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Guidelines for
Network Design and
Optimization
Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

CONTENTS

1 OBJECTIVE............................................................................................................................6

2 SUMMARY..............................................................................................................................7
2.1 REVIEW STRUCTURE ..........................................................................................................7
2.1.1 Performance Review .................................................................................................7
2.1.2 Network Design and Dimensioning Review .............................................................7
2.2 NETWORK PERFORMANCE AND DESIGN REVIEW PHILOSOPHY ........................................7
2.2.1 Network Performance Audit .....................................................................................7
2.2.2 Network Design and Dimensioning Review .............................................................8
3 NETWORK PERFORMANCE REVIEW ..........................................................................9
3.1 OMC STATISTICS REVIEW ................................................................................................9
3.1.1 Call Success Rate......................................................................................................9
3.1.2 Call Setup Success Rate..........................................................................................11
3.1.3 SDCCH RF Loss .....................................................................................................14
3.1.4 TCH Blocking..........................................................................................................15
3.1.5 TCH Assignment Failure (RF) ...............................................................................16
3.1.6 SDCCH Access Performance .................................................................................17
3.1.6.1 SDCCH Blocking ............................................................................................................. 17
3.1.6.2 SDCCH Access Success Rate .......................................................................................... 18
3.1.7 Dropped Calls.........................................................................................................19
3.1.7.1 Call Drop Rate .................................................................................................................. 19
3.1.7.2 Mean Time Between Drops (MTBD) .............................................................................. 21
3.1.7.3 Breakdown of Drop Call Reasons.................................................................................... 22
3.1.8 Handovers ...............................................................................................................23
3.1.8.1 Intra-BSS Handover Failures ........................................................................................... 23
3.1.8.2 Inter-BSS Handover Failures ........................................................................................... 24
3.1.8.3 Handover Causes .............................................................................................................. 25
3.2 A-INTERFACE ANALYSIS .................................................................................................27
3.2.1 Call Setup Failures .................................................................................................27
3.2.2 Location Update Success Rate ...............................................................................29
3.2.3 Handover Causes ....................................................................................................31
3.3 CALL TRACE ANALYSIS...................................................................................................32
3.3.1 Downlink Receive Level and BTS Power ...............................................................32
3.3.2 Uplink Receive Level and Mobile Transmit Power ...............................................34
3.3.3 Uplink and Downlink RxQual Distributions ..........................................................35
4 DRIVE TEST ANALYSIS ...................................................................................................37
4.1 DRIVE TEST PROCESS ......................................................................................................38
4.2 GSM DRIVE TEST METRICS ............................................................................................38
4.2.1 Graphical Presentation ..........................................................................................38
4.2.1.1 Route Plots........................................................................................................................ 38
4.2.1.2 Events ............................................................................................................................... 39
4.2.2 Statistical Analysis..................................................................................................40
4.2.2.1 RxLev Distribution:.......................................................................................................... 40
4.2.2.2 RxQual Distribution: ........................................................................................................ 40
4.2.2.3 FER Distribution: ............................................................................................................. 41
4.2.2.4 MS TX Power:.................................................................................................................. 41
4.2.2.5 Access Failure Rate (1-Call Setup Success Rate):........................................................... 42

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

4.2.2.6 Blocked Call Rate:............................................................................................................ 42


4.2.2.7 Call Drop Rate:................................................................................................................. 43
4.2.2.8 Handover Failure Rate: .................................................................................................... 43
4.2.2.9 Average SQI: .................................................................................................................... 44
4.3 GPRS DRIVE TEST ..........................................................................................................44
4.3.1 Graphical Presentation ..........................................................................................44
4.3.1.1 Route Plots........................................................................................................................ 44
4.3.1.2 Events ............................................................................................................................... 45
4.4 NETWORK PERFORMANCE REVIEW - SUMMARY .............................................................45
5 NETWORK DESIGN AND DIMENSIONING REVIEW...............................................46
5.1 NETWORK DESIGN SUMMARY .........................................................................................46
5.1.1 Size ..........................................................................................................................46
5.1.2 Subscribers..............................................................................................................46
5.1.3 Description of the environment ..............................................................................46
5.1.4 Available Spectrum .................................................................................................46
5.2 RF DESIGN DETAILED ANALYSIS ....................................................................................47
5.2.1 Site Design ..............................................................................................................47
5.2.1.1 Network Growth Pattern .................................................................................................. 47
5.2.1.2 High Sites Replacement ................................................................................................... 47
5.2.1.3 RF Design Strategy .......................................................................................................... 48
5.2.2 Traffic Distribution .................................................................................................48
5.2.3 Frequency Plan.......................................................................................................49
5.2.3.1 Site design......................................................................................................................... 49
5.2.3.2 Terrain and Topography................................................................................................... 49
5.2.3.3 External Interference ........................................................................................................ 49
5.2.3.4 BCCH Plan ....................................................................................................................... 49
5.2.3.5 Non-BCCH Plan............................................................................................................... 50
5.3 OPTIMISING FOR GROWTH ...............................................................................................51
5.3.1 Synthesizer Frequency Hopping (SFH)..................................................................52
5.3.1.1 Hopping spectrum allocation ........................................................................................... 52
5.3.1.2 Choice of SFH Design...................................................................................................... 52
5.3.1.3 Hopping System Parameters ............................................................................................ 52
5.3.2 Baseband Frequency Hopping and Multiple Re-use Patterns (MRP) ..................53
5.3.3 Downlink Power Control and DTX ........................................................................53
5.3.4 Microcell Traffic Management Algorithms............................................................53
5.3.5 Dual Band Traffic Management Algorithms..........................................................54
5.4 THE NETWORK GROWTH PLANNING PROCESS ................................................................54
5.5 BSS DATABASE REVIEW .................................................................................................55
5.5.1 Radio Resource Timers...........................................................................................55
5.5.1.1 rr_t3111 (layer 2 channel release guard timer) =>1200ms.............................................. 55
5.5.1.2 rr_t3212 (Periodic Location Update Timer) => Align With MSC Implicit Detach Timer
55
5.5.1.3 link_fail => 16 SACCH.................................................................................................... 56
5.5.1.4 radio_link_timeout => 16 SACCH .................................................................................. 56
5.5.1.5 rr_t3109 (TCH Reallocation Timer) => 8000ms............................................................. 56
5.5.1.6 rr_t3103 (Intra-BSS Handover Guard Timer) => 15000ms ............................................ 56
5.5.1.7 bssmap_t10 (Assignment Guard Timer) => 14000 ......................................................... 57
5.5.1.8 bssmap_t8 ( Handover Guard Timer) => 14000.............................................................. 57
5.5.2 Handover and Power Control Parameters ............................................................57
5.5.2.1 RxQual Handovers: .......................................................................................................... 57
5.5.2.2 RxLev Handovers:............................................................................................................ 58
5.5.2.3 Uplink Power Control: ..................................................................................................... 58
5.5.2.4 MS Fast Power Down: ..................................................................................................... 58
5.5.2.5 Downlink Power Control: ................................................................................................ 59
5.5.2.6 Adaptive Handover:.......................................................................................................... 59
5.5.2.7 Adaptive Power Control:.................................................................................................. 59
5.5.2.8 Directed Retry and Intelligent Directed Retry (Handover on Congestion):.................... 59
5.6 LOCATION AREA PLANNING AND PAGING PERFORMANCE .............................................60

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5.7 SYSTEM PROCESSOR PERFORMANCE...............................................................................62


5.8 MTL PERFORMANCE .......................................................................................................62
5.9 ADDITIONAL BSS DESIGN ISSUES ...................................................................................63
5.9.1 Hardware configurations........................................................................................63
5.9.2 Transmit Combining Options .................................................................................63
5.9.3 Antenna Selection ...................................................................................................63
5.9.4 Diversity Choice......................................................................................................63
5.10 BSS OPERATIONS REVIEW ..............................................................................................64
5.10.1 Frequently Occurring Alarms ................................................................................64
5.10.2 Frequency of Outages.............................................................................................64
5.10.3 Transmit Power Calibration...................................................................................64
5.10.4 External Alarms ......................................................................................................64
5.10.5 Maintenance Schedules ..........................................................................................64
6 RECOMMENDATIONS......................................................................................................65

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

REVISION HISTORY

Revision Date Name Comments

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

1 OBJECTIVE
The purpose of this document is to describe the process of conducting a Network
Performance Audit and Design Review. The process is biased towards GSM networks,
including GPRS, but can also be applied to other technologies. The purpose of such an
audit is to assess the performance of a network using the full range of available data,
and identify aspects of the design and operation of the network that can be improved.
An audit will typically result in a series of recommendations and an action plan for
network design and performance improvements, along with a process for ongoing
performance review and analysis.

Operators of GSM/GPRS networks have access to enormous amounts of performance


data from a wide range of tools and reporting mechanisms available to them. The aim of
a performance audit is to focus on those key metrics which are most useful in measuring
system performance and to make efficient use of the tools and large quantities of data
available.

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2 SUMMARY
The Network Audit process will be described according to the following outline
structure:

2.1 Review Structure

2.1.1 Performance Review

• Network Performance statistics review (OMC)


• Call Trace Analysis
• A-Interface performance statistical analysis
• Alarms and Events
• GSM Performance Drive Test
• GPRS Performance Drive Test
• Competitive Drive Test Benchmarking

2.1.2 Network Design and Dimensioning Review

• RF Planning Tools, map data and model calibration


• Link Budgets
• Design strategy and spectrum utilisation (dual band, multi-layer, etc.)
• System Dimensioning and Expansion Strategy
• Frequency planning, including frequency hopping
• GPRS Design Strategy

2.2 Network Performance and Design Review


Philosophy

The Network Audit and design review is intended to be the starting point for a network
improvement programme. The purpose of the audit is to identify as many network
design, optimisation and maintenance issues as possible and to allow a logical and
methodical action plan to be generated from the results and recommendations.

