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Packet Call Processing in UMTS

WHITE PAPER

Authors: Krishna Kumar. A


Annie Thamarackal. C
Anand Srinivasan
Satish Venkob
WHITE PAPER Packet Call Processing in UMTS

Abstract

This paper, “Packet Call Processing in UMTS”, depicts the end-to-end packet call
processing in UMTS network, based upon the 3GPP Specifications. Though the
3GPP Specifications talks about different protocols and their roles in Call
processing, they are not giving us a conglomerate picture on what exactly
happens to a call (e.g., Telnet or FTP session) originated by a mobile or an
external world. Through this paper, we are trying to give the reader an easier
understanding on the end-to-end procedures by providing a better visual percept
through various inter-working diagrams of the Call establishment and termination
procedures. The main goal of this paper is to be a panacea to the questions lying
within us regarding the 3G Mobile panoramas.

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WHITE PAPER Packet Call Processing in UMTS

Table of Contents

1. INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................4
2. NETWORK ELEMENTS INVOLVED IN PACKET CALL PROCESSING ................4
Components in UTRAN.......................................................................................................5
Components in CN ..............................................................................................................5
3. UMTS ARCHITECTURE.................................................................................................5
Control Plane of UMTS .......................................................................................................6
Data Plane of UMTS ...........................................................................................................7
4. PACKET CALL PROCESSING.......................................................................................7
Call Initiation.......................................................................................................................7
Mobile Originated Call Transfer ..........................................................................................8
Mobile Terminated Call Transfer .........................................................................................9
Packet Data Transfer..........................................................................................................10
Address Mapping..........................................................................................................10
Uplink and Downlink PDU ...........................................................................................11
Call Termination................................................................................................................11
5. ACRONYMS ...................................................................................................................12
6. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ...............................................................................................13
7. REFERENCES ................................................................................................................13
8. ABOUT THE AUTHORS ...............................................................................................14
9. ABOUT WIPRO TECHNOLOGIES..............................................................................14

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WHITE PAPER Packet Call Processing in UMTS

1. Introduction
Third generation mobile networking is the latest technology in the wireless world. UMTS is one of
the major technologies for realizing the third generation mobile communications. Defined by
3GPP and supported by major telecommunications operators and manufacturers, UMTS will
deliver broadband voice and data (video etc) traffic to mobile users. Apart from addressing the
capacity requirements of mobile Internet traffic by increasing mobile transmission speeds up to
2Mbps, UMTS also supports existing mobile technologies like GSM and GPRS thus protecting
the current investments in these technologies.

This paper details the Packet Call Handling procedures in UMTS through an ideal architecture for
Control and Data Plane in PS domain.

This paper is applicable to Release 4 architecture only and does not describe the scenario for
Release 5 All IP architecture.

2. Network Elements Involved in Packet Call Processing

The mobile radio system consists of two basic subsystems.


• Radio access network (UTRAN) - includes radio functions such as radio resource
management (realized through Node-B and RNC network elements)
• Core Network (CN) - includes call control and mobility management (realized through
MSC, SGSN and GGSN network elements).
The 3GPP standards group has standardized the interfaces between these entities. This is
depicted in Fig 1.

HLR
NODE EIR
B
RNC 3G MSC/
NODE
B Iu-CS VLR
NODE
PSTN/ISDN
B

Gs Gr Gf
NODE
B Iu-PS
RNC
NODE
B

Packet data
A Network

BTS 3G GGSN
BSC SGSN
BTS Gn
Gb
BTS

Figure 1: Packet Domain Architecture

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WHITE PAPER Packet Call Processing in UMTS

SGSN has core interface endpoints to RNC (Iu PS interface), GGSN (Gn interface). Implicitly, 3G
SGSN has protocol end point for the GMM and SM layers and the peer for these layers in the MS
side.
Components in UTRAN

• Node B
Node B (also called the Base Station Controller or Radio Base Station) provides the gateway
interface between the handset/RF interface, and the Radio Network Controller via the Iub
interface. It is involved in handover decisions, which are based on RF signal quality
measurements.

• RNC
Radio Network Controller (RNC) enables Radio Resource Management by UTRAN. It handles
protocol exchanges between Iu, Iur and Iub interfaces and is responsible for centralized operation
and maintenance of the entire RNS (RNC and Node B’s).

Components in CN

• SGSN
Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) as a network element is meant to handle PS domain call
control, data transfer and mobility management .The SGSN monitors user’s location and
performs security functions and access control.

