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Multi-Layer Cell Deployment Strategy for Self- Organizing LTE-Advanced Networks

Mohammadreza Behjati, John Cosmas

WNCC, School of Engineering and Design Brunel University London Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, UK E-mail: {mohammadreza.behjati, john.cosmas}

AbstractThe newly released LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) is currently being introduced as a further step to LTE and as the real 4G cellular standard on cellular networks evolution. Alongside with the increasing demands in mobile networks, the customers’ satisfaction with a ubiquitous heterogeneous network (HetNet) is going to be the main challenge for the network operators, and therefore planning a multi-layer network with different ranges of base stations seems to be an appropriate solution for this deficiency. Furthermore, the interference mitigation in such networks plays a critical role towards the appropriate bandwidth allocation to different categories of the network users especially in case of sharing the available bandwidthand needs to be highly considered when the network planning is under considerations. This paper proposes a novel multi-layer cells deployment with self-organizing approach, designated for the LTE/LTE-Advanced networks and the new releases beyond that. The proposed strategy focuses on femto application and implementation, to exploit the advantages of femtocell nodes, e.g. coverage enhancements, power consumption improvements, network satisfaction, etc. This paper presents the introduction, simulation and evaluation of a novel multi-layer LTE-A scenario, which allows both macro and femto applications to share the spectrum, taking into consideration interference management and network satisfaction.


Femtocell; Heterogeneous Network(HetNet); Self-Organizing

Network (SON); Interference management






LTE-Advanced, which is the continued development of Long Term Evolution (LTE) telecommunication standard, is considered as true 4G evolution step, which was recently standardized in 3GPP Release 10 and approved by ITU and IMT-Advanced. The significant prospect of this evolution is reaching to higher data rates specifically in congested areas whilst having the least possible network interference. For such telecommunication standards and networks, the main expectations could be summarized by three parameters: data rate, delay and capacity. The peak data rate for LTE-Advanced is expected to be up to 1 Gbit/s, realizing 100 Mbps downlink rate and 50 Mbps uplink rate by adopting MIMO and OFDM techniques. Delay also could be assumed as a primary design target to reduce the latency for a packet sent from a server to clients. With growing demands, the resultant capacity shortage would degrade the QoS for the whole network and therefore

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proper methods to measure and manage spectral efficiency needs to be developed. A critical factor, which affects all these key factors, is interference. On the other hand, self-organizing has recently been investigated as a reconfigurable networking technology to improve the spectrum efficiency for the wireless access technologies, such as LTE and LTE-Advanced, as well as Radio over Fibre (RoF). A self-organizing strategy is basically known for its local coordination and interactions between the components within its different stages, which makes it self-aware, self-configurable and demand-based with the capability of adapting itself to obtain more efficient communication, while taking into account the end-to-end goals.

Since the currently available unlicensed spectrum is reaching its limits and there are lots of demands for the wireless access and applications and the intelligent use of spectrum is urgently required to avoid the latency and difficulties in broadband communications, which is caused by the frequency interference through the networks due to huge number of users and demands. The main aim of this paper is to investigate and disseminate a novel multi-layer deployment, by the combination of both available long-coverage macro base station, as well as newly proposed short-coverage femto nodes, which would be relevant to the latest and up-coming releases of LTE. This work explores critical enhancements applied to the existing LTE networks, which could improve the cellular interference during the spectrum usage. It proposes new approaches in the use of self-organizing transceivers and demonstrates how quality of service improvements can be provided for mobile users by proposing new enhancements to the LTE/LTE-A networks that takes interference alleviations into account as a main evaluation factor in the network.

Self-Organizing Network (SON) is introduced to reduce the operational expenditure for the network operators. The interference coordination is an important concept of SON, since the inter-cell interference is one of the main challenges in OFDMA-based networks, especially in downlink, where the broadband services exist. In this context, the coordinated usage of the network resources in the related cells can be an effective approach to maximize the efficiency of the bandwidth. The intra-cell orthogonality between the users in both uplink and downlink in LTE leads to consider the inter-cell interference as the main interference source in this network, which also affects the frequency reuse at the cell edge [1].

Figure 1. Multi-layer HetNet architecture in LTE-A networks Figure 1 depicts a comprehensive HetNet architecture,

Figure 1.