2.2.1 Network Performance Audit

The performance Review is not intended to provide all the answers to all the problems,
but to highlight the major issues and provide all the necessary background for further
analysis, investigation and in-depth troubleshooting of the major performance-

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

impacting problems in the network. It is important that any network performance audit
should follow a methodical process and should be systematic in it’s approach to data
collection. For each of the performance category headings in the outline structure, the
following logical process is applied:

• Objective: What parameter are we trying to measure?

• Description: Why are we measuring it and what is the relevance of the


measurement to network performance?

• Report Format: How should the measurement be presented, in what kind of graph
and what format?

• Interpretation: What are the possible conclusions we can draw from the results?

• Recommendations: Based on our observations and conclusions, what


recommendations can we make for solving the problem or for further investigation?

2.2.2 Network Design and Dimensioning Review

The Network Design Review draws on the conclusions and findings from the Network
Performance Audit. These findings help to guide the auditor towards the aspects of the
network design requiring the most attention. Similarly to the Network Performance
Audit, the following logical process is then applied:

• Objective: What design parameter (or set of parameters) are we reviewing?

• Description: Why are we reviewing it and what is the relevance of the parameter
(or set of parameters) to network functionality and performance?

• Format: How should the design data be presented to allow us to effectively review
it?

• Conclusions: How does the observed design practice compare with known best
practices, and what conclusions can we draw?

• Recommendations: Based on our observations and conclusions, what


recommendations can we make for improvements to the network design and/or
design process?

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

3 N ETWORK P ERFORMANCE R EVIEW


The network Performance Review aims to make use of all the commonly available data
sources, presented in such a way as to extract as much useful information as possible
and quickly identify network performance problems. The choice of tools used to create
the required reports is not critical, and may vary according to the network operator
and/or network equipment vendor. The format of the reports presented in this document
is generic.
AIRCOM International Performance and Benchmarking tools can be used for many
elements of the performance review. Application notes covering the use of AIRCOM
tools for this purpose are available separately.

3.1 OMC Statistics Review


Key performance metrics required to assess network performance are presented in the
following sections.

3.1.1 Call Success Rate

Objective:
To determine the percentage of calls which are successfully set up and which are
terminated normally (ie. do not drop).
Description:
Call Success Rate is a good overall indicator of network health. It combines call setup
success rate and drop call rate into one single figure, and is generally calculated from
the following formula:
Call Success Rate = Call Setup Success Rate x (1- Call Drop Rate)
Format 1:
Call Success Rate is usually studied for the whole network, to give an overall indication
of network health. It is useful to observe changes in Call Success Rate over time, and
also to display along with traffic data to observe the relationship of Call Success Rate
with network loading.

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

Conclusions:
Call Success Rate in itself does not allow any detailed conclusions to be drawn. Poor
Call Success Rate requires further investigation of Call Setup Success Rate and Call
Drop Rate as described in the following sections.

Format 2:
Calculate Call Failure Rate (1-Call Success Rate), and show the separate components of
call failure rate
Objective:
To determine the contribution of dropped calls and call setup failures to the total call
failures figure. It is useful to observe Call Failure Rate on a per-BSC basis, and to see
the separate contribution of call drops and call setup failures to the total figure.

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

3.1.2 Call Setup Success Rate

Objective:
To determine the proportion of call attempts that result in a successful call completion
(ie. successful call setup), and to identify and quantify the individual reasons for call
setup failure.
Description:
Call setup failures can occur for a number of reasons. It is important to identify the
causes and determine the origin of call setup failures. There are various ways to
accomplish this through statistical analysis as described below.
Call setup failures can be categorised as follows:
• Failure before assignment (SDCCH RF loss, MSC service rejection, user clearing,
MSC clearing)
• Blocked TCH Assignment (Insufficient TCH resources)
• Failed Assignment (Failure to assign to TCH due to RF reasons, eg. Interference)
Format 1 (Failures per BSC):
Calculate Call Setup Failure Rate per BSC, and show individual failure categories as
components of the overall figure, as described above. In generic terms, the individual
failure categories are calculated as follows:

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

Failed Assignments (Blocking):


TCH Blocking statistic (TCH allocation commands blocked due to lack of Radio
Resources).
Failed Assignments (RF):
Allocation requests from MSC – Allocation commands blocked – Allocations
completed
Failed Call Setups before Assignment:
Total Call Setup Failures – Failed Assignments (Blocking) – Failed Assignments (RF)

Note: Call setup failures before assignment – further analysis


The category of call setup failures before assignment can be further subdivided into it’s
component failure reasons. To do this accurately requires access to MSC statistics, or
the collection of A-Interface logs using a protocol analyser such as K1103/K1205. This
is described in a later section.

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

Format 2: Worst Ten Cells


Having identified the worst BSC’s, call setup failures can be presented for the worst 10
cells per BSC. This helps to focus on the cells causing the greatest impact to the call
setup success rate. Cells known to carry very low traffic should be discounted, for
example cells inside conference centres while not in use, cells on remote highways, etc.
This analysis should also be performed for cells whose performance is known to be
critical (eg. Those cells covering important VIP areas, or important routes).

Causes of call setup failure for each poorly performing cell can then be identified and
analysed. Failure causes that may be easily analysed from BSS statistics are:
• SDCCH RF Loss (call setup failure before assignment)
• TCH Assignment Failure (Blocking)
• TCH Assignment Failure (RF)

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

3.1.3 SDCCH RF Loss

Objective:
To determine the proportion of allocated SDCCH’s which are dropped due to RF
reasons.
Description:
SDCCH’s are used in a large number of transactions, including call setup, location
update, SMS, and so on. High SDCCH RF loss is not only a cause of poor call setup
success rate, but also poor location area update success rate, IMSI Attach/Detach
success rate, etc.
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with highest SDCCH RF Loss Rate.

Interpretation:
High SDCCH RF Loss is generally caused by one of the following problems:
• Interference on SDCCH carriers, poor frequency plan or external interference.
• Poor coverage, many mobiles at the coverage boundary.
• Hardware problems (Poor link balance, poor calibration, radio failure)
Recommendations:
Each cell identified with high SDCCH RF Loss should be investigated according to the
possible problems shown above.

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

3.1.4 TCH Blocking

Objective:
To determine the proportion of attempts by the BSS to allocate a TCH that are blocked
due to lack of available TCH resources.
Description:
TCH blocking impacts call setup success rate, and also handover success rate since
TCH resources are required to accept incoming handovers. High TCH Blocking is
generally an indication of insufficient capacity in the network (or part of the network).
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with the highest TCH blocking figures.

Interpretation:
High TCH Blocking is usually caused by one of the following conditions:
• Cell requires expansion (sometimes not possible due to frequency plan constraints)
• Unusual traffic conditions (traffic jam, exhibition, holiday traffic, etc.)
• Cell coverage area too large (coverage optimisation required)
• Poor traffic management between cell layers (eg. Between macro and micro layers,
or between 900 and 1800 carrier layers in dual band systems)
• Surrounding cells temporarily off-air
• Failure of one or more radio carriers in the cell, causing remaining carrier(s) to
become overloaded.

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

Recommendations:
Cells with high TCH blocking should be investigated according to the above possible
causes. Often there will be a combination of issues resulting in TCH blocking in a
network, all of which must be tackled for a complete solution. Optimisation of network
design for maximum capacity is a complex process requiring the input of many more
design parameters. This process will be discussed in the Network Design and
Dimensioning Review section.

3.1.5 TCH Assignment Failure (RF)

Objective:
To quantify the proportion of allocated TCH channels that are unable to be successfully
accessed by a mobile.
Description:
TCH assignment failure refers to the case in which the BSS has allocated a control
channel (SDCCH), MSC has assigned a circuit, and the BSS has allocated a traffic
channel (TCH). However for some reason the mobile has been unable to complete the
call setup on the allocated traffic channel. This is generally caused by interference-
related problems on the traffic channel carriers.
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with highest TCH Assignment Failure Rate. As discussed,
this can be calculated generically as follows:
TCH Assignment Failures (RF) = Allocation requests from MSC – Allocation
commands blocked – Successful Allocations

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

Interpretation:
High TCH Assignment Failure Rate (RF) is generally caused by the following
conditions:
• Interference on TCH carriers due to poor frequency plan, or external interference.
• Antennas too high, resulting in excessive uplink interference.
• Poor coverage (many mobiles on coverage boundary)
• Hardware problem (poor link balance, poor calibration)
Recommendations:
Cells with high TCH Assignment Failure Rate (RF) should be investigated according to
the possible causes shown above.

3.1.6 SDCCH Access Performance

3.1.6.1 SDCCH Blocking

Objective:
To determine the proportion of SDCCH allocation attempts that are blocked due to a
lack of available SDCCH resources.
Description:
Some equipment vendors consider blocking on the SDCCH channels to be a component
of Call Setup Failure Rate, while others do not. Regardless of this, SDCCH Blocking
results in the failure of mobiles to access the network for a number of actions, such as
call setup, location update, IMSI attach/detach, etc.
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with highest SDCCH Blocking Rate. This is usually
available as a statistic from the OMC.