• GGSN
Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) contains routeing information for packet-switched (PS)
attached users and provides interworking with external PS networks such as the packet data
network (PDN). It also does the allocation of dynamic addresses to MS, provide support for
mobile terminated IP sessions (Push services), user data screening/security and charging.

• HLR
Home Location Register (HLR) contains packet domain subscription data and routeing
information. The HLR is accessible from the SGSN via the Gr interface and from the GGSN via
the Gc interface.

3. UMTS Architecture
In UMTS, the logical architecture comprises of a Control Plane and a User Plane. The Control
Plane performs all the signaling functions and the User Plane performs all the data transfer
functions. Through the control plane functions, data bearer connections are setup, terminated and
maintained. The Control Plane and User Plane of the layered protocol structure between the MS
and 3G-GGSN in PS domain is shown in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 respectively.

In both planes, the Medium Access Control (MAC) layer handles functions such as priority
handling between data flows of one MS, and multiplexing/demultiplexing of higher layer protocol
data units (PDUs) into/from transport blocks delivered to/from the physical layer.

The Reliable Link Control (RLC) layer supports transfer of user data in transparent,
unacknowledged, and acknowledged mode.

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Control Plane of UMTS

GMM / GMM/SM
SM RELAY
RRC RANAP RANAP GTP-C GTP-C
RRC
SCCP SCCP UDP
RRC UDP
RLC RLC M3UA M3UA
IP IP
SCTP/IP SCTP/IP
MAC
MAC L2 L2
AAL5 AAL5
L1 L1
L1 ATM ATM L1

MS Uu RNS Iu-Ps SGSN Gn GGSN

Figure 2: UMTS Control Plane

The GPRS Mobility Management and Session Management (GMM/SM) layer handles
functions such as attach, detach, security, routeing area update, and PDP context activation and
deactivation.

The Radio Resource Control (RRC) layer handles functions such as the establishment,
maintenance, and release of RRC connections between the MS and UTRAN, establishment,
reconfiguration, and release of Radio Bearers, RRC connection mobility functions, and MS
measurement reporting functions.

The Radio Access Network Application Protocol (RANAP) in the control plane encapsulates
and carries higher-layer signaling, handles signaling between the UTRAN and 3G-SGSN, and
manages the GTP connections on the Iu interface.

In the control plane, signaling is transferred via a Signaling Connection Control Part (SCCP)
connection on the Iu interface.

MTP3 User Adaptation (M3UA) is an adaptation module, which enables Users in the IP Domain
to access the Services provided by the SS7 network transparently.

Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) is designed to transport PSTN signaling


messages over IP networks, but is capable of broader applications. SCTP is a reliable, packet
based, stream oriented transport protocol operating on top of a connectionless packet network
such as IP.

The GPRS tunneling protocol for the control plane (GTP-C) tunnels signaling messages
between SGSNs and GGSNs, and between SGSNs in the backbone network. Control Plane
signaling is used to create, modify, and delete tunnels.

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Data Plane of UMTS

APPLN

IP / PPP RELAY
RELAY IP/PPP
PDCP PDCP IUUP IUUP GTP-U
GTP-U
RRC GTP-U GTP-U UDP UDP
RLC RLC
UDP
UDP IP IP
MAC IP IP
MAC
L2 L2
L1 AAL5 AAL5
L1 ATM ATM L1 L1
Gn
MS Uu RNS Iu-Ps SGSN GGSN

Figure 3: UMTS Data Plane

The Packet Data Convergence Protocol (PDCP) layer handles transmission and reception of
PDUs using services provided by the RLC protocol, and header compression and
decompression.

The Iu User Plane (IuUP) protocol is used to convey user data associated to Radio Access
Bearers (RAB). One IuUP protocol instance is associated to one RAB Context. IuUP is
transparent in PS mode.

The GPRS tunneling protocol for the user plane (GTP-U) uses a tunneling mechanism to carry
data packets between UTRAN and 3G-SGSN, and between the SGSN and GGSN in the
backbone network.

4. Packet Call Processing

Call Initiation

The pre-requisite for any Packet Data transfer is a creation of a session. A Session can be
defined as a transaction initiated by the MS or an external PDN for exchanging data packets
between them. An example for a session could be an FTP or a Telnet session.

