Design and performance evaluation of RAKE finger management schemes in the soft handover region



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We propose and analyze new finger assignment/management techniques that are applicable for RAKE receivers when they operate in the soft handover region. Two main criteria are considered: minimum use of additional network resources and minimum call drops. For the schemes minimizing the use of network resources, basic principles are to use the network resources only if necessary while minimum call drop schemes rely on balancing or distributing the signal strength/paths among as many base stations as possible. The analyses of these schemes require us to consider joint microscopic/macroscopic diversity techniques which have seldom been considered before and as such, we tackle the statistics of several correlated generalized selection combining output signal-to-noise ratios in order to obtain closed-form expressions for the statistics of interest. To provide a general comprehensive framework for the assessment of the proposed schemes, we investigate not only the complexity in terms of the average number of required path estimations/comparisons, the average number of combined paths, and the soft handover overhead but also the error performance of the proposed schemes over independent and identically distributed fading channels. We also examine via computer simulations the effect of path unbalance/correlation as well as outdated/imperfect channel estimations. We show through numerical exam ples that the proposed schemes which are designed for the minimum use of network resources can save a certain amount of complexity load and soft handover overhead with a very slight performance loss compared to the conventional generalized selection combining-based diversity systems. For the minimum call drop schemes, by accurately quantifying the average error rate, we show that in comparison to the conventional schemes, the proposed distributed schemes offer the better error performance when there is a considerable chance of loosing the signals from one of the active base stations.