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Guideline for Network Design and Optimization

Interpretation:
• Increase in traffic requires expansion of SDCCH Resources
• Cell coverage area too large, too many ‘Phantom RACH’s (also related to poor
SDCCH Access Success Rate – Section 2.3.3.2)
• Poor Location Area border planning (too many location updates)
• Inappropriate timer settings in BSS database (eg. Periodic location update timer too
short)
• Interference, causing SDCCH holding time to increase
Recommendations:
Each cell with high SDCCH Blocking should be analysed according to the above
possible causes. Poor location area border planning is frequently a cause of SDCCH
resource problems, especially in difficult RF environments such as coastlines, bays,
cities built on rivers, and so on. SDCCH resources can simply be increased to carry
excessive SDCCH traffic due to poor planning, but this in turn reduces available TCH
resources and may result in TCH blocking, and is an inefficient use of network
infrastructure.

3.1.6.2 SDCCH Access Success Rate

Objective:
To determine the proportion of allocated RACH’s (Random Access Channels)
successfully accessed by mobiles.
Description:
Some RACH’s received and decoded by the BSS are from distant mobiles, spurious
emissions resembling RACH’s, and so on (sometimes referred to as ‘phantom
RACH’s), and will result in a SDCCH assignment which cannot be successfully
accessed by any mobile. After the expiry of BSS timers the SDCCH resources are de-
allocated and returned to the radio resource pool, but excessive allocation of SDCCH
resources to Phantom RACH’s results in a waste of SDCCH resources and contributes
to SDCCH blocking.
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with lowest SDCCH Access Success Rate. This is
gererally available as a statistic reported in the OMC, but can also be calculated from
raw statistics.

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Interpretation:
• Cell coverage area too large, receiving uplink interference from distant mobiles.
• External uplink interference (eg. 900MHz cordless telephones in GSM uplink
channels 50-55)
• Antennas too high and/or inappropriate vertical beamwidth, and/or not properly
oriented.
• Hardware problem (eg. poor link balance)
Recommendations:
Cells with poor SDCCH access success rate should be analysed according to the above
possible causes. Experience shows that all of these causes occur frequently, although
the most fundamental cause is poor RF planning and poor antenna location. This can
generally be remedied by antenna optimisation of some kind, such as relocating into a
less prominent place or making use of building structures to shield the antenna from
unwanted interference.

3.1.7 Dropped Calls

A call that suffers abnormal termination is termed a dropped call. Dropped calls occur
for a multitude of reasons, many of which can be quantified through statistical analysis.

3.1.7.1 Call Drop Rate

Objective:
To quantify the proportion of successful call set-ups that subsequently suffer abnormal
termination.

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Description:
Calls usually drop as a result of a failure to maintain communication over the air
interface. This can be due to interference, mobile moving out of range of the cell,
mobile moving indoors, handover failure, mobile battery failure, mobile hardware
problem, BSS hardware problem, and so on. Call Drop Rate is usually a good indication
of overall network performance, speech quality and data throughput.
Drop calls can also arise due to a failure in communication on any of the interfaces (and
subsequent expiry of timers on the air interface), although experience suggests air
interface failure is the most usual cause.
Drop Call Rate is calculated with the following generic formula:
TCH RF Losses + Handover Failures (RF Loss)
Total call setups + Incoming Handovers
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with highest Drop Call Rate. This is generally available as
a statistic reported in the OMC, but can also be calculated from raw statistics. Drop Call
Rate is also sometimes calculated per BSC to help identify the worst performing BSC’s
or worst performing regions of a network.
Cells with very low call volume should normally be discounted or treated with a lower
priority.

Interpretation:
• Interference due to poor frequency plan
• Interference due to poor site design, high sites, inappropriate antenna selection, etc.
• Poor quality and call drops due to overloaded frequency hopping carriers

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• Insufficient coverage (indoor or outdoor)


• Poorly optimised coverage areas causing handover problems
• Poorly optimised neighbour lists
• Traffic congestion leading to ‘cell dragging’ (handover delayed due to lack of TCH
resources at target cell) and call drops.
• Hardware problem (eg. Poor link balance, radio failure)
Recommendations:
Cells suffering from bad call drop rate should be analysed according to the above
possible causes. The problems causing high drop call rate are many and varied, and are
generally related to a number of other symptoms of poor performance, eg. Poor call
setup success rate, TCH blocking, hardware problems etc.
Action plans to address poor call drop performance will probably be developed in
conjunction with other performance initiatives for improving call setup, TCH blocking
and so on.

3.1.7.2 Mean Time Between Drops (MTBD)

Objective:
To determine the average time duration between call drops.
Description:
This is usually calculated as the ratio of number of call drops to total TCH usage time
during a given interval. This is a useful measure often preferred by network operators as
it gives a better indication of actual user perception compared to Drop Call Rate. The
Drop Call Rate figure can be influenced by other factors such as incoming handovers
(eg. If the number of incoming handovers to a cell increases, the drop call rate ratio
decreases, while MTBD remains the same).
Format:
Show the worst 10-20 cells for highest MTBD.

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Interpretation:
Same as for Call Drop Rate.
Recommendations:
Same as for Call Drop Rate.

3.1.7.3 Breakdown of Drop Call Reasons

Objective:
To break down and quantify the different reasons for dropped calls.
Description
Generally speaking, dropped calls can be divided into 2 distinct categories; TCH RF
Losses and Handover Failures. It is useful to understand the contribution of these two
categories to the total drop call rate as this assists troubleshooting.
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with highest Drop Call Rate, showing contributions of
TCH RF Loss and Handover separately.
Note: Handover Failure in this case specifically means handover failures that result in a
dropped call (Handover_Fail_DROP). Some equipment manufacturers count handover
failures that do not drop but in fact re-establish again on the originating cell
(Handover_Fail_RETURN). Make the distinction between ‘Handover_Fail_DROP’ and
‘Handover_Fail_RETURN’, and count only ‘Handover_Fail_DROP’.

TCH RF Loss and Handover Failures Combined


12

10

8
Failure %

0
cell01 cell02 cell03 cell04 cell05 cell06 cell07 cell08 cell09 cell10
HO_FAIL_LOST_M S
Cell ID TCH RF Loss

Interpretation
Reasons for high TCH RF Loss rate are the same as for Call Drop Rate. High handover
failure rate can also be attributed to other handover-specific reasons:
• Insufficient coverage at handover boundary

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• Handover parameters incorrectly set


• Neighbours incorrectly defined
Recommendations:
The same as for Drop Call Rate. Also examine handover boundaries between cells with
high Handover Failure Rate. Especially inter-BSC and inter-MSC handover boundaries
need larger overlaps as the handover process takes longer than the intra-BSC case.

3.1.8 Handovers

Failures can often occur in GSM during the handover process. There are several types
of handovers (intra-cell, intra-BSS, inter-BSS, inter-MSC). It is helpful to consider
these different handover types separately, especially intra-BSS and inter-BSS which
combine to make up the majority of all handovers.

3.1.8.1 Intra-BSS Handover Failures

Objective:
To determine the proportion of Intra-BSS handover attempts that are successfully
completed.
Description:
Intra-BSS handovers are managed by the BSC without MSC involvement. Intra-BSS
handovers taking place between cells of the same BTS site are usually synchronised,
and their success rate is generally better than intra-BSS handovers between cells of
different sites.
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with lowest intra-BSS Handover Success Rate.

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Interpretation:
• Interference at handover boundary
• Hardware problem at target cell (eg. Poor link balance, poor calibration etc.)
• Traffic congestion at target cell causing delayed handover
• Insufficient coverage at handover boundary
• Handover parameters incorrectly set
• Neighbours incorrectly defined
Recommendations:
Cells with poor intra-BSS handover success rate should be examined for the possible
causes as described above. Most equipment manufacturers provide ‘per-neighbour’
statistics at the OMC. These show for each of the poorly performing cells which
neighbour relationships are suffering the worst failure rate. Having established this,
individual neighbour relationships can be analysed for failure causes.

3.1.8.2 Inter-BSS Handover Failures

Objective:
To determine the proportion of Inter-BSS handover attempts that are successfully
completed.
Description:
The Inter-BSS handover process involves the MSC, and therefore requires more
complex signalling and takes more time compared to intra-BSS handovers. This tends to
result in a greater chance of the handover failing, especially for fast moving mobiles,
unless specific steps are taken in the design process to allow for larger coverage
overlaps at inter-BSS boundaries.
Format:
Display the worst 10-20 cells with lowest inter-BSS Handover Success Rate.

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Interpretation:
• Insufficient coverage at handover boundary, especially for inter-BSS neighbours in
difficult RF conditions (highways, hilly terrain, etc.)
• Poorly defined inter-BSS boundaries causing high inter-BSS handover traffic.
• Handover parameters incorrectly set
• Neighbours incorrectly defined
• Problems on inter-MSC links, in case inter-BSS handover is across a MSC border
Recommendations:
Cells with poor inter-BSS handover success rate should be examined for the possible
causes as described above. Most equipment manufacturers provide ‘per-neighbour’
statistics at the OMC. These show for each of the poorly performing cells which
neighbour relationships are suffering the worst failure rate. Having established this,
individual neighbour relationships can be analysed for possible failure causes.

3.1.8.3 Handover Causes

Objective:
To determine the distribution of handover attempts according to their cause values.
Description:
As an input into the audit process, it is helpful to understand the numbers of handovers
taking place according to the different causes. This may reveal an abnormally large
proportion of handovers due to a specific handover cause, and consequently a design
problem that needs to be addressed.

