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Introduction to Mobile Network Engineering

GSM, 3G-WCDMA, LTE and the Road to 5G

Alexander Kukushkin

PhD, Australia

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From the 1990s to the present, three generations of mobile radio networks have been deployed in every country of the world. Those networks connect billions of customers and provide mobile communications services. Mobile radio communications have become ubiquitous throughout the world. People are getting used to the technology through commercial mobile phones. The mobile network infrastructure that enables communications has become a normal part of the urban environment in which people live. There is also a great number of other applications for mobile radio that are essential in the modern world and are used in navigation, transportation, machine‐to‐machine communications (M2M), robotics, emergency and low enforcement services, broadcasting, space exploration, the military, and so on. The mobile radio is, in fact, a part of a more widely defined wireless technology that, of course, includes wireless LANs (Wi‐Fi) with fixed and nomadic access.

The content of this book is limited to three major mobile communication technologies: GSM, 3G‐WCDMA and LTE with the major focus on Radio Access Network (RAN) technology. We introduce some basic concepts of mobile network engineering used in the design and rollout of mobile networks. Then we cover principles, design constraints and provide a more advanced insight into the radio interface protocol stack, operation and dimensioning for three major mobile network technologies; the Global System Mobile (GSM), third (3G‐WCDMA) and fourth generation (4G‐LTE) mobile technologies that have been recently deployed or are shortly to be deployed. Enhancements of fourth generation technology in LTE‐Advanced (LTE‐A) are described at the level of conceptual design.

The concluding sections of the book are concerned with further development towards the next generation of mobile networks (5G). The last section describes some key concepts that may bring significant enhancements in network operation efficiency and quality of services experienced by customers. A development of the fifth generation of mobile networks can be regarded as a mix of evolutionary advances in 4G LTE through LTE‐A and new radio technology likely operating in newly allocated spectrum bands. This development covers a broad area of applications and many different topics that require specifically dedicated study. Therefore, many interesting and important topics such as the Internet of Things, massive MTC, developments in new technology for emergency services based on LTE, integration of the mobile radio access network and Wi‐Fi are out of the scope of this book.

Since the standards for 5G are still in development, most of the features of the new radio technology are related to 3GPP Release 15. Some breakthrough technological advances are planned for further releases of 5G, such as a Full Duplex and self‐backhauling and are described as concepts rather than commercially available technology.

While many excellent books on mobile radio networking are available, I think many more will be published in the near future since the subject is continuously evolving. This book is intended to provide a generalist and compressed description of major technologies utilized in the radio access part of modern mobile networks. I envisage readers are engineers in relatively early stages of their careers in the mobile wireless industry. Some of them may be taking a post‐graduate course to enhance their knowledge. They may include operation support engineers, technical sale/presale engineers, technical and account managers who may need or wish to enhance or expand their knowledge of mobile network system engineering. Each major technology section of the book consists of introductory material, a more advanced part and a summary.

Alexander Kukushkin


I thank Professor Branka Vucetic, School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of Sydney, for the invitation to teach at the University that led to the writing of this book. I wish to thank the reviewers of the book for their constructive comments that helped to improve and extend the content, especially on the 5G related topics.


