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As it is mentioned in [Handoverthesis], a handover is generally performed when the quality of the link (measured in terms of the power of the received pilot) between the Node B and the UE on the move is decreasing and it is possible to hand over the connection to another cell with better radio characteristics. In previous 2G systems like GSM, the handover process tears down (i.e. literarily interrupts the connection for a short period of time, not noticeable by the end user) an existing connection and replaces it with a new connection to a new cell where the user is handed over with a different frequency (concept known as hard handover). This cell where the user is handed over is so-called the target cell. Since all cells in W-CDMA use the same frequency, in 3G systems it is possible to make the connection to the new cell before leaving the current cell and keeping always at least one radio link with a Node B. This concept is known as "soft" handover. Hard Handover however, is also used in 3G systems when it is needed to change the frequency of the carrier, either performing inter-frequency handover (i.e. change of UMTS carrier frequency for balancing load purposes) or performing Inter-RAT (Radio Access Technology) handover from UMTS to GSM. In summary, in 3G systems there are two new handover concepts: Soft and Softer handover, and they basically mean that it is possible to keep two or more concurrent connections with different Node Bs (Soft handover) or with the same Node B (e.g. when multi-path propagation between the UE and Node B makes the Node B to receive the signal sent from the UE from two different sectors). In both soft/softer handover, the UE always keeps at least one radio link to the UTRAN. Both concepts are illustrated in the next Figure.

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Softer Handover

Soft Handover

Figure 90: Differences between Soft and Softer Handover To keep track of the number of connections, the concept of the Active Set is required. The Active Set, as it is defined in [Ericssonhandover], is the set of cells used for a particular UE connection. The UE has a radio link


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established to each of the cells present in its Active Set. This set is updated dynamically (event based) during all the time that a connection is alive, based on the measurements of the strength of the Primary Common Pilot Channel (P-CPICH) Ec/Io or the Primary Common Pilot Channel (PCPICH) RSCP (Received Signal Code Power). Ec/Io can be defined in terms of RSCP in the following way:



Where RSCP is the power (measured in the UE) carried by the decoded pilot channel and RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) is the total wideband received power (measured in the UE) within the channel bandwidth. So basically, during a user service session, there are these possible events related to Active set updating (using the name of the events described in [25.922]: Event Event Event Event 1A : add new cell 1B : remove cell 1C : replace cell (if the active set is full) 1D : change best cell

Best Cell, according to [Ericssonhandover], is defined as the cell, among the ones in the Active Set, having a measured P-CPICH with the highest quality Ec/No. From a Node Bs point of view, an incoming handover request is similar to an incoming call, although the RRM algorithms can differentiate whether the request comes from a Handover Connection or not, as it is the case in the Ericsson RRM algorithms. Given that using handover in an appropriate way leads to an improvement in capacity because of the soft hand over gain, the handover connections have less probability to be blocked than new incoming non-handover calls. This feature can be seen clearly in all the Ericsson Diagrams where different thresholds for blocking are set depending if the connection is guaranteed (e.g. voice) or not guaranteed (e.g. Web), handover or non handover (i.e. new request) call. The inability to establish a new connection in the target cell is referred to as a handover failure and it occurs when no new resources are available in the target cells or when the radio link quality has decreased below acceptable levels before the call could be handed-over [Handovertesis]. The first reason leads to Handover Blocked attempts and the last one leads to Handover Dropped attempts and both are good measures of the Handover Performance in the network. The parameter Timetotrigger1a, as documented in [Ericssonhandover] is a timer that represents the minimum time required to trigger the Event 1a. Event1a represents the Addition of a new cell to the active set. The Handover Algorithm example in [25.922] is presented


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