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The main handover causes are:


• Uplink Quality
• Uplink Level
• Uplink Interference
• Downlink Quality
• Downlink Level
• Downlink Interference
• Power Budget (Better Cell)
• Distance (timing advance)
• Congestion

Format:
The pie-chart below shows a typical distribution of handover causes, with the majority
of handovers caused by Power Budget decision.

Interpretation:
The majority of handovers taking place in a properly configured GSM system will be
due to Power Budget (Better Cell) decision. A Large proportion of quality handovers
would indicate interference problems and/or incorrect settings of quality handover
thresholds. A large proportion of level handovers would indicate coverage problems
and/or incorrect settings of level handover thresholds.
It is particularly useful to monitor changes in the distribution of handover causes while
monitoring the progress of optimisation action plans.

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3.2 A-Interface Analysis


The BSS performance statistics only refer to radio-related information, hence do not
include signalling issues between the Mobile and the MSC, which are transparent to the
BSS. In order to achieve a complete understanding of call set-up failures, which must
include DTAP signalling, the A interface data must be investigated. This is typically
achieved by taking a sample 20 Megabytes of data, using a K1205 Protocol Analyser,
from each of the BSCs under investigation.
Analysis of the A-Interface logs requires a post-processing tool of some kind. The
following reports can be generated from the collected data:

3.2.1 Call Setup Failures

Objective:
A-Interface analysis allows us to accurately quantify the causes of call setup failure for
both mobile-originating and mobile-terminating calls. This is more accurate than the
previous call setup analysis using BSS statistics.
Description:
It is possible to quantify the following call setup failure causes:
• CM Service Reject
• SDCCH RF Loss
• User Initiated CM Service Abort
• Set Up / Call Proceeding Losses
• Blocked TCH Assignment
• TCH Assignment Failure
Format:
A-Interface analysis can be presented per-BSC, showing the different causes for call
setup failure. The following example shows 2 charts for the same group of BSC’s, the
first showing a simplified breakdown (pre-assignment and post-assignment), and the
second showing a more detailed breakdown of the pre-assignment failures.
The exercise should be repeated for Mobile Originating and Mobile Terminating calls.

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Interpretation:
Analysis of Mobile Originated call setup failures immediately shows that around 50%
of all failures are caused by ‘user initiated CM service abort’. This is due to mobile
users dialling wrong numbers and then quickly clearing the call, accidentally pressing
the call button twice, and other such unintentional mistakes. Clearly it is not possible to
address this problem through network optimisation.

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The other failure causes give an indication of Network Health as follows:

Pre-assignment Failures:
• CM Service Reject
• Set Up / Call Proceeding Losses
These failures indicate problems outside the control of the BSS, such as MSC circuit
problems, routing errors, PSTN interface problems, etc.

Radio Failures:
• SDCCH RF Losses
• TCH Assignment Failures
• Blocked TCH Assignments
These failures occur as a result of radio-related problems, as discussed in detail in
section 2.3.2, such as interference, congestion, hardware failure and so on.

Recommendations:
Having established any call setup problems on a per-BSC basis, further analysis should
focus on two main areas:
• Non-BSS issues affecting whole BSC’s or the whole network
• BSS-related issues probably due to specific cell performance issues.
An action plan addressing the main issues should be made.

3.2.2 Location Update Success Rate

Objective:
To determine the success rates of the different types of location updates.
Description:
Location updates can be categorised as follows:
• Normal (moving between Location Areas)
• Periodic (set by timer, usually every 4-8 hours)
• IMSI Attach (Location Update when switching on and registering)
The success rates of different types of location update can be helpful in identifying
network problems.
Format:
Show location update success rates per LU type and per BSC. It may also be useful to
know the number of location updates according to LU type, as an input into the design
review process.

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Interpretation:
Poor location update success rate is often an indication of poor RF conditions, including
interference problems and poor coverage. However a poor success rate of one particular
type of location update suggests there may be a MSC-related problem requiring further
investigation.
Very large numbers of normal location updates compared to periodic and IMSI Attach
location updates could be due to small location areas with heavy traffic, or could
indicate excessive location updates due to poor location area planning.
Recommendations:
The reasons for poor location update should be investigated further, according to the
above guidelines.

3.2.3 Handover Causes

Objective:
To determine the causes of all handovers, from analysis of A-Interface logs.
Description:
The handover cause value is contained within the ‘Handover Required’ message on the
A-Interface. Analysis of these messages provides a breakdown of all the handovers by
cause value.
Format:
Show Handover causes per BSC in percentage terms:

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Interpretation:
Typically 70-80% of handovers will be due to Power Budget (Better Cell) decision. A
large proportion of quality handovers would indicate interference problems and/or
incorrect settings of quality handover thresholds. A large proportion of level handovers
would indicate coverage problems and/or incorrect settings of level handover
thresholds.
A BSC covering predominantly rural areas with low cell density and large areas of
marginal coverage will typically have a greater proportion of U/L and D/L Level
handovers (if enabled), compared to a busy BSC in an urban area with high site density.
Recommendations:
BSC’s with abnormally high proportions of Level, Quality or Interference handovers
should be investigated further.

3.3 Call Trace Analysis

Analysis of call trace files provides additional information not available from BSS
statistics and A-Interface logs. Call trace data collection procedures are vendor-specific,
and require vendor-specific tools for analysis and post-processing.
‘Call Trace’ refers to the collection of Measurement Reports (MR’s) generated for
Uplink and Downlink and made available at the BSC for collection. While in Dedicated
Mode (ie. during a call), mobiles generate one MR per SACCH multiframe (approx
450ms). UL and DL measurement information is then compiled at the BTS and sent to
the BSC on the A-Bis link.
Reports available from Call Trace Analysis include UL/DL RxQual distribution, UL/DL
RxLev distribution, timing advance, neighbour analysis, and so on. These may be used
to troubleshoot individual cells or carriers, or may be monitored on a per-BSC level for
more general performance observations.

3.3.1 Downlink Receive Level and BTS Power

Objective:
To observe the distribution of Downlink receive measurements on per-BSC basis and
per-Cell basis, along with BTS Transmit Power measurements
Description:
The Downlink Receive level distribution gives an indication of the coverage in a cell
with respect to the distribution of actual mobiles in the cell. On a BSC level it provides
a more general indication of coverage level. The BTS Transmit Power distribution is
also related to this.
Format:
Show cumulative distributions of Downlink RxLev per BSC and per Cell, and show
BTS Transmit Power distribution per BSC and per Cell.

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Example 3.3.1a - Downlink RxLev distribution shown per BSC

Example 3.3.1b - BTS Power Distribution shown for one BSC.

Interpretation:
A large proportion of MR’s reported at a very low Downlink RxLev indicates many
mobiles are operating in areas of poor coverage.

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In a similar way, a large proportion of BTS transmit power measurements at full or


nearly-full power indicates that coverage is weak and consequently the BTS is
transmitting at or near full power all the time. This would be typical of a cell covering a
rural area.
Recommendations:
If poor coverage is suspected, the analysis could be repeated per cell for all cells in the
BSC to establish those with the weakest coverage. This could then be an input into a
coverage improvement plan.

3.3.2 Uplink Receive Level and Mobile Transmit Power

Objective:
To observe the distribution of Uplink receive measurements on per-BSC basis and per-
Cell basis, along with Mobile Transmit Power measurements
Description:
The Uplink Receive level distribution gives an indication of the coverage in a cell with
respect to the distribution of actual mobiles in the cell. On a BSC level it provides a
more general indication of coverage level. The Mobile Transmit Power distribution is
also related to this.
Format:
Show cumulative distributions of Uplink RxLev per BSC and per Cell, and show
Mobile Transmit Power distribution per BSC and per Cell.

Example 3.3.2a - Uplink RxLev distribution shown per BSC

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Example 3.3.2b - BTS Power Distribution shown for three BSC’s.

Interpretation:
Mobile Transmit Power should always be minimised so as to minimise uplink
interference levels and maximise system capacity. This is especially true of Frequency
Hopping Systems. If the ms power distribution shows a high proportion of mobile
transmit powers at or near full power, the following conclusions could be considered:
• Most of the mobiles in the cell are operating at or near the cell boundary, and hence
need to transmit full power to maintain the uplink (eg. large rural cell)
• There is excessive loss in the receive antennas/feeders causing a loss in sensitivity
of the base station, in turn causing the mobiles to transmit full power.
• Incorrect settings of power control parameters (power window)
• Poor frequency plan, excessive interference causing the mobiles to transmit higher
power.
Recommendations:
Mobile transmit power should always be minimised as far as possible. Based on the
observations, all possibilities to reduce mobile transmit power should be considered,
including any vendor-specific enhanced power control algorithms.

3.3.3 Uplink and Downlink RxQual Distributions

Objective:
To observe the distribution of RxQual measurements and identify cells or BSC’s with
poor RxQual.

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Description:
RxQual distributions simply give an indication of the BER (Bit Error Rate) of the
received signal at the BTS and Mobile. On a per-cell basis they help to identify cells
with particular quality problems.
Format:
RxQual cumulative distributions can be shown per cell or per BSC, as follows:

Cumulative RxQual Distributions per BSC and per cell (example of poor quality cell)

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Interpretation:
A poor RxQual distribution indicates a quality problem of some sort:
• Interference, poor frequency plan
• Poor antenna location, uplink/downlink interference problem
• Poor coverage, mobiles at cell boundary
• Hardware problem (poor calibration, poor link balance, radio failure…)
Recommendations:
Any cell found with a poor RxQual distribution should be investigated according to the
above possible causes.

There are many other possible applications of Call Trace data, limited only by the
availability of suitable functionality in the tools provided by the vendor. Call Trace is
especially useful for fast and efficient trouble-shooting on a cell and carrier level.

