Helsinki university of technology

Дата канвертавання27.04.2016
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Department of Electrical and Communication Engineering

Hong Zhang (94027T)

Overview Of The Handover Policies

For The WCDMA System

S-72.173 Special Project in Communications Engineering

(3 cr)

The goal of this paper is to comprehensively review the handover policies in wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) system.

Mobile cellular communication becomes more and more important in today’s communication. In a cellular network, the radio and fixed links required are not permanently allocated for the duration of a call. Handover is the functionality to make an on-going call to a different channel or cell. It maintains a call in progress across cell boundaries in mobile communication. In order to provide a multitude of services, especially multimedia and high-bit-rate packet data. ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) adopted Wideband code division multiple access as the mainstream air interface solution for the third-generation networks.

This paper will review handover classification, the principle of soft/softer handover and hard handover for voice and packet data in WCDMA systems. The handover can be classified into hard handover and soft/softer handover, or intra-mode handover and inter-mode handover, or intra-frequency handover and inter-frequency handover, or intra –system handover and inter-system handover. Softer handover is implemented within one base station between different sectors, it doesn’t cause the system load increases as it implements within the base station. The implementation of soft handover can increase the coverage, capacity performance or balance the network load. Important parameters such as, adding-threshold, dropping threshold and timer-to-dropping will be analyzed in detail within one possible soft handover algorithms. Packet data in WCDMA is one of important data transmitted. The principle of handover as well as parts of parameters with packet data transmission will be reviewed. Hard handover is necessary in WCDMA and will be present in principle within this paper.


1Introduction 1

1.1Background 1

1.2Objectives 1

1.3Scope 2

The Handover Classification In WCDMA System 3

Softer Handover 5

2Soft Handover 7

2.1Soft handover principle in WCDMA 7

2.2Soft Handover Benefits and Impacts for the System 8

2.3The Procedure and Parameter of One Possible Soft Handover Algorithm 9

2.4The Decision for the Soft Handover Threshold 11

2.5The Algorithm for Soft Handover 12

2.6The timing for Soft Handover 16

3Handover For Packet Data 21

4Hard Handover 25

4.1Intrafrequency hard handover 25

4.2Interfrequency Hard Handover 25

4.3Inter-System between GSM And WCDMA 26

5Conclusions 28

. 28

References 29


BS Base Stations

BSC Base Station Controller

CPCH Common Packet Channel

CPICH Common Pilot Channel

ETSI European Telecommunications Standards Institute

FACH Forward Access Channel

IMT-2000 International Mobile Telecommunications-2000

ITU International Telecommunications Union

MRC Maximal Ratio Combined

MS Mobile Stations

NEHO Network Evaluated Handover

OVSF Orthogonal Variable Spreading Factor

PS Packet Scheduler

QoS Quality of Service

RACH Random Access Channel

RNC Radio Network Controller

TGL Transmission Gap Lengths

UMTS Universal Mobile Telecommunications System

WCDMA Wideband Code Division Multiple Access

UE User Equipment

  1. Introduction

    1. Background

Third-generation mobile radio networks, often dubbed as 3G, have been under intense research and discussion recently and will emerge around the year 2000. In the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), third generation networks are called International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000), and in Europe, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS). IMT-2000 will provide a multitude of services, especially multimedia and high-bit-rate packet data. WCDMA has emerged as the mainstream air interface solution for the third-generation networks.

WCDMA allow very high-speed multimedia services such as voice, Internet access and videoconferencing. In order to provide the multiple service, handover is essential for seamless communication. Handover is one of important techniques to improve the system performance. Handover is the mechanism that transfers an ongoing call from one cell to another as a user moves through the coverage area of a cellular. There are two types of handover: hard handover and soft handover. Hard handover is a break-before –make method, where a new channel is set up after the release of the old channel. A certain amount of margin may be introduced to eliminate the ping-pong effect. Hard handover is supported by TDMA, FDMA and CDMA systems.

In WCDMA all users in the same cell share the same frequency spectrum simultaneously. In a WCDMA based cellular network, this is also true for users in different cells. This makes that WCDMA also support soft handover, which is a make-before-break method. When the pilot signal from a new BS is stronger than the threshold value T_ADD, a new link to the BS is establish while maintaining the existing link. In this case the call is said to be in soft handover.

    1. Objectives

Handover functionality must be realised in WCDMA system. The purpose of this paper will review all kinds of handover in WCDMA system. Handover is needed in two situations where the cell site receives weak from the mobile unit: (1) at the cell boundary, say, -100dBm, which is the level for requesting a handover in a noise-limited environment; and (2) when the mobile unit is reaching the signal-strength holes (gaps) within the cell site. The number of handover, adding threshold and dropping threshold of pilot signal, timer are all the important parameters in handover for system performance.

