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Cell reselection is a complex process in LTE. The following extract from [1] provides a very good understanding of the
overall procedure.

LTE Initial Access

Like all mobile communication systems, in LTE a terminal must perform certain steps
before it can receive or transmit data. These steps can be categorized in cell search
and cell selection, derivation of system information, and random access. The complete
procedure is known as LTE Initial Access and is shown in the Figure below. After the initial
access procedure, the terminal is able to receive and transmit its user data.

Initial synchronization

Successful execution of the cell search and selection procedure as well as acquiring
initial system information is essential for the UE before taking further steps to
communicate with the network. For this reason, it is important to take a closer look at
this fundamental physical layer procedure. This section focuses on the cell-search
scheme defined for LTE and the next chapter describes reception of the essential
system information.
As in 3G (WCDMA), LTE uses a hierarchical cell-search procedure in which an LTE
radio cell is identified by a cell identity, which is comparable to the scrambling code
that is used to separate base stations and cells in WCDMA. To avoid the need for
expensive and complicated network and cell planning, 504 physical layer cell identities
of is sufficiently large. With a hierarchical cell search scheme, these identities are
divided into 168 unique cell layer identity groups in the physical layer, in which each
group consists of three physical layer identities. To remember this hierarchical
principle, consider the example of first names and surnames. According to statistics,
the most common English surname is Smith, which corresponds to physical layer cell
identity group 0. The second most common surname is Johnson, which represents
the physical layer cell identity group 1. This example can be extended to the last group,
which would be Rose. The most common male first names are James, John, or
Robert and female names are Mary, Patricia, and Linda. Each first name
represents one of the three physical layer identities.
This information is now transmitted using two different signals, generated by Layer 1.
The two signals, carrying the physical layer identity and the physical layer cell identity

group, are the primary and the secondary synchronization signals respectively. This
means that the complete cell search procedure consists of two steps to identify the
cells identity as shown Graphically in the Figure below:

Primary Synchronization Signal (PSS)

The UE first looks for the primary synchronization signal (PSS) which is transmitted in
the last OFDM symbol of the first time slot of the first subframe (subframe 0) in a radio
frame. This enables the UE to acquire the slot boundary independently from the
chosen cyclic prefix selected for this cell. Based on the downlink frame structure (Type
1, FDD). The primary synchronization signal is transmitted
twice per radio frame, so it is repeated in subframe 5 (in time slot 11). This enables the
UE to get time synchronized on a 5 ms basis, which was selected to simplify the
required inter-frequency and inter-RAT measurements. LTE must accommodate
handover to and from other radio access technologies, such as GSM/GPRS/EDGE,

Secondary Synchronization Signal (SSS)

After the mobile has found the 5 ms timing, the second step is to obtain the radio frame timing and the cells group
identity. This information can be found from the SSS. In the xtime domain, the SSS is transmitted in the symbol
before the PSS . The SSS also has 5 ms periodicity, which means it is transmitted in the first and sixth
subframes (subframes 0 and 5) as shown in the Figure below. Like the PSS, the SSS is transmitted on 62 of the 72
reserved subcarriers around the DC subcarrier.

LTE Cell selection and reselection criteria

The previous section described how initial cell selection will work and the difference between LTE FDD and TD-LTE.
However, only when specific criteria are fulfilled is the UE allowed to camp on that cell. These criteria for cell selection
as well as cell reselection for LTE are specified in [3]. It is further illustrated by a description of the two procedures: In
the initial cell selection procedure, as described in the previous sections, no knowledge about RF channels carrying
an E-UTRA signal is available at the UE. In that case the UE scans the supported E-UTRA frequency bands to find a
suitable cell. Only the cell with the strongest signal per carrier will be selected by the UE. The second procedure
relies on information about carrier frequencies and optionally cell parameters received and stored from previouslydetected cells. If no suitable cell is found using the stored information the UE starts with the initial cell selection
procedure. S is the criterion defined to decide if the cell is still suitable . This criterion is fulfilled when the cell
selection receive level is

is computed based on the Equation below:

is the measured receive level value for this cell, i.e. the Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP).
This measured value is the linear average over the power of the resource elements that carry the cell specific
reference signals over the considered measurement bandwidth. Consequently, it depends on the configured
signal bandwidth. In the case of receiver diversity configured for the UE, the reported value will be equivalent
to the linear average of the power values of all diversity branches.

is the minimum required receive level in this cell, given in dBm. This value is signaled as
QrxLevmin by higher layers as part of the System Information Block Type 1 (SIB Type 1). QrxLevmin is
calculated based on the value provided within the information element (-70 and -22) multiplied with factor 2 in

is an offset to Qrxlevmin that is only taken into account as a result of a periodic search for a
higher priority PLMN while camped normally in a Visitor PLMN (VPLMN). This offset is based on the
information element provided within the SIB Type 1, taking integer values between (18) also multiplied by a
factor of 2 in dB. This gives a wider range by keeping the number of bit transmitting this information. The
offset is defined to avoid ping-pong between different PLMNs. If it is not available then Qrxlevminoffset is
assumed to be 0 dB.

