Thursday, March 31, 2011

Power Management in Mobile WiMAX

Mobile devices tend to incorporate more and more processing units and functionalities which has a negative effect on battery lifetime. For this reason IEEE 802.16e workgroup has standardized those mechanisms that would augment battery lifetime in a worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX) network without affecting the quality-of-service (QoS) performance. This chapter gives an overview of those mechanisms, includes the methods to analyze them, and identifies those elements that could decrease the waiting time when in sleep mode.


By definition, designed for mobile devices, whose utility is inherently constrained by limited energy supply, efficient power saving mechanisms are decisive criteria for IEEE 802.16e to become a compelling alternative for mobile broadband wireless access (BWA). This applies to any mobile worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX) device, regardless of its size and application and therefore ranging from a tiny personal digital assistant (PDA) to mobile phones to table PCs and notebooks.

Power saving becomes important as all these devices continue to incorporate more and more functionalities per integration unit, a development that has been predicted already years ago and which is known as Moore’s law. By doing so, manufacturers serve customer’s demand for consolidation; the ideal device is small, light, but feature rich. Hence, while early mobile phones were solely designed for voice services, today’s generation integrate MP3 player, camera, positioning service and many other energy-hungry features. The combined energy demand of such peripheral features, for instance, make up for almost 30 percent of the total for a Nokia 6630. Clearly, this also entails a whole set of new thermal requirements on mobile device design.

This development poses a considerable challenge to battery performance just as with computing power increasing energy accumulation is expected. Yet advances in battery capacity lacks considerably behind, like which claims that battery capacity has only improved by 80 percent in the last ten years while computing power doubles every 18 months according to Moore’s law. Nevertheless and on top of that, a recent Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) research project reveals that “Two-thirds of mobile phone and PDA users rate ‘two-days of battery life during active use’ as the most important feature of the ideal converged device of the future”. Similar to this finding, it is generally agreed that the operational time for a notebook shall be in the range of 2–5 hours. As of today, the only efficient means to cater to these user expectations is to counter this development by ever more efficient power saving mechanisms.

Motivating research on power consumption to overcome usability and performance constraints can be considered as the standard argumentation. But in fact, there is a much more important, frequently neglected reason: Saving energy means safeguarding our environment. In 2008, 70 million notebooks will be sold, roughly double the number than back in 2001. That means 70 million new power consumers and equal number of new batteries, yet one of the most expensive energy source in terms of production, which usually involves many valuable resources and hazardous chemicals, but also in terms of deployment. Disposing unusable batteries is a complicated business and the implicative environmental consequences do not require any further elucidation. Hence, saving power—and amid the total lifetime of a battery—can only be of utmost importance.

In conclusion, effective power saving mechanisms for IEEE 802.16e, which is supposed to seize the lead in BWA technology, are important to improve the usability of mobile devices and to accomplish this in the most environmentally friendly manner. The chapter is divided into two main parts. In the first part, we analyze how the power management mechanism functions in both point-to-point and relay architecture, and set some important deductions for the sleeping time. In the second part, we identify the tools for the performance analysis of power saving mechanisms and set the initial pace for some major, open research issues.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Managing subscribers mobility while guaranteeing security implies managing handoff security which includes maintaining authentication, service flows, and key distribution between the BSs involved in the handoff process.


IEEE 802.16e specifications guarantee authentication by using a public-key interchange protocol which establishes the keys and then uses them for authenticating the communicating entities. These keys are then used to produce other keys that will protect management messages integrity and transport the traffic encryption keys (TEKs). Two privacy key management protocols are defined: the PKMv1 and the PKMv2. PKMv2 is an enhancement of the PKMv1 as it enables both device and user authentication and defines a new key hierarchy while supporting advanced encryption standard (AES)-block cipher-based message authentication code (CMAC), AES keys wraps, and multicast and broadcast services (MBS). WiMAX 802.16e defines the Privacy Key Management Protocol (PKMv2) which enables an authentication scheme based on Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). The EAP-based authentication begins at the initial network entry when the MS sends an EAP Start message to its managing BS containing uniquely a message header. Next, the MS and the BS start an EAP conversation by exchanging an EAP Transfer message without HMAC/CMAC digest. If the BS has to send an EAP Success message during the EAP conversation, it should send an EAP payload to the MS with PKMv2 EAP Complete message signed by a newly generated EAP integrated key (EIK). The MS can then validate the message and possess EIK and pairwise master key (PMK). Nevertheless, if the MS and the BS negotiate the double EAP mode consisting in the authenticated EAP after EAP, the BS will wait for the EAP Start message before beginning the second round of the EAP authorization. After ending the authorization process, both the MS and the BS will generate the authorization key (AK) according to the primary authentication key (PAK), PMK, and PMK2 in their possession. After that, a security association-TEK three-way handshake will be performed. Note that the authenticated-EAP authorization procedure protects the EAP payload by a HMAC or a CMAC digest using the EIK generated at the first EAP round.