For a session to be created, the presence of MS must be known to the network. This is done by
performing an Attach Procedure initiated by GMM, which leads to the creation of a GMM
Context, as shown in Fig 4. The GMM Context contains details like International Mobile
Subscriber Identity(IMSI), International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and Cell Identity. A PS
Signalling connection is also established between the MS and the SGSN during this procedure.

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WHITE PAPER Packet Call Processing in UMTS

Once the Attach Procedure is done, the MS can establish a session for data transfer. The Call
Origination can be of two types, Mobile Originated (MO) and Mobile Terminated (MT). In MO, the
MS initates the Session creation. But in MT, the GGSN on receiving PDU’s from external PDNs
notify the MS to start the Session Creation Procedure.

GMM Uu RANAP Iu RANAP GMM

ATTACH REQUEST
Attach Initiation
INITIAL UE

AUTHENTICATION & CIPHERING REQ

DIRECT TRANSFER
Attach In Progress
AUTHENTICATION & CIPHERING RESP

DIRECT TRANSFER

Attach Completed
_ATTACH_ACCEPT

DIRECT TRANSFER

MS RNS SGSN

Figure 4: UMTS Call Initiation Procedure (GMM Attach)

Mobile Originated Call Transfer

To exchange data packets with external PDNs after a successful attach, a mobile station must
apply for one or more addresses used in the PDN, e.g., for an IP address in case the PDN is an
IP network. This address is called PDP address (Packet Data Protocol address). For each
session, a PDP context is created, which describes the characteristics of the session. It contains
the PDP type (e.g., IPv4), the PDP address assigned to the mobile station (e.g.,129.187.222.10),
the requested Quality of Service (QoS), and the address of a GGSN that serves as the access
point to the PDN. This context is stored in the MS, the SGSN, and the GGSN. This is created by
means of a PDP Context Activation Procedure initiated by SM as shown in Fig 5.

On Iu side, a RAB Context corresponds to a PDP Context, which is created by means of a RAB
Assignment Procedure initiated by RANAP on CN side. The RRC establishes the appropriate
radio bearer by sending a Radio Bearer Setup message to the MS if there is sufficient uplink and
downlink capacity available to support the new radio link.

On the Gn side, a Create PDP Context Procedure is performed to create the transport bearer
layer for both Data and Signaling plane between SGSN and GGSN. GTP-U tunnels the data and
GTP-C tunnels the control signals in both uplink and downlink direction.

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WHITE PAPER Packet Call Processing in UMTS

Uu Iu Gn
SM RRC RRC RANAP RANAP SM GTP-c GTP-c

Session ACTIVATE PDP CONTEXT REQUEST


Initiation
DIRECT TRANSFER

RAB ASSIGNMENT REQ


RB SETUP REQ

RB SETUP COMPLETE
RAB ASSIGNMENT RSP

CREATE PDP CONTEXT REQ


RAB Established
CREATE PDP CONTEXT RSP
ACTIVATE PDP CONTEXT ACCEPT
Context
DIRECT TRANSFER
Established
Session Established
MS RNS SGSN GGSN

Figure 5: UMTS Mobile Originated Call Transfer Procedure

Mobile Terminated Call Transfer

In Mobile Terminated Call, GGSN initiates the activation of a PDP Context. When receiving a
PDP PDU, the GGSN checks if a PDP Context is established for that PDP Address. If no PDP
Context has been previously established for that PDP address, the GGSN delivers the PDUs by
initiating the Network Requested PDP Context Activation Procedure, as shown in Fig 6. This
is performed by GTPC by sending a PDU Notification Request towards SGSN. The GGSN will
queue the received PDUs for some definite period of time, till a positive response is received from
SGSN.

If PS Signaling connection is not available, SGSN initiates the Paging Procedure through GMM
to locate the MS. Once the signaling is established, Request PDP Context Activation is send by
SM towards MS. Then the MS initiates the PDP Context Activation Procedure. A PDP Context will
be created for the requested PDP Address and Access Point Name (APN). This will result in the
creation of control and data tunnels on the Gn side and also RAB Contexts on the RNC side, as
in a Mobile Originated Call. Once the end-to-end session has been established, the GGSN will
route the queued packets to the MS depending on TFT parameters.

With an active PDP context, the mobile station is “visible” for the external PDN and is able to
send and receive data packets. A user may have several simultaneous PDP contexts active at a
given time.

