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3G/UMTS Call Re-establishment

Ritesh Shreevastav August 20, 2013 0

The total number of mobile subscriptions in the world is expected to reach

five billion soon and the number is ever increasing. This has given a good
opportunity to venture capitalists and business people to invest in the
mobile business sector. With the number of network operators increasing in
most of the countries, investors want to gain as much market share as
possible which has led to severe competition between network operators.
There are different benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) to
highlight how better a network operator is compared to the other. These
KPIs have become a marketing jargon and a way to attract more
One of the KPIs is Call Setup Success Ratio (CSSR). CSSR represents the
percentage of calls that were successfully established, maintained and
released. It combines Radio Access Bearer (RAB) and Radio Resource
Connection (RRC) signaling establishment. CCSR gives the statistics as
how good the Network has Accessibility. Another important KPI is
Retainability which indicates the percentage of successful connections
which are terminated by the customer. Retainability will drop if the call is
abnormally released. Retainability measures dropped call rate to identify
and evaluate abnormal call disconnection. Call drop rate can be compared
between different operators for speech only or packet only or over Iur Link
In cases, when:
there is no neighbor Cell relation defined or existing

the UE loses the L1 synchronization (poor coverage area, for

instance when driving in tunnels)
the UE encounters layer 2 RLC unrecoverable error issue
Then the above would result in dropped calls. This would be a system
abnormal release and would lead to high drop call rate and Retainability
KPI degradation.
However, one of the 3GPP Releases introduced the feature Call
Reestablishment which will allow the operator to increase the CSSR and
Retainability KPIs. With Call Re-establishment, the call which would have
been dropped could be saved, i.e. re-established when the UE encounters
the above failures. The UE will down-switch to common channel (FACH)
from Dedicated Channel (DCH) state and will send a Cell Update with
cause Radio Link Failure or RLC Unrecoverable Error. Upon receiving the
Cell update, the network would realize that UE has encountered a failure
and thus it would restore the lost RAB and reply the UE with an RRC Cell
Update Confirm Message. The UE would then reconfigure and come back
to DCH state.
In 3G Network, it is common to have network topologies with Serving and
Drift RNCs. The RNCs are connected with the Iur link. Call
Reestablishment can also work over Iur. The UE could encounter the
failure(s) in cells belonging to a Drift RNC (DRNC) and send a Cell Update
to the DRNC. The DRNC would encapsulate the RRC Cell Update
Message in a RNSAP Message with type UplinkSignallingTransferInd and
send it to the Serving RNC. The SRNC, upon receiving the
UplinkSignallingTransferInd message, would realize that the UE has
encountered a failure and thus it would restore the lost RAB and
encapsulate the RRC Cell Update Confirm in a RNSAP Message with type

DownLinkSignallingTransferInd and forward this message over Iur to the

DRNC. The DRNC will transmit the RRC Cell Update Confirm to the UE.
One more difference between Call Reestablishment in DRNC and Call
Reestablishment in SRNC is that CellUpdateConfirm will be carried by
SRB0 UM (Signaling Radio Bearer Unacknowledged Mode) in downlink for
Iur/DRNC case as compared to SRB1 UM for Call Reestablishment in
SRNC. For the DRNC case, the CellUpdateConfirm has to be entirely
shipped in Common Control Channel (CCCH), whereas in the SRNC case
it can be shipped in conjunction with DCCH->CCCH mapping.
Call Reestablishment is possible for both Circuit Switched (CS) and Packet
Switched (PS) RABs. There are dedicated timers that govern the
establishment of CS and PS RABs. The timers are broadcasted in System
Information (SIB1) from the Network to the UEs. If the Network does not
support Call reestablishment, it would set the timer values to 0. The UE in
this case will not send cell Update to the Network requesting for
reestablishing the call. When the Network supports the Call
Reestablishment, the default value of the timer is typically 8 sec for CS
RAB and 30 sec for PS RAB. The UE stores these timer values and when it
encounters the failure it down-switches from DCH to FACH. The UE would
then indicate in cell Update message whether the CS and PS RAB timers
have expired or not. When the timers have not expired the network will
initiate the call Reestablishment. One important thing that the network has
to do before going forward with the Call Reestablishment is to suspend the
Radio Connection Supervision (RCS) timers or else the RCS timer might
timeout before the Call Reestablishment is completed.
The sequence of Call reestablishment flow is as follows:

Delete all old Radio Links

Setup New Radio Link in the cell where the cell Update has
originated from
Send CellUpdateConfirm Message to the UE.
UE replies with one of the response message (Transport
Channel/Radio Bearer Setup/RadioBearer Release/Physical Channel
Reconfiguration Complete)
The CellUpdateConfirm Message will contain the information about the
RABs that has been restored. In case of Multi-RAB, if only the CS or if only
the PS could be restored, then the CellUpdateConfirm message has also
the release information for the RAB that could not be restored or has been
lost. The UE in this case should reply with RadioBearer Release
Reconfiguration Complete.