Multi-layer HetNet architecture in LTE-A networks

Figure 1 depicts a comprehensive HetNet architecture, including macrocell as the main backbone of the network, as well as low-power base stations i.e. pico, femto and relay nodes which are being deployed to eradicate the coverage holes in the macro-only systems and improve capacity in hot-spots.

An important improvement that is introduced in LTE- Advanced is the improvement of spectral efficiency per unit area, by using a mixture of macro, pico, femto and relay base- stations through a heterogeneous network, which enables flexible and low-cost deployments and provides the broadband access for the users within whole of the network. The important mission is management and control of the interference to deliver the benefits of such networks. The conventional cellular network deployment is typically launched as homogeneous networks, using a macro-centric planning process, in which the base stations are operating in a planned layout designed to serve the user terminals. All the base stations have similar transmit power levels, receiver noise floors, antenna coverage patterns and also similar backhaul connectivity to the data network. Furthermore, all base-stations in homogenous networks offer unrestricted access to the user terminals in the network and serve roughly the same number of users. Since the traffic requests on the network are growing and the RF environment is being changed, additional sub-carriers are required to overcome the capacity and link budget limitations


The enhanced channel estimation and allocation schemes will result in less interference and higher signal to noise ratio (SNR) values, and therefore there will be a smaller number of packet drops within the designated network, which results the higher quality of service (QoS). Furthermore, reduction in packet drops could also result in obtaining higher data traffic throughput, as well as higher SNR in transmission, which aims to obtain a better quality of received signal within the designated network [3].

Without the indoor deployment of femtocells, the macro base stations need to boost their transmission power to cover the indoor users, which may result in a serious inter-cell interference and degradation in network performance. Using of femtocells to cover the indoor areas by the end users will provide higher quality cellular service with increasing the macrocell capacity and decreasing the operator’s OPEX (operational expenditure), as well as allow the operators to offload significant amounts of traffic away from the macrocell network. It has been estimated that the traffic offload to


femtocell can decrease the costs for the network operators by up to 70% [4].

Apart from the resource allocation strategies on shared or separated radio channels, advanced interference schemes are nevertheless required to be designed within the femtocells, to avoid either the interference among femtocells, or between a femto and a macro, known as co-channel interference. Therefore, as the first step towards network optimization, small-cell deployments should be followed by required techniques to manage the interference. Before applying the interference coordination scheme, the power control interference avoidance techniques which contain a novel interference management for the macro users in heterogeneous networks, are applicable to both macro and femto users. Femtocells are being considered as low-power, user-deployed base stations, which provide high-quality cellular service in indoor environments via operating in licensed spectrum. The trade-off between the improvement of macrocell users’ throughput and the degradation of femtocell user’s throughput is the key benefit of this scheme compared to the smart power control [4].

The main focus of this research will be to target the critical aspects of small-cell implementations, mostly focused on femto applications, within the current LTE system. This improves the indoor coverage of small areas by responding to the closed area users, as well as clear enhancements in outdoor coverage by offloading a great part of the users from the conventional macro base stations. This planning could further be followed by handover plans as well as the interference avoidance and interference cancellation schemes to result in the maximum possible spectral efficiency in the network.

The rest of this paper is organized as follows: Section II discusses the related works and investigated topics in this context. Section III includes the main contribution of this paper, the multi-layer network deployment and simulation. Section IV provides the comparison and analysis of the proposed scenarios. Finally, the conclusion and future works are presented in Section V.


In the recent years, a number of research and investigations have been published regarding the different aspects of LTE and its later releases, i.e. LTE-Advanced, in both structural and technical aspects. Part of this research is focused on the physical attributes of the network, e.g. antenna transmission power, modulation and coding scheme, antenna gain, number of transmit antennas, etc. and some investigations are mostly centralized on network and MAC layer of LTE systems. The concept of self-organizing network (SON), as a new feature of LTE self-configuration, is very recently being investigated and aims to involve the heterogeneous development of existing networks. One of the most dominant applications of SON is to manage the multi-tier/multi-layer structure of the network, via avoidance/mitigation of cross-channel interference, as well as increasing the quality of service within the proposed systems. Thus, the SON concept needs to be worked out more in cooperation with the other existing networks.

In [5] the investigations on sharing the spectrum among newly developed femto base stations and the legacy GSM network is conducted by considering a scenario with the same transmission frequency for both the applications. The performance of the system is evaluated mathematically based on the average SINR. The numerical results also confirm that the availability of the spectrum in such systems depends on the number and the position of the femtocells in each GSM cell.