4 D RIVE T EST A NALYSIS


Drive Test Performance Analysis can be carried out in addition to, or as an alternative
to, OMC statistical analysis. Drive testing has the following advantages over OMC
statistical analysis:
• Drive test data is representative of the actual experience of subscribers.
• Drive test allows the measurement of speech quality from the subscriber’s
perspective
• It is easy to collect drive test data for several networks simultaneously for
competitive benchmarking purposes.
• Many operators do not fully trust OMC statistics as they may understand or agree
with the formulas used to derive key performance metrics. Drive test data is much
easier to understand and much harder to dispute.

The main advantages of OMC statistical data are as follows:


• It is comprehensive and includes data from all subscribers, not only those ones
driving along certain pre-defined drive test routes.
• It is readily available and easy to manipulate into the required report formats.

Therefore it is recommended to conduct analysis based on both drive test and OMC
statistics, and combine the results for a more complete understanding of the
performance issues in the network.

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4.1 Drive Test Process

A detailed description of the drive test process is outside the scope of this document. A
complete GPRS drive test process document is also available separately. Below is a
brief summary of the main points to be considered:
• Drive test routes should be chosen to be representative of the part of the network
under study, covering a range of different coverage areas (urban, suburban, etc.).
• If possible simultaneously collect GSM speech and GPRS drive test data.
• Drive test to be carried out during normal daylight hours to reflect normal network
load conditions.
• Calls to be made preferably mobile-to-PSTN.
• Call duration to be equal to the average call duration for the network, as derived
from OMC statistics. Allow 10s idle time between calls. GPRS data calls to be set
according to the average data call length for the network.
• At least 1000 calls required for good statistical confidence.

4.2 GSM Drive Test Metrics

GSM drive test data can be presented in a number of ways. A combination of graphical
presentation and statistical analysis is recommended.
The examples below show measurements for 2 networks for comparison purposes.

4.2.1 Graphical Presentation

The following parameters can be displayed on a map, allowing the visualisation of


specific problems by location:

4.2.1.1 Route Plots

RxLev Full: Route Coverage Plot


RxLev Sub: Route Coverage Plot (excluding dummy bursts during DTX operation)
RxQual Full: Route Quality Plot
RxQual Sub: Route Quality Plot (excluding dummy bursts during DTX operation)
FER: Route Frame Erasure Rate Plot
MS TX Power: Route plot of Mobile Transmit Power
SQI Plot: Route Plot of Speech Quality Index (or equivalent, if available)

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4.2.1.2 Events
Events plots may be superimposed on one of the above route plots, eg. RxLev or
RxQual.
Call Drops: Plot of dropped call events
Setup Failures: Plot of call setup failure events
HO Failures: Plot of Handover Failure events
HO Success: Plot of Successful Handover events (if required)

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4.2.2 Statistical Analysis

The following set of statistics should be calculated from the collected drive test data:

4.2.2.1 RxLev Distribution:

The proportion of RxLev Measurements falling within defined ranges.

RxLev Distribution
4500000
4000000
Number of Measurements

3500000
3000000
2500000 Network A
2000000 Network B
1500000
1000000

500000
0
0-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70
RxLev

4.2.2.2 RxQual Distribution:

The proportion of RxQual Measurements falling within defined ranges.

RxQual Distribution
12000000
Number of Measurements

10000000

8000000

6000000 Network A
Network B
4000000

2000000

0
l0

l1

l2

l3

l4

l5

l6

l7
ua

ua

ua

ua

ua

ua

ua

ua
xQ

xQ

xQ

xQ

xQ

xQ

xQ

xQ
R

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4.2.2.3 FER Distribution:

The proportion of Frame Erasure Rate Measurements falling within defined ranges.

Frame Erasure Rate Distribution


12000000
Number of Measurements

10000000

8000000

6000000 Network A
Network B
4000000

2000000

0
0-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 81-90 91-100

FER

4.2.2.4 MS TX Power:

The proportion of Mobile Transmit Power Measurements falling within defined ranges.

Mobile Transmit Power Distribution


10000000
9000000
Number of measurements

8000000
7000000
6000000
5000000 Network A
4000000 Network B
3000000
2000000
1000000
0
33 31 29 27 25 23 21 19 17 15 13

MS TX Power

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4.2.2.5 Access Failure Rate (1-Call Setup Success Rate):

The proportion of call setup attempts that fail.

Access Failure Rate %


12.0%

9.8%
% 10.0%
of
8.2%
Ac
ce 8.0%
ss
Att 6.0%
em
pts
4.0%

2.0%

0.0%
Network A Network B

4.2.2.6 Blocked Call Rate:

The proportion of call attempts that fail due to lack of resources.

Blocked Calls and No Service [%]

12%

9.5%
10%
8.0%
8%

6%

4%

2%
0.3% 0.2%
0%
Network A Network B

No Service Attempts Blocked Calls

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4.2.2.7 Call Drop Rate:

The proportion of calls terminated abnormally before the end of the call.

Dropped Call Rate %


3.5%

2.9%
% 3.0%
of
Co 2.5%
mp
let 2.0%
ed
Cal 1.3%
1.5%
ls
1.0%

0.5%

0.0%
Network A Network B

4.2.2.8 Handover Failure Rate:

The proportion of handover attempts that fail.

Handover Summary
1600
12
1400
Nu 35
1200
m
be
1000
r
of
800
Ha 1444
nd
600 1176
ov
er 400
s
200

0
Network A Network B

Handover completed Handover failed

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4.2.2.9 Average SQI:

The average Speech Quality Index measured over the combined drive test route.

Average Speech Quality Index (SQI)

24

21 19.3 19.1

SQI 18

15

12

0.0
Network A Network B

4.3 GPRS Drive Test

GPRS drive test data can be presented in a number of ways, much the same as GSM
drive test data. A combination of graphical presentation and statistical analysis is
recommended.

4.3.1 Graphical Presentation

The following parameters can be displayed on a map, allowing the visualisation of


specific problems by location:

4.3.1.1 Route Plots


UL/DL RLC Throughput: Radio Link Layer data throughput
UL/DL LLC Throughput: Logical Link Layer throughput (user data)
UL/DL RLC Block Error Rate (BLER): Radio Link Block Error Rate
UL/DL RLC Retransmission Rate: Radio Link Retransmission Rate
UL/DL Coding scheme used (CS1-4): Allocated Coding Scheme
UL/DL Number of timeslots used: Allocated timeslots

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4.3.1.2 Events
Events plots may be superimposed on one of the available route plots, eg. RxLev,
RxQual, RLC throughput, etc.
PDP Context Activation Failure: Failure to activate PDP Context (Packet
Data Protocol)
PDP Context Loss: Loss of PDP Context (GPRS Call Drop)

4.4 Network Performance Review - Summary

The summary of the Network Performance Review should aim to highlight the specific
performance problems identified in the network, on Network level, BSC level and Cell
level. The following headings should be included here:
• Network Performance Summary Data

SDCCH Assignment Success Rat


Call Setup Success Rate

Handover Success Rate


Call Volume / traffic
Call Success Rate

TCH Congestion
Drop Call Rate

Network
Name

XYZ-net 91.70% 93.40% 1.85% 0.73% 92.10% 1244300 95.60%

• Key Network Performance Observations


• List of worst performing cells and BSC’s

Detailed conclusions can be made only after completing the Network Design and
Dimensioning Review, at which time all the required information will be available
to allow detailed recommendations to be made.

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5 N ETWORK D ESIGN AND D IMENSIONING R EVIEW

5.1 Network Design Summary


Before making any recommendations based on network performance reports it is
important to know more about the network, and the constraints inside which the
network has been designed and is being operated.

5.1.1 Size
How big is the network? Plots from network planning tools are useful as a visual aid,
along with numerical information in spreadsheets:
• MSC’s
• BSC’s
• BTS’s
• Cells
• OMC’s
• HLR/VLR,
• SMS Centres

5.1.2 Subscribers
Subscriber Distribution, usage and growth information:
• Roughly how many subscribers distributed over the network, by area or by clutter.
• Projected subscriber growth, pre-paid and fixed contract.
• Traffic generated by subscriber, current and projected (typically in the range of 20-
25mE per subscriber in the busy hour)

5.1.3 Description of the environment


It is helpful to know about environmental factors that influence network design and
performance, such as:

Type of urban environment (typical building heights, building density, etc.)

Type of terrain (mountainous, hilly, flat, etc.)

Presence of water bodies (coastline, estuaries, rivers, lakes)

5.1.4 Available Spectrum


What spectrum is available, and how is it split between the different layers?

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The following example shows a typical allocation of GSM channels given an available
spectrum of 10MHz (50 Channels).

Guard Band Guard Band

1 ch 1 ch

BCCH TCH Hopping MICRO

14 ch 26 ch 8 ch

Dual Band (900/1800) spectrum should also be shown.

5.2 RF Design Detailed Analysis

The high level design summary provides an overview of the relevant information. Next
a more detailed analysis is required.

5.2.1 Site Design

5.2.1.1 Network Growth Pattern

Networks in urban areas (especially older networks) tend to follow a set growth pattern:
• Launch rollout with minimum sites for maximum coverage.
• Fill in coverage holes and add capacity by cell splitting
• Add increasing numbers of microcells, in-building cells and street-level cells to
increase capacity focused on high subscriber density areas.

In terms of RF design, the problem with this approach is that the legacy sites from the
launch rollout phase tend to be high and prominent, and increasingly contribute uplink
and downlink interference into the network as the number of lower sites around them
increases. The net effect of this is to minimise frequency re-use efficiency and limit the
capacity of the network. Therefore a process is required to identify and eliminate these
interferers to allow network growth to continue and high quality to be maintained.