The mobile WiMAX specifications efine the AAA framework as the provider of the authentication services, the authorization services, and the accounting services. The authentication services consist in achieving the device, the user or the combined device, and user authentication along with the mutual authentication while the authorization services include the delivery of information to configure the session for access, mobility, QoS, and other applications. Accounting services manage the information required for both prepaid and postpaid billing and any information that may be used for auditing session activity by both the home NSP and visited NSP. The ASN defines one or more network access server(s) (NASs) which are viewed as the first AAA client where AAA messages originate and authentication and authorization attributes are delivered to AAA applications including the authenticator, the mobility applications (Proxy-Mobile IP, PMIP; foreign agent, FA), and the QoS applications. Mobile WiMAX specifications state that authentication and authorization have to be based on EAP. Different EAP methods can be supported but they need to support the provisioned credential types.

User authentication is based on PKMv2 which is used to transfer EAP over the IEEE 802.16 air interface between the MS and the BS. The authenticator may not be located at the BS level; therefore, the BS may forward the EAP messages using the authentication relay protocol to the authenticator. The latter will encapsulate the EAP messages with conformance to the AAA protocol packets format and then forward them via one or more AAA proxies to the AAA server within the CSN of the home NSP. The AAA server keeps the matching between the subscription and the correspondent subscriber. When the MS is roaming, multiple AAA brokers with AAA proxies may be involved in the authentication process. Mobile WiMAX specifications impose the use of simple or double EAP authentication schemes for achieving device authentication and reject the RSA-based authentication in this case. The EAP methods used for authenticating mobile WiMAX devices have to generate the master session key (MSK) and the extended master session key (EMSK). The network access identifier (NAI) is used as identifier within EAP-based user and device network access authentication. Device credentials are either a device cert or a device PSK while the EAP device identifier should be an AMC address or an NAI in the form of MAC_address@NSP_domain depending on where the device authentication terminates. The PKMv2 procedure occurring at the network entry of the MS is depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1: PKMv2 Authorization and authentication procedure.

First, the initiation of the network entry according to the IEEE 802.16e specifications begins by a successful ranging that is followed by the exchange of SBC messages between the MS and the ASN. That SBC negotiation consists in negotiating the PKM version, PKMv2 security capabilities, and authorization policy. When the 802.16 air link is established between the BS and the MS, a link activation notification is sent to the authenticator that will immediately begin the EAP sequence. The EAP exchange may then begin; it results in the attribution of a particular NAI realm. The shared master session key (MSK) and the EMSK are then established in both the MS and the AAA server. The MSK will be transferred to the authenticator in the ASN within a RADIUS accept message while the EMSK will be retained at the home AAA server. The MS and the authenticator will generate the pairwise master key (PMK) from the MSK. Besides, the MS and the AAA server will generate the mobility keys from the EMSK, thus marking the end of the authentication part of the authorization flow. The authenticator and the MS will generate the AK from the PMK and then the key distributor entity at the authenticator level will deliver the AK and its context to the key receiver entity in the serving BS. The key receiver entity will cash the received information and generate the subsequent subordinate IEEE 802.16e keys from the AK and its context. The MS and the BS will also process the PKMv2 three-way handshake procedure which provides the MS with the list of SA descriptors identifying the primary and the static SAs. At this step, the MS and the BS may use the newly acquired AK for MAC management messages protection. For each SA, the MS will request two TEKs from the BS. The managing BS will randomly generate the keys, encrypt them using the symmetric KEK key and then transfer them to the BS. Next, the MS will process a network registration and the authenticator will be informed of its competition. Finally, the authenticator will trigger the service flow and the DP establishment process. During handoff, the PKMv2 procedure needs to be optimized. For instance, when the mobile moves within the same mobility domain, the AK will be validated by signing and verifying a frame via the CMAC using the AK that is newly derived from the same PMK as long as the PMK remains valid. The AK validation also needs to be combined with ranging. Last but not least, it should be possible to share the TEK within the same mobility domain when handover procedure between two BSs can transfer TEK context information. If the TEK is shared between a set of BSs, those BSs are considered as the same security entities within the same trusted domain.


