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August 2018

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I have received a lot of requests to explain CSFB as it is one of the more complicated LTE KPIs. So, here is « Jun    
a brief explanation on how CSFB works and what are various ways to optimize the KPI itself.

If a handset is camped on LTE and it does not support VoLTE, then it needs to perform a CSFB to initiate
a voice call. CSFB (Circuit Switched Fall Back) is a mechanism that sends the user from 4G to 3G/2G (CS
RAT) where it can successfully complete a CS Voice Call. If CSFB is not enabled in the network, the
incoming voice calls will fail, however outgoing voice calls can still work depending on the mobile. Like Us on Facebook
However, let’s start from the basics to understand this in detail.

The gure explains an incoming CSFB call when the UE is in idle mode. If the UE is in idle mode, the core
needs to send a paging message to inform the UE that a voice call is being made to the UE and it needs
to perform a CSFB. Once, the UE reads the paging message, it will initiate access starting with RACH and
followed by RRC setup. The RRC Setup Complete message will contain the Extended Service Request

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8/14/2018 CSFB (Circuit Switch Fall Back) Explanation & Optimization - Our Technology Planet
(ESR) and the eNB passes this message to the EPC in S1 Initial UE Message. ESR is the indication to the
Our Technology Pla…
EPC that the UE has successfully received the page and it wants to undergo CSFB process. 517 likes

Based on this, the MME will send Initial Context Setup Request to the eNB with CSFB indicator. It is at
this point that the eNB will be informed that the CSFB process needs to be started. So, most of the CSFB
related counters peg CSFB attempt at this point. This also means that if the paging fails or ESR is not Like Page Send Mes

decoded by the eNB, the CSFB KPI on the eNB will not show any degradation. The question is why the
eNB does not peg any CSFB counters for paging or ESR? The answer is that the paging is broadcasted 1 friend likes this

and the eNB does not know if that paging message is intended for the UE in its coverage area as the UE
is in idle mode and it has no RRC connection to the eNB. The ESR is a NAS message and this a
communication between UE and MME as the eNB does not read the NAS messages. So, the only
message that informs the eNB about the CSFB process is the MME’s response to the ESR NAS message
that has CSFB indicator included.

 
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Once the eNB gets the Initial Context Setup Process, it may send a Security Command and RRC
Recon guration to the UE to create a RAB and as the UE responds to these messages, the eNB sends a
Initial Context Setup Response to the MME. After this, the process may vary depending on the type of
CSFB implementation done in the network. Usually, there are they types of CSFB mechanisms that are Connect with Us on Linked
used but there are other variations as well.

1. Blind CSFB: This is the most common type of CSFB implementation where the eNB will send the UE
blindly to 3G/2G. In this case, the eNB will send a RRC Release with the target RAT’s frequency and the
Ali Khalid
Head Of Technical Strategy
UE will be redirected to that frequency. The UE will search for that carrier and will try to connect to it
(MVNO (Huawei/Ericsson) -
and send a paging response to initiate the MT CS Call (Mobile Terminating). The gain of this type of …
implementation is that it is very quick and since most of the networks have a better coverage of CS
Nokia

RATs (2G and 3G) so a blind redirection should not be an issue usually. The drawback is that if the CS
National University of Science and
RAT has bad coverage or poor quality in that area, the call might fail or take extensively long time. 
Technology
2. Measurement Based CSFB: This means that the eNB will send a RRC Recon guration with
measurement control and the UE will measure the 3G or 2G cells and once it nds a cell that meets
View profile
the required thresholds, it will send a Measurement Report (MR) to the eNB. The eNB will then send a
RRC Release to the UE and the UE will try to initiate a CS call on that RAT. Over here, the CSFB can also
be based on handover in which case, the eNB will initiate a handover to the target RAT’s cell and send
the UE to that speci c cell for which the MR has been generated by the UE. This type of Haider Khalid
implementation usually has more reliability but the delay is higher in call setup because the UE takes IP Access Engineer at
around 500 to 700 milliseconds to complete the measurement of the target CS RAT. Secondly, a TalkTalk, CCIE# 52939

handover-based implementation degrades the KPI as well since a small number of handovers fail in
TalkTalk
preparation phase. Usually, such an implementation is governed by a timer such that if the UE is 

unable to nd 3G then if the timer expires, the eNB will blindly send the UE to 2G. This reduces the University of Engineering and

