Radio Network Controller

Radio Network Controller

The Radio Network Controller (or RNC) is the governing element in the UMTS radio access network (UTRAN) responsible for control of the Node Bs, that is to say the base stations which are connected to the controller. The RNC carries out radio resource management, some of the mobility management functions and is the point where encryption is done before user data is sent to and from the mobile. The RNC connects to the Circuit Switched Core Network through Media Gateway (MGW) and to the SGSN (Serving GPRS Support Node) in the Packet Switched Core Network.


The main functions of the RNC are management of radio channels (on the Uu-, or air-, interface) and the terrestrial channels (towards the MGW and SGSN). Radio Resource Management functionality includes the following:

*Outer Loop Power Control (see also open loop power control and inner loop power control)
*Load control
*Admission Control
*Packet scheduling
*Handover control
*Macrodiversity combining (see also macrodiversity)
*Security functions
*Mobility Management


The logical connections between the network elements are known as interfaces. The interface between the RNC and the Circuit Switched Core Network (CS-CN) is called Iu-CS and between the RNC and the Packet Switched Core Network is called Iu-PS. Other interfaces include Iub (between the RNC and the Node B) and Iur (between RNCs in the same network). Iu interfaces carry user traffic (such as voice or data) as well as control information (see Protocols), and Iur interface is mainly needed for soft handovers.

All the interfaces in the UTRAN are implemented using ATM, except the Uu interface which uses WCDMA technology. Physically, these interfaces can be carried over SDH over optical fiber, E1 (sometimes referred to as PDH) - over a copper wire or microwave radio. Several E1s can be bundled to form an IMA Group. Since the interfaces are "logical", many interfaces can be multiplexed onto the same transmission line. The actual implementation depends on the network topology; examples are chain, distant star and loop configurations.


Iub, Iu and Iur protocols all carry both user data and signalling (that is, control plane).
* Signalling protocol responsible for the control of the Node B by the RNC is called NBAP (Node-B Application Part). Sometimes NBAP is subdivided into Common and Dedicated NBAP (C-NBAP and D-NBAP), where Common NBAP controls overall Node B functionality and Dedicated NBAP controls separate cells or sectors of the Node B. NBAP is carried over Iub.

* Control plane protocol for the transport layer is called ALCAP (Access Link Control Application Protocol). Basic functionality of ALCAP is multiplexing of different users onto one AAL2 transmission path using channel IDs (CIDs). ALCAP is carried over Iub.

* Signalling protocol responsible for communication between RNC and the core network is called RANAP (Radio Access Network Application Part), and is carried over Iu interface.

* Signalling protocol responsible for communications between RNCs is called RNSAP (Radio Network Subsystem Application Part) and is carried on the Iur interface.

RNC Roles

In a relationship to a UE (especially in a soft handover situation) an RNC can play different roles. These are
*C-RNC: Controlling RNC
*D-RNC: Drift RNC
*S-RNC: Serving RNC

External links


* [ NBAP Specifications]
* [ RANAP Specifications]
* [ RNSAP Specifications]
* [ RRC Specifications]

Equipment vendors

* [ Nokia Siemens Networks RNC]
* [ Ericsson WCDMA Radio Access Network Products]
* [ Huawei E2E WCDMA Solution]
* [,,2230-4454-4793,00.html Motorola RNC5000]
* [ Alcatel-Lucent WCDMA RNC]
* [ Samsung WCDMA RNC]
*Nortel Networks, CDMA2000 - 1xEVDO, RNC8500, HC-RNC8600

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