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PRACH Optimization

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Adel Belguidoum

1 Nokia Solutions and Networks 2014

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1- Introduction
2- Typical issues of RACH
3- Parameters Used for PRACH Planning
4- Root Sequence Index Planning

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Random Access procedures can be categorised as:

Contention based
RRC connection establishment
RRC connection re-establishment
uplink data arrival while UE is out-of-sync
handovers ( if dedicated preambles unavailable)
downlink data arrival while UE is out-of-sync (if dedicated preambles unavailable)
Non-contention based
downlink data arrival while UE is out-of-sync

Contention based procedures allow the UE to select a PRACH preamble at random from the set available within the cell. Non-
contention based procedures allow the eNodeB to allocate a dedicated preamble to the UE. Non-contention based procedures
can use the contention based procedure if the set of dedicated preambles becomes exhausted, i.e. the eNodeB is unable to
allocate a dedicated preamble. The non-contention based procedure is faster and more reliable so is preferred whenever possible.
The two types of procedure are illustrated in below Figure,

Contention based (left) and

non-contention based (right)
RACH procedures

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Typical issues of RACH
Many of the parameters associated with the PRACH are configured during radio network planning, e.g. a re-use pattern is planned
for the PRACH root sequences; cell ranges are planned using the PRACH configuration index and root sequence cyclic shift;
PRACH capacity is planned using the PRACH configuration index. These planning activities are likely to require optimisation over
time. Other parameters associated with the PRACH may also require optimisation, e.g. power control and resource allocation

Issues with PRACH performance can be caused by:

1- Antenna radiating beyond the planned maximum cell range

PRACH planning determines the maximum cell range. PRACH procedures will fail if UE are located outside the maximum cell range
(causes PRACH preamble ambiguity). This can be caused by antennas radiating beyond the planned maximum cell range. The
solution is to either re-plan the PRACH to support a larger cell range, down tilt antennas to avoid overshooting or modify parameters
to reduce coverage.

2- PRACH root sequence clashes and Ghost Calls:

PRACH planning includes the allocation of root sequences to each cell. These root sequences should be allocated with a re-use
pattern which avoids neighbouring cells using the same root sequences. If neighbouring cells are allocated the same root sequences
then multiple cells can receive the same PRACH transmission from a UE. This can trigger multiple cells to initiate connections and
thus create ghost calls. The risk is low when neighbouring cells are not time synchronised because each cell will generally listen for
PRACH transmissions at different times. Cells belonging to the same eNodeB are time synchronised and complete networks may be
time synchronised for features such as MBMS and time domain interference co-ordination.
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Typical issues of RACH
3- Unreliable reception of MSG3
MSG3 corresponds to the first PUSCH transmission. This means that it is transmitted before link adaptation and power control have
had a chance to converge. MSG3 is transmitted using an initial Resource Block allocation, an initial MCS and an initial transmit
power. If any of these are inaccurate then the eNodeB may struggle to receive MSG3. The drawback of allocating an increased
number of Resource Blocks and a lower MCS is a negative impact upon cell capacity, i.e. each MSG3 transmission consumes more
resources. It also reduces the transmit power per Resource Block for cell edge UE.

4- Unreliable reception of MSG5

MSG5 corresponds to the second PUSCH transmission. Similar to MSG3, it is transmitted before link adaptation and power control
have had a chance to converge. Thus, its reliability can also be impacted by the initial Resource Block, MCS and transmit power

5- eNodeB processing capability

The eNodeB processing capability limits the number of Random Access Responses (MSG2) which can be generated for each
PRACH subframe. The eNodeB is specified to be capable of detecting all 64 PRACH preambles but only responding to 8 of them.
The eNodeB also has a general limit upon the number of control plane actions which can be handled per second. This means that as
cells become busier the success rate of the MSG1 -> MSG2 handshake will decrease.