5.2.1.2 High Sites Replacement

A typical process for replacing or modifying high sites would be as follows:

• From BSS performance statistics and call trace logs, identify those cells which
contribute the most interference to the largest number of other cells.

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• Develop a plan for de-commissioning the site, or lowering the antennas to a position
consistent with surrounding sites if possible. Include in the rollout plan the
requirements for additional in-fill sites due to the loss of coverage from the high
site.

• As new low sites are integrated, de-commission or modify the high site in such a
way as to cause minimum disruption to coverage. Prioritise the integration of the
required new sites to target high sites in order of severity.

The network design review will include a study of high sites in urban areas of the
network where growth is limited by frequency re-use problems. An action plan will be
developed according to this outline process, and will be provided as an input into the
network expansion and rollout process.

5.2.1.3 RF Design Strategy

Although not strictly part of a performance and optimisation review, it is important to


consider the design strategy in place in the network, and to provide input into the
expansion process to account for performance-related issues. This includes a review of
the following design techniques:
• Microcellular and Picocellular underlay
• Dual Band (Dual-BCCH and Single-BCCH)
• In-building cell deployment

5.2.2 Traffic Distribution


In most networks it is found that the distribution of traffic between cells is not even, and
that a small number of cells may be heavily congested while most others are under-
utilised. The key to the efficient utilisation of network infrastructure is to attempt to
distribute traffic evenly between BTS’s and achieve maximum frequency re-use
efficiency. There are various techniques available to achieve this, including:
• Removal of high or prominent sites which tend to ‘suck in’ disproportionate levels
of traffic owing to their high coverage level compared to surrounding sites.
• Downtilting antennas to reduce levels of unwanted coverage outside the intended
coverage area.
• Hotspot detection: Using Call Trace logs, it is possible to determine roughly the
location of traffic hotspots, helping the RF designer to plan new sites in exactly the
right locations to serve high traffic areas. This also has the effect of reducing the
average path loss between BTS and mobile (because on average the BTS’s are
closer to the mobiles), and therefore the interference levels in the network are
reduced.
• Traffic Management Algorithms: Many BSS vendors provide advanced traffic
management algorithms, allowing traffic distribution to be controlled to a greater
extent by the optimiser. These included microcell handover algorithms, congestion-
based handover algorithms and so on.

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The design review will include a study of the traffic distribution across the network, and
for the most congested cells recommendations will be made for ways to re-distribute
traffic. In many cases these inputs are directly relevant to the ongoing network
expansion and rollout process. This will also include a review of GPRS traffic
projections, and how this will impact the combined traffic distribution carried by the
network.

5.2.3 Frequency Plan


Frequency Planning is a complex subject. The quality of a frequency plan (re-use
efficiency, interference levels) is directly related to the quality of the RF design. A poor
frequency plan is usually the result of a poor RF design, resulting in turn in an inability
to produce a good frequency plan. This section attempts to highlight the main
considerations behind creating an efficient frequency plan.

5.2.3.1 Site design


As mentioned in previous sections, frequency reuse efficiency is affected by site design.
Inconsistent site heights (mixture of high and low sites) reduce re-use efficiency.

5.2.3.2 Terrain and Topography


Hilly terrain presents more frequency planning problems compared to flat terrain, as cell
coverage areas are harder to control and unwanted ‘splashes’ of coverage are hard to
avoid. Site design and antenna location can be critical in minimising these effects.

5.2.3.3 External Interference


Sometimes the performance of radio channels is affected by external interference (ie.
interference originating from outside of the network). This could be due to unauthorised
users occupying radio spectrum for other communications purposes. An example of this
is the 900MHz cordless telephone standard used in the USA, that use part of the GSM
Uplink spectrum (between channels 70 and 75). This is allowed in the USA but causes
problems to mobile networks in other countries where these channels are licensed and
allocated to GSM operation. Although these phones are generally not licensed to be
used outside the USA, they are widely available in most countries of the world and
result in strong uplink interference.
Another example could be interference in coastal or port areas from radio
communications systems offshore (such as shipping, drilling platforms, etc.). Finally, in
border regions of neighbouring countries there may be spectrum re-use issues. These
can generally be resolved by agreements between operators in the neighbouring
networks.

5.2.3.4 BCCH Plan


The number of channels required to make a good BCCH plan will vary according to a
number of factors:
• Site Design (high sites etc.)
• Terrain and topography
• Subscriber distribution

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• Regularity of cell plan

In a well optimised network, it is generally possible to produce a high quality BCCH


plan within 14-15 channels.

5.2.3.5 Non-BCCH Plan


The same issues with the BCCH plan also affect frequency planning of the non-BCCH
(TCH) carriers. However there are additional techniques available for the TCH layer to
improve re-use efficiency and increase capacity, such as:
• Synthesizer Frequency Hopping
• Baseband Frequency Hopping
• MRP (Multiple Reuse Pattern)
• Concentric Cell

These are described in detail in the ‘Optimising for Growth’ section.

The network design review will include a study of the frequency plan, and will suggest
optimisation steps required in order to produce a more efficient plan and hence a better
quality and higher capacity network.

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5.3 Optimising for Growth


The need for optimisation generally arises out of a need for growth and expansion of a
network to serve a growing number of subscribers, and to support an increasing range of
services. This section attempts to describe the optimisation techniques available for
maximising network capacity while maintaining high network quality. The availability
and effectiveness of these features and optimisation techniques varies between
infrastructure suppliers. The network optimisation process can be represented in a
diagram, as shown below:

Drive Test Data

A-Interface Data

Call Trace Data

OMC Stats Data

Performance
QOS Metrics OMC Management Field Operations
Reporting

Database
Parameters
Quality-Driven Network Design
Review, Expansion and
Optimisation Process
Network Operations
RF Design
- Rollout
Parameters
- Change Control

Expansion Plans
Core Network
Design Parameters
Marketing Strategy Optimisation Plans

Performance Requirements

Network Planning
and Optimisation

The effectiveness of all of these features also largely depends on the network design,
and how the feature parameters are optimised. A careful examination of all design
factors affecting the use of these features should be undertaken, and recommendations
made as to the suitability of the features and/or improvements in performance through
optimisation.

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5.3.1 Synthesizer Frequency Hopping (SFH)


SFH is a widely accepted technique in GSM for providing capacity and quality
improvements. These benefits are as a consequence of the following features of SFH:
• Increased immunity to fading due to frequency diversity.
• Better frame erasure rate through interference averaging
• Greatly simplified frequency planning allowing faster rollout and better quality.
The effectiveness of SFH in achieving capacity and/or quality gains is dependent on a
number of optimisation-related factors:

5.3.1.1 Hopping spectrum allocation


Since the benefits of SFH arise as a consequence of the nature of spread-spectrum
operation, the amount of benefit is related to the degree of spreading. In SFH this is
determined by the spread of channels allocated in the MA list (hopping sequence).
Simulations show that up to around 2MHz spread (10 channels) there is an appreciable
increase in hopping gain, but above 2MHz spread the additional gain reduces.

5.3.1.2 Choice of SFH Design


SFH can be deployed in a number of ways according to the network design. For
example:
1x3 SFH: In this scheme, the hopping band is divided into 3 equal groups and
planned according to a regular re-use pattern. This is suited to networks
with regular cell plan and 3-sector sites
1x1 SFH: In this scheme, the whole hopping band is allocated to a single hopping
group, which is re-used in every cell and every site. This technique is
better suited to irregular networks.
1x1 Split SFH: This is similar to the 1x1 SFH scheme, except that it allows for
operation with different cell layers (for example high sites and low
sites). The hopping band is divided into two groups, and each group is
applied according to the 1x1 scheme on a per-layer basis.

Other variations are also possible, depending on the particular implementation of the
technique in the supplier’s BSS software.

5.3.1.3 Hopping System Parameters


A full review of the use of hopping system parameters is required, to ensure compliance
with recommended SFH planning rules.
MA List: Frequencies allocated to the hopping sequence
HSN: Hopping Sequence Number (0 = cyclic, 1-63 = pseudo-random)
MAIO: Mobile Allocation Index Offset. Sometimes set automatically, however
manual definition of MAIO is essential for the correct implementation
of certain hopping techniques (eg. 1x1 SFH).
These parameters also apply to a baseband hopping system, although their use is
somewhat different.

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5.3.2 Baseband Frequency Hopping and Multiple Re-use Patterns (MRP)

This is a technique preferred by a few suppliers, notably Ericsson, although SFH is a


more commonly used technique.
MRP is a variation of baseband hopping in which frequencies are allocated to carriers
hierarchically with an increasingly aggressive re-use pattern. In other words, the BCCH
carrier would be planned with a 5x3 pattern, TCH1 with 4x3, TCH2 with 3x3, and so
on. TCH channels are then allocated in priority order, starting with the BCCH.

One feature of MRP is that since interference increases on the ‘higher’ carriers due to
the increasingly aggressive re-use patterns, the area in which an acceptable C/I can be
achieved those carriers is correspondingly smaller. This requires careful optimisation to
maximise traffic capacity.

5.3.3 Downlink Power Control and DTX


Downlink power control is important in frequency hopping systems as a means of
reducing downlink interference. Downlink PC parameters should be reviewed and,
recommendations made if necessary.

DTX (Discontinuous Transmission) is also sometimes used. This feature allows the
BTS to use voice activity detection, and then to transmit idle frames during breaks in
speech, thus reducing average downlink power and interference.

