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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: February 2011

9 - Cell search and reference signals


A cell search procedure is used by the UEs to acquire time and frequency synchronization within a cell and detect the cell identity. In the LTE system, cell search supports a scalable transmission bandwidth from 1.08 to 19.8 MHz. The cell search is assumed to be based on two signals transmitted in the downlink, the synchronization signals and broadcast control channel (BCH).

The primary purpose of the synchronization signals is to enable the acquisition of the received symbol timing and frequency of the downlink signal. The cell identity information is also carried on the synchronization signals. The UE can obtain the remaining cell/system-specific information from the BCH. The primary purpose of the BCH is to broadcast a certain set of cell and/or system-specific information. After receiving synchronization signals and BCH, the UE generally acquires information that includes the overall transmission bandwidth of the cell, cell ID, number of transmit antenna ports and cyclic prefix length, etc.

The synchronization signals and BCH are transmitted using the same minimum bandwidth of 1.08MHz in the central part of the overall transmission band of the cell. This is because, regardless of the total transmission bandwidth capability of an eNB, a UE should be able to determine the cell ID using only the central portion of the bandwidth in order to achieve a fast cell search.

The reference signals are used for channel quality measurements for scheduling, link adaptation and handoff, etc. as well as for data demodulation.