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Inter-radio access technology measurement system and method

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20130012137 patent thumbnailZoom

Inter-radio access technology measurement system and method


A network access device is provided with one or more processors configured for macrotechnology-based transmission to a multi-mode user equipment of a signal including a plurality of data portions and a plurality of gaps between one or more of the plurality of data portions, wherein at least one of the gaps is used by the multi-mode user equipment for measurement of a first signal strength of a microtechnology-based network.
Related Terms: Macro

Browse recent Research In Motion Limited patents - Waterloo, CA
Inventors: Zhijun Cai, Gordon Peter Young, Takashi Suzuki, Wei Wu, James Earl Womack
USPTO Applicaton #: #20130012137 - Class: 455 6711 (USPTO) - 01/10/13 - Class 455 
Telecommunications > Transmitter And Receiver At Separate Stations >Having Measuring, Testing, Or Monitoring Of System Or Part

Inventors:

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20130012137, Inter-radio access technology measurement system and method.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/271,945 filed on Oct. 12, 2011 by Zhijun Cai, et al. entitled, “Inter-Radio Access Technology Measurement System and Method” (32781-US-CNT; 4214-03908) which is a continuation of and claims priority to U.S. Pat. No. 8,089,933 issued on Jan. 3, 2012 entitled “Inter-Radio Access Technology Measurement System and Method” (32781-US-PAT; 4214-03900) which are incorporated by reference herein as if reproduced in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

Easily transportable devices with wireless telecommunications capabilities, such as mobile telephones, personal digital assistants, handheld computers, and similar devices, will be referred to herein as user equipment (UE). A communications connection between two UEs can be referred to as a call or a session.

As telecommunications technology has evolved, more advanced equipment has been introduced that can provide services that were not possible previously. This advanced equipment might include, for example, an Enhanced Node B (ENB) rather than a base station or other systems and devices that are more highly evolved than the equivalent equipment in a traditional wireless telecommunications system. Such advanced or next generation equipment may be referred to herein as long-term evolution (LTE) equipment.

In traditional wireless telecommunications systems, transmission equipment in a base station transmits signals throughout a geographic region known as a cell. For LTE and other advanced equipment, the region in which a UE can gain access to a telecommunications network might be referred to by a different name, such as a hot spot. The term “cell” will be used herein to refer to any region in which a UE can gain access to a telecommunications network, regardless of the type of UE and regardless of whether the region is a traditional cell, a region served by LTE equipment such as an ENB, or some other region or location in which wireless telecommunications services are available.

Different UEs might use different types of radio access technology (RAT) to access a telecommunications network. Some UEs, which can be referred to as multi-domain UEs or multi-mode UEs, are capable of communicating using more than one RAT. For example, multi-mode UEs may include UEs that can obtain service from at least one mode of UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), and one or more different systems such as GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) bands or other radio systems. As defined herein, multi-mode UEs may be of any various type of multi-mode UE as defined or provided in 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), Technical Specification Group (TSG) Terminals, Multi-Mode UE Issues, Categories, Principles, and Procedures (3G TR 21.910), which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes. Often examples of RATs or of network technologies that might use different types of RATs include Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA2000), UTRAN (UTMS Terrestrial Radio Access Network), GSM, GSM EDGE Radio Access Network (GERAN), Generic Access Network (GAN), Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), 1× Evolution-Data Optimized (1× EV-DO), High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT), and High Rate Packet Data (HRPD). Other RATs or other network technologies based on these RATs may be familiar to one of skill in the art.

Some technologies, such as GSM and CDMA, may be publicly licensed and regulated and serve cells that cover large geographic areas. Such technologies will be referred to herein as macrotechnologies and the cells that they serve will be referred to as macrocells. Other technologies, such as WiFi and home enhanced node B, may be privately managed and serve cells that cover small spaces such as homes, businesses, or limited publicly accessible areas. Such technologies will be referred to herein as microtechnologies and the cells that they serve will be referred to as microcells.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of this disclosure, reference is now made to the following brief description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings and detailed description, wherein like reference numerals represent like parts.

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a telecommunications system according to an embodiment of the disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a diagram of a data transmission according to an embodiment of the disclosure.

FIG. 3 is a diagram of a method for measuring signal strength according to an embodiment of the disclosure.