In HetNet basis, research [6] aims to develop a heterogeneous network that includes macro and femto base stations, by randomly applying femtocells on a macro network according to the two models of dual-strip and N×N. Since the femtocells are modeled as closed subscriber groups (CSGs), a non- member user experiences a dominant interference if it is located in the proximity of these groups. To reduce the outage probability of these users, an autonomous power control method is presented, as well as a method for evaluating of a resource partitioning between macro and femto to improve the performance of the macro users.

In case of frequency channel allocation to the users, the authors in [7] propose the Fractional Frequency Reuse (FFR) method to manage the interference between femto and macro nodes. In this proposed strategy, the macrocells first allocate the frequency bands, and then the femtocells choose the sub- bands which are not being used by the macrocells, to avoid interference. The proposed strategy enhances the throughput, as well as reduces the outage probability of the system, especially for the users in the cell edges.

Based on findings from [8], in dynamic HeNB networks, choosing of the component carriers (CCs) by HeNBs depends on the offered traffic and interference relations. However, it will sometimes prevent a certain cell to select feasible CC. This work present the performance of background interference matrix (BIM) based on autonomous component carrier selection (ACCS) scheme, which are sensitive to predefined BIM threshold. It first introduces an adaptive binary criterion to determine if two HeNBs can use the same CC. Then, it proposes a cooperative component carrier (re-) selection (CCCS) algorithm based on the backup CC list, to control the inter-cell interference and successful carrier selection. The results confirm that CCCS can enhance the system performance of both the average user throughput, as well as the user outage rate.

Research [9] presents a modified handover procedure between macro and femto by using Double Threshold Algorithm (DTA) and Call Access Control (CAC), to reduce the un- necessary handovers through the different stations of the network. Further to this, [10] has developed a dynamic system level simulator for LTE networks to evaluate and investigate the effects and specifications of the interference of femtocells within the macro network. It simulates a multi-cell, multi-user and multi-carrier system in downlink for single input single output (SISO) and multi input multi output (MIMO) antenna configurations.

In work [11], the Hybrid Division Cooperative Transmission (HDCT) is introduced, which results in the enhancement of throughput within femtocell systems. This scheme applies a cooperative transmission (CT) for the users at the edge of the femtocells base stations; otherwise the conventional method is applied. Applying CT to a user makes that user capable to receive the desired signal from the femto base station, as well as from an adjacent femto base station. Therefore the signal to interference plus noise ratio (SINR) of the user would be improved by using two-times synchronization signal from two adjacent femto base stations. This performance is evaluated in terms of call level QoS and packet level QoS.


A. System Architecture

As the main improvements to the mentioned related works, the proposed multi-layer heterogeneous LTE system contains different layers of stations and applications. Based on the main focus of our research, the femtocells are planned to be self- organizing stations, which means they have specific built-in functionalities and abilities to collect accurate statistics and measurements within the network site, followed by planning and amending their functions to get more network optimization, but with no external supervision of course.

HSS: High-Speed Serial MME: Mobility Management Entity SAE: System Architecture Evolotion HeNB GW: Gateway EPC:
HSS: High-Speed Serial
MME: Mobility Management Entity
SAE: System Architecture Evolotion
GW: Gateway
EPC: Evolved Packet Core
Safety GW
Figure 2.
LTE-A macro and femto interfaces

B. The Simulaion Model

The proposed simulation plan of the HetNet LTE-A contains two main scenarios. Firstly, the conventional macro- cell only network is initially proposed and simulated aiming to express the difficulties and shortcomings of this sort of architecture, in which a single macro base-station has the duty of serving all the users. In this scenario, to model and assess the worst case of the network capacity, the macro users suddenly start running away from their serving fixed-node macro station. As the second scenario, the multi-layer macro+femto HetNet architecture is demonstrated to evaluate the effects of the femtocell indoor application as a great enhancement to the existing macro networks within the system. The presented multilayer configuration could be assumed as the main phase to


employ a ubiquitous LTE-A network, which supports the increasingly higher demand within urban and sub-urban access networks. In both the simulation scenarios in this paper, as have been previously mentioned, the UE trajectories are defined to perform as the most negative case, when all the users move away from their serving macro station. The simulations are planned and executed on OPNET modeler software and the relevant results and analysis are accomplished as follows.

