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Mass event optimization

Hotspot LTE capacity with


evolution to 5G

Nokia white paper


Mass Event Optimization White Paper
Contents

1.Introduction 3
2. Mass event traffic profiles 3
3. LTE mass event solutions 6
4. LTE success cases 9
5. High capacity solutions in 5G 13
6. Mass event multicast experience in 5G 14
7. Conclusion 15
8. Further reading 15
9.Abbreviations 16

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1. Introduction
Smartphones are great tools for sharing pictures or videos of music idols
or sports stars at large mass events. At the same time, the heavy data
traffic that develops in a small area poses a challenge for the management
of radio network capacity. An additional challenge comes from the fact that
traffic profiles are different during mass events compared to normal days. In
particular, the networks tend to be uplink limited while also needing to carry
a lot of signaling. This white paper illustrates the main characteristics of mass
event traffic profiles, shows technical solutions for providing attractive end
user performance, presents example success cases and considers evolution
to 5G radio networks.

Figure 1: Mass events call for specific radio network solutions for providing
consistent end user performance

2. Mass event traffic profiles


Traffic in most mobile broadband networks is dominated by the downlink
because of video streaming, with a typical downlink to uplink ratio being 10:1.
This changes drastically during mass events and network capacity becomes
limited by the uplink as participants take pictures and videos and upload them
to social media. Downlink traffic is lower because there is little demand to
watch streamed video content during a live event. A typical volume of uplink
data during a mass event is several megabytes (MB) per person per hour,
which is substantially more than during normal busy hours in the network.
Also, call lengths tend to change during the mass event - the length of data
calls increases while that of voice calls shortens. The traffic characteristics are
summarized in Table 1.

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Normal day Mass event
Downlink : uplink 10:1 (downlink 1:1 .. 1:3 (uplink
asymmetry dominated) dominated)
3-10 MB/person/
Uplink data volume <1 MB/person/hour
hour
Voice calls 2 min, data Voice calls get shorter,
Call length
calls a few seconds data calls get longer

Table 1: Traffic characteristics during mass events

The downlink vs uplink asymmetry is illustrated in Figure 2. The data volume


per subscriber per hour is up to 5 MB in the downlink and 0.5 MB in the
uplink outside the mass event, while the downlink data volume drops during
the event at 20:00 and the uplink volume grows considerably. In some events,
the uplink volume may be three times greater than the downlink volume.
The volume of data traffic grows every year. We have collected the average
data volume in the uplink for a particular mass event in Asia in 2013, 2014
and 2015. The data volume for this event has grown from 65 kB per packet
call (enhanced Radio Access Bearer, eRAB) to 130 kB and to 210 kB. This
growth in data is driven by the ability of new smartphones to exchange and
use high quality pictures and videos.
The call length in the same mass event is illustrated in Figure 3. The data calls
(non-Guaranteed Bit Rate non-GBR eRAB) lengthen during the event simply
because the traffic volume in the uplink grows. At the same time, the length
of voice call (QCI1 VoLTE) reduces. However, data calls are still considerably
shorter than voice calls - just a few seconds compared to 1-2 minutes for
voice calls. The inactivity time is not included in the data call length in this
graph.

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Figure 2.

#subs per cell


DL Data Volume per Subs [MB]
UL Data Volume per Subs [MB]
450 6.0
400
Number of subscribers

5.0
350

Data volume [MB]


300 4.0
250
3.0
200
150 2.0
100
1.0
50
0 0.0

Figure 3.
2 Figure
Nokia2: Uplink (UL) vs downlink (DL) asymmetry changes during mass events
2016

in session timer per ERAB,


eRAB, QCI1
timerper
in session time perERAB,
eRAB,non-GBR
non-GBR
180 3.5
160 3.0
non-GBR [seconds]

140
QCI1 [seconds]

2.5
120
100 2.0
80 1.5
60
1.0
40
20 0.5

0 0.0

3 Figure 3:2016
Nokia eRAB session time changes during mass event
(QCI1 = VoLTE call. Non-GBR = data call)

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3. LTE mass event solutions
The main challenges of mass events relate to the uplink traffic, signaling
and interference management. If the network experiences congestion, the
applications tend to retry persistently, which can cause an avalanche of
signaling and interference that degrades the throughput of the network.
Solutions to improve end user performance include:
Centralized Radio Access Network (CRAN) for minimized uplink interference
with multi-antenna reception
Multi-band idle mode load balancing
Automatic access class barring to maintain stable operation under
extreme overload
Physical Downlink Control Channel (PDCCH) adaptation to prevent
congestion of the control channel
Physical Uplink Control Channel (PUCCH) optimization to maximize the
number of connected users
Uplink power control optimization to minimize interference
Traffic volume prediction for proper network dimensioning
Mass events are usually plagued by inter-cell interference because it
propagates well in the open area. Mobile transmission can create high
inter-cell interference in the traditional RAN, leading to a situation where only
a single cell receives the signal while the other cells receive just interference.
A Centralized RAN brings a major benefit to the uplink because the mobile
transmission is received by several RF units and is combined in the best way
in the baseband. The Centralized RAN concept is illustrated in Figure 4,
showing multiple RF heads connected to the common baseband pool. The
Figure 4. the next section illustrate that Centralized RAN can increase the
results in
uplink capacity by two to three times.