FIG. 4 is a diagram of a wireless communications system including a user equipment operable for some of the various embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a user equipment operable for some of the various embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 6 is a diagram of a software environment that may be implemented on a user equipment operable for some of the various embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary general-purpose computer system suitable for implementing the several embodiments of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It should be understood at the outset that although illustrative implementations of one or more embodiments of the present disclosure are provided below, the disclosed systems and/or methods may be implemented using any number of techniques, whether currently known or in existence. The disclosure should in no way be limited to the illustrative implementations, drawings, and techniques illustrated below, including the exemplary designs and implementations illustrated and described herein, but may be modified within the scope of the appended claims along with their full scope of equivalents.

In an embodiment, a multi-mode user equipment is provided. The multi-mode user equipment includes a processor configured to promote measurement of a signal strength of a microtechnology-based network during a portion of a macrotechnology-based communication from a network component to the multi-mode user equipment. The signal strength of the microtechnology-based network is measured during a portion of the macrotechnology-based communication when no user data is being transmitted.

In another embodiment, a method for measuring signal strength is provided. The method includes creating a gap in a data transmission of a macrotechnology-based communication and measuring a signal strength of a microtechnology-based network during the gap in the data transmission of the macrotechnology-based communication.

In another embodiment, a macrotechnology-based system is provided. The system includes a processor configured to promote macrotechnology-based transmission to a multi-mode user equipment of a signal including a plurality of data portions and a plurality of gaps between one or more of the plurality of data portions, at least one of the gaps used by the multi-mode user equipment for measurement of a signal strength of a microtechnology-based network.

As a UE that is engaged in a call in a macrocell approaches a microcell, it may become desirable to hand the call off from the macrocell to the microcell. For example, since a call made via WiFi might be less expensive than a call made via GSM, a UE user might wish to have an existing GSM call handed off to a WiFi network in the user\'s home upon arriving at the home. Therefore, a UE might need to measure the quality of the signal it receives from a microcell to determine if a call can be handed off to the microcell. In other situations, microcell signal quality measurements might be made for other reasons.

FIG. 1 illustrates a situation in which such a measurement might occur. A UE 10 is moving from a macrotechnology-based network 20 toward a microtechnology-based network 30. The macrotechnology-based network 20 includes an ENB 40, a traditional base station, or a similar component. Hereinafter, any such macrotechnology-based component will be referred to as the ENB 40. The macrotechnology-based network 20 serves a macrocell 50, and the microtechnology-based network 30 serves a microcell 60 within the macrocell 50. The UE 10 may be engaged in a macrotechnology-based call via the ENB 40. That is, the ENB 40 is transmitting macrotechnology-based data 100 to the UE 10 or is otherwise in communication with the UE 10.

The ENB 40 and the microtechnology-based network 30 transmits pilot signals (e.g. beacon in WiFi) that the UE 10 can measure to determine whether the call should continue through the ENB 40 or should be handed off to the microtechnology-based network 30. The pilot signal from the ENB 40 might extend throughout the macrocell 50, while the pilot signal from the microtechnology-based network 30 might cover only the small area of the microcell 60. When the UE 10 is a large distance from the microcell 60, the UE 10 might not be able to detect the pilot signal from the microtechnology-based network 30. As the UE 10 approaches the microcell 60, the strength of the pilot signal from the microtechnology-based network 30 might increase to a level that indicates that a handoff of the call from the ENB 40 to the microtechnology-based network 30 may be possible.

In some cases, the UE 10 might make periodic measurements of the strength of the pilot signal from the microtechnology-based network 30 to determine if that signal is sufficiently strong to allow a handoff from the ENB 40 to the microtechnology-based network 30. These measurements might be made regardless of the location of the UE 10. In other cases, the UE 10 might use techniques that are beyond the scope of this disclosure to determine when it is close to the microtechnology-based network 30 and might make measurements of the strength of the pilot signal from the microtechnology-based network 30 only when it is in the proximity of the microtechnology-based network 30.

FIG. 2 illustrates a detailed view of the data transmission 100 from the ENB 40 to the UE 10. The transmission 100 consists of a series data strings 110 separated by transmission gaps 120 during which no data is transmitted. The data strings 110 might represent portions of a voice call or of some other type of a user-directed data transmission. During the gaps 120, no user-directed data is transmitted, and the UE 10 can use the gaps 120 to measure the strengths of the pilot signals that it receives from other macrocells using different radio technologies or frequencies. If the UE 10 finds a pilot signal from another macrocell using different radio technologies or frequencies that is sufficiently stronger than the pilot signal from the current serving ENB 40, an inter-RAT (Radio Access Technology) or inter-frequency handoff to the other macrocell using different radio technologies or frequencies might be initiated.

