S1AP – Relative Capacity (87) on MME

In the S1-SETUP-RESPONSE and MME-CONFIGURATION-UPDATE there’s a RelativeMMECapacity (87) IE,

So what does it do?

Most eNBs support connections to multiple MMEs, for redundancy and scalability.

By returning a value from 0 to 255 the MME is able to indicate it’s available capacity to the eNB.

The eNB uses this information to determine which MME to dispatch to, for example:

MME PoolRelative Capacity
Example MME Pooling table

The eNB with the table above would likely dispatch any incoming traffic to MME002 as MME001 has very little at capacity.

If the capacity was at 1/255 then the MME would very rarely be used.

The exact mechanism for how the MME sets it’s relative capacity is up to the MME implementer, and may vary from MME to MME, but many MMEs support setting a base capacity (for example a less powerful MME you may want to set the relative capacity to make it look more utilised).

I looked to 3GPP to find what the spec says:

On S1, no specific procedure corresponds to the NAS node selection function.
The S1 interface supports the indication by the MME of its relative capacity to the eNB, in order to achieve loadbalanced MMEs within the pool area.

3GPP TS 36.410 – 5.9.2 NAS node selection function

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