(19)
(11)EP 3 420 655 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
20.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/21

(21)Application number: 16708199.1

(22)Date of filing:  25.02.2016
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04J 3/14  (2006.01)
H04J 3/06  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/GB2016/050482
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/144838 (31.08.2017 Gazette  2017/35)

(54)

METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR ESTIMATING FREQUENCY SYNCHRONIZATION ACCURACY

VERFAHREN UND SYSTEME SCHÄTZUNG DER FREQUENZSYNCHRONISATIONSGENAUIGKEIT

PROCÉDÉS ET SYSTÈMES D'ESTIMATION DE PRÉCISION DE SYNCHRONISATION DE FRÉQUENCE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
02.01.2019 Bulletin 2019/01

(73)Proprietors:
  • Khalifa University of Science and Technology
    Abu Dhabi (AE)
  • British Telecommunications public limited company
    London EC1A 7AJ (GB)
  • Emirates Telecommunications Corporation
    Abu-Dhabi (AE)

(72)Inventors:
  • AWEYA, James
    Abu Dhabi 127788 (AE)
  • BOYD, Ivan
    Ipswich Suffolk IP7 5QA (GB)

(74)Representative: J A Kemp LLP 
14 South Square Gray's Inn
London WC1R 5JJ
London WC1R 5JJ (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A1- 2010 158 051
US-B1- 7 656 985
US-A1- 2015 092 796
  
  • YANG PENGFEI ET AL: "New algorithm for IEEE 1588 time synchronization under the presence of significant delay variation", 2013 3RD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CONSUMER ELECTRONICS, COMMUNICATIONS AND NETWORKS, IEEE, 20 November 2013 (2013-11-20), pages 419-422, XP032542552, DOI: 10.1109/CECNET.2013.6703359 ISBN: 978-1-4799-2859-0 [retrieved on 2014-01-03]
  • XU XIONG ET AL: "A New Time Synchronization Method for Reducing Quantization Error Accumulation Over Real-Time Networks: Theory and Experiments", IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL INFORMATICS, IEEE SERVICE CENTER, NEW YORK, NY, US, vol. 9, no. 3, 1 August 2013 (2013-08-01), pages 1659-1669, XP011524317, ISSN: 1551-3203, DOI: 10.1109/TII.2013.2238547 [retrieved on 2013-08-16]
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

Field of the Invention



[0001] The present invention relates to methods and systems for estimating frequency synchronization accuracy. It is particularly, but not exclusively, concerned with methods and systems which estimate the accuracy of frequency synchronization between a slave clock in a slave device and a master clock to which the slave device aims to synchronize the slave clock.

Background of the Invention


Path Delay



[0002] Communication path delay measurements play an important role in the analysis, design and monitoring of networks. However, the clock skews (or frequency differences) between the clocks at the end points of the path can render the delay measurements inaccurate. To obtain more accurate delay measurements, the clock skews have to be accurately estimated and removed from (or compensated for) in the measurements.

[0003] End-to-end communication path delay traces are often used to analyze network performance. The measured path delays can be used to improve the design of networks, optimize the placement and use of network resources, monitor network loading and availability, optimize traffic routing and control mechanisms, detect network faults and traffic flow anomalies, etc. Delay traces are typically obtained by monitoring packet delays or by active probing. In either case, the difference between the arrival time of a packet (measured according to the destination clock), and its corresponding departure time from the source (indicated by a timestamp added by the source and conveyed by the packet), is considered to be the delay experienced by that packet.

[0004] If the source and destination clocks are perfectly synchronized, then the measured delay is the true delay between the two end points. However, in real systems, two clocks are rarely perfectly synchronized. The clocks can run at different speeds (i.e., have different frequencies). This difference in speed or frequency is called the clock skew. Given that the clocks at the end systems are not perfectly synchronized and run at different speeds, the delay measurements can be quite inaccurate. To obtain more accurate delay measurements, the clock skews have to be accurately estimated and removed from (or compensated for) in the measurements [1][2][3][4][5][6]. Network protocols such as the Network Time Protocol (NTP) and IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) can be used for clock synchronization as well as perform network delay measurements.

Overview of IEEE 1588v2 PTP



[0005] The IEEE 1588v2 PTP defines a packet-based synchronization protocol for communicating frequency, phase and time-of-day information from a master to one or more slaves with sub-microsecond accuracy. PTP relies on the use of accurately timestamped packets (at nanosecond level granularity) sent from a master clock to one or more slave clocks to allow them to (frequency, phase or time) synchronize to the master clock. Synchronization information is distributed hierarchically, with a GrandMaster clock at the root of the hierarchy.

[0006] The GrandMaster provides the time reference for one or more slave devices. These slave devices can, in turn, act as master devices for further hierarchical layers of slave devices. PTP provides a mechanism (i.e., Best Master Clock Algorithm) for slave clocks to select the best master clock in their respective synchronization domain. The selection is performed according to the PTP attributes of the GrandMaster (e.g. PTP priority, clock class).

[0007] The PTP message exchange process (i.e., the PTP Delay Request/Delay Response flow) between a master and a slave is illustrated in Figure 1. IEEE 1588 PTP allows for two different types of timestamping methods, either one-step or two-step. One-step clocks update time information within event messages (Sync and Delay-Req) on-the-fly, while two-step clocks convey the precise timestamps of packets in general messages (Follow_Up and Delay-Resp). A Sync message is transmitted by a master to its slaves and either contains the exact time of its transmission or is followed by a Follow_Up message containing this time. In a two-step ordinary or boundary clock, the Follow_Up message communicates the value of the departure timestamp for a particular Sync message.

[0008] Figure 1 illustrates the basic pattern of synchronization message exchanges for the two-step clocks. The master 1 sends a Sync message to the slave 3 over the intervening packet network 2 and notes the time T1 at which it was sent. The slave 3 receives the Sync message and notes the time of reception T2. The master 1 conveys to the slave 3 the timestamp T1 by one of two ways: 1) Embedding the timestamp T1 in the Sync message. This requires some sort of hardware processing (i.e., hardware timestamping) for highest accuracy and precision (this is the one-step method) or 2) embedding the timestamp T1 in a Follow_Up message (as in the two-step method illustrated in Figure 1). Next, the slave 3 sends a Delay_Req message to the master 1 and notes the time T3 at which it was sent according to the local clock 5 in the slave. The master 1 receives the Delay_Req message and notes the time of reception T4 according to the master clock 4. The master 1 conveys the timestamp T4 to the slave 3 by embedding it in a Delay_Resp message.

[0009] At the end of this exchange of PTP messages, the slave possesses all four timestamps {T1, T2, T3, T4}. These timestamps may be used to compute the clock skew and offset of the slave's clock with respect to the master and the communication delay of messages between the two clocks. The computation of offset often assumes that the master-to-slave and slave-to-master path delays are equal, i.e. a symmetrical communication path. Clock frequencies change over time, so periodic message exchanges are required. Because these clock variations change slowly, the period between message exchanges is typically on the order of milliseconds to seconds.

[0010] A clock with a non-zero skew will either run faster or slower than one with a zero skew. Using such a non-zero skew clock will certainly overestimate or underestimate the delay measurement of packet arrival, an important measure critical for optimal network operation. A number of existing techniques has been proposed to estimate the clock skew to remove its negative influence in the measured delay. Some components of these solutions such as the use of convex hull, linear programming, and definitions of objective functions are useful for estimating both skew and offset of clock.

[0011] Zhang et al. [4] use a convex hull algorithm to sort out relevant delay data and use three objective functions to determine which section of the convex hull that contains the optimal solution. In two dimensions, such algorithm can be viewed as creating an upper and a lower boundary of a convex polygon. For skew estimation, only the lower boundary is relevant. Thus, the convex hull algorithm processes the original collection of delay measurement into piecewise linear skew line segments while filtering out most of the delay measurement data.

[0012] The paper considers three different clock adjustment scenarios consisting of no clock reset, clock velocity adjustment, and instantaneous clock reset, the latter two of which can be considered as some form of clock reset. When there is no clock reset, there is only one convex hull to deal with. Otherwise the clock resets partition the delay data set into subsets, from each of which a distinct convex hull is formed.

[0013] For no clock reset, the clock skew is assumed to be constant. The paper also assumes that, for the instantaneous clock reset scenario, the clock skew is the same among all subsets of delay data, whilst, for clock velocity adjustment scenario, the clock skew changes over time. The points of clock resets are either given or assumed to be obtainable through analyzing the delay data set.

