EPS – The Network Architecture


Nodes Description

Evolved UTRAN

The evolved RAN for LTE consists of a single node, i.e., the eNodeB (eNB) that interfaces with the UE.  The eNB hosts the PHYsical (PHY), Medium Access Control (MAC), Radio Link Control (RLC), and Packet Data Control Protocol (PDCP) layers that include the functionality of user-plane header-compression and encryption. It also offers Radio Resource Control (RRC) functionality corresponding to the control plane. It performs many functions including radio resource management, admission control, scheduling, enforcement of negotiated UL QoS, cell information broadcast, ciphering/deciphering of user and control plane data, and compression/decompression of DL/UL user plane packet headers.


Serving Gateway (SGW) The SGW routes and forwards user data packets, while also acting as the mobility anchor for the user plane during inter-eNB handovers and as the anchor for mobility between LTE and other 3GPP technologies (terminating S4 interface and relaying the traffic between 2G/3G systems and PDN GW). For idle state UEs, the SGW terminates the DL data path and triggers paging when DL data arrives for the UE. It manages and stores UE contexts, e.g. parameters of the IP bearer service, network internal routing information. It also performs replication of the user traffic in case of lawful interception.

Mobility Management Entity (MME)

The MME is the key control-node for the LTE access-network. It is responsible for idle mode UE tracking and paging procedure including retransmissions. It is involved in the bearer activation/deactivation process and is also responsible for choosing the SGW for a UE at the initial attach and at time of intra-LTE handover involving Core Network (CN)
node relocation. It is responsible for authenticating the user (by interacting with the HSS). The Non-Access Stratum (NAS) signaling terminates at the MME and it is also responsible for generation and allocation of temporary identities to UEs. It checks the authorization of the UE to camp on the service provider’s Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) and enforces UE roaming restrictions. The MME is the termination point in the network for ciphering/integrity protection for NAS signaling and handles the security key management. Lawful interception of signaling is also supported by the MME. The MME also provides the control plane function for mobility between LTE and 2G/3G access networks with the S3 interface terminating at the MME from the SGSN. The MME also terminates the S6a interface towards the home HSS for roaming UEs.

Packet Data Network Gateway (PDN GW)
The PDN GW provides connectivity to the UE to external packet data networks by being the point of exit and entry of traffic for the UE. A UE may have simultaneous connectivity with more than one PDN GW for accessing multiple PDNs. The PDN GW performs policy enforcement, packet filtering for each user, charging support, lawful Interception and packet screening. Another key role of the PDN GW is to act as the anchor for mobility between 3GPP and non-3GPP technologies such as WiMAX and 3GPP2 (CDMA 1X and EvDO).

PCRF – Policy and Charging Rules Function

Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) is the software node designated in real-time to determine policy rules in a multimedia network. This particular component of LTE is responsible for supporting the detection of service data flow, the charging system based on this data flow, and policy enforcement.Unlike earlier policy engines that were added on to an existing network to enforce policy, the PCRF is a software component that operates at the network core and accesses subscriber databases and other specialized functions, such as a charging system, in a centralized manner.Because it operates in real time, the PCRF has an increased strategic significance and broader potential role than traditional policy engines. This has led to a proliferation of PCRF products since 2008.


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