Fiber
RF
Heavy cell
overlapping
in open area

Baseband

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Figure 4: Centralized RAN solution

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Mass events use multiple frequencies to provide maximum capacity.
Efficient network algorithms are required to balance the load between these
frequencies. At the same time, excessive signaling should be avoided. The
preferred solution is based on idle mode load balancing. When the Radio
Resource Control (RRC) connection is released, the network can guide the
device to another frequency to balance the loading. There is no urgent need
to balance the loading of the RRC-connected devices because the typical RRC
connection is very short. It is enough to run the load balancing actions during
the release
Figure 5. of the connection. The solution is shown in Figure 5 and the
benefits are illustrated in Figure 6. The idle mode load balancing is enabled at
sample 27 and disabled at sample 40.

Band Number of connected UEs

2600

2100

1800 Load balancing in


RRC connection
800 release
Figure 6.
Figure 5: Idle mode load balancing solution

Low band (10MHz) High band (10MHz)


Number of call setup attempts

5 200000
Nokia 2016
180000
160000
140000
Load balancing
120000
100000
enabled
80000
Load balancing
60000 disabled
40000
20000
0
Sample 1
Sample 4
Sample 7

Sample 13
Sample 10

Sample 16
Sample 19
Sample 22
Sample 25
Sample 28
Sample 31
Sample 34
Sample 37
Sample 40
Sample 43
Sample 46
Sample 49

Figure
6 Nokia6: Idle mode load balancing benefits
2016

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Optimization of signaling capacity is critical in mass events. If the signaling
or connected user capacity is exhausted, the amount of interference and
signaling can increase sharply, degrading the network performance. It is
important to consider the optimization of PDCCH and PUCCH capacity to
avoid PDCCH congestion by applying aggregation and boosting transmission
power. High levels of aggregation can provide excellent reliability but it can
also eat into PDCCH resources, causing signaling congestion. Uplink PUCCH
is required to carry feedback signaling, for example Channel Quality Indicator
(CQI). PUCCH can also be a bottleneck, restricting the number of connected
users. Its configuration and dimensioning must be optimized to maximize
the number of users. Optimization is concerned with PUCCH size and CQI
frequency - a longer CQI period of 40 or 80 ms decreases the consumption of
PUCCH capacity and allows the maximum number of connected users. Control
channel congestion can be measured via the utilization of the Control Channel
Element (CCE), which should remain well below 100 percent.
If the amount of traffic greatly exceeds the network capacity, it is important
to manage the overload and avoid signaling congestion. If there is an
avalanche of retries by smartphone applications, signaling can explode,
leading to high interference levels and low network utilization. Signaling
congestion can be avoided by automatic access barring. When the cell is
subject to a high signaling load, the network gives a probability value for each
access class so that only some devices are allowed to send RRC connection
requests. This solution does not require a separate access class but all devices
can use the same access class. The solution is dynamic and every device will
be served eventually. The network efficiency improves when unnecessary
signaling can be avoided.
Uplink power control in LTE has more flexibility than in WCDMA because of
intra-cell orthogonality. LTE power control still needs to be optimized to
minimize the inter-cell interference, particularly in open areas of mass events.
The lessons learned are power control needs to be configured conservatively
- preferably in open loop mode instead of closed loop mode, the signal level
target should be relatively low and only partial compensation of the path
loss is needed to minimize the interference generated. Figure 7 illustrates
the amount of signaling and the uplink interference levels. There is a clear
correlation. The power control parameters have been properly configured
in this example since the interference was increased by only 5 dB even under
extreme loading.

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Figure 7.