Different macrotechnology RATs might use different patterns of data strings 110 and transmission gaps 120. For example, GSM might have data strings 110 and transmission gaps 120 with a first set of sizes, and CDMA might have data strings 110 and transmission gaps 120 with a second set of sizes. The ENB 40 may specify the gap pattern that is in use in its macrocell 50 and provide this information to the UEs 10 in the macrocell 50. In this way, the UEs 10 can be aware of when the gaps 120 will occur and pilot signal strength measurements for other macrocells can be made.

Such a handoff procedure may not be possible for a macrocell-to-microcell handoff. As mentioned above, a multi-mode UE might be able to communicate using either a microtechnology or a macrotechnology and thus may be capable of having its calls handed off from a macrocell to a microcell. However, some multi-mode UEs may not be able to communicate in both a microtechnology and a macrotechnology simultaneously. When such a UE performs signal strength measurements to determine if a macrocell-to-microcell handoff can take place, it may not be possible for the measurements to occur in the manner described above for a macrocell-to-macrocell handoff.

For example, the UE 10 might not be able to perform a measurement of the strength of a microtechnology-based pilot signal from the microtechnology-based network 30 while the UE 10 is receiving one of the macrotechnology-based data strings 110, since such a measurement might require the simultaneous reception of the microtechnology-based pilot signal and the macrotechnology-based data string 110. Similarly, a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement might not be possible in one of the transmission gaps 120, since a measurement of the strength of a macrotechnology-based pilot signal might be occurring at that time.

In an embodiment, one of a plurality of techniques might be used to perform a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement when a macrotechnology-based call is in progress on a multi-mode UE. These techniques, while described as applying to a macrocell-to-microcell handoff, may also be applicable to a microcell-to-macrocell handoff.

In a first technique, a new common measurement gap pattern is defined. As mentioned above, each different type of RAT has traditionally used a different pattern of data strings 110 and transmission gaps 120. In this embodiment, a gap pattern is defined that can be used by a plurality of RATs. For example, a first gap 120 in the gap pattern might be dedicated for use by a first RAT, a second gap 120 in the gap pattern might be dedicated for use by a second RAT, and so on. The UE 10 could then make a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement in one of the transmission gaps 120 in this gap pattern and could make a macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement in another of these transmission gaps 120.

In an alternative of this technique, a common gap pattern could be defined that allows a plurality of pilot signal strength measurements to occur in each of a plurality of gaps 120. For example, in a first gap 120, a first macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement and a second macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement might take place. In a second gap 120, a first microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement and a second microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement might take place. Alternatively, in a first gap 120, a first macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement and a first microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement might take place, and in a second gap 120, a second macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement and a second microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement might take place.

In a second technique, one or more of the transmission gaps 120 are used to perform microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurements instead of macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurements. That is, in at least one of the transmission gaps 120, the UE 10 does not make a macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement as it typically would, but instead makes a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement. For example, when the UE 10 is receiving a GSM-based data transmission 100, the UE 10 might traditionally make a GSM-based pilot signal strength measurement in each of the gaps 120 in the transmission 100. In the second technique, however, instead of a GSM-based pilot signal strength measurement, the UE 10 might make a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement in one or more of the gaps 120.

In a third technique, the UE 10 requests the ENB 40 to create a new transmission gap 120 in which a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement can be made. Traditionally, the ENB 40 assigned the transmission gaps 120 and the UE 10 made use of the gaps 120 as assigned without any input from the UE 10 to the ENB 40. In this embodiment, however, the UE 10 explicitly requests the ENB 40 to assign a gap or a gap pattern specifically for use by the UE 10. In the request, the UE 10 might specify the parameters of the measurement it wishes to make, such as the type of RAT for which the UE 10 wishes to make the measurement. Since the ENB 40 controls the scheduling of the data strings 110 and transmission gaps 120, the ENB 40 can assign the gap 120 as requested and can then inform the UE 10 as to when the gap 120 is scheduled to occur. The UE 10 can then use the newly assigned gap 120 to make a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement.

In a fourth technique, the UE 10 uses idle time within the data strings 110 to make microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurements. In the data string portion 110 of the data transmission 100, a technique known as discontinuous reception (DRX) is sometimes used. In DRX, data may be transmitted from the ENB 40 to the UE 10 during only a small portion of the data string 110. For example, if one of the data strings 110 lasts a relatively longer period of time, such as 20 milliseconds, data may be transmitted for only a relatively shorter portion of that time, such as a few milliseconds, and the remaining time may be idle time. In an embodiment, the UE 10 can make a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement during one of these idle periods in one of the data strings 110.