IEEE 802.16e designers tried to address the security flaws of the IEEE 802.16d related to the protection of the control and the data traffic. For instance, IEEE 802.16e specifications introduce the new data link cipher Advanced Encryption Standard Counter with cipher-block-chaining MAC referred to as AES-CCM (counter with cipher-block chaining message authentication code). CCM mixes the counter mode encryption for data confidentiality with the CBC-MAC for data authenticity. This new cipher addresses the most fundamental deficiency of the original data protection scheme which is the lack-of-a-data-authenticity mechanism. The AES-CCM has been selected for many reasons. First, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has stated that CCM will become an approved mode for AES. Second, this mode is used in IEEE 802.11i. CCM can protect authenticated but unencrypted data so that the encryption scheme protects the GMH. Third, no intellectual property claims have been made against CCM. When using the AES-CCM cipher, the transmitter has to define a unique nonce that is a per-packet encryption randomizer. As specified by IEEE 802.16i standard, IEEE 802.16e adds a packet number to each MPDU to ensure each nonce’s uniqueness while the receiver should verify that the received packets correctly decrypt under AES-CCM and have a monotonically increasing packet number. A traffic encryption state machine with periodic TEK refresh improves the data traffic protection.

The control message’s protection is achieved using the AES based CMAC where CMAC refers to the cipher-based MAC or the MD5-based HMAC schemes. When adopting AES-CMAC, the computation of the keyed hash value defined in the CMAC Tuple should use the CMAC Algorithm with AES. The DL authentication key CMAC_KEY_D will be used to authenticate messages in the DL direction while the UL authentication key CMAC_KEY_U authenticates messages in the UL direction. Theses keys are generated from the AK . 

Compared to the checksum mechanism and the error-detecting codes, AES-CMAC guarantees stronger data integrity as it is able to detect intentional and unauthorized data modifications as well as accidental nonmalicious modifications. AES-CMAC achieves the security goals of the HMAC; nevertheless, it is more appropriate to use it for information systems in which the symmetric key block cipher AES is more available than a hash function.


Handover between different access networks is a hot research issue because it involves numerous challenges such as security, QoS provision, and billing. If we consider the handoff between IEEE 802.16e or mobile WiMAX and 3G, we will notice that the provided security services should be readdressed. For instance, an MS that accesses Internet services while switching from IEEE 802.16e to the 3G network or vice versa needs to properly process the authorization, authentication, and accounting steps to be able to maintain the ongoing session. If that MS has to execute AAA procedures all over again, the AAA server will be excessively requested while the handoff delay will increase as the MS will perform complicated processes. For all these reasons, the efficiency of the network will be reduced while the ongoing session may be interrupted. Authentication issue in case of vertical handover between IEEE 802.16e and 3G networks. The exemplary network environment they defined is made up of an IEEE 802.16e network, a 3G network, an AAA server, and an interbase station protocol (IBSP) mobility agent server. The 3G network includes an SGSN, a RNC, and multiple 3G BSs. The IEEE 802.16e network is made up of multiple BSs and an Access Router (AR) responsible for managing the wireless areas of several BSs.
When the MS tries to access the Internet from the IEEE 802.16e network via the BS, the managing BS of that MS will access the AAA server via the AR and then execute the AAA processes. After achieving AAA, the MS will be able to access the Internet while other IEEE 802.16e BSs will share the information on that MS by receiving the IBSP message multicasted from the managing BS. The IBSP message is first unicasted using UDP by the managing BS to the IBSP mobility agent server which is in charge of forwarding it. If the MS changes its managing BS but stills in the same IEEE 802.16e network during the session, the new managing BS will multicast the IBSP message throughout the entire network and update the location information of the MS without consulting the IBSP mobility agent server. The IBSP should guarantee the secure exchange of the MSs security context occurring between the current BS and the new BS during handoff. The 3G BS encompasses a virtual BS, a Node-B (NB), and a virtual BS-to-NB (VBS2NB) communication controller. The virtual BS is the representative BS of the 3G network which may be connected to Internet via the SGSN. When it receives the UDP packet with the IBSP message, the 3G BS treats it so that the IEEE 802.16e and the 3G networks can share the same information. The VBS2NB enables the NB to communicate with the virtual BS. The IBSP mobility agent server plays the role of intermediate between the IEEE 802.16e and the 3G networks. It is composed of an IBSP processing module, a representative BS list, and an MS database. The IBSP processing module treats the IBSP messages so that they may be shared between BSs in both access networks connected by the ISP. The representative BS list contains IP addresses of representative BSs in all access IEEE 802.16e and 3G networks that may be connected to each other by the ISP. The MS database contains all information related to the MS and found in the IBSP message such as the authentication key, the BSID, and the accounting information. That database is updated every time the MS enters a new access network. When the MS roams from the IEEE 802.16e network to the 3G network, the MS should issue a request to the 3G BS while the NB in the BS should generate a request for authentication information on the MS to the VBS2NB controller by using the MS-related information. The VBS2NB issues a request for authentication to the virtual BS. The latter should verify whether it possesses the requested authentication information. In that case, the BS will provide that information to the VBS2NB; otherwise, the BS should indicate that it has failed in providing the required data. The VBS2NB will transmit the information to the NB which will decide whether to perform an authentication process on the MS based on the received information. Next, the NB issues a request for PPP connecting the MS to the SGSN via the RNC without requiring generating additional authentication request for authenticating the MS to the SGSN. When the MS returns to the IEEE 802.16e network, the same procedures will be executed in the reverse order.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Mobile WiMAX intends to combine the advantages of both WiFi networks and third generation networks such as UMTS while intercommunicating with both.