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Uu Iu Gn
SM RRC RRC RANAP RANAP SM GTP-c GTP-c
Session Initiation
PDU NOTIFICATION REQ

PDU NOTIFICATION RSP


REQUEST PDP CONTEXT ACTIVATION

DIRECT TRANSFER
Session Activation
Started ACTIVATE PDP CONTEXT REQUEST
DIRECT TRANSFER

CREATE PDP CONTEXT REQ


RAB Establishment
RAB Establishment
ProceduresProcedures
done done here
CREATE PDP CONTEXT RSP
ACTIVATE PDP CONTEXT ACCEPT

DIRECT TRANSFER Context


Session Activated Established
MS SGSN GGSN
RNS

Figure 6: UMTS Mobile Terminated Call Transfer Procedure

Packet Data Transfer


IP Address
Address Mapping

The mobile is identified by the PDP address in


the PDN. Example for a PDP address could be
GGSN Gn TEID
an IP address in case the PDN is an IP network.
The PDP Address can be static or dynamic. If
Static, the user gets this PDP Address with the Gn TEID
subscription and if dynamic, this is allocated by SGSN
GGSN. Iu TEID

In the downlink direction, the PDP address is


mapped to a TEID depending on TFT. In the Iu TEID
uplink direction, the RB ID is selected based on RNS
the QoS requirements. The TEID on Iu and Gn RB ID
interfaces are different and are mapped by relay
functionality for data transfer across the
interfaces. UE RB ID

Indicates mapping across elements

Figure 7: Address Mapping in Data Plane

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Uplink and Downlink PDU

For each downlink PDUs, the GGSN routes them to the different GTPU tunnels based on the
TFTs assigned to the PDP contexts, when multiple PDP contexts exist for the same PDP address
of an MS.

For each uplink PDP PDU, the MS should choose the PDP context that best matches the QoS
requested by the sender of this PDP PDU (e.g., an application supporting QoS).

The relay function of a network node transfers the PDP PDUs received from the incoming link to
the appropriate outgoing link. At the RNC, the SGSN, and the GGSN the relay function stores all
valid PDP PDUs until they are forwarded to the next network node or until the maximum holding
time of the PDP PDUs is reached. The PDP PDUs are discarded when buffering is longer than
their maximum holding time. The discarding protects resources from useless transfer attempts,
especially the radio resource.

In UMTS, the RNC, SGSN and GGSN relay function may optionally perform re-sequencing of
PDP PDUs before transfer of the PDP PDUs.

Call Termination

The MS can terminate a call associated with a particular application by performing a


Deactivation Procedure initiated by SM. GTPC will send Delete PDP Context Request towards
GGSN to delete the PDP context stored in GGSN.

RAB Assignment Procedure initiated by RANAP releases the RAB Context on the RNC for this
particular session. The end-to-end PDP Context Deactivation Procedure is depicted in Fig 8.

Uu Iu Gn
SM RRC RRC RANAP RANAP SM GTP-c GTP-c

Session DEACTIVATE PDP CONTEXT REQ


Deactivation
Started DIRECT TRANSFER DELETE PDP CONTEXT REQ
DELETE PDP CONTEXT RSP
DEACTIVATE PDP CONTEXT ACCEPT

DIRECT TRANSFER
Context Deleted
RAB ASSIGNMENT REQ
RB RELEASE REQ
RB RELEASE COMPLETE
RAB ASSIGNMENT RSP

Session Deactivation RAB Deleted


Completed
MS RNS SGSN GGSN

Figure 8: UMTS Call Termination Procedure initiated by MS (Deactivation Procedure)

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The PDP Context Deactivation can also be initiated by GGSN. This is performed by GTPC by
sending a Delete PDP Context Request to SGSN, which will trigger the Deactivation Procedure
between SGSN and MS, initiated by SM. The RAB associated with the context will also be
deleted by means of RAB Assignment Procedure of RANAP.

When the last PDP Context associated with a PDP Address is deactivated, and then PDU
transfer for this PDP Address is disabled.

The MS can also terminate the calls when it does not want to use the SGSN services anymore,
by switching off the mobile. This is performed by means of a Detach Procedure initiated by
GMM. This results in the deactivation of all PDP Contexts and RAB Contexts by means of PDP
Context Deactivation Procedure associated with this MS. No data transfer in both downlink or
uplink direction is possible once the mobile is detached.