[0014] When there is no clock reset, the location where the optimal clock skew is is easily obtained based on the conditions determined by some objective functions which are set out in the paper. Assuming the point of clocks resets are given, the paper identifies the section of the convex hull for the instantaneous clock reset scenario. Corresponding details for the clock velocity adjustment scenario according to the different objective functions are not provided.

[0015] In summary, the proposed solutions in Zhang et al are intended to estimate and remove the relative clock skew from delay measurements. The authors consider various clock reset scenarios with different assumptions of the skew characteristics. Three objective functions are proposed and underlying all these solutions is the use of convex hull to sort out relevant delay data on which candidate skew values are estimated.

[0016] Even if the clock resets can be found as proposed in this paper, usually they could be determined only after sufficient amount of data is collected (meaning the technique can only be used offline and not online as data is received). The presence of clock resets complicates clock estimation solutions. Therefore some form of data windowing may be needed.

[0017] Bletsas [6] presents the evaluation of three algorithms for estimating local clock parameters when the Internet is used to connect to a single time reference server. Kalman filtering is chosen for its optimality for the Gaussian data case and appealing recursive nature; the linear programming technique for its intuitive structure; and the averaging technique (referred as averaged time differences (ATD)) for its simplicity and wide spread deployment.

[0018] The performance of the algorithms depends on the delay behaviour of the NTP messages. If it is Gaussian, Kalman filtering technique is optimal. This technique also performs well with self-similar delay data when more delay data are available.

[0019] The linear prediction (LP) technique performs best compared to the other two techniques for the case of bursty traffic but not as well for completely independent traffic. This technique is a line-fitting technique that exploits both the forward and reverse path timestamps, by estimating a clock line that minimizes the distance between the line and the data

[0020] The averaged time differences (ATD), though inferior to LP and Kalman filtering techniques at the self-similar case, is simple and produces reasonable results for small number of measurements and when cost and accuracy trade-off cannot be avoided.

[0021] In summary, all algorithms in this document improve with increasing number of samples.

[0022] Moon et al. [2] disclose a linear programming technique to estimate skew with the objective of removing the skew inadvertent contribution from the delay measurement.

[0023] The goal of the skew estimation algorithm described here is to remove skew from measured network delays so as to make it consistent with the reference clock. As such, the model is tightly integrated to remove skew contribution in the measured delay.

Call Handover Process



[0024] The call handover process is of major importance within any mobile network. Fundamentally, it is necessary to ensure that it can be performed reliably and without disruption to any calls. Unreliable call handover can result in dropped calls, and this is one of the key factors that can lead to customer dissatisfaction, which in turn may lead to them changing to another mobile network provider. Accordingly handover is one of the key performance indicators monitored so that a robust cellular handover regime is maintained on the mobile network.

[0025] In handover between the radio access systems, handover preparation is done before changing systems, including tasks such as securing resources on the target radio access system, through cooperation between the radio access systems.

[0026] The mobile device sends a radio quality report containing the handover candidate base-stations and other information to the base station. The base station decides whether handover shall be performed based on the information in the report, identifies the base station and radio controller to switch to, and begins handover preparation.

[0027] Presently, the quality report does not include the synchronization accuracy of the candidate base stations which means that even if those base stations are not properly synchronized handover can still take place resulting in dropped calls and interrupted communication.

[0028] US 2010/0158051 A1 proposes a clock recovery module for a communication device. The communication device is operable as a slave device relative to another communication device which is operable as a master device. The clock recovery module proposed includes a clock recovery loop configured to control a slave clock frequency of a slave device, so as to synchronise it with a master clock frequency in the master device.

[0029] An object of the present invention is to provide simple but effective techniques for estimating frequency synchronization accuracy between a slave clock and a master clock.

[0030] A further object of the present invention is to provide for improved call handover for a mobile device between base stations in a mobile telephone network. Specifically, an object of the present invention is to improve the reliability of the handover process.

Summary of the Invention



[0031] At their broadest, aspects of the present invention provide for methods, devices and systems which estimate frequency synchronization accuracy between a slave clock and a master clock based on the ratio of the interval of transmitted timing messages and the average progression of the corrected master clock in the same interval.

[0032] Further aspects of the present invention provide for methods, devices and systems in mobile telephone networks which use frequency accuracy as a quality metric when determining call handover between base stations.

[0033] A first aspect of the present invention provides a method of estimating frequency synchronization accuracy between a first clock in a slave device and a second clock in a master device as set out in claim 1

[0034] The method of this aspect can provide a simple yet effective technique for estimating the frequency synchronization accuracy substantially or wholly in real-time. This technique can be used to monitor the tracking efficiency of the frequency synchronization scheme substantially or wholly in real-time.

[0035] Preferably the network is a packet network. Preferably the timing messages are sent according to IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). PTP Sync messages can be sent at a regular interval from a master to a slave.

[0036] The synchronisation accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n.

[0037] The average progression of the corrected clock can be estimated in many ways. In particular embodiments of the present invention, it is estimated recursively as an exponentially weighted moving average of the progression, for example as ΔRn = (1 - γRn-1 + γΔRn where 0 < γ < 1 is a filtering parameter. This allows the accuracy to be estimated continuously and efficiently, substantially in real-time. In particular, as only the current measurement of the progression of the corrected clock and the previous estimate of the average is required to calculate the current estimate of the average, the process is computationally simple and quick.

[0038] The corrected clock is derived using a digital phase-locked loop. The digital phase-locked loop operates by: initializing a counter on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the slave device; and repeatedly: incrementing the counter with the output of a phase accumulator driven by an oscillator in the slave device; comparing the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the slave device with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; filtering the error signal to produce a control signal; and controlling the frequency of the phase accumulator using said control signal to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the second clock.

[0039] The method of the present aspect may include any combination of some, all or none of the above described preferred and optional features.

[0040] The method of the above aspect is preferably implemented by a slave device according to the second aspect of this invention, as described below, or a system according to the third aspect of this invention, as described below, but need not be.

[0041] A second aspect of the present invention provides a method of determining handover of a mobile device between base stations in a mobile telephone network as set out in claim 3By including frequency accuracy in the quality metrics for the base stations to which handover might take place, the reliability of the handover process can be improved, for example by reducing the number of dropped calls.

[0042] The estimate of the accuracy of frequency synchronization of the local clock in the base station uses a method according to the above described first aspect, including some, all or none of the optional and preferred features of that aspect.

[0043] Specifically, the estimation of the accuracy of frequency synchronization of the local clock in the base station includes the steps of: receiving, at the base station, timing messages sent at a regular interval from a master device having the master clock, the timing messages having timestamps from the master clock; deriving, in the base station, using said timing messages, a corrected clock which is an adjusted version of the local clock and which is synchronized to the master clock; estimating the average progression of the corrected clock for each interval between sending of said timing messages over a plurality of said intervals; and estimating the synchronisation accuracy from the ratio of the interval to the average progression of the corrected clock.

[0044] This approach to estimating the accuracy of frequency synchronization can be simple yet effective and can operate substantially or wholly in real-time.

[0045] Preferably the network is a packet network. Preferably the timing messages are sent according to IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). PTP Sync messages can be sent at a regular interval from a master to a slave.

[0046] The synchronisation accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n.

[0047] The corrected clock is derived using a digital phase-locked loop. The digital phase-locked loop operates by: initializing a counter on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the base station; and repeatedly: incrementing the counter with the output of a phase accumulator driven by an oscillator in the base station; comparing the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the base station with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; filtering the error signal to produce a control signal; and controlling the frequency of the phase accumulator using said control signal to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the master clock.

[0048] The method of the present aspect may include any combination of some, all or none of the above described preferred and optional features.

[0049] The method of the above aspect is preferably implemented by a base station according to the fourth aspect of this invention, as described below, or a mobile telephone network according to the third aspect of this invention, as described below, but need not be.

[0050] Further aspects of the present invention include computer programs for running on computer systems which carry out the method of the above aspects, including some, all or none of the preferred and optional features of those aspects.

[0051] A third aspect of the present invention provides a slave device connected to a master device over a network as set out in claim 4.

[0052] Preferably the network is a packet network. Preferably the timing messages are sent according to IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). PTP Sync messages can be sent at a regular interval from a master to a slave.

[0053] The synchronisation accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n.