Handoff with UMTS

If we carefully examine the reference models of both WiMAX and UMTS networks, we will notice that they share many similarities. For instance, the WiMAX ASN may be directly mapped to the UMTS terrestrial radio access network (UTRAN) while the CSN may be mapped to the UMTS core network as their functionalities are distributed in the same fashion. 

Moreover, the QoS classes of service provided by both technologies enable a direct transfer of traffic flows from one network to another. In fact, the UMTS conversational class may be mapped to the UGSs class, the UMTS streaming class to the nrtPS, the UMTS interactive service class to the (extended) rtPS, and the UMTS background class to the BE class. Regarding security, both UMTS and WiMAX networks support mutual authentication and provide integrity, replay protection, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation guarantees. Nevertheless, moving from WiMAX to UMTS will induce degradation in the provided data rates. Network planning authorities may choose between deploying loose or tight coupling between WiMAX and UMTS networks depending on the degree of integration of both networks. 

When loose coupling is implemented, access to the 3G AAA services is guaranteed by the packet data gateway (PDG) edge routers connected to the WiMAX network or routed through the Internet. PDG routers provide a tunnel termination gateway (TTG) between the WiMAX network and the mobile core network while providing charging gateway interfaces, IP address allocation, authentication in external networks, and single access to mobile core network packet data domain services. 

Meanwhile, WiMAX and UMTS traffics are separated so that WiMAX providers can implement their own mobility, authentication, and billing mechanisms while signing roaming agreements with 3G providers. 3G providers will benefit from extending the coverage of their networks while reducing the deployment costs and serving rural or inaccessible areas. However, loose coupling requires the implementation of higher level mobility management protocols that need to be media independent; thus adding complexity and latency when roaming between different access networks. To address this issue, each network should share its admission control and resource management information with the neighboring networks.

When tight coupling is implemented, WiMAX and UMTS networks will use the same core network components including gateways, AAA entities, and infrastructure. More specifically, the WiMAX network will be connected to the UMTS gateway GPRS support node (GGSN) and the packet-switching domain of the UMTS core network. The UMTS considers the WiMAX network as a radio network controller (RNC); therefore, mobile terminals need to implement the UMTS protocol stacks. Compared to loose coupling, tight coupling facilitates the management procedures as the same billing and authentication, and mobility protocols can be used for both networks. Besides, vertical handoff may be easily initialized and optimized as the core network possesses a clear view of resource status in both networks. However, introducing WiMAX traffic into the UMTS network should be preceded by adapting some core network entities to handle new types of load and traffic patterns to avoid capacity conflicts. Last but not least, the tight-coupling approach is less flexible in coverage extensions than loose coupling; consequently, it is generally practical to adopt it when WiAMX and UMTS networks are owned by the same operator and the integration is implemented by means of adding patches to the existing components.

