Handover (HO) relates to the mobility in the connected mode. Just as explained in the earlier section regarding the cell re-selection that takes place in the IDLE mode, hando-ver operates in the RRC_CONNECTED mode. It is one of the most important features of any of the cellular radio access technologies. As the UE moves throughout the cells in the radio environment, the serving cell might become weak or the neighboring cell might be stronger. This gives option for the UE to switch cell to stronger one. The pro-cess is known as handover.
Largely speaking, there are three basic types of handovers in the cellular radio; hard, soft and softer handover. During the hard handover, the connection between the UE and serving cell is temporarily interrupted and the connection is reinstated with the new cell. In the soft handover, the UE is connected with multiple cells at a time. As the UE moves through the cells, weaker connections are released and stronger connections are established. In soft handover, a new connection is first made before breaking previous connection. It is also termed make-before-break connection. Softer handover occurs when the UE switches to the different cells of the same site.
Intra-frequency handovers in LTE are done based on RSRP measurements which should ensure that the users are always connected to the cell with the highest received power. However, in certain environments where interference causes service quality degradation for the user (which RSRP measurement is not able to detect) there might be a situation where a quality based measurement would enable better performance. 
Handovers in LTE are different from other access technologies by virtue of its simpli-fied architecture. Unlike UMTS where RNC makes the handover decisions, eNodeB makes the handover decisions in the EPS. UE performs all the handover related meas-urements and reports them to the associated eNodeB. There are multiple handover schemes available in LTE.
X2 based handover
Intra-LTE handover involves only E-UTRAN for the handover process. UP is switched from the MME - S-GW source eNodeB to MME - S-GW - Target eNodeB. The hando-ver is referred as UE assisted network controlled handover. The handover process initi-ates as explained in Figure 4.3:
• UE performs the measurements and reports it to the serving eNodeB.
• The serving eNodeB judges the necessity for handover and identifies appropriate target eNodeB.
• The target eNodeB is requested by the serving eNodeB and it then performs Admission Control for the resource allocation to the new client.
• After the resource is allocated, the request from the serving eNodeB is acknowl-edged.
The handover is executed
The serving eNodeB sends the Handover command to UE.
• Serving eNodeB forwards the incoming packets from S-GW - MME to the target eNodeB via the X2 interface while the connection between the UE and E-UTRAN is off.
• The target eNodeB receives the data packets and buffers it till the connection re-sumes from the target eNodeB.
• The target eNodeB is synchronized with reference to the serving eNodeB.
The handover process is finally completed as
• User plane update request is made to the S-GW.
• S-GW acknowledges the request by changing the data path which would now use the target eNodeB.
• S-GW sends the gives the response back to MME as the data path has been switched.
• MME sends the acknowledgement to the target eNodeB indicating that the user plane has been switched.
• Target eNodeB or the new serving eNodeB now requests the previous serving eNodeB to release the radio resources.
• The resources are released and the data packets are now communicated by UE with the new eNodeB.
S1 based handover
S1 based handover is preferred when the X2 based handover cannot be performed. The possible reasons for this could be:
• MME and/or S-GW needs to be relocated.
• X2 interface becomes unavailable during the handover for some reason.
• Error indication from target eNodeB after an unsuccessful X2 based handover.
To show the complete scenario, it is assumed that the serving and target eNodeBs be-long to separate MME and S-GW. eNodeB communicates with the MME via S1 inter-face and MME connects with S-GW via S10 interface.
If either of above mentioned conditions is fulfilled, the serving eNodeB opts for the S1 based handover. Figure 4.6 shows the procedure following the S1 based handover. Serv-ing eNodeB sends the S1AP handover request message to the source MME upon the handover decision made at the serving eNodeB and the indication that the direct for-warding is not possible. The message also uniquely identifies the UE to be processed for handover. Serving MME sends the GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP) forward relocation request message to the target MME over the S10 interface.
Since the S-GW for serving and target MME is different, the target MME sends the GTP create session request message to the target S-GW. The target S-GW responds by replying with GTP create session response message. Target MME initiates the Hando-ver process at the E-UTRAN by sending the handover request in S1AP interface. Target MME now sends the handover request to the target eNodeB. Target eNodeB replies with handover request acknowledgement in confirmation.
After the handover process set with the target MME and eNodeB, the target MME re-sponds to relocation request of serving MME by sending the S1AP Handover Response Message. Serving MME now sends the handover command to the serving eNodeB. Serving eNodeB now prepares to handover the UE to the target MME by performing the status transfer. The serving eNodeB now detaches from the UE and the UE now starts to synchronize with the new target eNodeB.
UE confirms the attach process with new eNodeB by sending the handover confirm message. Target eNodeB sends the S1AP Handover Notify to the target MME to inform that the UE has attached to it. Target MME sends the GTP modify bearer request mes-sage to the target S-GW and it replies with the GTP modify bearer response message.
Serving MME requests serving eNodeB to release the radio resources and delete all the UE Contexts. It also requests the serving S-GW to delete all the EPS bearers associated with that UE.
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