The number of handover depends on the adding threshold and dropping threshold of pilot signal and timer. The increasing number of handover causes ping-pong phenomenon. As smaller cells are deployed to meet the demands for increased capacity, the number of cell boundary crossings increases. Each handover requires network resources to reroute the call to the new base station. Minimizing the expected number of handovers minimizes the switching load. The values of adding threshold and dropping threshold of pilot signal affect the quality of received signal. If handover does not occur quickly, the quality of service (QoS) may degenerate below an acceptable level. During the handover there is a brief service interruption. As the frequency of these interruptions increases the perceived QoS is reduced. The chances of dropping a call due to factors such as the availability of channels increase with the number of handover attempts. All of these issues place additional challenges on the cellular system. As the number of handover increases, handover algorithms need to be enhanced so that the perceived QoS does not degenerate and the cost to the cellular infrastructure does not skyrocket. All these issues promote to find out a set of optimal parameters values of handover in order to provide the required QoS in WCDMA.

Fortunately, the signal structure of WCDMA is well suited for the implementation of soft handover. As discussed previously, the universal frequency reuse enables the new function soft handover. The connection between a MS and the core network can include several radio links. In the uplink, two or more base stations can receive the same signal because of the reuse factor of one; In the downlink the mobile station can coherently combine the signals from different base stations since it sees them as just additional multipath components. This provides an additional benefit called macro diversity (i.e., the diversity gain provided by the reception of one or more additional signals). A separate channel called pilot is usually used for the signal strength measurements for handover purposes.

    1. Scope

Numerous investigations on different aspects of handover algorithms have been performed and reported in the literature.

In this paper, we review several handover algorithms in WCDMA and focus on the soft handover with respect to the overall network performance because soft handover is a very essential and critical part of wideband CDMA system. The rest of this paper is organized as follows . Section 2 introduces handover classification in WCDMA system. Section 3 describes the softer handover algorithm for general cases. This is followed by reviewing the soft handover for general cases in Section 4. Section 5 describes the handover for packet data service in WCDMA . Section 6 demonstrates the principle of hard handover .

The Handover Classification In WCDMA System

Handover in WCDMA can be classified hard handover and soft handover in [15], [18]. In hard handover based systems such as GSM, the mobile station keeps the connection to only onbe base station at a time, breaking the connection to the former base stations immediately before making the new connection to the target base station. In soft handover scheme, the new link between the mobile station and the target base station is built before breaking the old link from the source base station.

According to the different application , soft handover can be classified into handover for voice or for packet data transmission . In soft handover a mobile station is connected to more than one base station simultaneously for a period of time. Fig. 2.1 shows the soft handover situation. Soft handover is used in WCDMA to reduce the interference into other cells in power control. It improves performance through macro diversity. Softer handover is a soft handover between two sectors of a cell.

oft handover causes strict requirement to power control and makes capacity enhancementby adding a new cell very easy as no frequency planning in necessary.In this paper , we emphasize on soft handover for voice and soft handover for non real time packet data , at the same time , introduce simply the softer handover within WCDMA system. In the end , we gives a simple view for inter-frequency handover between WCDMA and other mobile communication system.

Handover in WCDMA system can be classified into intra-frequency handover and inter- frequency handover by channel frequency mobile station uses, if the channel uses the same frquency after handover finishes as that one used before handover proceed, this is called intra-frequency handover, otherwise, if the channel uses the different frquency after handover finishes with that one used before handover proceed , this is called inter-frequency handover [6].

Intra-frequency handover includes intra-mode handover and inter-mode handover , for example , softer handover , soft handover and hard handover, and inter- mode handover between UTRA-FDD and UTRA-TDD [6]. In this paper ,we mainly analyse the intra-mode handover within WCDMA .

Inter-frequency handover also includes intra – mode, inter –mode and inter –system handover [6]. It is a hard handover by which the link between mobile station and base station is temperorarily disconnected . Inter- frequency hard handovers can be used , for example , to hand a mobile over from one WCDMA frequency carrier to another to maxmize the use of several carriers per base station .

The intra –mode handover of inter –frequency in WCDMA sytem is the handover between different frequency channels within one cell or one sector or among macro-cell, micro-cell or pico-cell in a hierarachical network structure in order to improve coverage and capacity or to balance the loading of network [6].

The inter-mode handover of inter-frequency is the handover between WCDMA system and multi-carrier CDMA.

The inter –system handover of inter-frequency is the handover betweeen WCDMA FDD system and another systems , such as WCDMA TDD Or GSM system [6].

Softer Handover

Softer handover means that mobile station changes its channel from one sector to another sector within one cell. It provides additional diversity gain and doesn’t cause extra transmission between bast station and mobile station [6]. Fig 3.1 shows a basic softer handover scenario.

n the downlink communication, when a mobile station is in the overlapping area of the two adjacent sectors for one cell of a base station. There are two physical connections between base station and mobile station vis two air interface channels, one for each sector separately because WCDMA uses Orthogonal Variable Spreading Factor codes to distinguish different downlink physical channels, this leads to a softer handover to use two separate codes in the downlink direction, so that the mobile station can separate the signals. The mobile station uses Rake receiver method to proceed the received two signals, it’s very similar to multipath reception, the only difference is that the fingers needs to generate the respective code for each sector for the appropriate despreading operation. A detailed information is given in literature [6].

