Investigation on Interference Coordination Employing Almost Blank Subframes in Heterogeneous Networks for LTE-Advanced Downlink

Nobuhiko MIKI  Yuya SAITO  Masashige SHIRAKABE  Akihito MORIMOTO  Tetsushi ABE  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Communications   Vol.E95-B    No.4    pp.1208-1217
Publication Date: 2012/04/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1345
DOI: 10.1587/transcom.E95.B.1208
Print ISSN: 0916-8516
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Cognitive Radio and Heterogeneous Wireless Networks in Conjunction with Main Topics of CrownCom2011)
LTE-Advanced,  heterogeneous network,  inter-cell interference coordination,  almost blank subframes,  

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This paper investigates the application of inter-cell interference coordination (ICIC) in heterogeneous networks for the LTE-Advanced downlink where picocells are overlaid onto macrocells. In LTE-Advanced, in order to perform ICIC, almost blank subframes (ABSs) are employed, where only the cell-specific reference signal (CRS) is transmitted to protect the subframes in the picocells from severe interference from the macrocells. Furthermore, multicast/broadcast over single-frequency network (MBSFN) subframes are employed to reduce the interference of the CRS on the data channel, although the control channel still suffers from interference from the CRS. When the cell range expansion (CRE), which offload the UEs from macrocells to picocells, is used to improve the system performance, the influence from the CRS increases. In order to assess the influence, the required CRE bias to improve the data channel is investigated based on a system-level simulation under various conditions such as the number of picocells, the protected subframe ratio, and the user distribution. The simulation results show that the cell-edge user throughput is improved with the CRE bias of more than 8 dB, employing ABSs. Furthermore, simulation results show that one dominant source of interference is observed for the sets of user equipment (UEs) connected to the picocells via CRE with such a bias value. Based on observation, the influence that the CRS has on the control channel, i.e., physical control format indicator channel (PCFICH), and physical downlink control channel (PDCCH) is investigated based on a link-level simulation combined with a system-level simulation. The simulation results show that protecting the PCFICH is very important compared to protecting the PDCCH, since the block error rate (BLER) performance of the PCFICH becomes worse than the required BLER of 10-3 to support various conditions, although the BLER performance of the PDCCH can exceed the required BLER of 10-2 by spanning the PDCCH over three OFDM symbols.