is a maximum function as shown in Equation 5. Whatever parameter is higher,

PEMAX- PUMAX or 0, is the value used for PCompensation. PEMAX [dBm] is the maximum power a UE is
allowed to use in this cell, whereas PUMAX [dBm] is the maximum transmit power of an UE according to the
power class the UE belongs too. At the moment only one power class is defined for LTE, which corresponds
to Power Class 3 in WCDMA that specifies +23 dBm. PEMAX is defined by higher layers and corresponds to
the parameter P-MAX defined in [2]. Based on this relationship, PEMAX can take values between -30 to +33
dBm. Only when PEMAX > +23 dBm PCompensation is it considered when calculating Srxlev. The P-MAX
information element (IE) is part of SIB Type 1 as well as in the "RadioResourceConfigCommon" IE, which
is part of the SIB Type 2.
As explained above, all parameters except for Qrxlevmeas are provided via system information. In a real network a UE
will receive several cells perhaps from different network operators. The UE only knows after reading the SIB Type 1 if
this cell belongs to its operators network (PLMN Identity). First the UE will look for the strongest cell per carrier, then
for the PLMN identity by decoding the SIB Type 1 to decide if this PLMN is a suitable identity. Afterwards it will
compute the S criterion and decide for a suitable cell or not.

The Figure above shows one possible scenario in a real network. Assume that the UE belongs to network operator 1.
There are two other carriers also operating an LTE network but of course at different frequencies. The terminal
receives all base stations but at different power levels. Based on the above definition the UE will select the strong cell
for each carrier . Using this the UE will start with network operator 3 and figure out after decoding the SIB Type 1 that
the PLMN saved on the USIM does not match to the transmitted one. From this information it will stop with its attempt
and proceed to the next strongest signal, which is operator 2 . Now the PLMN does not correspond so the UE will
continue with signal 3 (green) and the PLMN will match. The UE continues to use the information in SIB Type 1 and
Type 2 to compute the cell selection criteria. In this example, the parameters transferred and belonging to eNB1 do
not fulfill S > 0 where the UE will move along with demodulating and decoding the information provided by eNB2. S >
0 is fulfilled and the UE starts camping on this cell.

SIB contains PLMN Data and it is sent on Broadcast channel. After Primay sync Secondary Sync is read
to find out the PCI of the cell

The system information is very essential and the same is broadcasted by LTE eNB over logical channel BCCH. This
logical channel information is further carried over transport channel BCH or carried by DL-SCH.

There are two parts in SI static part and dynamic part. Static part is called as MIB and is transmitted using BCH and
carried by PBCH once every 40ms. MIB carries useful information which includes channel bandwidth, PHICH
configuration details; transmit power, no. of antennas and SIB scheduling information transmitted along with other
information on the DL-SCH.

Dynamic part is called as SIB and is mapped on RRC SI messages(SI-1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11) over DL-SCH and
transmitted using PDSCH at periodic intervals. SI-1 transmitted every 80ms, SI-2 every 160ms and SI-3 every 320

System Information Blocks are grouped in SI containers. Each SI is composed of multiple SIBs. Each SI usually will
have different transmission frequency and will be sent in a single sub-frame. SIBs are transmitted using BCCH
mapped on DL-SCH which in turn mapped on PDSCH.

System information will be changed every BCCH modification period. Signalling Tester model MD8430A from Anritsu
can be used as LTE Base Station Emulator. This will emulate LTE MIBs and SIBs over corresponding LTE channels.




Carries physical layer information of LTE cell which in turn help receive further SIs, i.e. system bandwidth


Contains information regarding whether or not UE is allowed to access the LTE cell.
It also defines the scheduling of the other SIBs. carries cell ID, MCC, MNC, TAC, SIB mapping.


Carries common channel as well as shared channel information.

It also carries RRC, uplink power control, preamble power ramping,
uplink Cyclic Prefix Length, sub-frame hopping, uplink EARFCN


carries cell re-selection information as well as Intra frequency cell re-selection information


carries Intra Frequency Neighbors(on same frequency); carries serving cell and neighbor cell frequencies required for cell rese
handover between same RAT base stations(GSM BTS1 to GSM BTS2) and different RAT base stations(GSM to WCDMA or G
between WCDMA to LTE etc.) . Covers E-UTRA and other RATs as mentioned


Carries Inter Frequency Neighbors(on different frequency); carries E-UTRA LTE frequencies, other neighbor cell frequencies f
The purpose is cell reselection and handover.


carries WCDMA neighbors information i.e. carries serving UTRA and neighbor cell frequencies useful for cell re-selection


carries GSM neighbours information i.e. Carries GERAN frequencies as well as GERAN neighbor cell frequencies. It is used f
as well as handover purpose.


carries CDMA-2000 EVDO frequencies, CDMA-2000 neighbor cell frequencies.


carries HNBID (Home eNodeB Identifier)


carries ETWS prim. notification


carries ETWS sec. notification

LTE System Information Block (SIB) Contents

Following dropdown menu will help one browse through all the LTE system information block contents. It covers LTE
SIB-1, SIB-2, SIB-3, SIB-4, SIB-5, SIB-6, SIB-7, SIB-8, SIB-9, SIB-10 and LTE SIB-11.

LTE SIB-1 Contents