1) Macro-only Network: As described earlier, a LTE network with macro applications is simulated. The main aim of this simulation is to estimate the network functionality in the absence of short-range, low-power stations. In this single- cell scenario, the number of 50 LTE UEs are configured with the pre-defined trajectories towards the different borders of the cell and are allocated to one eNodeB station as macrocell. The macro-only system charastristics are brought on Table 1.

The macro-only system charastristics are brought on Table 1. Table 1. The Macro-only simulation charastristics In

Table 1. The Macro-only simulation charastristics

In case of the users, the LTE mobile users are modified with ITU pedestrian B multipath channel with OFDMA for downlink and SCFDMA for uplink transmissions and maximum transmission power of 11.818 dBm. The simplified network scenario structure for the macro-only strategy is depicted on Figure 3.

for the macro-only strategy is depicted on Figure 3. Figure 3. The Macro-only simulation strategy The

Figure 3.

The Macro-only simulation strategy

The UEs are planned to move away from the central eNodeB station in different directions, while they are still under the reception and transmission with the same macro station. The simulation results evaluations are initiated based on three applications of file transfer protocol (FTP), voice and video conference packets, generated by the mobile LTE users. Based on the applicationsfunctionalities within the simulated scenario, as well as the defined trajectory and path loss parameters, the object statistics of the network are highly

affected by the users’ movement towards the cell boundaries. It can be clearly observed from the signal to noise ratio (SNR) for this scenario on Figure 4.

signal to noise ratio (SNR) for this scenario on Figure 4. Figure 4. (a) (b) Macro-only

Figure 4.



Macro-only evaluations for SNR in (a) Downlink and (b) Uplink

The value of SNR contains the interference noise (P i ), as well as the background noise (P b ) and the received power (P r ) for packet transmissions through the physical layer. This value is measured from the user point of view, which generates the FTP, voice and video conferencing traffics, based on Equation


and video conferencing traffics, based on Equation 1[13]. Furthermore, the block error rate (BLER) is also

Furthermore, the block error rate (BLER) is also negatively affected as shown on Figure 5.

(BLER) is also negatively affected as shown on Figure 5. Figure 5. (a) (b) Macro-only evaluations

Figure 5.



Macro-only evaluations for BLER in (a) Downlink and (b) Uplink

In these figures, the values of BLER is calculated according to the Equation 2 for both downlink and uplink transmissions.

the Equation 2 for both downlink and uplink transmissions. In both the cases of SNR and

In both the cases of SNR and BLER, the macrocell has an insufficient range of transmission which causes it to face a decreasing quality of service on the network. This shortage of the macro-based networks convinces the network designers to add at least one more supportive network layer, even with smaller transmission power to the platform. In addition to the quality of signal, the quality of each application is also affected separately which could be targeted separately.

2) Macro-femto Network: As explained in the introduction part, to ovecome the shortage of the spectrum and coverage difficulties of the networks, especially at the cell boundaries, supportive femto applications could be implemented as the second layer of the LTE network in


addition to the fundamental macro layer and in cooperation with it. There are three basic options for the mobile operators to allocate the available frequencies in femtocell deployments. On the first solution, femto and macro deployments must work on separate radio channels. The advantage of this implementation is that it minimizes interference between the two networks and simplifies the initial deployment of the femto application through the network. This is more suitable in rural areas and more feasible in CDMA2000 systems which have got narrower bandwidth and therefore the radio channels are more numerous. If we temporarily skip the second solution, on the third solution, all the available radio channels are shared between the macro and femto networks. The advantage of this strategy is to providing more freedom to manage interference among the femtocellls, especially in dense urban deployments, but it requires the greatest degree of the interference management to minimize the co-channel interference with macrocells. However in the second available solution in this case, as a compromise between the scenarios one and three, some of the available radio channels are shared between the macro and femto networks, and the other available radio channels are fully reserved for the macro. In this SON scenario, the macrocell can redirect the mobile devices which are being served on the shared radio channel, to a dedicated macrocell radio channel, when they approach a femtocell. One example of deploying this strategy is using of a shared radio channel for macrocell data services (HSxPA) and for femtocell voice and data services, and leaving the dedicated radio channels for macrocell voice services as a separated application [12]. Assuming this strategy for this scenario, we deploy femtocells in OPNET modeler to cooperate with the current macro cell. The simulation values of the macro-femto network is depicted on Table 2.

values of the macro-femto network is depicted on Table 2. Table 2 The Macro-femto simulation charastristics

Table 2 The Macro-femto simulation charastristics

The simplified network architecture for macro-femto HetNet scenario is also represented on Figure 6 to compare to the first macro-cell only strategy. This contains four additional femto base-stations with indoor application and limited coverage up to 30 meters, because of their amplified transmission power.