5.3.4 Microcell Traffic Management Algorithms


Some BSS suppliers provide advanced traffic management alkgorithms designed to
control the distribution of traffic between different cell layers of the network. Typically
this is applied between macrocell and microcell layers.

Since microcell laters are usually designed to carry high capacity in small coverage
areas, the principles behind these algorithms are generally as follows:
• Prevent handover from micro layer to macro layer unless the handover cause is
imperative (Qual or Lev).
• Prevent handover from macro layer to micro layer for fast-moving mobiles, to
prevent unnecessary handovers and potential call drops due to handover failure.
• Encourage handover from micro-to-micro and avoid handing back into the macro
layer.
• Encourage mobiles to remain camped onto to micro cells despite lower signal level
through use of modified cell selection algorithm (C2).
The use of these algorithms must be reviewed to ensure optimum traffic distribution and
correct handover operation.

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5.3.5 Dual Band Traffic Management Algorithms


In the case of dual band system operation, most suppliers provide traffic management
algorithms to prioritise traffic channel allocation between 900 and 1800 layers. These
include:

• Prioritisation of 900 or 1800 layer

• Rules for assigning TCH in 900 or 1800 layers according to traffic loading

• Single-BCCH operation allowing 1800 TCH allocation from 900 BCCH.

A full review of the use and effectiveness of these features is required, and
recommendations made if necessary.

5.4 The Network Growth Planning Process

Network growth planning requires a number of inputs. Network growth and expansion
planning is covered in greater detail in separate documents, however the inputs into the
process can be represented in a diagram, as shown below:

Marketing Strategy

RF Design Performance
Constraints Reports

Capacity Site Acquisition


Requirements Constraints
Network Design Review,
Expansion and
Optimisation Process
Coverage Quality
Requirements Requirements

Capacity and
Performance enhancing
Available Spectrum Network Planning
and Optimisation features

Network Operations
- Rollout
- Change Control

A typical network expansion process will include all of these inputs as a minimum.

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5.5 BSS Database Review

Many BSS database parameters are specific to equipment vendors, while some are
defined by ETSI in the GSM specification. Even those which are ETSI-defined may be
optimised slightly differently according to the vendor-specific implementation of
software algorithms, so it is not possible to derive a single set of default values valid for
all equipment vendors.
The results obtained from the network performance review will tend to suggest which
aspects of the BSS database may be able to be optimised. This section attempts to
suggest which specific areas within the BSS database should be reviewed.

5.5.1 Radio Resource Timers

Many radio resource timers exist in GSM. Generally speaking, their main purpose is to
ensure de-allocation of radio resources after the failure of some resource allocation
process, and thus ensure maximum utilisation and minimum wastage of resources. The
following timers are by no means an exhaustive list, but are commonly optimised to
maximise resource utilisation.

5.5.1.1 rr_t3111 (layer 2 channel release guard timer) =>1200ms


This timer is used during the normal layer 2 channel release procedure. Its purpose is to
maintain the dedicated channel in an active state long enough for the MS to repeat the
L2 DISC message if required.
rr_t3111 commences when the first DISC is received by the BSS, and up to 5
repetitions of the DISC are allowed, at intervals of T200 (235ms on SDCCH, 166ms on
FACCH). This means that the maximum time that the dedicated channel needs to be
held is 1175ms (5 x 235ms). A higher setting of rr_t3111 will hold SDCCH or TCH
resources longer than necessary, possibly introducing SDCCH or TCH congestion. A
lower setting could result in two mobile stations being active on the same channel.
To avoid the possibility of 2 mobile stations active on the same channel and to safely
minimise channel usage, it is recommended that rr_t3111 be set to 1200ms across all
cells.

5.5.1.2 rr_t3212 (Periodic Location Update Timer) => Align With MSC Implicit
Detach Timer

rr_t3212 is transmitted by the BSS in the BCCH System Information and is used by the
mobile as the periodic location update timer. The mobile restarts the timer each time it
successfully location updates. If the timer ever expires then the mobile makes a periodic
location update.
If the IMSI detach feature is enabled this timer should be set to a value less than the
MSC implicit detach timer. If rr_t3212 is set higher than the MSC implicit detach timer
then mobiles which are camped on the network will not be paged if they do not location
update before expiry of the MSC implicit detach timer.

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It is recommended to set this timer to a lower value than the MSC implicit detach timer.
The effect of this timer change will be to improve the mobile terminated call set up
success rate measured by the MSC and perceived by anybody trying to call a mobile
station from either the fixed network or another mobile station.

5.5.1.3 link_fail => 16 SACCH

The link_fail timer governs the number of missing uplink SACCH messages that should
occur before a radio-link-loss is determined by the BSS.
As the loss of uplink SACCH indicates that uplink audio is also lost, it is likely that the
subscriber will have terminated the call after 16 SACCH multiframes have passed. This
represents a time period of 7.7 seconds. The benefit of minimising this timer value is
that the holding time of the channel following any radio link loss is minimised, while
still allowing sufficient time for the link to recover before the subscriber gives up and
terminates the call.

5.5.1.4 radio_link_timeout => 16 SACCH

Radio_link_timeout governs the number of missing downlink SACCH messages which


should occur before a radio-link-loss is determined by the mobile.
It is recommended to set this timeout to 7.7 seconds (16 SACCH) for all cells, in line
with the link_fail recommendation above. It is a very small percentage of calls which
would recover from a losing SACCH for longer than 7.7 seconds and the user is likely
to have released the call anyway due to loss of audio.
This will help to maximise the use of TCH resources by returning them to the radio
resource pool as soon as possible, but without losing calls which might otherwise
recover.

5.5.1.5 rr_t3109 (TCH Reallocation Timer) => 8000ms

This timer prevents the reallocation of a channel, following the detection of an uplink
radio link loss. The MS may still be transmitting on the channel until
radio_link_timeout expires. rr_t3109 should therefore be set to a value greater than
radio_link_timeout.
Based on a radio_link_timeout of 16 SACCH as recommended above, then it is
recommended that rr_t3109 should be reduced to 8000ms for all cells. This will ensure
that channels will be released as soon as is safely possible following a radio link loss,
increasing channel availability, avoiding any unnecessary SDCCH or TCH congestion.

5.5.1.6 rr_t3103 (Intra-BSS Handover Guard Timer) => 15000ms

This BSC call processing timer is used during an intra BSS inter cell handover, to guard
against allocation of resources to a handover after it has failed.
To maximise the intra BSS handover success rate this timer should be long enough to
allow the MS to receive the handover command over the air interface, try and fail to

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access the target channel and to return to the source channel, including LAPDm layer 2
repeats at each stage. The timer should not be so long that resources are held up
unnecessarily introducing channel congestion.
To maximise the intra BSS handover success rate it is recommended that this timer
should be set to 15000ms.

5.5.1.7 bssmap_t10 (Assignment Guard Timer) => 14000

This timer runs at the BTS during the assignment procedure, guarding the non-receipt of
the assignment complete or assignment failure message from the MS. On expiry of this
timer, the radio channels will be released and a Clear Request message sent to the MSC
This timer must be sufficiently long to maximise the probability of a successful
assignment. In worst case conditions the MS will take about 13s to fail an assignment
and recover to the source channel. Therefore the timer setting 14000 ms is
recommended.

5.5.1.8 bssmap_t8 ( Handover Guard Timer) => 14000

This timer runs at the source BTS during an intra-BSC or inter-BSC handover.
It starts when the Handover Command is transmitted, and is stopped when the BSC
clears the source cell resources following a successful handover or when a Handover
Failure message is received. If it expires, resources at the source BTS are released.
Again, this timer needs to be long enough to allow the MS a reasonable chance to
recover in poor radio conditions, but it also needs to be set slightly smaller than
rr_t3103.
It is recommended to set this timer less than rr_t3103 (15000 ms). Therefore if rr_t3103
is set to 15000 ms, as recommended, then bssmap_t8 should be set to 14000 ms.

5.5.2 Handover and Power Control Parameters

Handover and power control parameters are set according to the implementation of
handover and power control algorithms on a vendor-specific basis. However there are
some general guidelines and recommendation that can be applied independently of
vendor-specific implementations.

5.5.2.1 RxQual Handovers:

It is recommended to configure settings such that a handover will be triggered when 4


consecutive measurement reports contain at least one RxQual value of 7, together with
at least one RxQual value of 5 and two RxQual values of 6 (or some setting similar to
this). RxQual handovers should take place relatively quickly to avoid potential loss of
speech quality, but not too quickly such that excessive handovers take place along with
a higher risk of call drop
The RxQual handover should only take place if the BTS/MS are at full power and a
target cell is available at an equivalent or stronger downlink RxLev as the server. If

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possible, different RxQual thresholds should be set for hopping and non hopping
channels, since hopping channels can tolerate a worse BER for the same FER as
compared to non-hopping channels.

5.5.2.2 RxLev Handovers:

RxLev handovers are generally not too useful. If a call is in progress and the quality is
acceptable, there is no need to perform a handover purely based on a low RxLev.
Similarly if the RxLev is low and the quality is poor, a handover can be performed
based on RxQual. So there are very few situations in which an RxLev handover is
useful, and the recommendation in most cases would be to keep them disabled.
In case they are used, RxLev handovers should be considered only as a ‘last resort’, and
the RxLev handover cause should be generated only when the RxLev reaches a very
low value, and it should be checked that a handover to a weaker cell is not possible.