In the uplink direction, base station uses the same method as mobile station does in the downlink , Rake receiver , to combine the the received two signals from two sectors .The two received signals are Maximal Ratio Combined (MRC) in base station. When a user is in overlapping region in Fig. 3.1, if the addition of signal levels received by two adjacent sectors is higher than signal level received by the nearest other-cell sector, the user is in softer handover and is power-controlled by both sectors [10].

The softer handover can improve system performance.In literature [10], the gain obtained by softer handover has been shown. This is due to the fact that i novelapping regions, users could transmit lower power compared to those in non-overpalling region, thanks to employing softer handover.therefore, they cause lee interference to other users. The disadvantage of softer handover creates additional interference when increase in the effective receiveing angle enlarges overlapping region and causes more interference to the user.

During a softer handover , only one power control loop is active [6].

  1. Soft Handover

    1. Soft handover principle in WCDMA

In soft handover, a mobile station is allowed to be connected to simultaneously several base stations, which are selected by using relative threshold. Fig. 4.1 show the soft handover principle with two base stations involved. A mobile station enters the soft handover state when the signal strength of neighbouring cell exceeds a certain threshold but is still below the current base station's signal strength.

Soft handover in WCDMA is a kind of intra-frequency handover. Soft handover is one of the essential features because of its suitability for CDMA based mobile systems. Therefore, soft handover has become one of the main issues and key challenges for WCDMA system. Soft handover promises better performance than hard handover. The two most well-known benifits are fade margin improvement and higher uplink capacity, while the disadvantages include higher downlink interference and more complex implementation. Proper design of handover is one of the main challenges in mobile communications, since it has a great impact on the system performance and capacity [14].

In the uplink direction, each base station in the active set receives the signal simultaneously from the same mobile station because of the frequency reuse factor of one, then base station decodes the signal, after decoding a frame, the base station sends the frame to Radio Network Controller (RNC), and RNC chooses the base station with the best signal quality on a frame to frame basis and sends the data further, in this respect, it is different with softer handover. In Fig. 4.1, two base stations receive the uplink signal from the mobile station simultaneously and demodulate the signal respectively and pass the signal to the combining point, for example, the base station controller (BSC) [6].

In the downlink direction, mobile station receives signals from certain number of base stations simultaneously and coherently combine them into one signal by maximal ratio combining method since it see them as just additional multipath components. this provides an additional benefit called macro diversity (i.e., the diversity gain provided by the reception of one or more additional signals). In Fig. 4.1, the two base stations in the downlink direction transmit the same information, and the mobile station receives the singals from the two base stations simultaneously as separate multipath signals and combine them by MRC [6].

    1. Soft Handover Benefits and Impacts for the System

With soft handover technique, when the algorithms and the parameters are designed properly, each MS can potentially use the multiple radio links simultaneously, it may receive its signals from the multiple BSs and in general the same BSs then also receive the signal which is transmitted from the MS. The near far effect is avoided, WCDMA system capacity is substantially improved and the coverage is extended. The coverage size of cell is adjusted dynamically according to the interference from other cells. The system load is balanced among cells, the macro diversity offered by soft handover is against shadowing fading and fast fading. Soft handover is an essential interference mitigating tool in WCDMA. In [21], the measured BER after soft handover significantly improved over that of each BS. In a fast power controlled WCDMA uplink, the soft handover gains is presented [8]. When the maximum doppler frequency is 5 Hz, for the required BER=10-3, the Eb/I0 is 8.5dB with soft handover, and the Eb/I0 is 13.1dB without soft handover, the soft handover gain is 4.6 dB.

However, the disadvantage of soft handover is that it creates more interference to the system in the downlink since the new base station now transmits an additional signal for the mobile station, and it needs base station power amplifier resources. It is possible that the mobile station cannot catch all the energy that the base station transmits due to a limited number of RAKE fingers. Thus, the gain of soft handover in the downlink depends on the gain of macro diversity and the loss of performance due to increased interference. In the uplink, it occupies more physical channels, needs more radio resources to be allocated give extra transmission across the interface between the base station and radio network controller, this is different with softer handover.

    1. The Procedure and Parameter of One Possible Soft Handover Algorithm

A soft handover algorithm works with the corporation of a set of system parameters such as adding threshold, dropping threshold and dropping timer. In principle, if received signal strength from a new base station is higher than adding threshold, it is added into the user’s active set and starts the communication to the user. When the signal strength from a base station in the active set is lower than dropping threshold for a period of dropping threshold time. It is removed from the active set and loses the connection to the user [6].

possible soft handover algorithm is shown in [6] and [20]. The primary common pilot channel ( CPICH ) in WCDMA is used to measure the signal strength for soft handover. Each cell or sector only has one primary common pilot channel under the primary scrambling code with a fixed channelization code allocation. The CPICH EC/N0 is the received energy per chip divided by the power density in the band, the reference point is the antenna connector at the mobile station.