Handoff with WiFi

IEEE 802.11e standard aims at providing QoS guarantees at the LAN scale by specifying differentiations mechanisms at the WiFi MAC layer. However, WiFi networks-limited coverage prevents them from providing continuous Internet-related services and real-time applications support anywhere and at any time. On the other hand, IEEE 802.16e, from which inherits mobile WiMAX, faces some problems related with energy saving and quality providing in some indoor areas. Consequently, integrating WiMAX and WiFi is a hot topic that is currently attracting an increasing number of researchers. A multilayer network protocol architecture that aims at addressing QoS and mobility issues for integrating WiFi and WiMAX. In fact, they designed a two-tier network that considers a 802.16e cell as overlay cell that overlays a few WiFi cells and 802.11e cells as underlay cell cluster. When the MS stills under the coverage of WiFi cells, handoff will be performed horizontally as WiFi can provide high bandwidth and good performance. The AP, which offers the highest bandwidth value and reduces the unnecessary handover probability due to signal strength dropping down, will be selected as target AP. Analyze multiple parameters in a cross-layer fashion to optimize the handoff decision. Examples of such parameters, which are adopted during the simulation, include residential time, WiMAX-cell capacity, and blocking and dropping probability.

The proposed network stack supports three IEEE 802.11 physical layers which are 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n, providing data rates of 11, 54, and 250 Mbps. The network stack also includes IEEE 802.16 and IEEE 802.16e physical and MAC layers. A handover layer based on the IEEE 802.21 standard lies between the lower layers and the network layer implementing the Fast Mobile IPv6 protocol. Management entities are present at each layer and implement all the required provisioning, maintenance, operation, and administration functions. They are also in charge of communicating with servers processing the QoS policies, the mobility decisions, and the profiles storage. To define unified layer 2 abstractions in the IEEE 802.21 to support layer 3 fast handoff. Moreover, WiFi/WiMAX and Fast Mobile IP interaction is achieved by the IEEE 802.21 primitives. They also base the handoff decision on the analysis of different link parameters such as signal strength, velocity of MNs, delay, service level prediction, etc. For instance, the target cell selection is speed sensitive, which means that the MNs are directed to the appropriate cell layer according to their velocity to decrease the blocking and dropping probabilities. A handoff protection mechanism consisting in reserving two free guard channels for handoff usage in advance to minimize the dropping of handoff calls. The proposed mobility management scheme depends on three types of arrival hosts in the WiFi cell.

 If a filtered MN arrives in the WiFi cell from neighboring WiMAX cells and overlaid WiMAX cell, the scheme does not change its state. However, if a nonfiltered MN arrives in the WiFi cell from overlaid WiMAX cell and initial session itself, and if the residential time is longer than the residential time threshold and the WiMAX cell has enough capacity, then it will be overflowed to the WiMAX cell to reduce the handoff probability. Otherwise, it will be assigned to the WiFi cell. Overflow thresholds to reduce the dropping of a handoff call and the blocking of a new call. When a nonfiltered MN arrives in the WiFi cell and the blocking and dropping probabilities of the WiMAX cell are less than the overflow threshold, it will be overflowed into the WiMAX cell. Otherwise, it will be assigned to the WiFi cell.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


IEEE 802.21 specifications aim at defining a framework that supports information exchange between entities belonging to different access networks and helps in taking handoff decisions; they also define a set of functional components that have to execute those decisions. The proposed framework is built around the media independent handover function (MIHF), which lies between layer 2 and layer 3 and provides higher layers with abstracted services through a unified interface. Three services can be distinguished: the event service, the command service, and the information service.

Media independent event services (MIES): In general, handover is triggered by multiple events that may occur at the terminal or the network level. The MIES provides event classification, event filtering, and event reporting corresponding to dynamic changes in link characteristics, link status, and link quality. Figure 1 shows that events can be classified into link events and MIH events. Besides, the event model follows the subscription/notification procedure. More specifically, the MIHF registers link event notifications with the interface while any upper-layers entity may register for an MIHF event notification. Link events are generated by both the physical and the MAC layers and then sent to the MIHF which has to report them to any entity that has registered an MIH event or a remote MIH event. MIH events are generated by the MIHF and may be local or remote. Local events occur at the client level while remote events take place in the network entities. Both link and MIH events are classified into six categories, which are administrative, state change, linkparameter, predictive, link synchronous, and link transmission. The most common events include link up, link down, link parameters change, link going down, link handover imminent, etc. Upon being notified about certain events, the upper layer uses the command service to control the links to switch to a new PoA when needed.

Figure 1: Media-independent event services.

Media independent command service: The media independent command service (MICS) enables MIH users to manage and control link behavior relevant to handovers and mobility. More specifically, MICS commands aim at gathering information about the status of the connected links along with transferring higher-layer mobility and connectivity decisions to lower layers. As shown in Figure 1, upper layers generate MIH commands which may be local or become remote depending on the destination entity. These MIH commands are translated by the MIHF to link commands which differ depending on the access network being used. Examples of MIH commands include MIH poll, MIH scan, MIH configure, and MIH switch. These intend to poll connected links to get informed about their most recent status, to scan for newly discovered links, to configure the new links and then to switch between the available links.

