STM-1, STM-
4 or SONET).

RNSAP Frame Protocols

AAL type 2 SP

SCCP STC
MTP 3-B MTP 3-B
SAAL SAAL
AAL 5 AAL 5 AAL 2

ATM
Physical Layer

figure 16 Iur protocol stack.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 42


I. UMTS Architecture

4.3 Iub Interface Protocols between Node B and C-


RNC
The second UTRAN internal interface is the Iub interface between Node B and its
controlling RNC. Also on this interface ATM with AAL 2 virtual channels is used.
Therefore the transport network control plane is necessary again. The control plane of
the Iub interface contains the following protocols:

NBAP (Node B Application Part): The NBAP protocol is the application protocol of
the Iub interface. It organizes all controlling tasks between RNC and Node B (e.g.
code allocation, transceiver configuration).

SAAL, AAL 5, ATM: These protocols constitute the signaling bearer for the NBAP
messages.

The user plane of the Iub interface has to transfer the downlink and uplink data to and
from the UE. Therefore different frames are defined in the same way as on the Iur
interface. In detail the user plane consists of:

Frame Protocols: The Frame Protocols encapsulate the UE data (down- and
uplink) on the Iub interface.

AAL 2, ATM: The frame protocol packets are transmitted via Iub using AAL 2 virtual
channels. So AAL 2, ATM form the data bearer on the Iub interface.

As on the Iur interface the Iub interface uses AAL 2 virtual channels for data stream
transport. This means that the transport network control plane is necessary for set up,
release and modification of AAL 2 virtual channels. The Iub transport network control
plane looks similar to Iur:

AAL type 2 signaling protocol: The AAL type 2 SP provides the messages and
function to set up, release and modify AAL 2 virtual channels.

STC, SAAL, AAL 5, ATM: The STC (Signaling Transport Converter), SAAL, AAL 5
and ATM provide the signaling bearer for the AAL type 2 signaling protocol. (Note:
The STC here is different to the STC on Iur.)

43 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

The physical layer is not standardized. It is up to the operator and vendor to choose an
appropriate physical transmission system.
figure 17 Iub interface protocol stack between controlling RNC and Node B.

NBAP Frame Protocols

AAL type 2 SP

STC
SAAL SAAL
AAL 5 AAL 5 AAL 2

ATM
Physical Layer

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 44


I. UMTS Architecture

4.4 Iu-CS Interface Protocols between S-RNC and


MSC
In the last section the protocol model for Iur and Iub interface has been discussed. The
Iu interface, connecting UTRAN and CN, is also built according to this model. But there
are differences between Iu-CS towards the CS- core network domain and Iu-PS
towards the PS- core network domain.

The control plane for Iu-CS is formed out of the following protocols:

RANAP (Radio Access Network Application Part): The RANAP protocol is


responsible for all access and signaling transport related tasks. It is the application
protocol of the Iu-CS interface.

SCCP (Signaling Connection Control Part): The SCCP is used to set up signaling
connection between RNC and MSC. There will be one and only one SCCP
connection UTRAN-MSC for every UE using circuit switched services.

MTP 3B, SAAL, AAL 5, ATM: These protocols provide the signaling bearer for
RANAP/SCCP messages.

The user plane on Iu-CS has to support the transfer of real time circuit switched data
streams. Therefore the Iu-CS user plane has the following protocols:

Iu UP (User Plane) protocol: The Iu UP protocol is used to provide additional


support functions for CS data streams on Iu. These functions can be : timing control,
data rate control, backward error correction.

AAL 2, ATM: For the data bearers to transport the data streams the AAL 2 virtual
channels are used.

Again the transport network control plane is necessary, because AAL 2 virtual channels
need to be set up and released. So the protocol suite on the transport network control
plane is the already known stack, consisting of:

AAL type 2 signaling protocol: Used to set up, modify and release AAL 2 virtual
channels.

45 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

STC, MTP 3B, SAAL, AAL 5, ATM: These protocols provide the signaling bearer for
the AAL type 2 signaling protocol messages.

