As we covered in the last post, the Packet Gateway (P-GW) handles decapsulating and encapsulating this traffic into GTP from external networks, and vise-versa. The Packet Gateway sends the traffic onto a Serving Gateway, that forwards the GTP-U traffic onto the eNodeB serving the user.
So why not just route the traffic from the Packet Gateway directly to the eNodeB?
As our users are inherently mobile, the signalling load to keep updating the destination of the incoming GTP-U traffic to the correct eNB, would put an immense load on the P-GW. So an intermediary gateway – the Serving Gateway (S-GW), is introduced.
The S-GW handles the mobility between cells, and takes the load of the P-GW. The P-GW just hands the traffic to a S-GW and let’s the S-GW handle the mobility.
It’s worth keeping in mind that most LTE connections are not “always on”. Subscribers (UEs) go into “Idle Mode”, in which the data connection and the radio connection is essentially paused, and able to be bought back at a moments notice (this allows us to get better battery life on the UE and better frequency utilisation).
When a user enters Idle Mode, an incoming packet needs to be buffered until the Subscriber/UE can get paged and come back online. Again this function is handled by the S-GW; buffering packets until the UE comes available then forwarding them on.
As we’ve seen earlier, the eNB needs a connection to an MME and a S-GW.
However different eNBs may connect to different S-GWs or different MMEs, and our UE may connect to any eNB, so we need a way to handover between S-GWs and MMEs.
Handover to new S-GW
Let’s take a look at a scenario where a UE is moving from one eNB to another, and each of the two eNBs is in a different S-GW.
At the start we have a connection from the MME to the S-GW, a GTP-C tunnel for control information and a GTP-U tunnel (called the S5/58 bearer) that carriers the user data over GTP-U between the P-GW and the S-GW.
As the UE moves to the eNB in TA2 we need the MME to modify the tunnel from the P-GW to the S-GW to change it from connecting the P-GW to the old S-GW and instead connecting the P-GW to the new S-GW.
The MME establishes a new tunnel for control to the new S-GW, and sends a message to the new S-GW to modify the tunnel from the P-GW to the old S-GW to point to the new S-GW.
Handover to new MME
Want more telecom goodness?
I have a good old fashioned RSS feed you can subscribe to.