[0054] The average progression of the corrected clock can be estimated in many ways. In particular embodiments of the present invention, it is estimated recursively as an exponentially weighted moving average of the progression, for example as ΔRn = (1 - γRn-1 + γΔRn where 0 < γ < 1 is a filtering parameter. This allows the accuracy to be estimated continuously and efficiently, substantially in real-time. In particular, as only the current measurement of the progression of the corrected clock and the previous estimate of the average is required to calculate the current estimate of the average, the process is computationally simple and quick.

[0055] The device further includes a digital phase-locked loop which is arranged to derive said corrected clock, and an oscillator. The digital phase-locked loop has: a counter which is initialized on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the slave device; a phase accumulator driven by the oscillator, the output of which increments the counter; a phase detector which compares the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the slave device with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; and a loop filter which filters the error signal to produce a control signal which controls the frequency of the phase accumulator to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the second clock.

[0056] The device of the present aspect may operate by using a method according to the above described first aspect, including some, all, or none of the optional and preferred features of that aspect, but need not do so.

[0057] The device of the present aspect may include any combination of some, all or none of the above described preferred and optional features.

[0058] A fourth aspect of the present invention provides a base station in a mobile telephone network as set out in claim 6By including frequency synchronization accuracy in the quality metrics for the base stations to which handover might take place, the reliability of the handover process can be improved, for example by reducing the number of dropped calls.

[0059] The base station is configured in a similar manner to the device of the above described third aspect, including some, all or none of the optional and preferred features of that aspect, in order to allow it to estimate the accuracy of the frequency synchronization of the local clock.

[0060] Specifically, the processor arranged to estimate the frequency accuracy of the local clock by: receiving timing messages sent at a regular interval from a master device having the master clock, the timing messages having timestamps from the master clock; deriving, using said timing messages, a corrected clock which is an adjusted version of the local clock and which is synchronized to the master clock; estimating the average progression of the corrected clock for each interval between sending of said timing messages over a plurality of said intervals; and estimating the synchronisation accuracy from the ratio of the interval to the average progression of the corrected clock.

[0061] This approach to estimating the accuracy of frequency synchronization can be simple yet effective and can operate substantially or wholly in real-time.

[0062] Preferably the network is a packet network. Preferably the timing messages are sent according to IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). PTP Sync messages can be sent at a regular interval from a master to a slave.

[0063] The synchronisation accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n.

[0064] The base station further includes a digital phase-locked loop which is arranged to derive said corrected clock, and an oscillator. The digital phase-locked loop has: a counter which is initialized on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the base station; a phase accumulator driven by the oscillator, the output of which increments the counter; a phase detector which compares the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the base station with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; and a loop filter which filters the error signal to produce a control signal which controls the frequency of the phase accumulator to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the master clock.

[0065] The base station of the present aspect operates by using a method according to the above described second aspect, including some, all, or none of the optional and preferred features of that aspect, but need not do so.

[0066] The base station of the present aspect may include any combination of some, all or none of the above described preferred and optional features.

[0067] A fifth aspect of the present invention provides a networked system as set out in claim 7The system of this aspect can simply yet effectively estimate the frequency synchronization of the corrected clock substantially or wholly in real-time. This technique can be used to monitor the tracking efficiency of the frequency synchronization scheme in the slave device substantially or wholly in real-time.

[0068] Preferably the network is a packet network. Preferably the timing messages are sent according to IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). PTP Sync messages can be sent at a regular interval from a master to a slave.

[0069] The synchronisation accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n.

[0070] The average progression of the corrected clock can be estimated in many ways. In particular embodiments of the present invention, it is estimated recursively as an exponentially weighted moving average of the progression, for example as ΔRn = (1 - γRn-1 + γΔRn where 0 < γ < 1 is a filtering parameter. This allows the accuracy to be estimated continuously and efficiently, substantially in real-time. In particular, as only the current measurement of the progression of the corrected clock and the previous estimate of the average is required to calculate the current estimate of the average, the process is computationally simple and quick.

[0071] The slave device further includes a digital phase-locked loop which is arranged to derive said corrected clock, and an oscillator. Trhe digital phase-locked loop has: a counter which is initialized on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the slave device; a phase accumulator driven by the oscillator, the output of which increments the counter; a phase detector which compares the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the slave device with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; and a loop filter which filters the error signal to produce a control signal which controls the frequency of the phase accumulator to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the second clock.

[0072] The system of the present aspect may operate by using a method according to the above described first aspect, including some, all, or none of the optional and preferred features of that aspect, but need not do so.

[0073] The system of the present aspect may include any combination of some, all or none of the above described preferred and optional features.

[0074] A sixth aspect of the present invention provides a mobile telephone network having a plurality of base stations as set out in claim 9.

[0075] By including frequency synchronization accuracy in the quality metrics for the base stations to which handover might take place, the reliability of the handover process can be improved, for example by reducing the number of dropped calls.

[0076] The network is configured in a similar manner to the system of the above described fifth aspect, including some, all or none of the optional and preferred features of that aspect, in order for the base stations to estimate the accuracy of the frequency synchronization of the local clock.

[0077] Specifically, the local processor in the base station is arranged to estimate the frequency accuracy of the local clock by: receiving timing messages sent at a regular interval from a master device having the master clock, the timing messages having timestamps from the master clock; deriving, using said timing messages, a corrected clock which is an adjusted version of the local clock and which is synchronized to the master clock; estimating the average progression of the corrected clock for each interval between sending of said timing messages over a plurality of said intervals; and estimating the synchronisation accuracy from the ratio of the interval to the average progression of the corrected clock.

[0078] This approach to estimating the accuracy of frequency synchronization can be simple yet effective and can operate substantially or wholly in real-time.

[0079] Preferably the network is a packet network. Preferably the timing messages are sent according to IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). PTP Sync messages can be sent at a regular interval from a master to a slave.

[0080] The synchronisation accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n.

[0081] The base station further includes a digital phase-locked loop which is arranged to derive said corrected clock, and an oscillator. More preferably the digital phase-locked loop has: a counter which is initialized on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the base station; a phase accumulator driven by the oscillator, the output of which increments the counter; a phase detector which compares the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the base station with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; and a loop filter which filters the error signal to produce a control signal which controls the frequency of the phase accumulator to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the master clock.

[0082] The mobile telephone network of the present aspect may operate by using a method according to the above described second aspect, including some, all, or none of the optional and preferred features of that aspect, but need not do so.

[0083] The mobile telephone network of the present aspect may include any combination of some, all or none of the above described preferred and optional features.

Brief Description of the Drawings



[0084] Embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 shows, in schematic form, the exchange of timing messages according to the two-step clock synchronization process in accordance with the PTP and has already been described;

Figure 2 shows the basic architecture of a time server and client according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 3 shows more detail of the digital phase-locked loop of a time client according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 4 shows the phase accumulator output in a digital phase-locked loop of a time client according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Figures 5a and 5b show the principles of a skew model with, respectively, no offset and with offset; and

Figure 6 shows the use of frequency synchronization accuracy as a quality metric for call handover.


Detailed Description


Frequency Synchronization using a DPLL



[0085] The transmitter (master or PTP GrandMaster) clock 1 can be viewed conceptually as consisting simply of a high accuracy, high performance oscillator 4 and a (master) counter 40 (see Figure 2). The oscillator 4 produces periodic pulses that constitute the input to the master counter 40. The oscillator frequency is the inverse of the interval between consecutive pulses (oscillator period). The output of the master counter 40 represents the master clock signal and is incremented by a fixed amount at each pulse (e.g., 8 ns increments for a 125 MHz nominal oscillator frequency). Samples of master clock signals are communicated to the receiver 3 (slave) as timestamps in Sync messages 20. The local clock 4 in the master 1 is free running or possibly synchronized to an external source of time such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) or an atomic clock.

[0086] From the flow of timestamp messages 20 arriving at the receiver 3, the receiver DPLL 30 tunes its internal controlled oscillator 33 such that it produces an output clock signal that is identical to the transmitter clock. To do this, the first arriving timestamp at the receiver 3 is used to initialize the master counter 34 and DPLL control is exercised such that the master counter readings coincide with arriving timestamp values. The timestamps used in determining the arrival instants of timestamp messages are based on timestamps generated from the local clock 5. The control loop in the receiver DPLL 30 adjusts the clock 5 to agree with the time of its master 1, that is, to make the rate of the local clock 5 equal to that of the master 1.