RRCattempts
RRC setup attempts LTE_753C Uplink interference
Avg RSSI PUSCH, LTE_5444B

25,00,000 -95
-96
20,00,000
-97
RRC attempts

15,00,000 -98

dBm
-99
10,00,000 -100
-101
5,00,000
-102
0 -103

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Figure 7: Correlation between signaling and uplink interference

The network dimensioning for mass events could consider the traffic
prediction from the earlier events. The general traffic growth is more than
50 percent per year, which needs to be considered in the event dimensioning.
If the network is under-dimensioned, the end user performance will degrade
even if the network is properly optimized. Assuming 50,000 participants and
35 percent operator market share and 5 MB/person/hour leads to 88 GB/hour
uplink traffic volume. Assuming uplink spectral efficiency of 1 bps/Hz/cell, this
gives a maximum of 9 GB/hour with a 20 MHz cell. Even under very ideal traffic
distribution between cells, we would need 10 cells at 20 MHz or 20 cells at 10
MHz. In practice, even more cells are required since the traffic is never ideally
distributed between them.

4. LTE success cases


This section illustrates a few examples of excellent mass event performance
achieved with optimization solutions. The benefits of Centralized RAN are
shown in Figure 8 and in Figure 9. The statistics are taken from a football
game in Europe where CRAN was off during the first half and on during
the second half. The uplink data volume grew by a factor of 2.2, while the
PRB utilization decreased by 38 percent, corresponding to a gain in uplink
efficiency of 3.5. The massive benefit comes from the combination of the
signal from the multiple RF heads boosting signal levels and minimizing the
interference.

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Figure 8.

Uplink data volume


9000
8000
7000
6000
MB/15 min

5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
0
Figure 9. CRAN off CRAN on

Figure 8: The benefit of Centralized RAN for uplink data volume


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Uplink PRB usage


35%

30%

25%
PRB usage

20%

15%

10%

5%

0
CRAN off CRAN on

Figure
9
9: The benefit of Centralized RAN for uplink PRB usage
Nokia 2016

Figure 10 illustrates a huge data volume from a mass event in Asia. The uplink
data volume also exceeds the downlink volume in this event. The uplink data
peaked at 430 GB per hour during the event, corresponding to approx. 1 Gbps
average data rate. The downlink data peaked at 600 GB per hour just before
the main event. Figure 11 shows the number of packet calls (enhanced Radio
Access Bearer, eRAB) during the same event. The peak hour experienced more
than three million packet calls per hour, corresponding to nearly one packet
call every millisecond.

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Figure 10.

DL data volume [MB], event day UL data volume [MB], event day
7,00,000

6,00,000
Total Datavolume [MB]

5,00,000

4,00,000

3,00,000

2,00,000

1,00,000

0
12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00
Figure 11.
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Figure10: Data volume in a mass event

eRAB Setup Attempts per hour


3500000

3000000

2500000

2000000

1500000

1000000

500000

0
0:00
1:00
2:00
3:00
4:00
5:00
6:00
7:00
8:00
9:00
10:00

12:00
13:00
14:00
15:00
16:00
17:00

19:00
20:00
21:00
22:00
23:00
11:00

18:00

Figure11:
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Packet call attempts during a mass event

Control plane congestion can be measured through Control Channel Element


(CCE) utilization, which is illustrated as a function of uplink PRB utilization as
shown in Figure 12. The target is to ensure that the control channel is not
the limiting factor in the system. The design has been successful since the
CCE utilization peaks at 70 percent when the uplink PRB utilization hits 100
percent.

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Figure 12.

100%

80%
CCE Utilization

60%

40%

20%

0%
0 20 40 60 80 100
UL PRB Utilization [%]
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Figure12: Control Channel Element (CCE) utilization

The setup success rate for voice (VoLTE) calls is shown in Figure 13. The
performance was excellent at more than 99.5 percent success rate, even
during the
Figure 13.event peak hour. VoLTE calls have higher priority than data calls,
but the prioritization only works properly if the signaling and interference can
be managed efficiently.

VoLTE setup success rate

100.0
99.0
98.0
97.0
96.0
95.0
94.0
93.0
92.0
91.0
90.0
00:00
01:00
02:00
03:00
04:00
05:00
06:00
07:00
08:00
09:00
10:00
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:00
15:00
16:00
17:00
18:00
19:00
20:00
21:00
22:00
23:00

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Figure13: VoLTE setup success rate in a mass event