The physical layer is not standardized.

RANAP Iu UP protocol

AAL type 2 SP

SCCP STC
MTP 3-B MTP 3-B
SAAL SAAL
AAL 5 AAL 5 AAL 2

ATM
Physical Layer

figure 18 Iu-CS protocol model between serving RNC and MSC.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 46


I. UMTS Architecture

4.5 Iu-PS Interface Protocols between S-RNC and


SGSN
The Iu-PS interface is the interface between RNC and SGSN. The control plane of Iu-
PS is similar to the Iu-CS control plane. It consists of:

RANAP: The application protocol for Iu-CS and Iu-PS.

SCCP: Provides signaling connection on Iu-PS. There will be one and only one
SCCP connection between RNC and SGSN for every UE using packet switched
service. SCCP connections on Iu-PS and Iu-CS do not affect each other.

MTP 3B, SAAL, AAL5, ATM: The signaling bearer for SCCP/RANAP.

The user plane on Iu-PS is completely different to the user plane of Iu-CS. This is
because the traffic to and from SGSN is packet switched, so routing layer are
necessary. The UTRAN provides the following protocols on the Iu-PS user plane :

Iu UP protocol: As for Iu-CS the Iu UP protocol can provide additional support


functions for the data stream. In the moment (2001) the packet switched services do
not use this protocol.

GTP-U (GPRS Tunneling Protocol - User plane): GTP-U provides a frame for the
user data to be transported. In a GTP-U frame UE identifiers (IMSI) and other
reference number and sequence numbers are contained.

UDP / IP: The UDP / IP protocol suite is used as network layer between RNC and
SGSN. The main task of these protocols is to route from RNC to SGSN and vice
versa.

AAL 5, ATM: The ATM adaptation layer of type 5 (connection less, variable bit rate,
no synchronization support) is used as bearer for the packets of IP / UDP / GTP-U.

The AAL 5 virtual channels do not need to be set up in a dynamical manner. Rather the
operator is expected to pre-configure the AAL 5 bearer to be used for the packet

47 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

transfer. Therefore on Iu-PS there is no need for a transport network control plane, no
bearer set up with explicit signaling is necessary.

RANAP Iu UP protocol

SCCP No GTP-U
MTP 3-B Transport UDP
Network
SAAL Control IP
AAL 5 Plane AAL 5

ATM
Physical Layer

figure 19 Iu-PS protocol stack between serving RNC and SGSN.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 48


I. UMTS Architecture

49 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 50


I. UMTS Architecture

5 Protocol Standardization

51 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

5.1 Protocol Specifications


UMTS and UTRAN is specified by 3GPP (third Generation Partnership Project), which is
a project group of ETSI (European Telecommunication Standards Institute). All protocols
will be standardized in a set of technical specifications TS available from 3GPP
(ftp://ftp.3GPP.org/Specs) or from ETSI CD ROMs.

For the UTRAN related protocols the 3GPP working group RAN (Radio Access
Network) is responsible. The following set of recommendations are interesting for this
course :

Topic 3GPP recommendation number

UTRAN General overview TS 25.401


WCDMA physics TS 25.2xx
Radio interface protocols TS 25.3xx
Iu interface TS 25.41x
Iur interface TS 25.42x
Iub interface TS 25.43x

The non access stratum (NAS) protocols GMM, MM, CC and SM can be found in the
recommendation TS 24.008. The recommendation TS 24.007 contains an overview
about the protocol stack and the inter-working between NAS protocols and the radio
protocols.

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 52


I. UMTS Architecture

UTRAN CN

NAS protocols (GMM, SM, MM, CC)


TS 24.007, TS 24.008
Menu

Iur Interface
TS 25.42x

Iub Interface
TS 25.43x
Radio Protocols Iu Interface
TS 25.3xx TS 25.41x

UE

figure 20 Radio and NAS protocol specifications and specification series.

53 UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols


I. UMTS Architecture

UTRAN and UMTS Radio Protocols 54