Friday, December 24, 2010


Resource allocation is one of the major tasks of MAC because the medium access mechanisms of MAC directly affect the spectrum and power utilization. Accordingly, the MAC sublayer specifications in the IEEE 802.16 standard, relevant to our discussion in the next section, are introduced in the following.

Despite the advantages of OFDM in mitigating the channels’s impairments as mentioned before, underutilization of transmitter power and network subcarriers is its disadvantage. When an OFDM transmitter accesses the channel in a time division manner, e.g., time division multiple access (TDMA), the transmitter is forced to transmit on all available subcarriers Nsc, although it may require a less number of subcarriers to satisfy its transmission rate requirement. Consequently, the transmitter power consumption increases as the number of subcarriers increases. This disadvantage motivates the development of a PHY technology where transmitters are multiplexed in time and frequency, i.e., OFDMA. In such a technology, the users are exclusively assigned a subset of the network available subcarriers in each time slot. The number of both time slots and subcarriers can be dynamically assigned to each user; this is referred to as dynamic subcarrier assignment which introduces multiuser diversity. The multiuser diversity gain arises from the fact that the utilization of given resources varies from one user to another. A subcarrier may be in deep fading for one user  while it is not for another user (e.g., the same subcarrier for user O). Allocating this particular subcarrier to the user with higher channel gain permits higher transmission rate. To achieve multiuser diversity gain, a scheduler at the MAC sublayer is required to schedule users in appropriate frequency and time slots.

Point-to-multipoint (PMP) as well as mesh topologies are supported in the IEEE 802.16 standard. PMP mode operations are centrally controlled by the BS, but mesh mode can be either centralized or decentralized, i.e., distributed. In a centralized mesh, a mesh BS (a node that is directly connected to the backbone) coordinates communications among the nodes. Decentralized mesh is similar to multihop adhoc networks in the sense that the nodes should coordinate among themselves to avoid collision or reduce the transmission interference.

In PMP mode, the uplink (UL) channel, transmissions from users to BS, is shared by all users, i.e., UL is a multiple access channel. On the other hand, downlink (DL) channel, transmissions from BS to subscriber stations (SSs), is a broadcast channel. The duplexing methods of UL and DL include time division duplexing (TDD), frequency division duplexing (FDD), and half-duplex FDD (HFDD). Unlike PMP mode, there is no clear UL and DL channel defined for mesh mode.

An outstanding feature of WiMAX is heterogeneous traffic support over wireless channels. IEEE 802.16 provides service for four traffic types known as service flows. The mechanism of bandwidth assignment to each SS depends on the QoS requirements of its service flows. The service flows and their corresponding bandwidth request mechanisms are as follows:
  • Unsolicited grant service (UGS): This service supports constant bit rate traffic. Bandwidth is granted to this service periodically or in case of traffic presence by the BS.

  • Real-time polling service (rtPS): This service has been provided for real-time service flows with variable-size data packets issued periodically. rtPS flows can send their bandwidth request to the BS after being polled.

  • Nonreal-time polling service (nrtPS): This service is for nonreal-time traffic with variable-size data packets. nrtPS can gain access to the channel using monocast or multicast polling mechanisms. Upon receiving a multicast polling, the nrtPS service can take part in a contention in the bandwidth contention range.

  • Best effort (BE) service: This service provides the minimum required QoS for nonreal-time traffic. The channel access mechanism of this service is based on contention.
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