Technology, Lahore
delay and improves the reliability of the call.
3. RIM or Flash CSFB : This is a mechanism in which eNB fetches System Information (SIBs) from the
View profile
target RAT and sends the SIBs to the UE in the RRC Release message. This reduces the time, the UE
takes to connect to the target RAT as it will not have to read all the SIBs again. The drawback of this
approach is that there can only be a limited number of SIBs that can be sent in a RRC Release message
and the UE might not be able to nd that cell in the target RAT so then it will still have to go through all

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8/14/2018 CSFB (Circuit Switch Fall Back) Explanation & Optimization - Our Technology Planet
the SIBs. However, this approach can work with both blind CSFB or measurement-based CSFB Popular Posts
redirections and usually it brings gain to both the implementations.

Once the UE moves to the target RAT, it still needs to connect to initiate the call. There is a possibility
 KPI Optimization: LTE Call Drop
that the call setup fails in this part and the call might fail. However, once again, this will not be pegged in
the CSFB KPI on the eNB as the for the eNB, the CSFB is successful when it sends the RRC Release. The  Understanding MPLS Basics
eNB has no way of knowing whether the call was successful on 2G/3G. Thus, when there is a complaint
 What is the Best Android Phon
of a call failure, just looking at the CSFB KPI does not give the complete picture. It is a good idea to check
2017?
the CS paging success rate and call setup success rate on the CS RATs as well.
 LTE Throughput Optimization:
If the CSFB KPI is bad then it can basically mean two things. Either there is an issue in the EPC to eNB
– Spectral E ciency
phase or there is an issue in the eNB to UE Release phase.
 LTE KPI Optimization Deep Div
EPC to eNB Phase: I call the portion where the MME tells the eNB that a CSFB is required as the “EPC Success Rate
to eNB Phase”. In idle mode, this phase describes the portion from Initial Context Setup Request to
Initial Context Setup Response while in connected mode, this covers the UE Context Modi cation
Request to UE Context Modi cation Response. Usually, the failures in this phase happen in the
connected mode and they are mostly related to con ict with other procedures. For instance, if the UE
is performing a handover and MME sends a UE Context Modi cation Request to the eNB for CSFB, the Recent Posts
eNB might reject it saying that the UE is already undergoing handover procedure. Such issues can be
mitigated by reducing handovers – if the number of handovers is huge or some vendors o er features
 CSFB (Circuit Switch Fall Back)
to prioritize CSFB over other procedures. However, such failures do not cause a call failure as the MME
Explanation & Optimization
will resend the CSFB request to the target eNB. If both the connected mode and idle mode phases
show failures then it usually indicates a CSFB license issue or the feature is not activated.  BGP Fundamentals: Part 1
eNB to UE Release Phase: Once the eNB has responded to the MME with Initial Context Setup
 5G NR: Demystifying Massive M
Response or UE Context Modi cation Response, then the eNB will start the procedure over the air
interface. In case of blind CSFB, the eNB just sends a RRC Release to the UE. If the RRC Release is not  How 5G Wins The Spectral E c
sent, then usually it is related to con guration of UTRAN frequencies or neighbors depending on the Race
vendor. If the CSFB is measurement based and it is taking too long then verify if the UE is sending the
 What is Cisco FabricPath?
Measurement Report in time (within 700 milliseconds). If it is taking longer than that then that
normally indicates that the target thresholds (B1/B2) are too di cult. For instance, if the target RAT is
3G and the B1 threshold is set to -8 dB EcNo, the UE might nd it di cult to nd a cell that meets this
threshold and will take a longer time to send the Measurement Report. So reducing the threshold to
-12 or -14 will help in resolving this issue. Recent Comments

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Back) Explanation & Optimizat

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 Montez Jones on CSFB (Circuit


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 karthikeyan.s on CSFB (Circuit


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These are some of the basics on CSFB and I will write another article on how to reduce the CSFB call
setup time and also about issues that cause a E2E CSFB call setup failure like TAC de nition, Inter-MSC
issues and paging failures.