3GThird Generation
3GPP3rd Generation Partnership Project
5GFifth Generation of mobile networks
5GC5G Core network
5G‐S5G System
TMSITemporary Mobile Subscription Identifier
AAAntenna Array
AAAAuthentication, Authorization & Accounting
AASActive Antenna System
ADCAnalogue to Digital Converter
AFApplication Function
AGCHAccess Grant CHannel
AICHAcquisition Indicator CHannel
AKAAuthentication and Key Agreement
AMAcknowledged Mode
AMCAdaptive Modulation and Coding
AMFAccess and Mobility Management Function
AMRAdaptive Multi‐Rate (coding)
ARFCNAbsolute Radio Frequency Channel Number
ARQAutomatic Repeat reQuest
ATCAAdvanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture
AUCAUthentication Centre
AUSFAuthentication Server Function
BALUNBALanced to UNbalanced conversion
BBUBase Band Unit
BCCHBroadcast Control CHannel
BCHBroadcast CHannel
BLERBLock Erasure Rate
BMCBroadcast/Multicast Control
BSBase Station
BSCBase Station Controller
BSICBase Station Identity Code
BSSBase Station Subsystem
CACarrier Aggregation
CACCall Admission Control
CCComponent Carrier
CCCHCommon Control Channel
CCEControl Channel Element
CCPCHCommon Control Physical Channel
CCTrCHCoded Composite Transport Channel
CDDCyclic Delay Diversity
CDMCode Division Multiplexing
CDMACode Division Multiple Access
CIRCarrier to Interference Ratio
COMPCOordinated MultiPoint transmission and reception
CPCyclic Prefix
CPCHCommon Packet Channel
CPICHCommon Pilot Channel
CP‐OFDMCyclic Prefix‐OFDM
CPRICommon Public Radio Interface
CQIChannel Quality Indicators
C‐RANCentralized Radio Access Network
CRCCyclic Redundancy Check
CRNCControlling RNC
CRNTICell Radio Network Temporary Identifier
CSCHCompact Synchronization Channel
CSFBCircuit Switched Fall Back
CSIChannel State Information
CSI‐RSChannel State Information Reference Signal
CTCHCommon Traffic Channel
DACDigital‐to‐Analogue Convertor
DCDual Connectivity
DCCHDedicated Control Channel
DCHDedicated Transport Channel
DCIDownlink Control Information
DeNBDonor eNB
DFTDiscrete Fourier Transform
DL PCCDownlink Primary Component Carrier
DL SCCDownlink Secondary Component Carrier
DLLData Link Layer
DL‐SCHDownlink Shared CHannel
DMRSDeModulation Reference Signal
DNData Network
DNNData Network Name
DPCCHDedicated Physical Control CHannel
DPCHDedicated Physical CHannel
DPDDigital Pre‐Distortion
DPDCHDedicated Physical Data Channel
DRXDiscontinuous Transmission and Reception
DSCHDownlink Shared Channel
DTCHDedicated Traffic Channel
e2eEnd to End
E‐AGCHE‐DCH Absolute Grant CHannel
ECCEEnhanced Control Channel Element
ECMEPS Connection Management
E‐DCHEnhanced Dedicated Channel
EDGEEnhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution
E‐DPCCHE‐DCH Dedicated Physical Control CHannel
E‐HICHE‐DCH Hybrid ARQ Indicator CHannel
EIREquipment Identity Register
eMBBEnhanced Mobile Broadband
EN‐DCE‐UTRA‐NR Dual Connectivity
EPCEvolved Packet Core
EPDCCHEnhanced Physical Downlink Control CHannel
EPSEvolved Packet System
EREGEnhanced Resource Element Group
E‐RGCHE‐DCH Relative Grant Channel
E‐TFCE‐DCH Transport Format Combination
ETSIEuropean Telecommunications Standards Institute
E‐UTRAEvolved UMTS Radio Access
FACCHFast Associated Control Channel
FACHForward Access Channel
FBIFeedback Information
FCCHFrequency Correction Channel
FDDFrequency Division Duplex
FDMFrequency Division Multiplexing
FDMAFrequency Division Multiple Access
F‐DPCHFractional DPCH
FDPSFrequency Domain Packet Scheduling
FECForward Error Correction
FERFrame‐Error Rate
FFTFast Fourier Transform
FNFrame Number
FRFull Rate
GBRGuaranteed Bit Rate
GGSNGateway GPRS Support Node
GMSKGaussian Minimum Shift Keying modulation
GPRSGSM Packet Radio Service
GSMGlobal System Mobile
GTPGPRS Tunnelling Protocol
HLRHome Location Register
HRHalf Rate
HSDPAHigh Speed Downlink Packet Access
HS‐DPCCHHigh‐Speed Dedicated Physical Control CHannel
HS‐DSCHHigh‐Speed Downlink Shared CHannel
HSSHome Subscriber Server
HS‐SCCHHigh‐Speed Shared Control Channel
HSUPAHigh Speed Uplink Packet Access
iFFTinverse FFT
IMEIInternational Mobile Station Equipment Identity
IMSIP Multimedia Subsystem
IMSIInternational Mobile Subscriber Identity
IPsecIP Security protocol
ISHOInter‐System Handover
ISIInter‐Symbol Interference
IWFInterworking Function
LALocation Area
LACLocation Area Code
LAILocation Area Identifier
LANLocal Area Network
LLCLogical Link Control
LNALow Noise Amplifier
LOSLine Of Sight
LPMALattice Partition Multiple Access
LTELong Term Evolution
M2MMachine to Machine communications
MACMedium Access Control
MAHOMobile Assisted HandOver
MAPLMaximum Allowable Path Loss
MCCMobile Country Code
MCGMaster Cell Group
MCSModulation Coding Scheme
MeNBMaster eNB
MgNBMaster gNB
MHAMast Head Amplifier
MIBMaster Information Block
MIMOMultiple Input Multiple Output
MMEMobility Management Entity
MMIMan‐Machine Interface
MNMaster Node
MNCMobile Network Code
MRCMaximum Ratio Combining
MR‐DCMulti‐RAT Dual Connectivity
MSMobile Station (mobile phone)
MSCMobile Switching Centre
