An Efficient Uplink Multi-Connectivity Scheme for 5G mmWave Control Plane Applications

Marco Giordani, Marco Mezzavilla, Sundeep Rangan, Michele Zorzi

The millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies offer the potential of orders of magnitude increases in capacity for next-generation cellular systems. However, links in mmWave networks are susceptible to blockage and may suffer from rapid variations in quality. Connectivity to multiple cells - at mmWave and/or traditional frequencies - is considered essential for robust communication. One of the challenges in supporting multi-connectivity in mmWaves is the requirement for the network to track the direction of each link in addition to its power and timing. To address this challenge, we implement a novel uplink measurement system that, with the joint help of a local coordinator operating in the legacy band, guarantees continuous monitoring of the channel propagation conditions and allows for the design of efficient control plane applications, including handover, beam tracking and initial access. We show that an uplink-based multi-connectivity approach enables less consuming, better performing, faster and more stable cell selection and scheduling decisions with respect to a traditional downlink-based standalone scheme. Moreover, we argue that the presented framework guarantees (i) efficient tracking of the user in the presence of the channel dynamics expected at mmWaves, and (ii) fast reaction to situations in which the primary propagation path is blocked or not available.

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