Media independent information service: Mobile terminals need to discover the heterogeneous neighboring networks and communicate with their entities to optimize the handoff process and facilitate seamless handoff when roaming across these networks. To address this issue, media independent information service (MIIS) provides the capability for obtaining the necessary information for handovers. Such information includes neighbor maps, link-layer information, and availability of services related to a particular geographic area. MIIS enables all layers to share IEs required for making handoff decisions; it also specifies the information structure and its representation while implementing a query/response type mechanism. Information may be either static such as the names and providers of the mobile terminals neighboring networks or dynamic such as channel information, MAC addresses, security information, etc. MIIS fulfils quick data transfer understood by different access technologies with very little decoding complexity. In fact, reports can be transferred either by means of type-length value (TLV) or using a schema referred to as resource description framework (RDF) which is represented in eXtensible Markup Language (XML). As layer 2 information may not be available or may not be rich enough to make intelligent handoff decisions, higher-layer services may be consulted to assist in the mobility decision making process.

Service access points: service access points (SAPs) represent the API through which the MIHF can communicate with the upper-layer and the lower-layer entities using IEEE 802.1 primitives. More specifically, we distinguish three types of SAPs: lower-layer SAPs, upper-layer SAPs, and management plane SAPs. Lower-layer SAPs vary according to the network access type as defined by each MAC and PHY relative to the corresponding access technology. On the other hand, upper-layer SAPs define the interface between the MIHF and upper-layer mobility management protocols or policy engines implemented within a client or a network entity. Finally, management SAPs describe the interfaces between the MIHF and the management plane of various networks.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Handoff optimization is a key challenge for the network management as it results in the enhancement of the network performances by optimizing throughput, routing, delay profiles, delivered QoS, and communication costs. Therefore, mobile WiMAX should take into consideration numerous parameters that implement a particular handoff policy to optimize the handoff performance, especially in case of interaction with heterogeneous networking technologies. It is valuable to note that IEEE 802.16e specifications consider the handover decision algorithms beyond the scope of the standard.

Monitoring Parameters

Radio resource management (RRM) specifications should guarantee efficient resource utilization in WiMAX networks by assisting functions such as QoS provision, service flow admission control, and mobility management. RRM mechanisms shall be implemented in ASNs either with BSs that directly communicate between them or with BSs having no direct communication between them or at a centralized RRM entity that does not reside in a BS but that collects and monitors radio resource indicators from several BSs. Each BS should collect data about the neighboring BSs either through static configuration data or through a different RRM entity aware of the dynamic load of neighboring BSs. RRM mechanisms should support network functions in taking the required decisions. For instance, RRM may assist handoff preparation and control to improve the overall performances. 

For example, RRM mechanisms may optimize the system load control by selecting the most suitable target BS during handoff or updating the list of recommended BSs to handoff. The radio resources available at a BS where a BS-ID defines a sector with a single frequency assignment may be a good hint for BS selection during network entry or handoff. More specifically, the available radio resource indicator, which gives the percentage of reported average available subchannels and symbols resources perframe, may be used to select recommended target BSs that achieve approximately equal load. Averaging is calculated over a configurable time interval with a default value of 200 frames [8]. Choosing the more suitable BS as a target BS is done through scanning and association activities. The criteria that enlighten the choice may include the link quality in the UL direction. Such handoff monitoring parameters are measured by the MSs and then sent in a form of report to the managed BS, which may deliver them to the radio resource controller (RRC). The RRC, which is generally implemented at the ASN GW or at a BS, controls multiple radio resource agents (RRAs) located at the BS level. RRAs maintain a database of collected radio resource indicators received by the managed MSs or by the respective BSs. In fact, IEEE 802.16d amendments define the receive signal strength indicator (RSSI) and the CINR as two main signal quality indicators that help in assigning BSs and selecting adaptive burst profiles. The specifications also define the mean and the standard deviation because the channel behavior varies in time. These indicators enable the channel quality monitoring and may be augmented to include measurements related to QoS parameters such as the burst error rate. 