6- PDCCH congestion
PDCCH congestion can lead to blocking for the Random Access Response (RAR) message. The RAR is transmitted on the PDSCH
and requires its Resource Block Allocation to be signalled to the UE on the PDCCH. PDCCH transmissions for System Information
and Paging resource allocations are prioritised over PDCCH transmissions for RAR. Blocking can occur if there is limited PDCCH
capacity and transmissions for System Information, Paging and RAR coincide. This can occur when the number of PDCCH symbols
is allocated dynamically because the algorithm waits for blocking to occur prior to upgrading the number of allocated symbols. Once
5 has occurred the eNodeB
Nokia Solutions does
and Networks not re-attempt transmission so the MSG1 to MGS2 handshake fails.
Parameters Used For PRACH Planning

Parameter Object Range Default

prachConfIndex LNCEL 3 to 24 Planning parameter
prachCS LNCEL 0 to 15 Planning parameter
prachHsFlag LNCEL 0 (false), 1 (true) Planning parameter
rootSeqIndex LNCEL 0 to 837, step 1 Planning parameter
prachFreqOff LNCEL 0 to 94, step 1 Planning parameter

PRACH planning should start by defining the target maximum cell range. It is important that the target maximum cell range is
selected based upon a realistic expectation of cell range in the live network. PRACH procedures using both contention based
preambles and dedicated preambles will fail if the live network cell range exceeds the planned maximum cell range.
The maximum target cell range determines the PRACH preamble format. The maximum cell range associated with each preamble
format is presented in Table . Only the first 4 of these preamble formats are applicable to FDD, and only the first 2 are supported,

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Parameters Used For PRACH Planning
The maximum cell range associated with each preamble format is calculated as the minimum of the cell range associated with the
cyclic prefix and the cell range associated with the guard time. Figure 16 illustrates the structure of the PRACH preamble with the
position of the cyclic prefix and guard time.

Preamble format 0 is the most commonly employed

preamble format. When using format 0, it is important
to ensure that live network coverage does not extend
beyond 14.5 km

The prachCS parameter also needs to be planned

according to the maximum cell range. This parameter
represents a pointer to a row within Table. The row has
an impact upon the maximum supported cell

7 Used
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Parameters Used For PRACH Planning
For high speed cells, the Doppler Effect has to be considered for preamble detection and for these cases there is a restricted set of
preambles available. High speed is indicated by the prachHsFlag parameter.
It is recommended to avoid enabling the high speed flag unless really necessary because it complicates the planning of PRACH root

The preamble format is used as an input when configuring the prachConfIndex parameter.

Selecting an appropriate row from Table also requires the definition of a strategy in terms of either allocating the
same prachConfIndex value to all cells at an eNodeB, or allocating different prachConfIndex values to each cell
at an eNodeB. For example,
prachConfIndex = 3 in all cells means that PRACH belonging to neighbouring sectors are time synchronised so
there is PRACH->PRACH interference between sectors (viewed as less critical compared to PUSCH->PRACH
interference), but each sector must be allocated a different root sequence so PRACH planning is more challenging.
prachConfIndex = {3,4,5} across the three sectors of a site so there is PUSCH->PRACH interference between
sectors but root sequence planning is simplified because each sector can be allocated the same root sequence

The current Nokia recommendation is to configure prachConfIndex with equal values in all cells at an eNodeB.
This helps to minimise PUSCH->PRACH interference (inter-eNodeB PUSCH->PRACH interference will remain while
the network is not time synchronised). The value used in SFR Network is prachConfIndex = 3

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Root Sequence Index Planning

In LTE, there are 838 root Zadoff-Chu sequences available for preambles. The length of each root sequence is 839.
RootConfigurationIndex, informs the UE via SIB2 which sequence is to be used.
One root sequence can generate several preambles by cyclic shift. One or more root sequences are needed to generate
all preambles in a cell. The UE starts with the broadcasted root index and applies cyclic shifts to generate preambles.
ZeroCorrelationZoneConfig points to a table where the cyclic shift is obtained from.

Used by



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For Parameter PrachCs =12 For Parameter PrachCs =11

PRACH root sequence clashes which allow neighboring cells to receive the
same PRACH preamble transmission also result in a degraded Complete
RACH Setup Success Rate (when neighboring cells are time synchronized
and are listening for PRACH preambles at the same time).When neighboring
cells are unsynchronized then the impact of root sequence clashes is likely to
be small. It is recommended to use Musa Tool to optimize the Root sequence
index in different cities.

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