Flat Cellular (UMTS) Networks

H.G.P. Bosch, L.G. Samuel, Sape J. Mullender, P. Polakos, G. Rittenhouse

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)
    132 Downloads (Pure)


    Traditionally, cellular systems have been built in a hierarchical manner: many specialized cellular access network elements that collectively form a hierarchical cellular system. When 2G and later 3G systems were designed there was a good reason to make system hierarchical: from a cost-perspective it was better to concentrate traffic and to share the cost of processing equipment over a large set of users while keeping the base stations relatively cheap. However, we believe the economic reasons for designing cellular systems in a hierarchical manner have disappeared: in fact, hierarchical architectures hinder future efficient deployments. In this paper, we argue for completely flat cellular wireless systems, which need just one type of specialized network element to provide radio access network (RAN) functionality, supplemented by standard IP-based network elements to form a cellular network. While the reason for building a cellular system in a hierarchical fashion has disappeared, there are other good reasons to make the system architecture flat: (1) as wireless transmission techniques evolve into hybrid ARQ systems, there is less need for a hierarchical cellular system to support spatial diversity; (2) we foresee that future cellular networks are part of the Internet, while hierarchical systems typically use interfaces between network elements that are specific to cellular standards or proprietary. At best such systems use IP as a transport medium, not as a core component; (3) a flat cellular system can be self scaling while a hierarchical system has inherent scaling issues; (4) moving all access technologies to the edge of the network enables ease of converging access technologies into a common packet core; and (5) using an IP common core makes the cellular network part of the Internet.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC)
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)1-4244-0659-5
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
    EventWireless Communications and Networking Conference, WCNC 2007 - Kowloon, Hong Kong
    Duration: 11 Mar 200715 Mar 2007

    Publication series

    PublisherIEEE Communications Society


    ConferenceWireless Communications and Networking Conference, WCNC 2007
    Abbreviated titleWCNC
    Country/TerritoryHong Kong
    Internet address


    • EWI-11568
    • IR-64533
    • METIS-245856


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