In case of any queries or feedback, please drop a comment below and I would love to respond and help.

Bio Latest Posts

Ali Khalid
Head Of Technical Strategy (MVNO - 4G, 3G, VoLTE, 5G)

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Ali Khalid is a Senior LTE & VoLTE RNPO Expert and has successfully delivered a
number of LTE RNPO Projects in di erent regions across the globe including Pakistan,
Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Nigeria and Turkey. In case of any questions or feedback,
please feel free to drop a comment below or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 August 4, 2018  Ali Khalid  Telecom  CSFB, Optimization

Previous BGP Fundamentals: Part 1

12 thoughts on “CSFB (Circuit Switch Fall Back) Explanation &


Optimization”

Munzir Khalil says:


 August 5, 2018 at 6:09 am

1. In Blind CSFB , UE will be redirected ONLY to any of the 3G Neighbor Cells de ned in a particular
eNodeB, right?
In case of multiple 3G carriers , one carrier can be prioritized for blind redirection?
And similarly with Blind Flash CSFB , it will fetch SIBs of only those Cells which are de ned as Neighbors in
a particular eNodeb?

2. Handover Con icts can be resolved by a Parameter in eRAN v12 (Huawei) although as per my knowledge
it is only limited to Handover Preparation Phase and does not work in Handover Execution Phase , is it
correct? Secondly what other procedures can it con ict with?

REPLY

Ali Khalid says:


 August 5, 2018 at 12:44 pm

For the rst one, it will be released to the UTRAN frequency and yeah one carrier can be prioritized
if needed. For Flash, your understanding is correct.

REPLY

Munzir Khalil says:


 August 6, 2018 at 12:31 pm

i actually meant that for blind redirection it will be any one of the cell which are de ned as
NBRs (assuming only one carrier of 3G) in that particular enodeb
Correct?

REPLY

Ali Khalid says:


 August 5, 2018 at 12:46 pm

For the second, yeah it can only tackle the preparation phase issues. There are other procedures
but I will cover those in my next article so wait till then

REPLY

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ahmed omer says:


 August 5, 2018 at 7:26 am

Hi Mr khalid , i facing Browsing issue in the LTE Network (huawei and new lunched) , what i mean you can
browsing some web sites while you can not browsing others , for example youtue.com ok , but you can not
access gmail.com or google.com and etc..

REPLY

Ali Khalid says:


 August 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm

This should not be related to radio/RAN interface. You should check with the core team on this.

REPLY

Haider Khalid says:


 August 5, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Well, there can be di erent reasons for access issue to only certain websites.

1. Have you checked same websites on another device using the same network? If the result is no
di erent, you might need to check with your provider as they might have them ltered on the
Firewall.
2. Have you tried accessing those websites without having the DNS to resolve them? If that is okay,
try sending a basic request to any site by connecting to port 80. It is a good test because it ensures
that you are able to connect to the web server.
3. It would also be helpful to run a trace test for problematic sites as the traceroute would reveal
which exact device is responsible for dropping packets.
4. Lastly, changing the default MTU setting on your gateway device could also help as I have
experienced once before.

REPLY

rajat says:
 August 6, 2018 at 6:33 pm

thanks ali for sharing such a good knowledge sharing docs.

REPLY

Ali Khalid says:


 August 11, 2018 at 5:22 pm

You are welcome, Rajat

REPLY

karthikeyan.s says:
 August 8, 2018 at 7:11 pm

Hi , i have a small doubt, why we are Multipling RRC & Erab for calculating CSSR ? Why can’t we sum rrc &
erab. Any speci c reason for Multiplying.

REPLY

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Montez Jones says:


 August 8, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Great refresher

REPLY

Ali Khalid says:


 August 11, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Glad that you liked it

REPLY

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