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5. High capacity solutions in 5G
LTE radio still has much room for growth in capabilities, spectrum usage and
cell density. LTE-Advanced Pro is the next phase of LTE evolution, taking LTE
capabilities closer to 5G targets. 5G radio will provide a massive boost in both
data rates and hot spot capacity for the next decade. The improvement comes
from two factors, larger bandwidth and higher base station density.
Figure 14 illustrates the hot spot capacity in terms of Gbps per km2 with
the different spectrum options. The assumptions are listed in Table 2. The
starting point is a typical LTE deployment with 20 sites per km2 with 40 MHz
of downlink spectrum. We assume spectral efficiency of 2.0 bps/Hz/cell and
a traffic distribution factor of 4.0, which means that the highest loaded cell
carries four times more data than the average cell. This deployment provides
a capacity of 1 Gbps/km2.
The capacity can be increased with 5G or LTE by using all the spectrum below
6 GHz, including unlicensed bands, by increasing the site density to 50/km2
and by using new LTE evolution and 5G features to boost spectral efficiency.
We assume that the traffic distribution factor increases with higher site
density because the traffic will likely become less equally distributed in the
small cells. This scenario can provide up to 10 Gbps/km2.
A further boost to capacity can be obtained by using centimeter waves where
a lot more spectrum is available. The site density needs to be high because
of the propagation characteristics at high frequencies. The cm-wave scenario
with 600 MHz of spectrum can provide 100 Gbps/km2. Using millimeter waves
brings even more spectrum and a higher site density, making 1 Tbps/km2
possible. That is a huge capacity when we consider that the total amount
of mobile data in China is currently a few Tbps for the whole country for all
operators together, and below Tbps in most small countries. The aim in 5G
is to provide such high capacity in one square kilometer, not for the whole
country.

LTE today LTE/5G sub 6 GHz 5G at cm waves 5G at mm waves

Bandwidth 40 MHz 200 MHz 600 MHz 2000 MHz

Site density 20/km2 50/km2 150/km2 300/km2

Sectors per site 2.5 2.5 3.0 4.0


Spectral
2.0 bps/Hz/cell 4.0 bps/Hz/cell 6.0 bps/Hz/cell 6.0 bps/Hz/cell
efficiency
Traffic
distribution 4.0 10.0 15.0 15.0
factor
Resulting traffic
1.0 Gbps/km2 10 Gbps/km2 108 Gbps/km2 960 Gbps/km2
density
Table 2: Assumptions for 5G capacity evaluation
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Figure 14.

Spectrum Per operator in


[MHz] 5G at mm
downlink
2000 MHz >1 Tbps
5G at cm /km2

600 MHz 5G/LTE at 100 Gbps


<6 GHz /km2
200 MHz 10 Gbps
LTE today /km2

40 MHz 1 Gbps
/km2
Site density [/km2]

20/km2 50/km2 150/km2 300/km2

Figure 14: Hot spot capacity with 5G centimeter and millimeter waves
14 Nokia 2016

6. Mass event multicast experience in 5G


The impressive capabilities of 5G make it possible to enhance the customer
stadium experience still further. 5G can augment the real stadium experience
with live video feeds from different camera positions without any delay. Users
could even switch the camera angle and get a truly instant replay. The video
would also be in 4K or 8K (HD or UHD quality). Zero-delay augmented reality
will free event visitors from their fixed seat.
For a great user experience, the real world and 4K/8K multicast video are
in instantaneous synchronization. This could form the basis for a new paid
service for event attendees, particularly those far from the action, generating
revenue for the operator and event organizer. Such a mass event experience is
enabled by live multi-cast synchronous and instantaneous data transmission
across a large number of devices. Nokia demonstrated such a 5G multicast
experience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2016. This is
illustrated in Figure 15.

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Figure 15.

Multi-cast
system
Low latency
frame structure

Reliable, synchronous,
zero latency multi-cast

15 Nokia 2016
Figure 15: Low latency 5G multicast experience at stadium

7. Conclusion
Designing radio networks for mass events requires special attention to
providing an attractive end user performance. Networks tend to be uplink
limited during mass events and the uplink data volume per subscriber can
increase by a factor of 10. Combined with a high density of people in a small
open area, this makes network design a challenge.
Nokia provides solutions for boosting mass event performance. Centralized
RAN triples uplink capacity by combining signals and by minimizing
interference. Other solutions are dynamic load balancing and control channel
optimization. A few success cases show more than 1 Gbps combined uplink
throughput in a mass event and with more than three million packets calls per
hour while still providing excellent success rates.
5G radio can substantially increase the capacity up to 1 Tbps per km2 in hot
spots. 5G opens completely new capabilities to enjoy stadium events with
a low latency multicast experience, where participants can get virtual zero
latency access to different cameras and viewpoints.

8. Further reading
Nokia 5G innovations
Nokia Pop-up Network
Mass event solutions
Mass event white paper
5G stadium
LTE-Advanced Pro

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9. Abbreviations
CCE Control Channel Element
CQI Channel Quality Indicator
CRAN Centralized Radio Access Network
eRAB Enhanced Radio Access Bearer
LTE Long Term Evolution
MIMO Multiple Input Multiple Output
PDCCH Physical Downlink Control Channel
PRB Physical Resource Block
PUCCH Physical Uplink Control Channel
QCI Quality of Service Class Identifier
RRC Radio Resource Control
VoLTE Voice over LTE

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Nokia 2016

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