Cell load is balanced between different cells through adjusting the CPICH reception level. If the CPICH power is reduced, part of mobile stations handover to other cells, on the contrary, if the CPICH power is increased, the cell will invite more MS to hand over to its own cell.

The CPICH EC/N0 used by soft handover algorithm is signalled to RNC by using layer 3 signalling. The basic idea of soft handover algorithm is shown in Fig. 4.2 .

The soft handover algorithm described in Fig. 4.2 is as following:

Radio link addition is defined as Event 1A: If pilot_ Ec / I0 > Best _pilot_ Ec / I0 - Reporting_range+Hystersis_event1A for a period of T, and the active set, which is the cells forming a soft handover connection to the mobile station, is not full, the cell is added to the active set.

Radio Link Removal is defined as Event 1B: If pilot_ Ec / I0 < Best _pilot_ Ec / I0 - Reporting_range – Hystersis_event1B for a period of T, then the cell is removed from the active set.

Combined Radio link Addition and Removal is defined as Event 1C: If the active set is full and Best_candidate _Pilot _ Ec / I0 > Worst _Old _Pilot_ Ec / I0 + Hystersis_event1C for a period of T, then the weakest cell in the active set is replaced by the strongest candidate cell (i.e. strongest cell in the monitored set). The monitored set or neighbour set is the list of cells that the mobile station continuously measures, but whose pilot Ec / I0 are not strong enough to be added to the active set.

The maximum size of active set in Fig. 4.2 is assumed to be two.


  • Reporting _range is the threshold for soft handover

  • Hysteresis_event 1A is the addition hysteresis

  • Hysteresis_event 1B is the removal hysteresis

  • Hysteresis_event 1C is the replacement hysteresis

  • T is the time to trigger.

  • Best _Pilot_ Ec / I0 is the strongest measured cell in the active set

  • Worst_Old_Pilot_ Ec / I0 is the weakest measured cell in the active set

  • Best _Candidate _Pilot _ Ec / I0 is the strongest measured cell in the monitored set.

  • Pilot_ Ec / I0 is the measured and filtered quantity.

Different designs of these parameters can form different soft handover algorithms that have different effects on the system performance. In literature [14], the soft handover algorithms are classified 4 types according the fixed adding threshold and dropping threshold or dynamic adding threshold and dropping threshold used in the algorithms:

Algorithm 1 is a fixed threshold based algorithm in which adding and dropping thresholds are pre-set values.

Algorithm 2 is a single dynamic threshold based algorithm in which when the signal strength from a new BS is higher than the maximal signal strengths in the active set, it will be added into the active set.

Algorithm 3 is another single dynamic threshold based algorithms. The dynamic adding threshold is a linear function of the addition of signal strengths in the active set.

Algorithm 4 is a double dynamic threshold based algorithm where adding threshold and dropping threshold are defined as linear functions of the maximal signal strengths in the active set.

    1. The Decision for the Soft Handover Threshold

In WCDMA system, Soft handover decision algorithm is located at RNC .It uses relative threshold with reference to the strongest pilot EC/IO in the AS. Relative threshold causes less interference situation sensitive than absolute threshold .the setting of these thresholds significantly affects the trade off between coverage, capacity and quality in system.

The relative threshold value should be adaptive set by traffic load of the system in order to reduce the interference. The influence of the threshold value is analysed to the system in detail through simulating the system in literature [1]. It shows that the soft handover gain rises when the threshold value increases, when the traffic load increases over a certain value. However, the greater the threshold, the greater the interference in downlink: if the thresholds are above certain value the interference involved will nullify the advantage brought by maximal ratio combining (MRC) [1]. When the traffic load increase, the relative thresholds should decreased to get the soft handover gain. The simulation of capacity in an ideal rural environment in [1] shows the gain by the relative threshold value, in the downlink, when the traffic load is lower than 40 MS/BS, the lowest outage probability is obtained when enter threshold, 9 dB, is used.

One connection in soft handover occupies more than one traffic channel because each base station connects to the same mobile station during a soft handover. On average, a statistic value is given in literature [7]: one soft handover occupies 1.4-1-5 channels.

The accuracy of measured CPICH EC/N0 is important for soft handover because the unaccuray measured CPICH EC/N0 will cause the ping-pong effect or degrade the quality of the received signal. In addition, before the measured CPICH EC/N0 is used for soft handover, in order to avoid the unstable CPICH EC/N0 used for mobile stations, the filtering length should be applied to average out the fasting fading. The filtering length should be just long enough to avoid the fast fading. When the mobile station slowly moves or is stationary, the filtering length should be long enough to avoid the unnecessary soft handover and the increased handover signalling. In literature [6], the filtering period of 100 ms gives reasonably good performance and only relatively small improvement can be achieved by increasing the filtering the filtering period when the MS speed is at 50 km/h. When the mobile station move in a high speed, the filtering length should be short enough to satisfy the fast handover. The disadvantage of filtering length is to delay the soft handover.