It is valuable to note that the RSSI measurements do not require receiver demodulation lock; therefore, they provide reliable channel-strength estimation even at low signal levels. Each BS has to collect the RSSI measurements while each MS shall obtain an RSSI measurement in an implementation-specific fashion. After performing successive RSSI measurements, the MS should derive and update estimates of the mean and the standard deviation of the RSSI and then report them in units of dBm via a REP-RSP message. To obtain such a report, statistics are quantized in 1 dB increments ranging from40 to 123 dBm while the values outside that range are assigned the closest extreme value within the scale. IEEE 802.16d specifications do not impose how to estimate the RSSI of a single message, but they claim the relative accuracy of a single-signal-strength measurement taken from a single message to be 2 dB with an absolute accuracy of 4 dB. 

Each BS has to collect the CINR measurements while each MS shall obtain a CINR measurement in an implementation-specific fashion. After performing successive CINR measurements, the MS should derive and update estimates of the mean and the standard deviation of the CINR and then report them in units of dB REP-RSP messages. IEEE 802.16d specifications do not impose how to estimate the CINR of a single message, but they claim the relative accuracy of a single signal strength measurement taken from a single message to be 1 dB with an absolute accuracy of 2 dB.

Optimization Functions

The handoff process should not decrease the overall performance; therefore, it should implement mechanisms that optimize the delay to support real-time applications such as VoIP and video streaming. Connection dropping should also be reduced. IEEE 802.16e and mobile WiMAX specifications define prescan mechanism to measure the radio connection and select the target BS before handoff execution. Nevertheless, the handoff procedure should include not only layer 2 handoff but also the IP layer handoff for IP-based services. 

Figure 1 below shows that layer 3 handoff, which includes movement detection, IP configuration, and location registration subphases, highly affects the overall handoff delay and requires much more time to be executed than layer 2 handoff. Optimizing such delay is a hot research issue. For instance, the fast handoff procedure proposed proposes to process the configuration of CoA, duplicated address detection (DAD), etc. in advance to reduce the handoff latancy. However, the mobile IP procedure always begins after ending layer two handoff so that the handoff delay is the summation of the layer 2 handoff delay and layer 3 handoff delay. Consequently, it is imperative to consider the correlation between layer 2 and layer 3 within a cross-layer scheme. Analyzed the signaling message flow sequence and the format of both IEEE 802.16e and fast MIPv6 to correlate both handoff procedures and minimize the required signaling overhead. For instance, propose to integrate some layer 3 handoff information with the MOB_HO_IND message and the RNG_REQ as they share semantic characteristics while performing the handoff.

Figure 1: The handoff process for IP based services.

Regarding QoS, mobile WiMAX specifications define different classes of services having different requirements in the quality of the traffic delivered to MSs. This quality is generally measured in terms of data integrity, latency, and jitter. The handoff process should be optimized to not highly affect these parameters. For instance, maintaining data integrity during handoff means that the packet loss, duplication, or reordering rates will not be considerably increased while the impact on the DP setup latency/jitter should be minimized. From the QoS point of view, there are controlled handoffs and uncontrolled handoffs. A controlled handoff should respect the following conditions:
  • If the handoff is initiated by the MS, the latter should send to its serving BS a list of potential targets.
  • Network should base its target selection on the list of potential targets provided by the MS.
  • Network should inform the MS with the list of available targets for handoff. If that list is empty, the network will refuse to accept MS handoff. The available targets list should be a subset of the one requested by the MS or reported by it.
  • MS should process handoff by moving to one of the provided targets or it should cancel the handoff. The decision is sent via the MOB_HO-IND message.
When any of these conditions is not respected, the handoff is considered uncontrolled and does not provide any QoS guarantees. In the worst case, the MS can connect to the target BS without any indications given to that target BS inducing an unpredictive handoff. To provide data integrity and optimize the handoff process, several mechanisms are provided and classified into two main groups: DP setup mechanisms and DP synchronization mechanisms. DP setup mechanisms refer mainly to buffering and bi-multicasting. Buffering consists in saving the traffic of the services for which data integrity is required at the DP originator or the DP terminator level. 

Nevertheless, the buffering point may change during handoff based on the data integrity mechanism selection. Moreover, buffering may be done only during handoff or for simplicity within the lifetime of a session. On the other hand, multicasting refers to multicasting downstream traffic at the originator endpoint of the DP while bicasting consists in bicasting traffic to the serving element and to only one target. It is worth noticing that bicasting achieves better performances when it is combined with buffering. DP synchronization mechanisms aim at guaranteeing data delivery in different data functions, which buffered the different DPs (serving and target) used to deliver the data during handoff. It is achieved by using either sequence numbers, data retrieving, or Ack window with sequence number disablement. 

