Thursday, November 12, 2009

U-Plane Handling During HO

The U-plane handling during the Intra-E-UTRAN-Access mobility activity for UEs in ECM-CONNECTED takes place to avoid data loss during HO.
  • During HO preparation U-plane tunnels are established between the source eNB and the target eNB. There is one tunnel established for uplink data forwarding and another one for downlink data forwarding for each E-RAB for which data forwarding is applied.
  • During HO execution, user data is forwarded from the source eNB to the target eNB.
    • Forwarding of downlink user data from the source to the target eNB should take place in order as long as packets are received at the source eNB from the EPC or the source eNB buffer has not been emptied.
  • During HO completion:
    • The target eNB sends a PATH SWITCH message to MME to inform that the UE has gained access and MME sends a USER PLANE UPDATE REQUEST message to the Serving Gateway, the U-plane path is switched by the Serving Gateway from the source eNB to the target eNB.
    • The source eNB should continue forwarding of U-plane data as long as packets are received at the source eNB from the Serving Gateway or the source eNB buffer has not been emptied.

Path Switch

After the downlink path is switched at the Serving GW downlink packets on the forwarding path and on the new direct path may arrive interchanged at the target eNB. The target eNodeB should first deliver all forwarded packets to the UE before delivering any of the packets received on the new direct path. The method employed in the target eNB to enforce the correct delivery order of packets is outside the scope of the standard.

In order to assist the reordering function in the target eNB, the Serving GW shall send one or more "end marker" packets on the old path immediately after switching the path for each E-RAB of the UE. The "end marker" packet shall not contain user data. The "end marker" is indicated in the GTP header. After completing the sending of the tagged packets the GW shall not send any further user data packets via the old path.

Upon receiving the "end marker" packets, the source eNB shall, if forwarding is activated for that bearer, forward the packet toward the target eNB.

On detection of an "end marker" the target eNB shall discard the end marker packet and initiate any necessary processing to maintain in sequence delivery of user data forwarded over X2 interface and user data received from the serving GW over S1 as a result of the path switch.

On detection of the "end marker", the target eNB may also initiate the release of the data forwarding resource. However, the release of the data forwarding resource is implementation dependent and could also be based on other mechanisms (e.g. timer-based mechanism).

EPC may change the uplink end-point of the tunnels with Path Switch procedure. However, the EPC should keep the old GTP tunnel end-point(s) sufficiently long time in order to minimise the probability of packet losses and avoid unintentional release of respective E-RAB(s).

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