[0087] In a frequency synchronization technique according to an embodiment of the present invention, each broadcast begins at time T1 with a Sync message sent by the master 1 to all the slave clocks 5 in the domain. A slave clock 5 receiving this message takes note of the local time T2 when this message is received. The master 1 may subsequently send a multicast Follow_Up with accurate T1 timestamp, the reason being not all masters have ability to present an accurate time stamp in the Sync message. It is only after the transmission is complete that they are able to retrieve an accurate time stamp for the Sync transmission from their network hardware. Masters with this limitation use the Follow_Up message to convey T1 (two-step clock). Masters with PTP capabilities built into their network hardware are able to present an accurate time stamp in the Sync message and do not need to send Follow_Up messages, these are called one-step clocks.

[0088] The controlled oscillator 33 within the DPLL 30 produces a periodic pulse signal which drives a local DPLL counter 34 whose output enters the phase detector 31, as shown in Figures 2 and 3. Here the phase of the signals from the DPLL counter 34 and the incoming reference signal in the form of timestamps are compared and a resulting difference or error signal is produced. This error corresponds to the phase difference between the two signals, transmitter and receiver clocks.

[0089] The error signal from the phase detector 31 in the DPLL 30 passes through a low pass filter 32 (loop filter) which governs many of the properties of the loop and removes any high frequency elements on the signal. Once through the filter 32 the error signal is applied to the control terminal of the controlled oscillator 33 as its control or tuning signal. The nature of this control signal is such that it tries to reduce the phase difference and hence the frequency between the two signals. Initially the loop will be out of lock, and the filtered error signal will pull the frequency of the controlled oscillator 33 towards that of the reference, until it cannot reduce the error any further and the loop is locked.

[0090] This frequency synchronization strategy allows multiple slaves, for example in a broadcast or point-to-multipoint communication scenario, to synchronize their clocks to the master. The one-step clock and two-step clock algorithms used by the slave DPLL 30 to synchronize its frequency to that of the master are described in WO 2013/020903A.

[0091] Let Sn = T1,n denote the timeline (e.g., in clock increments of say 8ns for a 125 MHz clock) of the transmitter and Rn = T2,n the timeline of the receiver. These two functions correspond to the timestamps of the two clocks at discrete time instants n, n = 0,1,2,.... We assume that the timelines Sn = T1,n and Rn = T2,n are discrete time samples of the master (server) clock S(t) and the tunable (synchronized) slave clock R(t), respectively. The state of the free-running counter 35 is denoted in discrete time and continuous time, respectively, by Cn and C(t).

[0092] In the DPLL 30, only when the phase between the two signals (that is the difference between transmitter timestamp Sn = T1,n and receiver timestamp Rn = T2,n) is changing is there a frequency difference. The phase difference decreases towards zero when the loop is in lock, which means that the frequency of the DPLL internal controlled oscillator is exactly the same as the reference frequency.

[0093] The DPLL 30 employs a phase accumulator 38, a loop filter 32, a phase detector 31, and a counter 34 as shown in Figure 3. In the method according to this embodiment, at each phase accumulator overflow (output) pulse, the DPLL counter 34 is incremented by the nominal period of the phase accumulator overflow pulse (e.g., 8 ns for a 125 MHz nominal phase accumulator overflow output frequency). The DPLL 30 is controlled in such a way that the DPLL counter evolution follows the server counter as illustrated in Figure 2.

[0094] The phase accumulator 38 is a variable-modulus counter that increments the number stored in it each time it receives a clock pulse. When the counter overflows it wraps around, making the phase accumulator's output contiguous as shown in Figure 4. The larger the added increment φ, the faster the accumulator overflows, which results in a higher output frequency. The output frequency fACC of the phase accumulator 38 is a function of the system clock frequency fo, the number of bits q in the phase accumulator and the phase increment value φ. The phase increment φ is an unsigned value.



[0095] From this equation it can be seen that the frequency resolution of the phase accumulator 38 is fres = fo/2q. It is assumed that the phase accumulator is operating with a control input φnom which corresponds to the nominal frequency fACC = fnom. It can be seen from the above discussion that adding a quantity corr to φnom (i.e., φACC = φnom - φcorr) results in a decrease in the output frequency, fACC = fnom - Δf, whereas adding a quantity + φcorr to ϕnom (i.e., φACC = φnom + φcorr) results in an increase in the output frequency, fACC = fnom + Δf. Thus, by appropriately controlling the quantity φcorr added to φnom, the output frequency of the phase accumulator fACC can be controlled accordingly.

[0096] For example, at startup in a system operating in the one-step clock mode, the DPLL 30 waits for the first arriving Sync message timestamp (T1,0). This first server timestamp is used to initialize the DPLL counter 34 (R0 = T1,0). From this point onwards and upon the receipt of subsequent Sync message timestamps (T1,n) at any discrete time instant n, the DPLL 30 starts to operate in a closed-loop fashion. At each Sync message timestamp arrival (T1,n), the DPLL counter reading is noted by the slave (Rn). Then the difference between the arriving server timestamp (T1,n) and the DPLL counter reading (Rn) gives an error signal (en = T1,n - Rn). This error signal (en) is sent to the loop filter 32 whose output controls the frequency of the phase accumulator 38. The output (overflow pulses) of the phase accumulator 38 in turn provides the clock frequency of the slave and also drives the DPLL counter 34. After a while the error term is expected to converge to zero which means the DPLL has been locked to the incoming master timeline.

[0097] The control models for the phase detector 31, and digitally controlled oscillator, and given some general structure of the loop filter 32, the DPLL 30 as a whole are described in more detail in WO 2013/020903A. WO 2013/020903A also provides design procedures for determining the parameters of the loop filter 32 that will meet certain pre-specified design and performance requirements.

Clock Skew Estimation using a DPLL



[0098] Next a technique, according to an embodiment of the present invention, for estimating the skew of the free-running local oscillator using the DPLL and free-running counter described above will be described. First a generalized clock offset and skew equation for the synchronization problem is defined. It is assumed that, at any particular time instant, the instantaneous view of the relationship between the master (server) clock with timeline S(t) and the slave free-running clock with timeline C(t), can be described by the well-known simple skew clock model depicted in Figure 5, and described by the equation,

where θ is the time offset and α is the skew (frequency offset) between master clock and free-running clock. The skew α is typically a very small quantity expressed in the order of parts-per-million. This snapshot is an instantaneous view of how well the two clocks are (mis)aligned. Figure 5 illustrates the influence of θ and α on the alignment.

[0099] The clock skew (α) is estimated by the client 3 after each Sync message broadcast by the server 1 or after multiple periods of the Sync message broadcast. The period between Sync messages could serve as sampling period of the system. Figure 3 shows the main blocks of the proposed synchronization and skew estimation mechanism at the time client 3. A free running local oscillator 33 and counter 35 are used together with the DPLL 30 to estimate the skew of the local free-running (high-speed) oscillator.

Skew Estimation



[0100] If the DPLL 30 locks onto the master 1 and achieves accurate frequency synchronization (a technique for accuracy analysis is described further below), then it can be assumed that ΔRn = ΔSn, meaning that the master timeline and the DPLL counter 34 evolve at the same rate. If Acc denotes the level of frequency synchronization accuracy in parts-per million (ppm) or parts-per billion (ppb), then Acc = 0 implies perfect (ideal) frequency synchronization and a positive Acc as the DPLL 30 (specifically the DPLL counter 34) running faster than the master by Acc. The underlying idea is to make the slope of the slave DPLL timeline Rn equal to that of the master timeline Sn.

[0101] Equation (2) above can be written in discrete time as



[0102] From this

where ΔSn = Sn - Sn-1 = T1,n - T1,n-1 and ΔCn = Cn - Cn-1. If accurate frequency synchronization is achieved, then the evolution of Rn becomes a local (slave) copy of the evolution of the master clock Sn, that is, ΔRn = ΔSn. Under this condition,



[0103] With this, if incremental changes of both the DPLL counter ΔRn and the free-running counter ΔCn are taken at a given time instant, then a one-time estimate of the clock skew can be obtained as



[0104] It is assumed that the two counters are sampled at the same time instant. The sample skew values obtained from the above can be filtered to obtain an estimate of the skew between master clock and slave clock. From (6), it can be inferred that



[0105] The relationships in (7) are already depicted in Figure 5.

Accuracy Analysis



[0106] As discussed above, Acc denotes the level of frequency synchronization accuracy in ppm or ppb, that is, accuracy of evolution of Rn with respect to Sn. Afree is used to denote the accuracy of the evolution of the free-running clock Cn with respect to the master Sn. For telecommunication applications, Afree is typically in ppm, e.g., 4.6 ppm for a Stratum 3 clock and 32 ppm for a Stratum 4 clock. For mobile applications, for example, Acc at the air interface should be no more 50 ppb and 16 ppb at the incoming synchronization interface.