The coverage area of the LTE network is now being extended by the supporting femto base stations, which work at the same frequency channels as the macro base stations.

at the same frequency channels as the macro base stations. Figure 6. The Macro-femto simulation strategy

Figure 6.

The Macro-femto simulation strategy

The new values BLER for this macro-femto strategy is shown in Figure 7.

BLER for this macro-femto strategy is shown in Figure 7. Figure 7. (a) (b) Macro-femto evaluations

Figure 7.



Macro-femto evaluations for SNR in (a) Downlink and (b) Uplink

Considering the SNR values, the corresponding downlink and uplink BLER for this scenario are also shown on Figure 8.

uplink BLER for this scenario are also shown on Figure 8. Figure 8. (a) (b) Macro-femto

Figure 8.



Macro-femto evaluations for BLER in (a) Downlink and (b) Uplink

The enhancements of these values could clearly be observed on the second scenario with the supporting indoor applications of femtocells, which are described in detail on the next section.


Comparing the two simulated scenarios for LTE network in the presence and absence of the femto indoor application layer, it can be clearly realized that for the duration of 20 minutes apart from the first seconds of the scenario, which the built-in buffer in physical transmitter jumps the transmission signal to compensate the transmission delaythe value of SNR improves when the femto base stations are added to the macro-only system to support the signal shortage


for longer distances from the cell’s centre. The comparisons for the downlink SNR and BLER values for these two scenarios are depicted on Figures 9 and 10 respectively.

two scenarios are depicted on Figures 9 and 10 respectively. Figure 9. The SNR comparison for

Figure 9.

The SNR comparison for the simulated scenarios

Figure 9. The SNR comparison for the simulated scenarios  Figure 10. The BLER comparison for

Figure 10. The BLER comparison for the simulated scenarios

On Figure 9, it can be observed that the signal coverage of the four added femtocell routes on the macro-femto scenario improve the value of SNR by about 20%, which is due to the signal strength of the network, as well as the increased power to overcome the interference and background noises when the frequency channel is same. On the other hand, from Figure 10 it could be easily realized that the BLER value for the macro- femto scenario starts with a higher value due to the higher number of blocks in error generated with femto routers, but by approaching closer to the femto nodes, the UEs automatically go under the coverage of the femto base stations, and therefore the trend of BLER is more gentle compared to the first scenario with macro-only policy. This value starts from around 0.12 and goes up to 0.14 for the simulation period, where as in the macro-scenario the BLER goes up to around 0.16 at this period, which means there is about 12.5% improvement on this simulation.


A. Conclusion The paper discusses the implementation of two-layer HetNet network towards the self organizing approach for LTE-A networks, by comparison of two simulated scenarios by OPNET modeler software, the macro only scenario and the macro-femto scenario with four supporting femto base stations to cover the signal shortage in case of user movements. The simulation results for 20 minutes of simulation confirmed the improvements of about 20% and 12.5% for SNR and BLER

values respectively, which are acceptable and satisfactory improvements for self organising approach through the heterogeneous LTE-A network planning.

B. Future Work

The multi-layer network design could be considered as a preliminary step to model a HetNet network with SON capabilities. In one aspect, the strength of the signal, network coverage, quality of service (QoS), total data rate and so the clients’ satisfaction are improved, but in another aspect, the interference occurs, as expected, due to using the same frequency channel for the two layers of the LTE network. As the evaluation of newly proposed LTE-A, this two-layer network strategy is basically built up to analyze and improve the interference issue as a further step. Therefore, definitions like power control, inter-cell interference coordination and handover strategies could be targeted as the further works towards the HetNet LTE-A implementation within the SON framework.


The authors would like to acknowledge the members of WNCC group at Brunel University, and Dr. Rajagopal Nilavalan for their continuous help and support.



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