A survey on 3GPP heterogeneous networks
As the spectral efficiency of a point-to-point link in cellular networks approaches its theoretical limits, with the forecasted explosion of data traffic, there is a need for an increase in the node density to further improve network capacity. However, in already dense deployments in today's networks, cell splitting gains can be severely limited by high inter-cell interference. Moreover, high capital expenditure cost associated with high power macro nodes further limits viability of such an approach. This article discusses the need for an alternative strategy, where low power nodes are overlaid within a macro network, creating what is referred to as a heterogeneous network. We survey current state of the art in heterogeneous deployments and focus on 3GPP LTE air interface to describe future trends. A high-level overview of the 3GPP LTE air interface, network nodes, and spectrum allocation options is provided, along with the enabling mechanisms for heterogeneous deployments. Interference management techniques that are critical for LTE heterogeneous deployments are discussed in greater detail. Cell range expansion, enabled through cell biasing and adaptive resource partitioning, is seen as an effective method to balance the load among the nodes in the network and improve overall trunking efficiency. An interference cancellation receiver plays a crucial role in ensuring acquisition of weak cells and reliability of control and data reception in the presence of legacy signals.