[0107] Using (6) and given an ideal reference interval Δt, a specified Acc and Afree, it follows that



[0108] Taking for example, Acc = +16 ppb (i.e., DPLL counter running faster by 16 ppb and counts in excess over Δt), and Afree = +4 ppm (free-running clock running faster by 4 ppm and counts in excess over Δt), gives

as expected. Note that by the above definition of α and equation (2), α < 0 implies the slave free-running counter Cn (reference 35) is faster than the master clock Sn (see Figure 5). For Acc = +50 ppb, α ≈ -3.94998 × 10-6, and for Acc = +100 ppb, α ≈ -3.89998 × 10-6. For a perfect frequency lock, Acc = 0 ppb, which means



[0109] But, given that for Telecom applications Afree is typically a very small quantity (in ppm), it can safely be assumed that α ≈∓ Afree under these conditions.

Real-Time Estimation and Monitoring of DPLL Frequency Synchronization Accuracy



[0110] Next a technique for estimating the frequency synchronization accuracy Acc in real-time according to an embodiment of the present invention will be described. This technique can also be used to monitor the tracking efficiency of the frequency synchronization scheme, i.e., the DPLL, in real-time. First, it is assumed that some level of frequency synchronization accuracy Acc is achieved by the DPLL 30. Next the relationship between the synchronized clock (i.e., DPLL counter) R(t) and the master clock S(t) is modeled by

where θcc is a clock offset. In discrete time, this can be expressed as



[0111] From this

where ΔRn = Rn - Rn-1. If the T1,n timestamps are sent at fixed intervals ΔT (as is allowed in PTP), then ΔSn = T1,n - T1,n-1 = ΔT. Summing over N samples, gives

from which we get

where

is the average of the ΔRn samples. ΔRn can be estimated by several methods one of which is the well-known exponentially weighted moving average (EWMA) technique which can be expressed as

where 0 < γ < 1 is a filtering parameter. This simple technique allows Acc to be estimated continuously and efficiently in real-time.

Frequency Synchronization Accuracy as an Additional Quality Metric for Call Handover



[0112] Figure 6 illustrates how the frequency synchronization accuracy can be used as a quality metric for call handover in a method according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

[0113] The call handover process is of major importance within any mobile network. It is necessary to ensure it can be performed reliably and without disruption to any calls. Failure for it to perform reliably can result in dropped calls, and this is one of the key factors that can lead to customer dissatisfaction, which in turn may lead to them changing to another mobile network provider. Accordingly handover is one of the key performance indicators monitored so that a robust cellular handover regime is maintained on the mobile network.

[0114] The mobile network needs to decide when handover is necessary, and to which cell. Also when the handover occurs it is necessary to re-route the call to the relevant base station along with changing the communication between the mobile and the base station to a new channel. All of this needs to be undertaken without any noticeable interruption to the call. Different mobile networking standards/technologies handle handover in slightly different ways.

[0115] In handover between the radio access systems, handover preparation is done before changing systems, including tasks such as securing resources on the target radio access system, through cooperation between the radio access systems. Then, when the actual switch occurs, only the network path needs to be switched, reducing handover processing time. Also, loss of data packets that arrive at the pre-switch access point during handover can be avoided using a data forwarding function.

[0116] The mobile handset 6 sends a radio quality report containing the handover candidate base-stations and other information to the current base station 7. The base station 7 decides whether handover shall be performed based on the information in the report, identifies the base station and radio controller 8 to switch to, and begins handover preparation.

[0117] In the method of this embodiment, the frequency synchronization accuracy is used as an additional quality metric for call handover between base stations. It is assumed that this metric is noted by the radio access systems and/or carried as part of the quality report sent by the mobile handset 6 to the base station 7 during call handover.

[0118] There are a number of parameters that need to be known to determine whether a handover is required. These include the signal strength of the base station 7 with which communication is currently being made, along with the signal strengths of the surrounding stations. Additionally the availability of channels also needs to be known. The mobile handset 6 is obviously best suited to monitor the strength of the base stations, but only the mobile network knows the status of channel availability (including in this method the synchronization accuracy at the base stations) and the network makes the decision about when the handover is to take place and to which channel of which cell.

[0119] For example, consider a situation where some femtocells 9 in the mobile network are not very accurately synchronized. If the network at least knows that a particular cell is not well synchronized then that will enable the network to take some action at a system level. So for example if femtocell A is not accurately synchronized, the handover algorithm could prevent handover to femtocell A, such that the customer stays on the macrocell/microcell 7 with a relatively good service.

[0120] In the broader context, this leads to a handover process that operates as follows. The mobile handset 6 continually monitors the signal strengths of the base stations it can hear, including the one it is currently using, and it feeds this information back to the network. When the strength of the signal from the base station 7 that the mobile is using starts to fall to a level where action needs to be taken, the mobile network looks at the reported strength of the signals from other cells reported by the mobile. It then checks for channel availability, and if one is available it informs this new cell to reserve a channel for the incoming mobile. It also checks for the frequency synchronization accuracy of the other cells. When ready, the current base station passes the information for the new channel to the mobile, which then makes the change. Once there the mobile sends a message on the new channel to inform the network it has arrived. If this message is successfully sent and received then the network shuts down communication with the mobile on the old channel, freeing it up for other users, and all communication takes place on the new channel.

[0121] Under some circumstances such as when one base transceiver station is exceeding its synchronization accuracy limits, the network may decide to hand some mobiles over to another base transceiver station they are receiving that are better synchronized.

[0122] The systems and methods of the above embodiments may be implemented in a computer system (in particular in computer hardware or in computer software) in addition to the structural components and user interactions described.

[0123] The term "computer system" includes the hardware, software and data storage devices for embodying a system or carrying out a method according to the above described embodiments. For example, a computer system may comprise a central processing unit (CPU), input means, output means and data storage. Preferably the computer system has a monitor to provide a visual output display. The data storage may comprise RAM, disk drives or other computer readable media. The computer system may include a plurality of computing devices connected by a network and able to communicate with each other over that network.

[0124] The methods of the above embodiments may be provided as computer programs or as computer program products or computer readable media carrying a computer program which is arranged, when run on a computer, to perform the method(s) described above.

[0125] The term "computer readable media" includes, without limitation, any non-transitory medium or media which can be read and accessed directly by a computer or computer system. The media can include, but are not limited to, magnetic storage media such as floppy discs, hard disc storage media and magnetic tape; optical storage media such as optical discs or CD-ROMs; electrical storage media such as memory, including RAM, ROM and flash memory; and hybrids and combinations of the above such as magnetic/optical storage media.

[0126] The exemplary embodiments of the invention set forth above are considered to be illustrative and not limiting. Various changes to the described embodiments may be.

[0127] In particular, although the methods of the above embodiments have been described as being implemented on the systems of the embodiments described, the methods and systems of the present invention need not be implemented in conjunction with each other, but can be implemented on alternative systems or using alternative methods respectively.

References



[0128] 
  1. [1]. IEEE Standard for a Precision Clock Synchronization Protocol for Networked Measurement and Control Systems, IEEE 1588-2008.
  2. [2]. S. B. Moon, P. Skelly and D. Towsley, "Estimation and removal of clock skew from network delay measurements," in Proc. IEEE INFOCOM, vol. 1, pp. 227-234, New York, NY, USA, Mar. 1999.
  3. [3]. P. Skelly, S. B. Moon, D. Towsley, Verizon Laboratories Inc. (2003), Clock skew estimation and removal, U.S. Pat. 6,661,810.
  4. [4]. L. Zhang, Z. Liu and C. H. Xia, "Clock synchronization algorithms for network measurements," in Proc. IEEE INFOCOM, vol. 1, pp. 160-169, Nov. 2002.
  5. [5]. Z. Liu, C. H. Xia, L. Zhang, International Business Machines Corporation (2005), Clock synchronization with removal of clock skews through network measurements in derivation of a convex hull, U.S. Pat. 6,957,357.
  6. [6]. A. Bletsas, "Evaluation of Kalman filtering for network time keeping," IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, vol. 52, no. 9, pp. 1452 - 1460, Sept. 2005.
  7. [7]. James Aweya and Saleh Al-Araji, Method and System for Frequency Synchronization, WO 2013/020903A.