In a fifth technique, the size of the transmission gaps 120 is increased to allow both a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement and a macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement in a single transmission gap 120. For example, one of the transmission gaps 120 might traditionally have lasted 5 milliseconds, and a macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement might have occupied the majority of this 5 millisecond period. In an embodiment, such a transmission gap 120 might be increased to 10 milliseconds, for example. Of this 10 millisecond period, approximately 5 milliseconds might still be occupied by the macrotechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement, and a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement might be made in the remaining 5 milliseconds.

These five techniques can be categorized in different ways. In one embodiment, the first, second, fourth, and fifth techniques are placed in the same category because these techniques involve the ENB 40 assigning gaps 120 for use by the UE 10 without any input from the UE 10. The third technique is placed in a different category because this technique involves the UE 10 making a request to the ENB 40 for gaps 120 in which measurements can be made.

In another embodiment, the first, second, third, and fifth techniques are placed in the same category because these techniques involve the UE 10 making measurements during the transmission gaps 120. The fourth technique is placed in a different category because this technique involves the UE 10 making measurements within the data strings 110.

FIG. 3 illustrates an embodiment of a method 300 for measuring the strength of a pilot signal from a microtechnology-based network. At block 310, a gap in a macrotechnology-based data transmission from a network component to a UE is created. The gap might be created by the network component assigning the gap without input from the UE, or the gap might be created based on a request from the UE to the network component. At block 320, the UE performs a microtechnology-based pilot signal strength measurement in the gap.

As mentioned above, microtechnologies and the cells that they serve may be referred to as microcells. However microtechnologies may not be the only technologies capable of providing macro and micro cells, and some technologies may be considered capable of being operated in macro and macro cell configurations. FIG. 4 illustrates a wireless communications system including an embodiment of the UE 10. The UE 10 is operable for implementing aspects of the disclosure, but the disclosure should not be limited to these implementations. Though illustrated as a mobile phone, the UE 10 may take various forms including a wireless handset, a pager, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a portable computer, a tablet computer, or a laptop computer. Many suitable devices combine some or all of these functions. In some embodiments of the disclosure, the UE 10 is not a general purpose computing device like a portable, laptop or tablet computer, but rather is a special-purpose communications device such as a mobile phone, a wireless handset, a pager, a PDA, or a telecommunications device installed in a vehicle. In another embodiment, the UE 10 may be a portable, laptop or other computing device. The UE 10 may support specialized activities such as gaming, inventory control, job control, and/or task management functions, and so on.

The UE 10 includes a display 402. The UE 10 also includes a touch-sensitive surface, a keyboard or other input keys generally referred as 404 for input by a user. The keyboard may be a full or reduced alphanumeric keyboard such as QWERTY, Dvorak, AZERTY, and sequential types, or a traditional numeric keypad with alphabet letters associated with a telephone keypad. The input keys may include a trackwheel, an exit or escape key, a trackball, and other navigational or functional keys, which may be inwardly depressed to provide further input function. The UE 10 may present options for the user to select, controls for the user to actuate, and/or cursors or other indicators for the user to direct.

The UE 10 may further accept data entry from the user, including numbers to dial or various parameter values for configuring the operation of the UE 10. The UE 10 may further execute one or more software or firmware applications in response to user commands. These applications may configure the UE 10 to perform various customized functions in response to user interaction. Additionally, the UE 10 may be programmed and/or configured over-the-air, for example from a wireless base station, a wireless access point, or a peer UE 10.

Among the various applications executable by the UE 10 are a web browser, which enables the display 402 to show a web page. The web page may be obtained via wireless communications with a wireless network access node, a cell tower, a peer UE 10, or any other wireless communication network or system 400. The network 400 is coupled to a wired network 408, such as the Internet. Via the wireless link and the wired network, the UE 10 has access to information on various servers, such as a server 410. The server 410 may provide content that may be shown on the display 402. Alternately, the UE 10 may access the network 400 through a peer UE 10 acting as an intermediary, in a relay type or hop type of connection.