A sequence number is attached to each SDU in the ASN DP and then incremented by one every time it is forwarded in the DP. Data retrieving does not require the definition of sequence numbers; the anchor DP function buffers or copies the data during handoff preparation, and when a final target BS is identified, the serving BS will push back all the nonsent packets to anchor/target DF. When Ack window with sequence number disablement is implemented, data storage buffers in anchor DP are released by full or partial ACKs from the serving BS without requiring sequence numbers. Vertical handoff between mobile WiMAX and other wireless networks represents a hot research topic as it requires the implementation of optimization algorithms that are able to decide when to initiate handoff and which access network to choose while minimizing the handoff latency and preserving the security context and the required QoS. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Cell selection/resection enables a correct network topology acquisition and guides the handover process in selecting the best target BS.

1:  Neighbor Advertisement from Serving Base Station

Each BS in the network should broadcast information describing the network topology via MOB_NBR-ADV messages. As stated earlier, these messages carry channel information for neighboring BSs normally provided by each BS’s own DCD/UCD messages. The serving BS may obtain such neighbors-related information over the backbone before broadcasting it to the managed MSs. Thanks to MOB_NBR-ADV messages, MSs are able to synchronize with the neighboring BSs without being obliged to monitor transmission for individual DCD/UCD broadcasts. The standard specifications fix the maximum period of sending the MOB_NBR-ADV message to 1 s so that an MS moving at high speed through the coverage area of each BS may get the message and perform handoff. It is valuable to note that the period of sending the MOB_NBR-ADV message determines the maximum speed, with which an MS is allowed to move through the network; therefore, it must be carefully chosen. Optimizing the handoff process requires a selection of the most suitable target BS that fits mobility path and application needs. To achieve that goal, MSs have to scan multiple channels to discover neighboring BSs and then select the best target. That selection may be based on different parameters such as the measured signal strength, the packet delay, the error ratio, the throughput, and the security level . Cell reselection is achieved when the MS scans and/or associates with more than one BS to evaluate their suitability as handover target. The MS may integrate information obtained from a MOB_NBR_ADV message to give insight into available neighboring BSs for cell reselection. Note that the serving BS may allocate scanning intervals or sleep intervals for the cell reselection activity. However, such activity does not require terminating the ongoing connection with the serving BS.

2:  Periodic Intervals for Scanning Neighbor

Usually, the serving BS allocates time intervals known as scanning intervals to the MSs. Unfortunately, channel scanning can be a relatively time-consuming activity; therefore, MSs should process it and obtain the neighboring BSs list before performing handoff. The duration and frequency of scanning should be carefully determined to interleave scanning period and normal operations without affecting the network performances and the provided QoS. It is clear that a long scanning period increases the packets jitter and the end-to-end delay while imposing large buffer sizes. 

Contrarily, a short scanning period requires multiple iterations and increases the overall scanning duration. The scanning procedure depicted in Figure 1 begins when an MS sends a MOB-SCN_REQ message to its serving BS to request the allocation of a group of scanning intervals while indicating the estimated duration of time required for the scan. The serving BS replies by a MOB-SCN_RSP message denying the request or stating the scanning interval duration that should be at least as long as requested by the MS. If no MOB-SCN_RSP message is received within a timer, the MS may retransmit the MOB-SCN_REQ message. The serving BS may also send an unsolicited MOB-SCN_RSP message with a value of zero associated with the scan duration to trigger the MS to report scanning result. 

Upon the receipt of a positive MOB-SCN_RSP message, the MS may begin scanning for one or more BSs during the time interval stated in that message. The MS may attempt to synchronize with the DL transmission of the scanned BS and estimate the quality of the PHY channel. IEEE 802.16e specifies a default scanning strategy requiring that each MS keeps a nonvolatile storage where it saves the last set of operational parameters. When the MS intends to acquire a DL channel, it should use its stored information. 

However, if that MS fails to obtain the DL channel, it will continuously scan the possible channels of the DL frequencies until it finds a DL signal. IEEE 802.16e specifications support temporarily suspending the communication between the BS and the MS during the scanning period. The exchange of MOB-SCN_REQ and MOB-SCN_RSP messages enables each entity to buffer packets while the normal communication is temporarily suspended. An MS may end scanning and return to the normal operation mode anytime during any scanning interval; this is achieved by sending a MAC PDU message such as a bandwidth request to the target BS. At the end of scanning, the MS should report the scan status to its serving BS via a MOB-SCN_REP message.

Figure 1: IEEE 802.16e scanning operation.

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