In literature [9], a double dynamic threshold based algorithm is analyzed in balancing the system load.

In addition, CIR based Soft Handover for UTRA FDD uplink are desrcibed in [19].

    1. The Algorithm for Soft Handover

When a soft handover proceed, the mobile station sends measured reports to base station, [7] analysed the procedure in detail, the report includes to report

  • Event 1A,

  • Event 1B,

  • Event 1C,

  • Event triggered periodic intra-frequency measurement,

  • Event 6F: The UE Rx- Tx time difference for a RL included in the active set becomes larger than an absolute threshold ( If so, the RL is removed )

  • Event 6G: The UE R x- Tx time difference for a RL included in the active set becomes less than an absolute thershold ( If so, the RL is removed),

  • Cell individual offsets for modifying measurment reporting behaviour.

  • Mechanism for forbiding a neighbouring cell to affect the reporting range .

  • Time – to – trigger mechanism for modifying measurement reporting behaviour

When a base station signal of a cell is strong enough to add to the active set or weak enough to remove from the active set after a mobile station measures the signal from the base station, however, RNC can’t be able to add the cell to the active set or remove it from the active set because of shortage of capacity, this causes event triggered periodic intra frequency measurement report. Then, mobile station will continue to report after the initial report by reverting to periodical measurement reporting until there are no longer any monitored cells within the reporting range or the RNC has updated the active set. Fig. 4.3 shows the basic mechanism:

In Fig. 4.3, PCHICH1 becomes better than PCHICH2, but RNC can’t add it to the active set, then the mobile station continuously sends measured reports about P CPICH1, P CPICH2 and P CPICH3 until the P CPICH3 is removed from the active set and P CPICH1 is added to the active set.

When the RNC order event 1A in a measurement control message, the mobile station will send a measurement report when a primary CPICH of a cell enters the reporting range as defined by the following formula:

  • 10LogMnew W.10.Log+(1-W)10LogMBest – ( R+H1a) (1)


  • Mnew: the measurement result of the cell entering the reporting range

  • Mi: a measurement result of a cell in the active set

  • NA : the number of cells in the current active set

  • MBest: the measurement result of the strongest cell in the active set

  • W: the parameter Active Set Weighting Coefficient sent from RNC to UE

  • R: the parameter Addition Window sent from RNC to UE

  • H1a: the hystersis, which is zero for the event 1A.

The maximum number of cells allowed in the active set for measurement reports to be triggered by event 1A is Maximum Active Set Size –1.

The algorithm uses an addition timer to enhance Event 1A, the addition timer has an addition time parameter, a cell must continuously stay within the reporting range for the given time period before the MS shall send a measurement report if a time to trigger value is used.

The reporting procedure of event 1B is similar to that of event 1A. In this case, it use a 5different formula to judge the if a primary CPICH enters the reporting range:

  • 10LogMOld W.10.Log+(1-W)10LogMBest – ( R+H1b) (2)


  • MOld is the measurement result of the cell leaving the reporting range.

  • H1b is the hystersis, which is zero for the event 1B.

  • The rest of parameters are same as those in equation (1).

arameter Replacement Window determines the relative threshold that is used by the mobile station to trigger the reporting event 1C. A stronger cell can replace the weakest the cell in a full active set if the difference between the primary CPICH of the cells is equal to or greater than the threshold Replacement Window.

One of the algorithms uses a timer to enhance event 1B similar to that of event 1A, the difference is that the timer is drop timer to monitor if a cell is enough to be removed from the active set.

The event 1C is used for replacing cells in the active set. When the number of cells in the active set is equal to the maximum active set size parameter, and a primary CPICH which is not included in the active set become better than a primary CPICH that is in the active set, the mobile stations shall send a measurement report if the RNC orders event 1C in a measurement control message.

In Fig. 4.4, mobile station sends a measure report to replace PCPICH1 with P CPICH4 when P CPICH4 EC /N0 become stronger than that of P CPICH1 because the active set is full.

Like event 1A and event 1B, Event 1C is also enhanced with a Replacement Time parameter, If a time to trigger value is used, the difference between cells must continuously stay equal to or greater than the threshold Replacement Window for the given time period, before the MS shall send a measurement report.

In addition, event 1C uses the parameter Replacement Window to determine the relative threshold that is used by the mobile station to trigger the reporting event 1C. A stronger cell can replace the weakest cell in a full active set if the difference between the primary CPICH of the cells is equal to or greater than the threshold Replacement Window.

