Why to decouple the uplink and downlink in cellular networks and how to do it

Federico Boccardi, Jeffrey Andrews, Hisham Elshaer, Mischa Dohler, Stefan Parkvall, Petar Popovski, Sarabjot Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Citations (Scopus)
226 Downloads (Pure)


Ever since the inception of mobile telephony, the downlink and uplink of cellular networks have been coupled, that is, mobile terminals have been constrained to associate with the same base station in both the downlink and uplink directions. New trends in network densification and mobile data usage increase the drawbacks of this constraint, and suggest that it should be revisited. In this article we identify and explain five key arguments in favor of downlink/uplink decoupling based on a blend of theoretical, experimental, and architectural insights. We then overview the changes needed in current LTE-A mobile systems to enable this decoupling, and then look ahead to fifth generation cellular standards. We demonstrate that decoupling can lead to significant gains in network throughput, outage, and power consumption at a much lower cost compared to other solutions that provide comparable or lower gains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7432156
Pages (from-to)110-117
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


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