5.5.2.3 Uplink Power Control:

The basic philosophy of uplink power control is that the MS should be powered down
while the received signal level at the BTS is of good quality (RxQual =0). If bad
RxQual should occur (RXQual >0), the MS should power up again, until the RxQual
improves.
Generally speaking, power-down commands are given based on good level, while
power-up commands are given based on poor quality. Power-up needs to be fast in
order to quickly overcome quality problems by increasing power. Occasionally power-
up commands will given based on low level. Typical power control thresholds are as
follows:
l_rxqual_ul_p = 56 (lower RxQual threshold)
u_rxqual_ul_p = 0 (upper RxQual threshold)
l_rxlev_ul_p = 20 (lower RxLev threshold)
u_rxlev_ul_p = 30 (upper RxLev threshold)
pow_inc_step_size 4 (power increase step size, dB)
pow_red_step_size 2 (power decrease step size, dB)

5.5.2.4 MS Fast Power Down:

Some equipment vendors provide a feature allowing the mobile to be quickly powered
down immediately following call setup by a large step, provided the RxLev is above a
defined threshold.
A ‘feature’ of GSM is that mobiles transmit full power at call setup, and power down
through normal power control thereafter. This process can be slow and results in
mobiles transmitting higher than required power for a significant time. Fast power down
algorithms should be used wherever available as this reduces average uplink
interference in the network.

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Some vendors also offer a feature to set the mobile power at the required level on
handover based on path loss measurements, rather than reverting the mobile to full
power automatically, This should also be used wherever available.

5.5.2.5 Downlink Power Control:

Downlink power control is useful as a means of reducing levels of downlink


interference, and should be particularly applied to cells known to be interferers (such as
high or prominent cell sites possibly over-shooting lower cell sites). Parameter settings
could be similar to those used for Uplink Power Control.

5.5.2.6 Adaptive Handover:

The principle of adaptive handover is to replace the usual fixed voting algorithm used
for handover decision making with an algorithm based on ‘rate of change’ of a
condition. In other words, if there is a sudden large reduction in RxQual the handover
will be triggered more rapidly compared to a slow and gradual reduction.
This represents an improvement over the standard voting mechanism (n out of p etc.),
and is recommended to be used wherever available.

5.5.2.7 Adaptive Power Control:

Some equipment vendors provide an adaptive power control algorithm, which allows
the step size of power control commands to be changed according to how far above or
below the thresholds the measurements are. This enables a faster power control within
the defined power thresholds and minimizes uplink and downlink interference.

5.5.2.8 Directed Retry and Intelligent Directed Retry (Handover on Congestion):

Most, if not all, vendors offer the Directed Retry feature, and some offer an enhanced
version known by various names, but based on the principle of ‘Handover on
Congestion’

The Handover on Congestion feature works as follows:


• Call setup attempt is blocked due to lack of TCH resources
• Blocked call setup attempt is queued, occupying a SDCCH.
• One of the existing calls in the congested cell is handed over to a neighbour cell,
freeing a TCH.
• The TCH thus freed is allocated to the call in the queue, and the call setup is
completed.

The handover cause generated is ‘congestion’, and is handled in a similar way to a


normal power budget handover. The handover has a margin associated with it, allowing
the operator to control the conditions under which neighbours can qualify for

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congestion handover. Handover on Congestion is generally more effective than normal


Directed Retry for the following reasons:
• Directed Retry allows call setup to cells outside the intended coverage area,
increasing the probability of poor quality.
• Handover on congestion chooses the best candidate in the cell for handover based
on a measurement history. Directed Retry has no equivalent measurement history.

Handover on Congestion is recommended as an effective method of limited re-


distribution of traffic in a congested network through improved trunking efficiency, and
allows the network operator some enhancement in capacity during periods of rapid
network growth.

5.6 Location Area Planning and Paging Performance

Good location area planning should minimise the number of location areas in the
network and minimise the amount of location update traffic. The main benefits of this
are:
• Reduction in SDCCH resource usage through minimised location update traffic.
The location of location area borders is also critical for this, as well as the number
of location areas.
• Improved Call Setup Success Rate: The mobile is more likely to be established on
the best serving cell when away from a location area border, since
cell_reselect_hysteresis applies only at location area borders (on location update)
but not between cells of the same location area.

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The maximum size of a location area is limited by the available Paging Channel (PCH)
capacity. The PCH capacity is fixed on a per cell basis by the CCCH configuration and
access grant block reservation set in the BSS database by the parameters ccch_conf and
bs_ag_blk_res respectively. The theoretical maximum paging capacity for each
possible CCCH configuration is shown in the following table:

Paging capacity is the primary consideration for calculating location area size.
Additional Location Area planning issues are as follows:
• Location Areas must be contained within an MSC, so MSC borders place a
restriction on Location Area border planning
• Geographical and topographical considerations impact location area planning, such
as planning to minimise movement of mobiles across location area borders,
avoiding borders following rivers through large cities (RF propagation is difficult to
control over water, so results in many unplanned location updates), and so on.
A well-planned network should have similar paging loads in each location area with the
maximum paging load within reasonable range of the theoretical maximum paging
capacity. A very small paging load would suggest that the location area is too small and
could be combined with neighbouring location areas, minimising location update
activity and reducing use of SDCCH resources. A paging load too close to the

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theoretical maximum paging load would suggest that the location area is too large and
should be split up into multiple location areas to avoid paging overload.
Location area planning should be reviewed by investigating the paging load per location
area, and making recommendations as required:
Paging load too low:
Combine small location area with other adjacent location area(s) to reduce SDCCH
usage and reduce unnecessary location update activity.
Paging load too high:
Consider splitting location area into smaller ones.
Paging load OK but location update activity too high:
Consider re-planning location update borders to minimise cross-border mobile
movement and thus minimise location update activity. Look for ‘islands’ (cells
accidentally hosted in the wrong location area causing unnecessary location updates)
and coverage ‘splashes’ (especially near rivers, estuaries etc.).

5.7 System Processor Performance

The loading of system processors should be checked in accordance with the planning
and dimensioning guidelines provided by the equipment vendor. The following
processors should be checked:
• BSC processors
• BTS processors
Any overload conditions should be reported, and processor expansion/upgrade
recommended as necessary.

5.8 MTL Performance

The MTL C7 signalling links between BSC and MSC (A-Interface) are key system
components to ensure high system performance, including call setup success. Therefore
these links should be designed with high availability and dimensioned appropriately to
avoid any overload or congestion conditions.
Any observed overload conditions or outages should be reported, and action
recommended as necessary.

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5.9 Additional BSS Design Issues

The following additional BSS design issues should also be reviewed:

5.9.1 Hardware configurations

Networks often tend to consist of multiple generations of GSM hardware, as well as


BSS supplied from several vendors. It is important to check hardware configurations to
ensure they support the required quality and capacity features (such as synthesiser
frequency hopping).

5.9.2 Transmit Combining Options

The choice of transmit combining method has a significant impact on coverage (due to
insertion loss of the combiners), and the possibility to use certain capacity features
(SFH, MRP, etc). Transmit combining should be considered as part of the BSS design
review, and recommendations made if necessary.

5.9.3 Antenna Selection

Antenna specifications have a significant impact on network performance. The


suitability of antennas should be reviewed according to the observed performance
problems in the network, and recommendations made as necessary, eg:
• Vertical and Horizontal Beamwidth
• Gain
• Front-to-Back Ratio
• Null Fill
• Downtilt (electrical/mechanical)
Antenna positioning is also improtant with resopect to minimising interference and
unwanted radiation. This should also be studied in relation to the RF design strategy.

5.9.4 Diversity Choice

The use of diversity should be reviewed. Lack of diversity can result in link balance
problems, in turn resulting in poor call setup performance and poor quality. Different
types of diversity are possible:
• Horizontal space diversity
• Vertical space diversity
• Polarisation diversity
Sometimes diversity is not used at all. In the case of microcells this is normal, as
diversity provides little gain in microcells where line-of-sight RF paths are

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predominant. However in large macrocells, lack of diversity can result in significant


performance problems.

5.10 BSS Operations Review


The following aspects of BSS operations should be reviewed:

5.10.1 Frequently Occurring Alarms

A high frequency of occurrence of a particular alarm of group of alarms suggests a


specific software or hardware problem in the network (usually vendor-specific).
Sometimes it indicates a deficiency in a routine maintenance procedure (eg. frame slip
alarms indicating poor calibration of BTS clocks).

5.10.2 Frequency of Outages

Frequent BTS or BSC outages cause a significant impact on network quality, due to loss
of coverage, dropped calls, interference, and so on. This should be taken into account
when considering network quality, alongside network performance statistics.

5.10.3 Transmit Power Calibration

It is important that all BTS radios are properly calibrated within the defined range, to
ensure the proper calculation of handover and power control algorithms.

5.10.4 External Alarms

External alarms are not always provided, but are strongly recommended. They warn
about environmental failures such as power failure, air conditioning failure, intruder
access, and so on.

5.10.5 Maintenance Schedules

It is advisable to check that regular maintenance is carried out according to


manufacturers recommendations. This can include the following:
• Radio Calibration
• Clock Calibration
• Antenna VSWR Checks
• Equipment filter cleaning
• Earth testing
• …and so on.
The lack of proper regular maintenance results in poor equipment performance and a
high rate of failure, all of which contributes to poor network quality.

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6 RECOMMENDATIONS

The recommendations made from the network performance audit and design review
findings will be in the form of a series of recommended actions, both immediate and
long-term, for improving network quality and preparing for growth. This could include
suggested process changes to manage growth, changes to operational procedures, as
well as design and parameter changes.
The structure of recommendations will approximately follow the logical flow of the
Network Performance Audit and Design Review Process, as described in this document.

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