In [11], a new algorithm by sorting pilots is introduced, results show that various gains in the 15-25% range are possible in a real system, depending on the setting of the IS-95B handover parameters and loading, with no obvious detrimental effects on either the forward or reverse link. In [16] the channel–borrowing handover scheme based on user mobility in CDMA cellular systems is described, where a channel is borrowed from a stationary call in soft handover and given to a handover request of a moving call, when all channel in a cell are occupied.

    1. The timing for Soft Handover

The soft handover may alter the quality of service, WCDMA system capacity and performance highly depend on the system load. On the other hand, if mobile make handover with high rate, the network will suffer a high signalling load, this will nullify the soft handover gain if the handover over rate is very high. Time– to – trigger mechanism is used to modify measurement reporting behaviour compromise between the high signalling load and degradation. To limit the measurement signalling load, a time to trigger parameter could be connected with each reporting event (Addition time for even 1A, Deletion time for event 1B and Replacement time for event 1C).

We should compromise the number of soft handover and the system degradation. We also should consider the different load of the system and the trade off between system capacity and the signalling load when we set the soft handover timers. The time setting influence to the system signalling load is analysed through simulating the network under a certain assumption in literature [2]. Especially in the downlink, this paper shows a big difference of the system performance with the different density of active user changes.

nterference in WCDMA system depends on the number of the active users, i.e. the load of system. So when the load increases, the system interference increases, it is important for the proper timer setting to estimate the interference correctly. In literature [2], simulation shows that when the timer equals or less than 4s with 20 users the degradation of the system is tolerable, which means that we can set the optimal timer in the cellular system to decrease the signalling load. In a higher user case, e.g. 40 users, two-second as the timer is suitable, where in downlink 97% of all BERs are less than 10-3.

Fig. 4.5 shows the basic mechanism for time-to –trigger.


n order to modify measurement reporting behaviour, it is necessary to adjust a cell border by the cell individual offsets, it is an efficient way for the network to change the reporting of an individual primary CPICH. Fig. 4.6 shows the offset for CPICH 3 in order to extend its border.

Total CDMA traffic is as a sum of traffic due to conversations (“Converstation” traffic), and additional traffic dueto soft handover overhead. In order to reduce the system loading, it is necessary to avoid the unnecessary handover caused by the unstable cells. In Fig. 4.7, PCHICH3 is forbidden to affect the reporting ranges as its quantity is quite unstable.

oft handover gain are achieved through firstly RNC selects the best frame from base stations in the active set on a frame by frame basis secondly fast power control doesn’t compensate for deep fading. The soft handover gains is analysed in a fast power controlled WCDMA uplink in literature [8]. During a soft handover, each base station in the active set adjusts SIR value through comparing with the threshold SIRth, then sends increase or decrease command to the mobile station. If the mobile station receives the increase commands from all the base stations in the active set, it will increase its transmit power, if the mobile station received the decrease command reliably from at least one base station in the active set, then it will decrease its transmit power. The mobile station transmit power is always controlled by the strongest link to reduce the system interference. In a fast power controlled WCDMA uplink, the soft handover gain is presented [8]. When the maximum doppler frequency is 20 Hz, for the required BER=10-3, the Eb/I0 is 7dB with soft handover, and the Eb/I0 is 11.5dB without soft handover, the soft handover gain is 4.5 dB.

In addition, the timing of active set is also important for soft handover. In the downlink, soft handover gain is acquired with MRC by mobile stations. However, WCDMA is an asynchronous system network, so it is necessary to adjust the transmission timing among the active sets. his allows coherent combining in the Rake receiver to get multipath diversity, otherwise, the mobile station will be difficult to combine the receiving signals from the different base stations. The timing adjusting is analysed in detail in reference [6]. The new base station adjust the downlink timing in steps of 256 chips based on the information it received from the RNC, Fig. 4.8 gives the basic principle:

  1. Handover For Packet Data

UMTS offers multimedia service with different quality of service. One of the important services is the packet data transmission. It can be real time or non-real time service for packet data transmission. Here, we consider non real time packet data transfer. One of important packet data features is the asymmetric traffic between downlink and uplink.

A packet service session includes one or several packet calls, this depends on the different applications, several packets may be generated for a packet call so that the packet call constitutes a bursty sequence of packets. The bursiness is the characteristic feature of packet transmission during a packet call.

Non real-time bearers can use three types of transport channels to transfer packet data in WCDMA system: common channel, dedicated channel or shared channel dynamically [6]. Each type of channel of these three kinds of transport channels has its own individual characteristic and is suitable for transferring different type of packet data. The packet scheduler (PS) controls to use different channels. The packet scheduler allocates a bit rate for a bearer and possibly changes this bit rate during an active connection. The packet scheduler is typically located in RNC where the scheduling can be done efficiently for multiple cells, also taking into account the soft handover.

Common channels are the random access channel (RACH) in the uplink and the forward access channel (FACH) in the downlink, they are most suitable for transmitting small individual packets because they are mainly used to carry signalling for most of time, this is also why they don’t support soft handover. Because they transfer signalling data, they set up connection faster than the dedicated channels, this results in to send packets immediately without any longer time to set up comparing with dedicated channels. On the other hand, because this type of channel can’t use soft handover, the link level performance is worse than dedicated channel.