MSISDNMobile Subscriber ISDN Number
MSRNMobile Station Routing Number
MTMobile Termination
MTCMachine Type Communications
MTCHMulticast Traffic Channel
MUSTMultiuser Superposition Transmission
NACKNegative ACKnowledgement
NASNon‐Access Stratum
NB‐IoTNarrow‐Band Internet of Things
NDCNational Destination Code
NE‐DCMR‐DC with the 5GC
NEFNetwork Exposure Function
NFNetwork Functions
NFVNetwork Function Virtualization
NGEN‐DCNG‐RAN E‐UTRA‐NR Dual Connectivity
NGMNNext Generation Mobile Network Alliance
NG‐RANNew Generation Radio Access Network
NOMANon‐Orthogonal Multiple Access
NRNew Radio
NRFNF Repository Function
NSSNetwork Switching Subsystem
NSSAINetwork Slice Selection Assistance Information
NSSFNetwork Slice Selection Function
OAMOperation, Administration and Maintenance
OBSAIOpen Base Station Architecture Initiative
OFDMAOrthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access
OMCOperation and Maintenance Center
OSIOpen System Interconnect
OSSOperation Support Subsystem
OVPOver Voltage Protection
OVSFOrthogonal Variable Spreading Factor
PACCHPacket Associated Control Channel
PAPRPeak‐to‐Average Power Ratio
PCCPrimary Component Carrier
PCCCHPacket Common Control Channel
P‐CCPCHPrimary Common Control Physical Channel
PCellPrimary Cell
PCFPolicy Control Function
PCFICHPhysical Control Format Indicator Channel
PCHPaging Channel
PCPCHPhysical Common Packet Channel
PCRFPolicy Charging and Rules Function
PCUPacket Control Units
PDCHPacket Data CHannel
PDCPPacket Data Convergence Protocol
PDPPacket Data Protocol
PDSCHPhysical Downlink Shared CHannel
PDTCHPacket Data Traffic CHannel
PDUPacket Data Unit
P‐GWPacket Data Network Gateway
PHICHPhysical Hybrid‐ARQ Indicator Channel
PICHPaging Indicator Channel
PINPersonal Identification Number
PLMNPublic Land Mobile Networks
PMIPrecoder Matrix Indication
PRACHPhysical Random Access Channel
PRBPower Resource Block
P‐RNTIPaging Group Identity
PSCPrimary Scrambling Code
P‐SCHPrimary Synchronization Channel
PSSPrimary Synchronization Signal
PSTNPublic Switching Telephone Network
PTCCHPacket Timing advance Control Channel
PTCHPacket Traffic Channel
PT‐RSPhase‐Tracking Reference Signals
PUCCHPhysical Uplink Control CHannel
QCIQoS Class Indicator
QoEQuality Of user Experience
QoSQuality of Service
RABRadio Access Bearer
RACHRandom Access CHannel
RANRadio Access Network
RATRadio Access Technology
RAURouting Area Update
RBResource Block
RDNRadio Distribution Network
REGResource Element Group
RFRadio Frequency
RIRank Indication
RLCRadio Link Control
RNRelay Node
RNCRadio Network Controller
RPReference Point
RRCRadio Resource Control
RRHRemote Radio Head
RRMRadio Resource Management
RRURemote Radio Unit
RSReference Signals
SACCHSlow Associated Control Channel
SAESystem Architecture Evolution
SCCSecondary Component Carrier
SCellSecondary Cell
SC‐FDMASingle Carrier FDMA
SCGSecondary Cell Group
SCHSynchronization Channel
S‐CPICHSecondary Common Pilot Channel
SDCCHStandalone Dedicated Control Channel
SDNSoftware Defined Networking
SDRSoftware Designed Radio
SDUService Data Unit
SFSpreading Factor
SFNSystem Frame Number
SFPSmall Form factor Pluggable
SgNBSecondary gNB
SGSNServing GPRS Support Node
S‐GWServing Gateway
SIBSystem Information Block
SICSuccessive Interference Cancellation
SIMSubscriber Identity Module
SINRSignal to Interference and Noise Ratio
SIPSession Initiation Protocol
SIRSignal to Interference Ratio
SMSystem Module
SMFSession Management Function
SMGSpecial Mobile Group
SNSubscriber Number
SecNSecondary Node
SNDCPSubnetwork Dependent Convergence Protocol
S‐NSSAISingle Network Slice Selection Assistance Information
SONSelf‐Organizing Network
SRBSignalling Radio Bearer
SRSSounding RS
S‐SCHSecondary Synchronization Channel
SSSSecondary Synchronization Signal
STRSimultaneous Transmission and Reception
SVDSingular‐Value Decomposition
TATerminal Adapter
TABTransceiver Array Boundary
TAGTiming Advance Group
TAUTracking Area Update
TBTransport Block
TBFTemporary Block Flow
TCHTraffic Channel
TCPTransmission Control Protocol
TDMATime Division Multiple Access
TETerminal Equipment
TFTransport Format
TFCTransport Format Combination
TFCSTransport Format Combination Set
TFITemporary Flow Identifier
TMTransparent Mode
TMATower Mounted Amplifier
TMSITemporary Mobile Subscriber Identity
TPCTransmit Power Control
TrCHTransport Channel
TRXUATransceiver unit array
TSTime Slot
TTITransmission Time Interval
UDMUnified Data Management Function
UEUser Equipment
UL PCCUpLink Primary Component Carrier
UL SCCUpLink Secondary Component Carrier
UL‐SCHUpLink Shared CHannel
UMUnacknowledged mode
UMTSUniversal Mobile Telecommunication System
UPFUser Plane Function
URLLCUltra‐Reliable and Low Latency Critical Communications
USBUniversal Serial Bus
USFUplink State Flag
USIMUniversal Subscriber Identity Module
VASValue Added Services
VLRVisited Location Centre
VoIPVoice over Internet Protocol
WCDMAWideband Code Division Multiple Access
Wi‐FiWireless local area networking

