LTE Architecture | LTE network architecture
This page describes LTE network architecture with system elements. The LTE architecture consists of LTE EUTRAN and LTE Evolved Packet Core(EPC).
LTE standard has been published by 3GPP as an extension of UMTS (based on 3GPP standard) and 1xEV-DO(base on 3GPP2 standard) technologies. LTE is mainly designed for high speed data applications both in the uplink and downlink. LTE network offers about 300Mbps data rate in the downlink and about 75 Mbps in the uplink. There is possibility of supporting voice over LTE(VoLTE) in the future. There are various methods under progress to support VoLTE some of them includes VOIP, legacy fallback to previous existing wireless networks. The LTE is also known as 4G network. It uses SC-FDMA modulation in the uplink (UE to eNB) and OFDMA in the downlink (eNB to UEs) .
As shown in the figure LTE SAE(System Architecture Evolution) consists UE, eNodeB and EPC(evolved packet core). Various interfaces are designed between these entities which include Uu between UE and eNodeB, X2 between two eNodeB, S1 between EPC and eNodeB. eNodeB has functionalities of both RNC and NodeB as per previous UMTS architecture. LTE is completely IP based network.
The basic architecture contains the following network elements.
1. LTE EUTRAN (Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio)
2. LTE Evolved Packet Core.
It is a radio access network standard meant to be a replacement of the UMTS, HSDPA and HSUPA . Unlike HSPA, LTE's E-UTRA is an entirely new air interface system. It provides higher data rates, lower latency and is optimized for packet data. EUTRAN (Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio) consists of eNB (Base station). EUTRAN is responsible for complete radio management in LTE. When UE powered is on, eNB is responsible for Radio Resource Management, i.e. it shall do the radio bearer control, radio admission control, allocation of uplink and downlink to UE etc. When a packet from UE arrives to eNB, eNB shall compress the IP header and encrypt the data stream. It is also responsible for adding a GTP-U header to the payload and sending it to the SGW. Before the data is actually transmitted the control plane has to be established. eNB is responsible for choosing a MME using MME selection function. The QoS is taken care by eNB as the eNB is only entity on radio. Other functionalities include scheduling and transmission of paging messages, broadcast messages, and bearer level rate enforcements also done by eNB.
LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC)
The LTE EPC architecture consists of MME, SGW, PGW, HSS and PCRF.
Mobility Management Entity (MME):
The MME is a control entity. It is responsible for all the control plane operations. All the NAS signaling originates at UE and terminates in MME. MME is also responsible for tracking area list management, selection of PGW/SGW and also selection of other MME during handovers. MME is also responsible for SGSN (Serving GPRS Support Node) selection during LTE to 2G/3G handovers. The UE is also authenticated by MME.MME is also responsible for bearer management functions including establishment of dedicated bearers for all signaling traffic flow.
Serving Gateway (SGW):
Serving gateway terminates the interface towards EUTRAN. For each UE there is a single Serving GW associated with EPS at a given point of time. SGW acts as a local mobility entity for inter eNB handovers. It also acts a mobility anchor for inter 3GPP mobility. SGW is responsible for packet routing and forwarding, buffering the downlink packets. As eNB is responsible for uplink packet marking, SGW is responsible for downlink packet marking.
PDN Gateway (PGW):
PGW terminates SGi interface towards the PDN. PGW is responsible for all the IP packet based operations such as deep packet inspection, UE IP address allocation, Transport level packet marking in uplink and downlink, accounting etc. PGW contacts PCRF to determine the QoS for bearers. It is also responsible for UL and DL rate enforcement.
Home Subscriber Server (HSS):
The HSS is a central database that contains user-related and subscription-related information. The functions of the HSS include functionalities such as mobility management, call and session establishment support, user authentication and access authorization. It also holds information about the PDNs to which the user can connect. In addition the HSS holds dynamic information such as the identity of the MME to which the user is currently attached or registered. The HSS may also integrate the authentication center (AUC), which generates the vectors for authentication and security keys.
Policy Control and Charging Rules Function (PCRF):
The PCRF is responsible for policy control
decision-making as well as for controlling the flow-based charging functionalities in the Policy
Control Enforcement Function (PCEF), which resides in the P-GW. The PCRF provides the QoS authorization
(QoS class identifier [QCI] and bit rates) that decides how a certain data flow will be treated in the
PCEF and ensures that this is in accordance with the user's subscription profile.
Refer LTE PCRF vs PCEF➤.
LTE Advanced Architecture
LTE Advanced architecture for E-UTRAN consists of P-GW, S-GW, MME, S1-MME, eNB, HeNB, HeNB-GW, Relay Node etc. LTE Advanced protocol stack consists of user plane and control plane for AS and NAS. Refer LTE Advanced Architecture and Stack➤.