Claims

1. A method of estimating frequency synchronization accuracy between a first clock in a slave device and a second clock in a master device, the devices being connected over a network, the method including the steps of:

receiving, at the slave device, timing messages sent at a regular interval from the master device, the timing messages having timestamps from the second clock;

deriving, in the slave device, using said timing messages, a corrected clock which is an adjusted version of the first clock and which is synchronized to the second clock;

estimating the average progression of the corrected clock for each interval between sending of said timing messages over a plurality of said intervals; and

estimating the synchronisation accuracy from the ratio of the interval to the average progression of the corrected clock;

wherein the synchronization accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n, and wherein the corrected clock is derived using a digital phase-locked loop by:

initializing a counter on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the slave device; and

repeatedly:

incrementing the counter with the output of a phase accumulator driven by an oscillator in the slave device;

comparing the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the slave device with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal;

filtering the error signal to produce a control signal; and

controlling the frequency of the phase accumulator using said control signal to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the second clock.


 
2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the average progression of the corrected clock is estimated recursively as an exponentially weighted moving average of the progression
 
3. A method of determining handover of a mobile device between base stations in a mobile telephone network, the method including the steps of:

monitoring, in the mobile device, the signal strengths of base stations within communication range of the mobile device and periodically communicating those signal strengths to the mobile network; and

when the signal strength of the base station that the mobile device is communicating with falls below a predetermined level, initiating a handover process to determine if a suitable alternative base station is available to transfer the mobile device to, wherein

said handover process includes the steps of:

determining one or more quality metrics for each base station within communication range of the mobile device, the quality metrics including the accuracy of frequency synchronization of a local clock in the base station compared to a master clock determined using the method of either claim 1 or claim 2; and

only transferring the mobile device to communicate with an alternative base station if the quality metrics for that alternative base station reach a predetermined level.


 
4. A slave device connected to a master device over a network, the slave device having a first clock and a processor, the processor being arranged to:

receive timing messages sent at a regular interval from the master device, the timing messages having timestamps from a second clock in the master device;

derive, using said timing messages, a corrected clock which is an adjusted version of the first clock and which is synchronized to the second clock;

estimate the average progression of the corrected clock for each interval between sending of said timing messages over a plurality of said intervals; and

estimate the synchronisation accuracy from the ratio of the interval to the average progression of the corrected clock;

wherein the synchronisation accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n, and the slave device further including a digital phase-locked loop which is arranged to derive said corrected clock, and an oscillator, the digital phase-locked loop having:

a counter which is initialized on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the slave device;

a phase accumulator driven by the oscillator, the output of which increments the counter;

a phase detector arranged to compare the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the slave device with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; and

a loop filter arranged to filter the error signal to produce a control signal which controls the frequency of the phase accumulator to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the second clock.


 
5. A device according to claim 4 wherein the average progression of the corrected clock is estimated recursively as an exponentially weighted moving average of the progression
 
6. A base station in a mobile telephone network, the base station including a local clock and a processor, wherein the processor is arranged to:

on receipt, from the network, of an instruction to initiate a handover process, determine one or more quality metrics for the base station, the quality metrics including the accuracy of frequency synchronization of a local clock in the base station compared to a master clock connected to the network, the accuracy determined using the method of either claim 1 or claim 2; and

communicate the determined quality metrics to the network for use in determining whether handover of a mobile device between base stations should take place.


 
7. A networked system, the system including a master device and a slave device connected over a network, wherein:

the slave device has a first clock and a processor;

the master device has a second clock; and

the processor is arranged to:

receive timing messages sent at a regular interval from the master device, the timing messages having timestamps from a second clock in the master device;

derive, using said timing messages, a corrected clock which is an adjusted version of the first clock and which is synchronized to the second clock;

estimate the average progression of the corrected clock for each interval between sending of said timing messages over a plurality of said intervals; and

estimate the synchronisation accuracy from the ratio of the interval to the average progression of the corrected clock, wherein the synchronization accuracy is estimated as

wherein Acc is the accuracy, ΔT is the interval, and ΔRn is the average progression of the corrected clock at time n, and wherein the slave device further includes a digital phase-locked loop which is arranged to derive said corrected clock, and an oscillator, the digital phase-locked loop having:

a counter which is initialized on arrival of the first of said timing messages in the slave device;

a phase accumulator driven by the oscillator, the output of which increments the counter;

a phase detector arranged to compare the phase of the timestamps in the timing messages arriving at the slave device with the value of the counter to calculate an error signal; and

a loop filter arrange to filter the error signal to produce a control signal which controls the frequency of the phase accumulator to synchronise the frequency of the output of the phase accumulator with the frequency of the second clock.


 
8. A system according to claim 7 wherein the average progression of the corrected clock is estimated recursively as an exponentially weighted moving average of the progression.
 
9. A mobile telephone network having a plurality of base stations, the network having a first processor handling handover of mobile devices between base stations, wherein:

each base station includes a local clock and a local processor;

the first processor is arranged to, on receipt, from a mobile device connected to a base station in the network, of a request to initiate a handover process, request from one or more base stations within range of the mobile device one or more quality metrics for the base station, the quality metrics including the accuracy of frequency synchronization of the local clock in the base station compared to a master clock connected to the network, the accuracy determined using the method of claim 1 or 2, and determine from said quality metrics whether handover of a mobile device between base stations should take place; and

the local processor is arranged to, on receipt of the request from the first processor, determine the quality metrics and communicate the determined quality metrics to the first processor.


 


Ansprüche

1. Verfahren des Schätzens von Frequenzsynchronisationsgenauigkeit zwischen einem ersten Takt in einem Slave-Gerät und einem zweiten Takt in einem Master-Gerät, wobei die Geräte über ein Netzwerk verbunden sind, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte beinhaltet:

Empfangen, an dem Slave-Gerät, von Zeitnachrichten, die in regelmäßigem Intervall von dem Master-Gerät gesendet werden, wobei die Zeitnachrichten Zeitstempel von dem zweiten Takt haben;

Ableiten, in dem Slave-Gerät, unter Verwendung der Zeitnachrichten, eines korrigierten Taktes, der eine angepasste Version des ersten Taktes ist und der synchron mit dem zweiten Takt ist;

Schätzen der durchschnittlichen Progression des korrigierten Taktes für jeden Intervall zwischen Senden der Zeitnachrichten über eine Vielzahl der Intervalle; und

Schätzen der Synchronisationsgenauigkeit aus dem Verhältnis des Intervalls zu der durchschnittlichen Progression des korrigierten Taktes;

wobei die Synchronisationsgenauigkeit als

geschätzt wird, wobei Acc die Genauigkeit ist, ΔT der Intervall ist und ΔRn die durchschnittliche Progression des korrigierten Taktes zur Zeit n ist, und wobei der korrigierte Takt unter Verwendung eines digitalen Phasenregelkreises abgeleitet wird durch:

Initialisieren eines Zählers bei Ankunft der ersten der Zeitnachrichten in dem Slave-Gerät; und

wiederholt:

Inkrementieren des Zählers mit der Ausgabe eines Phasenakkumulators, angetrieben durch einen Oszillator in dem Slave-Gerät;

Vergleichen der Phase der Zeitstempel in den Zeitnachrichten, die an dem Slave-Gerät ankommen, mit dem Wert des Zählers, um ein Fehlersignal zu berechnen;

Filtern des Fehlersignals, um ein Steuersignal zu produzieren; und

Steuern der Frequenz des Phasenakkumulators unter Verwendung des Steuersignals, um die Frequenz der Ausgabe des Phasenakkumulators mit der Frequenz des zweiten Taktes zu synchronisieren.


 
2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die durchschnittliche Progression des korrigierten Taktes als ein exponentiell gewichteter gleitender Durchschnitt der Progression rekursiv geschätzt wird.
 
3. Verfahren des Bestimmens einer Übergabe eines Mobilgeräts zwischen Basisstationen in einem Mobilfunknetz, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte beinhaltet:

Überwachen, in dem Mobilgerät, der Signalstärken von Basisstationen in Kommunikationsreichweite des Mobilgeräts und regelmäßiges Kommunizieren dieser Signalstärken an das Mobilfunknetz; und

wenn die Signalstärke der Basisstation, mit der das Mobilgerät kommuniziert, unter einen vorbestimmten Wert fällt, Initiieren eines Übergabeprozesses, um zu bestimmen, ob eine geeignete alternative Basisstation verfügbar ist, um zu dieser das Mobilgerät zu übertragen, wobei

der Übergabeprozess die folgenden Schritte beinhaltet:

Bestimmen von einer oder mehreren Qualitätsmetriken für jede Basisstation in Kommunikationsreichweite des Mobilgeräts, wobei die Qualitätsmetriken die Genauigkeit von Frequenzsynchronisation eines lokalen Taktes in der Basisstation im Vergleich zu einem Master-Takt beinhalten, bestimmt unter Verwendung des Verfahrens nach entweder Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2; und

nur Übertragen des Mobilgeräts, sodass es mit einer alternativen Basisstation kommuniziert, wenn die Qualitätsmetriken für diese alternative Basisstation einen vorbestimmten Wert erreichen.