Shared channels are target to transfer bursty packet data, they suit to transmit medium or large-sized packets to save the limited number of downlink orthogonal codes by sharing the same physical channel among number of users. Like the common channels mentioned above, shared channels can’t use soft handover either because they carry control signalling.

The common packet channel (CPCH) is similar to the common and shared channels. They are the extention of RACH and FACH, the bit rate of CPCH can be high or low and there can be many CPCHs per cell. They suit to transfer small or medium-sized packets because they spend most of time on carrying the fast power control information, this is also why they can’t use soft handover either.

The dedicated channels suit to transmit medium or large size packets, the bit rate can be changed during a transmission, they are the only transport channels that can use soft handover to improve their radio performance, and consequently less interference is generated than with common channels. If the mobile is in soft handover, the packet scheduler must take into account the air interface load and the physical resources in all base stations of the active set to balance the load. The transmit timing of all base stations in the active set needs to be adjust during a soft handover in order to proceed the maximal ratio combining (MRC) in mobile station in downlink. The use of spreading factors in the downlink has some limits, the spreading factor of 512 for soft handover is not expected to use very often [6].

Soft handover for packet data transmission can improve coverage and capacity and balance the load of system. The choice of soft handover algorithm depends largely on the degree of complexity to be implemented in the mobile terminal and in the network. There is also a trade off between benefits from soft handover and the increased complexity of system. For high bit rate packet access service, it involves soft handover for might increase the transmission load in the access network considerably. Soft handover algorithms are very important, otherwise, if the algorithm is not correctly used, the benefits from soft handover will be nullified by the signalling transferring overloading involved [17]. The performance of mobile IP handover with different movement detections is analyzed in [13].

Through computer simulation including fast fading and fast power control, the handover algorithms is evaluated for packet transmission in WCDMA for both uplink and downlink in reference [3]. This paper analysed the macro diversity gains for high bit rate packet transmissions. The two main parameters in a soft handover algorithm are the handover margin and the maximum active size. It is important to set the values of these two parameters, if they aren’t set properly, this will cause the excessive signalling load it involved. The larger the handover margin, the more users to handover, this leads to more signalling loading for the network.

The maximum active size limits the number of connected base stations, the handover margin is defined relative to the best base stations. The two parameters can be used to control the fraction of mobile stations.

In soft handover in the system, the percentage of users on both soft and softer handover increases with the handover margin. The soft handover percentage gives an idea about the amount of extra transmission resources in the access network that is required for macro diversity.

The analysis result in the downlink shows that the total base station output power decreases slightly as the handover margin is increased for 20 sessions per cell. The total number of radio links increases as the handover margin is increased but the gain from macro diversity manages to reduce the total power. The mean packet bit rate increases monotonously as the handover margin is increased for all three loads, this is because more users benefits from the macro diversity as the handover margin is increased [3].

For the uplink performance, the interference decreases as the handover margin is increased .The macro diversity is always beneficial in the uplink. The gain increases with the fraction of users in macro diversity .The interference is higher with the 3-ray channel compared to the 10 rays channel. The quality is increased as the handover margin is increased for all loads.The largest gains of macro diversity is shown for a radio channel with low multipath diversity in [3]. This paper uses two different time steps to simulate the system: 0.625ms and 10ms. Fast fading and transmit power are updated and receiver C/I values calculated during 0.625ms. Packet traffic, mobility, handover and retransmission protocols are updated during 10ms. The best downlink performance is achieved with 20 –30 percent of the users in macro diversity [3]. However, the trade-off between diversity advantage and increased interference results in rather small performance difference. In the uplink, macro diversity is always beneficial both in terms of capacity and quality. The gains increase with increased fraction of users in macro diversity. Thus the soft handover algorithm can be used as a means to optimised either the downlink or uplink according to desire, by controlling the fraction of users in macro diversity [3].

The effect of soft handover algorithms is also analysed for packet data transmission in WCDMA system in reference [4]. This paper shows the similar results as that of [3], but it focus soft handover on downlink packet transmission, because the more amount of packet data need to transmit in downlink than that in uplink. The gain from the soft handover strongly depends on the two important parameter setting: soft handover margin and maximum active set. This article analysed the macro diversity of soft handover for packet transmission from a different point of view with [3]. Here, it evaluated the SIR values of mobile station received signal with different soft handover margin. The interference of SIR includes intra-cell interference and inter-cell interference in downlink. Inter –cell interference is from other base stations, this depends on the mobile station location. Although WCDMA uses Orthogonal Variable Spreading Factor (OVSF) codes between different downlink physical channels, the orthogonality are nor perfect due to multipath propagation, this causes the intra-cell interference [3].