Chapter 1

Over the last few decades, mobile radio communications have become ubiquitous throughout the world. People have become accustomed to the technology through commercial mobile phones. The mobile network infrastructure that enables communications has become a normal part of urban environment in which people live.

There is also great number of other mobile radio applications essential in the modern world that are used in navigation, transportation, machine‐to‐machine communications (M2M), robotics, emergency and low enforcement services, broadcasting, space exploration, the military and so on. Mobile radio is, in fact, a part of more a widely defined wireless technology that, of course, includes wireless LANs (WiFi) with fixed and nomadic access.

Each application was developed on the basis of specific needs and, in some aspects, the mobile radio networks for emergency services and commercial mobile services are different. Nonetheless, the underlying principles in mobile communications, such as radio link design given performance constraints, separation of control and traffic channels, mobility support, principles of the channel allocation in the cell, radio network management and so on, have lots in common in many applications. Moreover, some of the commercial technologies, such as LTE, now appeared to support land mobile radio applications for emergency and public safety services.

This book is written as a modified and expanded set of lectures on the wireless engineering course I had privilege to teach at the University of Sydney, Australia for a couple of years. Most of the concepts of these lectures were adopted from published standards and also based on personal experience in the field as well as from some works of other authors. The course was delivered as post‐graduate study. The assumption was made that the fundamentals of digital communications were already known to attendees and the objective was to explain the subject using mathematical arguments as little as possible; that is, close to common practice in the commercial communications industry. The target audience are engineers who are involved in either network operations or technical pre‐sale. The content is limited to major three mobile communication technologies: GSM, 3G‐Wideband Code Division Multiple‐Access (WCDMA) and LTE with the major focus on radio access network (RAN) technology. The core part of the network is a complex subject on its own and is described only to discuss its role in e2e procedures and interfaces with the radio network.