 
4. Slave-Gerät, verbunden mit einem Master-Gerät über ein Netzwerk, wobei das Slave-Gerät einen ersten Takt und einen Prozessor hat, wobei der Prozessor für Folgendes angeordnet ist:

Empfangen von Zeitnachrichten, die in regelmäßigem Intervall von dem Master-Gerät gesendet werden, wobei die Zeitnachrichten Zeitstempel von einem zweiten Takt in dem Master-Gerät haben;

Ableiten, unter Verwendung der Zeitnachrichten, eines korrigierten Taktes, der eine angepasste Version des ersten Taktes ist und der mit dem zweiten Takt synchronisiert ist;

Schätzen der durchschnittlichen Progression des korrigierten Taktes für jeden Intervall zwischen Senden der Zeitnachrichten über eine Vielzahl der Intervalle; und

Schätzen der Synchronisationsgenauigkeit aus dem Verhältnis des Intervalls zu der durchschnittlichen Progression des korrigierten Taktes;

wobei die Synchronisationsgenauigkeit als

geschätzt wird, wobei Acc die Genauigkeit ist, ΔT der Intervall ist und ΔRn die durchschnittliche Progression des korrigierten Taktes zur Zeit n ist, und wobei das Slave-Gerät ferner einen digitalen Phasenregelkreis, der angeordnet ist, um den korrigierten Takt abzuleiten, und einen Oszillator beinhaltet, wobei der digitale Phasenregelkreis Folgendes hat:

einen Zähler, der bei Ankunft der ersten der Zeitnachrichten in dem Slave-Gerät initialisiert wird;

einen Phasenakkumulator, der durch den Oszillator angetrieben wird, dessen Ausgabe den Zähler inkrementiert;

einen Phasendetektor, der angeordnet ist, um die Phase der Zeitstempel in den Zeitnachrichten, die an dem Slave-Gerät ankommen, mit dem Wert des Zählers zu vergleichen, um ein Fehlersignal zu berechnen; und

einen Schleifenfilter, der angeordnet ist, um das Fehlersignal zu filtern, um ein Steuersignal zu produzieren, das die Frequenz des Phasenakkumulators steuert, um die Frequenz der Ausgabe des Phasenakkumulators mit der Frequenz des zweiten Taktes zu synchronisieren.


 
5. Gerät nach Anspruch 4, wobei die durchschnittliche Progression des korrigierten Taktes als ein exponentiell gewichteter gleitender Durchschnitt der Progression rekursiv geschätzt wird.
 
6. Basisstation in einem Mobilfunknetz, wobei die Basisstation einen lokalen Takt und einen Prozessor beinhaltet, wobei der Prozessor für Folgendes angeordnet ist:

bei Empfang, von dem Netzwerk, einer Anweisung, einen Übergabeprozess zu initiieren, Bestimmen von einer oder mehreren Qualitätsmetriken für die Basisstation, wobei die Qualitätsmetriken die Genauigkeit von Frequenzsynchronisation eines lokalen Taktes in der Basisstation im Vergleich zu einem Master-Takt beinhalten, der mit dem Netzwerk verbunden ist, wobei die Genauigkeit unter Verwendung des Verfahrens nach entweder Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2 bestimmt wird; und

Kommunizieren der bestimmten Qualitätsmetriken mit dem Netzwerk zur Verwendung beim Bestimmen, ob eine Übergabe eines Mobilgeräts zwischen Basisstationen stattfinden soll.


 
7. Vernetztes System, wobei das System ein Master-Gerät und ein Slave-Gerät beinhaltet, die über ein Netzwerk verbunden sind, wobei:

das Slave-Gerät einen ersten Takt und einen Prozessor hat;

das Master-Gerät einen zweiten Takt hat; und

der Prozessor für Folgendes angeordnet ist:

Empfangen von Zeitnachrichten, die in regelmäßigem Intervall von dem Master-Gerät gesendet werden, wobei die Zeitnachrichten Zeitstempel von einem zweiten Takt in dem Master-Gerät haben;

Ableiten, unter Verwendung der Zeitnachrichten, eines korrigierten Taktes, der eine angepasste Version des ersten Taktes ist und der synchron mit dem zweiten Takt ist;

Schätzen der durchschnittlichen Progression des korrigierten Taktes für jeden Intervall zwischen Senden der Zeitnachrichten über eine Vielzahl der Intervalle; und

Schätzen der Synchronisationsgenauigkeit aus dem Verhältnis des Intervalls zu der durchschnittlichen Progression des korrigierten Taktes wobei die Synchronisationsgenauigkeit als

geschätzt wird, wobei Acc die Genauigkeit ist, ΔT der Intervall ist und ΔRn die durchschnittliche Progression des korrigierten Taktes zur Zeit n ist, und wobei das Slave-Gerät ferner einen digitalen Phasenregelkreis, der angeordnet ist, um den korrigierten Takt abzuleiten, und einen Oszillator beinhaltet, wobei der digitale Phasenregelkreis Folgendes hat:

einen Zähler, der bei Ankunft der ersten der Zeitnachrichten in dem Slave-Gerät initialisiert wird;

einen Phasenakkumulator, der durch den Oszillator angetrieben wird, dessen Ausgabe den Zähler inkrementiert;

einen Phasendetektor, der angeordnet ist, um die Phase der Zeitstempel in den Zeitnachrichten, die an dem Slave-Gerät ankommen, mit dem Wert des Zählers zu vergleichen, um ein Fehlersignal zu berechnen; und

einen Schleifenfilter, der angeordnet ist, um das Fehlersignal zu filtern, um ein Steuersignal zu produzieren, das die Frequenz des Phasenakkumulators steuert, um die Frequenz der Ausgabe des Phasenakkumulators mit der Frequenz des zweiten Taktes zu synchronisieren.


 
8. System nach Anspruch 7, wobei die durchschnittliche Progression des korrigierten Taktes als ein exponentiell gewichteter gleitender Durchschnitt der Progression rekursiv geschätzt wird.
 
9. Mobilfunknetz mit einer Vielzahl von Basisstationen, wobei das Netzwerk einen ersten Prozessor hat, der eine Übergabe von Mobilgeräten zwischen Basisstationen handhabt, wobei:

jede Basisstation einen lokalen Takt und einen lokalen Prozessor beinhaltet;

der erste Prozessor angeordnet ist, um, bei Empfang, von einem Mobilgerät, das mit einer Basisstation in dem Netzwerk verbunden ist, einer Anfrage, einen Übergabeprozess zu initiieren, aus einer oder mehreren Basisstationen in dem Bereich des Mobilgeräts eine oder mehrere Qualitätsmetriken für die Basisstation anzufordern, wobei die Qualitätsmetriken die Genauigkeit von Frequenzsynchronisation des lokalen Taktes in der Basisstation im Vergleich zu einem Master-Takt beinhalten, der mit dem Netzwerk verbunden ist, wobei die Genauigkeit unter Verwendung des Verfahrens nach Anspruch 1 oder 2 bestimmt wird, und aus den Qualitätsmetriken zu bestimmen, ob eine Übergabe eines Mobilgeräts zwischen Basisstationen stattfinden soll; und

der lokale Prozessor angeordnet ist, um, bei Empfang der Anfrage von dem ersten Prozessor, die Qualitätsmetriken zu bestimmen und die bestimmten Qualitätsmetriken an den ersten Prozessor zu kommunizieren.