Uu Iu Gn
GMM RRC
RRC RANAP RANAP GMM GTP-c GTP-c

Detach DETACH REQUEST


Initiation
DIRECT TRANSFER DELETE PDP CONTEXT REQ

DELETE PDP CONTEXT RSP


RAB ASSIGNMENT REQ
RB RELEASE REQ

RB RELEASE COMPLETE Context Deleted


RAB ASSIGNMENT RSP

RAB Deleted
DETACH ACCEPT
DIRECT TRANSFER
Detach Completed IU RELEASE COMMAND

MS RNS SGSN GGSN

Figure 9: UMTS Call Termination Procedure initiated by MS (Detach Procedure)

The Network can also initiate a Detach Procedure due to HLR triggers. A Detach Request will be
sent by GMM on the SGSN towards MS, which will respond with a Detach Accept. This will also
lead to the termination of all active sessions as in MS Initiated Detach procedure.

5. Acronyms
3GPP 3rd Generation Partnership Project
CN Core Network
FTP File Transfer Protocol

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GGSN Gateway GPRS Support Node


GMM/SM GPRS Mobility Management and Session Management
GTPC GPRS Tunnelling Protocol Control
IMSI International Mobile Subscriber Identity
IMEI International Mobile Equipment Identity
IP Internet Protocol
MS Mobile Station
MTP Message Transfer Protocol
PDN Packet Data Network
PDP Packet Data Protocol
PDU Protocol Data Unit
PS Packet Switched
QoS Quality of Service
RAB Radio Access Bearer
RLC Radio Link Control
RNC Radio Network Controller
RRC Radio Resource Control
SCCP Signalling Connection Control Part
SCTP Stream Control Transmission Protocol
SGSN Serving GPRS Support node
TFT Traffic Flow Template
UE User Equipment
UMTS Universal Mobile Telecommunication System
UTRAN UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network

6. Acknowledgement
We would like to thank our colleagues in 3G-SGSN-CORE team for their valuable comments,
support, guidance, and innovative ideas. We would also like to offer special thanks to our
Technical Manager, Mr. Anup Kumar Sureka for the critical reviews and inputs to our paper.

7. References

• 3GPP TS 24.007 v3.7.0: “3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group
Core Network; Mobile Radio Interface Signalling Layer 3; General Aspects (Release 1999)”

• 3GPP TS 24.008 v3.8.0: “3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Core
Network; Mobile Radio Interface Layer 3 Specification; Core Network Protocols; Stage 3 (Release
1999)”

• 3GPP TS 23.060 v3.8.0: “3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group
Services and System Aspects; General Packet Radio Service (GPRS); Service Description; Stage
2 (Release 1999)”

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• 3GPP TS 29.060 V3.6.0: "3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group Core
Network; General Packet Radio Service (GPRS); GPRS Tunnelling Protocol (GTP) across the Gn
and Gp Interface (Release 1999)".
• 3GPP TS 25.413 V3.4.0 : “3rd Generation Partnership Project; Technical Specification Group
Radio Access Network; UTRAN Iu Interface RANAP Signaling (Release 1999).

8. About the authors


Krishna Kumar A is a Project Manager in Wireless Business Unit of Telecom and
Internetworking Group at Wipro Technologies. His areas of interest include Data Networking,
Wireless and Distributed Computing.

Annie Thamarackal C is a Senior Software Engineer in Wireless Business Unit of Telecom and
Internetworking Group at Wipro Technologies. She is a domain expert in Telecom (UMTS &
GPRS). She has a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering.

Anand Srinivasan is a Senior R&D Engineer in Wireless Business Unit of Telecom and
Internetworking Group at Wipro Technologies. He has a Bachelors degree in Electronics and
Communication Engineering and a Masters degree in Business Administration. He has an
expertise in Telecom domain with an extensive knowledge in AMPS-PCS, GPRS and UMTS.

Satish Venkob finished his Bachelors degree in Computer Science from Bangalore University
.He has been working in the Wireless Protocol arena from past 2 years in Wireless Business Unit
of Telecom and Internetworking Group at Wipro Technologies. Currently he is involved in the 3G
UMTS protocol layer development and integration. His hobbies include Music, reading technical
stuff etc

9. About Wipro Technologies


Wipro Technologies is the global technology services division of Wipro Limited (NYSE: WIT). It
provides turnkey solutions for Finance, Retail, Utilities, Telecom and Technology clients. The
focus is largely in the areas of information services outsourcing and technology software
development. The company’s top clients include Lucent, Canon, Epson, Hitachi, Sony, Toshiba,
Cisco, IBM, ARM, AT&T and Transco.

www.wipro.com

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