FIG. 5 shows a block diagram of the UE 10. While a variety of known components of UEs 10 are depicted, in an embodiment a subset of the listed components and/or additional components not listed may be included in the UE 10. The UE 10 includes a digital signal processor (DSP) 502 and a memory 504. As shown, the UE 10 may further include an antenna and front end unit 506, a radio frequency (RF) transceiver 508, an analog baseband processing unit 510, a microphone 512, an earpiece speaker 514, a headset port 516, an input/output interface 518, a removable memory card 520, a universal serial bus (USB) port 522, a short range wireless communication sub-system 524, an alert 526, a keypad 528, a liquid crystal display (LCD), which may include a touch sensitive surface 530, an LCD controller 532, a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera 534, a camera controller 536, and a global positioning system (GPS) sensor 538. In an embodiment, the UE 10 may include another kind of display that does not provide a touch sensitive screen. In an embodiment, the DSP 502 may communicate directly with the memory 504 without passing through the input/output interface 518.

The DSP 502 or some other form of controller or central processing unit operates to control the various components of the UE 10 in accordance with embedded software or firmware stored in memory 504 or stored in memory contained within the DSP 502 itself. In addition to the embedded software or firmware, the DSP 502 may execute other applications stored in the memory 504 or made available via information carrier media such as portable data storage media like the removable memory card 520 or via wired or wireless network communications. The application software may comprise a compiled set of machine-readable instructions that configure the DSP 502 to provide the desired functionality, or the application software may be high-level software instructions to be processed by an interpreter or compiler to indirectly configure the DSP 502.

The antenna and front end unit 506 may be provided to convert between wireless signals and electrical signals, enabling the UE 10 to send and receive information from a cellular network or some other available wireless communications network or from a peer UE 10. In an embodiment, the antenna and front end unit 506 may include multiple antennas to support beam forming and/or multiple input multiple output (MIMO) operations. As is known to those skilled in the art, MIMO operations may provide spatial diversity which can be used to overcome difficult channel conditions and/or increase channel throughput. The antenna and front end unit 506 may include antenna tuning and/or impedance matching components, RF power amplifiers, and/or low noise amplifiers.

The RF transceiver 508 provides frequency shifting, converting received RF signals to baseband and converting baseband transmit signals to RF. In some descriptions a radio transceiver or RF transceiver may be understood to include other signal processing functionality such as modulation/demodulation, coding/decoding, interleaving/deinterleaving, spreading/despreading, inverse fast Fourier transforming (IFFT)/fast Fourier transforming (FFT), cyclic prefix appending/removal, and other signal processing functions. For the purposes of clarity, the description here separates the description of this signal processing from the RF and/or radio stage and conceptually allocates that signal processing to the analog baseband processing unit 510 and/or the DSP 502 or other central processing unit. In some embodiments, the RF Transceiver 508, portions of the Antenna and Front End 506, and the analog baseband processing unit 510 may be combined in one or more processing units and/or application specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

The analog baseband processing unit 510 may provide various analog processing of inputs and outputs, for example analog processing of inputs from the microphone 512 and the headset 516 and outputs to the earpiece 514 and the headset 516. To that end, the analog baseband processing unit 510 may have ports for connecting to the built-in microphone 512 and the earpiece speaker 514 that enable the UE 10 to be used as a cell phone. The analog baseband processing unit 510 may further include a port for connecting to a headset or other hands-free microphone and speaker configuration. The analog baseband processing unit 510 may provide digital-to-analog conversion in one signal direction and analog-to-digital conversion in the opposing signal direction. In some embodiments, at least some of the functionality of the analog baseband processing unit 510 may be provided by digital processing components, for example by the DSP 502 or by other central processing units.

The DSP 502 may perform modulation/demodulation, coding/decoding, interleaving/deinterleaving, spreading/despreading, inverse fast Fourier transforming (IFFT)/fast Fourier transforming (FFT), cyclic prefix appending/removal, and other signal processing functions associated with wireless communications. In an embodiment, for example in a code division multiple access (CDMA) technology application, for a transmitter function the DSP 502 may perform modulation, coding, interleaving, and spreading, and for a receiver function the DSP 502 may perform despreading, deinterleaving, decoding, and demodulation. In another embodiment, for example in an orthogonal frequency division multiplex access (OFDMA) technology application, for the transmitter function the DSP 502 may perform modulation, coding, interleaving, inverse fast Fourier transforming, and cyclic prefix appending, and for a receiver function the DSP 502 may perform cyclic prefix removal, fast Fourier transforming, deinterleaving, decoding, and demodulation. In other wireless technology applications, yet other signal processing functions and combinations of signal processing functions may be performed by the DSP 502.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20130012137 A1
Publish Date
01/10/2013
Document #
13613795
File Date
09/13/2012
USPTO Class
455 6711
Other USPTO Classes
455 39
International Class
/
Drawings
7


Macro


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