The results show if soft handover margin equal to a reasonable value, the SIR of mobile station will increase, however, if the soft handover margin value set higher above a certain value, the SIR of mobile station will decrease at the cell border. The reason is the margin increase leads to an unacceptable increase of interference.

In addition, this article shows that the users density also influence the soft handover effect. The increase of user density leads to decrease gain of soft handover due to additional interference. In this case, the hard handover performs better than soft handover in terms of SIR.

For real-time application such as Internet telephony and videoconferencing, a fast handover in IP-based wireless networks is shown in [12]. The cost of the handover protocol for both voice and video obtained for a range of beacon periods below 1s.

  1. Hard Handover

    1. Intrafrequency hard handover

For the shared channels and common channels, they can’t use soft handover, they support hard handover when needed. Decision procedure of this type handover is the same as soft handover controlled by Network Evaluated Handover (MEHO) and RNC, and causes temporary disconnection of the user.
    1. Interfrequency Hard Handover

WCDMA has 20MHz bandwidth, it can be split into smaller multiple bandwidth with different carriers transmission, so each cell in WCDMA network will have multiple frequency carriers. For a hot spot cell, it could have more numbers of frequencies than neighbouring cells. Furthermore, in order to give a good coverage, the hierarchical cell structure will be used. For this kind of structure, micro cells will have different frequency channels than the macro cells overlaying the micro cells.

It is also important for WCDMA to handover between different frequencies, it can be a hard handover within one base station or within one RNC, or between different RNC. So an efficient procedure is needed for this type of handover.

Like GSM or IS –95 system, an efficient method for inter-frequency handover are needed for measuring signal strength and quality on other frequencies while still having the connection running on the current frequency.

An view for inter-frequency handover has been given in reference [5], it analysed two methods for inter-frequency measurements in WCDMA.

  • Dual receiver

  • Slotted mode

While a mobile station employ antenna diversity, dual receiver method means that mobile station has two receiver branches, one receiving branch measures the signal strength and quality on the other frequency while another receiving branch are keeping on transmitting and receiving signals on the current frequency. This is especially suitable for antenna diversity in mobile station.

However it is not easy to have antenna diversity in mobile station by normal antenna. Fortunately, the WCDMA system supports adaptive antenna technique development. It is possible that one of the beam formers of smart antenna in mobile station can be used to catch the signals to measure the signal strength and the quality on other frequency while the other beam formers are used to maintain the connection on the current frequency.

nother method, slotted mode is used for inter-frequency handover measurement in WCDMA. By this way, the information transmitted are compressed in time domain to give a short Transmission Gap Lengths (TGL) of the channel to measure the signal strength on other frequency, the compressed method. The information are compressed by lowing the data rate from higher layers, or increasing the data rate by changing the spreading factor or reducing symbol rate by code puncturing or by changing FEC rate. Fig. 6.1 shows the basic mechanism of slotted mode:
It is more attractive that mobile stations don’t need antenna diversity compared with dual receiver, but there is also a trade off between system complexity and the advantage of this method. A more detailed information is described for this method in literature [6].

The inter-frequency handover is a Network Evaluated Handover (NEHO), and the decision algorithm is located in RNC.

    1. Inter-System between GSM And WCDMA

In order to improve the coverage and capacity and balancing load of mobile communication. WCDMA not only supports hard handover between different frequency carriers within WCDMA system, but also support hard handover between WCDMA and other mobile communication system, for example GSM, to offer a world wide coverage capacity.

Mobile station should be multi-mode in order to support the inter-system handover. In addition the frame timing is critical for this type handover. Two timing methods are shown like that of the inter-frequency handover within WCDMA system mentioned above: slotted mode and dual receiver in reference [5]. A WCDMA terminal can do the measurements either by requesting the measurement intervals in a form of slotted mode where there are breaks in the downlink transmission or then it can perform the measurements independently with a suitable measurement pattern. With independent measurements the dual receiver approach is used instead of the slotted mode since the GSM receiver branch can operate independently of the WCDMA receiver branch.

  1. Conclusions

This paper present the hard handover, soft / softer handover concepts in WCDMA system. Softer handover can improve the coverage, capacity and system performance without increasing the system loading as it implements within the base stations. The soft handover is one of important tool to improve the system performance, but it causes the system loading increase, this is different with that of softer handover. The parameters with possible soft handover algorithms are analyzed. The adding-threshold, dropping threshold, timer-to-dropping are important parameters for soft handover algorithms. For different situation such as hot-spots, the parameters needs to be adjusted dynamically to balance the network load or increase the coverage and system performance. Proper design of handover algorithms is important, since it has a great impact on the system performance and capacity. In packet transmission of WCDMA, soft handover gives the improvement of performance. Two important parameters, handover margin and maximum active size are analyzed.

In WCDMA, Hard handover is necessary either for shared channel and common channel with intrafrequency or interfrequency to balance the network loads, or it is used to handover users to other systems such as GSM or IS-95 from WCDMA system.



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