An EPS bearer/E-RAB is the level of granularity for bearer level QoS control in the EPC/E-UTRAN. That is, SDFs mapped to the same EPS bearer receive the same bearer level packet forwarding treatment (e.g. scheduling policy, queue management policy, rate shaping policy, RLC configuration, etc.).
One EPS bearer/E-RAB is established when the UE connects to a PDN, and that remains established throughout the lifetime of the PDN connection to provide the UE with always-on IP connectivity to that PDN. That bearer is referred to as the default bearer. Any additional EPS bearer/E-RAB that is established to the same PDN is referred to as a dedicated bearer. The initial bearer level QoS parameter values of the default bearer are assigned by the network, based on subscription data. The decision to establish or modify a dedicated bearer can only be taken by the EPC, and the bearer level QoS parameter values are always assigned by the EPC.
An EPS bearer/E-RAB is referred to as a GBR bearer if dedicated network resources related to a Guaranteed Bit Rate (GBR) value that is associated with the EPS bearer/E-RAB are permanently allocated (e.g. by an admission control function in the eNodeB) at bearer establishment/modification. Otherwise, an EPS bearer/E-RAB is referred to as a Non-GBR bearer. A dedicated bearer can either be a GBR or a Non-GBR bearer while a default bearer shall be a Non-GBR bearer.
The bearer level (i.e. per bearer or per bearer aggregate) QoS parameters are QCI, ARP, GBR, and AMBR. Each EPS bearer/E-RAB (GBR and Non-GBR) is associated with the following bearer level QoS parameters:
- QoS Class Identifier (QCI): scalar that is used as a reference to access node-specific parameters that control bearer level packet forwarding treatment (e.g. scheduling weights, admission thresholds, queue management thresholds, link layer protocol configuration, etc.), and that have been pre-configured by the operator owning the eNodeB.
- Allocation and Retention Priority (ARP): the primary purpose of ARP is to decide whether a bearer establishment / modification request can be accepted or needs to be rejected in case of resource limitations. In addition, the ARP can be used by the eNodeB to decide which bearer(s) to drop during exceptional resource limitations (e.g. at handover).
Each GBR bearer is additionally associated with the following bearer level QoS parameter:
- Guaranteed Bit Rate (GBR): the bit rate that can be expected to be provided by a GBR bearer,
Each APN access, by a UE, is associated with the following QoS parameter:
- per APN Aggregate Maximum Bit Rate (APN-AMBR).
Each UE in state EMM-REGISTERED is associated with the following bearer aggregate level QoS parameter:
- per UE Aggregate Maximum Bit Rate (UE-AMBR).
The GBR denotes bit rate of traffic per bearer while UE-AMBR/APN-AMBR denote bit rate of traffic per group of bearers. Each of those QoS parameters has an uplink and a downlink component.