 


Revendications

1. Procédé d'estimation de précision de synchronisation de fréquence entre une première horloge dans un dispositif esclave et une seconde horloge dans un dispositif maître, les dispositifs étant connectés par l'intermédiaire d'un réseau, le procédé incluant les étapes de :

la réception, dans le dispositif esclave, de messages temporels envoyés à un intervalle régulier à partir du dispositif maître, les messages temporels ayant des estampilles temporelles provenant de la seconde horloge ;

la déduction, dans le dispositif esclave, en utilisant lesdits messages temporels, d'une horloge corrigée qui est une version ajustée de la première horloge et qui est synchronisée avec la seconde horloge ;

l'estimation de la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée pour chaque intervalle entre l'envoi desdits messages temporels durant une pluralité desdits intervalles ; et

l'estimation de la précision de synchronisation à partir du rapport de l'intervalle vis-à-vis de la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée ;

dans lequel la précision de synchronisation est estimée sous la forme

dans lequel Acc est la précision, ΔT est l'intervalle, et ΔRn est la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée à l'instant n, et dans lequel l'horloge corrigée est déduite en utilisant une boucle à verrouillage de phase numérique par l'intermédiaire de :

l'initialisation d'un compteur à l'arrivée du premier desdits messages temporels dans le dispositif esclave ; et

de façon répétée :

l'incrémentation du compteur avec la sortie d'un accumulateur de phase excité par un oscillateur dans le dispositif esclave ;

la comparaison de la phase des estampilles temporelles dans les messages temporels arrivant au dispositif esclave à la valeur du compteur pour calculer un signal d'erreur ;

la filtration du signal d'erreur pour produire un signal de commande ; et

la commande de la fréquence de l'accumulateur de phase en utilisant ledit signal de commande pour synchroniser la fréquence de la sortie de l'accumulateur de phase avec la fréquence de la seconde horloge.


 
2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée est estimée de façon récursive sous forme de moyenne mobile exponentiellement pondérée de la progression.
 
3. Procédé de détermination de transfert d'un dispositif mobile entre des stations de base dans un réseau téléphonique mobile, le procédé incluant les étapes de :

la surveillance, dans le dispositif mobile, des intensités de signal de stations de base au sein d'une portée de communication du dispositif mobile et la communication périodique de ces intensités de signal au réseau mobile ; et

lorsque l'intensité de signal de la station de base avec laquelle le dispositif mobile communique est inférieure à un niveau prédéterminé, l'initiation d'un processus de transfert pour déterminer si une autre station de base appropriée est disponible à laquelle le dispositif mobile doit être transféré, dans lequel

ledit processus de transfert inclut les étapes de :

la détermination d'une ou de plusieurs mesures de qualité pour chaque station de base au sein de la portée de communication du dispositif mobile, les mesures de qualité incluant la précision de synchronisation de fréquence d'une horloge locale dans la station de base par rapport à une horloge maîtresse déterminée en utilisant le procédé de la revendication 1 ou de la revendication 2 ; et

le transfert du dispositif mobile pour communiquer avec une autre station de base seulement si les mesures de qualité pour cette autre station de base atteignent un niveau prédéterminé.


 
4. Dispositif esclave connecté à un dispositif maître par l'intermédiaire d'un réseau, le dispositif esclave ayant une première horloge et un processeur, le processeur étant agencé pour :

recevoir des messages temporels envoyés à un intervalle régulier à partir du dispositif maître, les messages temporels ayant des estampilles temporelles provenant d'une seconde horloge dans le dispositif maître ;

déduire, en utilisant lesdits messages temporels, une horloge corrigée qui est une version ajustée de la première horloge et qui est synchronisée avec la seconde horloge ;

estimer la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée pour chaque intervalle entre l'envoi desdits messages temporels durant une pluralité desdits intervalles ; et

estimer la précision de synchronisation à partir du rapport de l'intervalle vis-à-vis de la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée ;

dans lequel la précision de synchronisation est estimée sous la forme

dans lequel Acc est la précision, ΔT est l'intervalle, et ΔRn est la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée à l'instant n, le dispositif esclave incluant en outre une boucle à verrouillage de phase numérique qui est agencée pour déduire ladite horloge corrigée, et un oscillateur, la boucle à verrouillage de phase numérique ayant :

un compteur qui est initialisé à l'arrivée du premier desdits messages temporels dans le dispositif esclave ;

un accumulateur de phase excité par l'oscillateur, la sortie duquel incrémente le compteur ;

un détecteur de phase agencé pour comparer la phase des estampilles temporelles dans les messages temporels arrivant au dispositif esclave à la valeur du compteur pour calculer un signal d'erreur ; et

un filtre à boucle agencé pour filtrer le signal d'erreur pour produire un signal de commande qui commande la fréquence de l'accumulateur de phase pour synchroniser la fréquence de la sortie de l'accumulateur de phase avec la fréquence de la seconde horloge.


 
5. Dispositif selon la revendication 4, dans lequel la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée est estimée de façon récursive sous forme de moyenne mobile exponentiellement pondérée de la progression.
 
6. Station de base dans un réseau téléphonique mobile, la station de base incluant une horloge locale et un processeur, dans laquelle le processeur est agencé pour :

suite à la réception, à partir du réseau, d'une instruction pour initier un processus de transfert, déterminer une ou plusieurs mesures de qualité pour la station de base, les mesures de qualité incluant la précision de synchronisation de fréquence d'une horloge locale dans la station de base par rapport à une horloge maîtresse connectée au réseau, la précision étant déterminée en utilisant le procédé de la revendication 1 ou de la revendication 2 ; et

communiquer les mesures de qualité déterminées au réseau pour l'utilisation dans la détermination du fait que transfert d'un dispositif mobile entre stations de base doit ou non avoir lieu.


 
7. Système réseauté, le système incluant un dispositif maître et un dispositif esclave connecté par l'intermédiaire d'un réseau, dans lequel :

le dispositif esclave a une première horloge et un processeur ;

le dispositif maître a une seconde horloge ; et

le processeur est agencé pour :

recevoir des messages temporels envoyés, à un intervalle régulier, à partir du dispositif maître, les messages temporels ayant des estampilles temporelles provenant d'une seconde horloge dans le dispositif maître ;

déduire, en utilisant lesdits messages temporels, une horloge corrigée qui est une version ajustée de la première horloge et qui est synchronisée avec la seconde horloge ;

estimer la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée pour chaque intervalle entre l'envoi desdits messages temporels durant une pluralité desdits intervalles ; et

estimer la précision de synchronisation à partir du rapport de l'intervalle vis-à-vis de la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée, dans lequel la précision de synchronisation est estimée sous la forme

dans lequel Acc est la précision, ΔT est l'intervalle, et ΔRn est la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée à l'instant n, et dans lequel le dispositif esclave inclut en outre une boucle à verrouillage de phase numérique qui est agencée pour déduire ladite horloge corrigée, et un oscillateur, la boucle à verrouillage de phase numérique ayant :

un compteur qui est initialisé à l'arrivée du premier desdits messages temporels dans le dispositif esclave ;

un accumulateur de phase excité par l'oscillateur, la sortie duquel incrémente le compteur ;

un détecteur de phase agencé pour comparer la phase des estampilles temporelles dans les messages temporels arrivant au dispositif esclave à la valeur du compteur pour calculer un signal d'erreur ; et

une filtre à boucle agencé pour filtrer le signal d'erreur pour produire un signal de commande qui commande la fréquence de l'accumulateur de phase pour synchroniser la fréquence de la sortie de l'accumulateur de phase avec la fréquence de la seconde horloge.


 
8. Système selon la revendication 7, dans lequel la progression moyenne de l'horloge corrigée est estimée de façon récursive sous forme de moyenne mobile exponentiellement pondérée de la progression.
 
9. Réseau téléphonique mobile ayant une pluralité de stations de base, le réseau ayant un premier processeur chargé du transfert de dispositifs mobiles entre stations de base, dans lequel :

chaque station de base inclut une horloge locale et un processeur local ;

le premier processeur est agencé pour, suite à la réception, à partir d'un dispositif mobile connecté à une station de base dans le réseau, d'une demande pour initier un processus de transfert, demander, à une ou plusieurs stations de base au sein de la portée du dispositif mobile, une ou plusieurs mesures de qualité pour la station de base, les mesures de qualité incluant la précision de synchronisation de fréquence de l'horloge locale dans la station de base par rapport à une horloge maîtresse connectée au réseau, la précision déterminée utilisant le procédé de la revendication 1 ou 2, et déterminer, à partir desdites mesures de qualité, le fait que le transfert d'un dispositif mobile entre stations de base doit ou non avoir lieu ; et

le processeur local est agencé pour, suite à la réception de la demande à partir du premier processeur, déterminer les mesures de qualité et communiquer les mesures de qualité déterminées au premier processeur.


 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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