Thursday, July 28, 2011


Designing, deploying, and managing any wireless cellular system requires clear objectives to be identified from the outset. These includes definition of the footprint coverage, the estimated number of users, the traffic load distribution, the penetration and growth rate, and internetwork access and roaming. Mobile WiMAX, which will be deployed like 2G and 3G cellular networks, supports fractional frequency. Fractional frequency reuse takes advantage of the fact that mobile WiMAX user transmit on subchannels and does not occupy an entire channel such as in 3G. The objective of the radio network dimensioning and design activity is to estimate the number of sites required to provide coverage and capacity for the targeted service areas and subscriber forecast. This process is based on many assumption such as uniform distribution of subscribers, homogenous morphology, and ideal site location. The main inputs required for network dimensioning are site equipment-specific parameters, marketing-specific parameters, and licenses regulation and propagation models. Figure 1 shows the flow chart of activities performed in network design and planning, starting from data collection of marketing and design requirement input and achieving the business model to provide a nominal site plan using a network simulation software.

Figure 1: The cell planning process.
Mobile WiMAX is designed to complement existing 2G/3G access technologies with an “Always Best Connected” experience with voice and data connections. There is a large range of possible scenarios for the deployment of mobile WiMAX, but main four categories are
  • Fixed and mobile operator with enhanced data for GSM evolution (EDGE)/3G who uses mobile WiMAX as a complementary extension for data services
  • Mobile only operator with EDGE/3G who uses mobile WiMAX as a complementary extension for data services
  • Fixed operator who uses mobile WiMAX to compete with 3G operators for data and voice services
  • New entrant who uses mobile WiMAX to move into mobile market—threat to incumbent mobile operator.
WiMAX operates in a mixture of licensed and unlicensed bands. The unlicensed bands are typically the 2.4- and 5.8-GHz bands. Licensed spectrum provides operators control over the usage of the band, allowing them to build a high-quality network. The unlicensed band, on the other hand, allows independence to provide backhaul services for hotspots. Typical area licensed WiMAX spectrum allocations are
  • Lower 700 MHz (US) with 2 × 6 MHz channels
  • 2.5 GHz Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service with 15.5 MHz in US and 72 MHz in Canada
  • 3.5 GHz Wireless Local Loop with 2 × 2 MHz channel blocks
  • 5.8 GHz UNI (license exempt) with 80 MHz allocation
WiMAX access networks are often deployed in point-to-multipoint cellular fashion where a single BS provides wireless coverage to a set of end users stations within the coverage area. The technology behind WiMAX has been optimized to provide both large coverage distances of up to 30 km under line-of-sight (LOS) situations and typical cell range of up to 8 km under NLOS. In an NLOS, a signal reaches the receiver through reflections, scattering, and diffractions. The signals arriving at the receiver consists of many components from direct and indirect paths with different delay spreads, attenuation, polarizations, and stability relative to the direct path. WiMAX technology solves or mitigates the problem resulting from NLOS conditions by using OFDMA, Subchannelization, directional antennas, transceiver diversity, adaptive modulation, error correction, and power control. The NLOS technology also reduces installation expenses by making the under-the-eaves customer premise equipment (CPE) installation a reality and easing the difficulty of locating adequate CPE mounting locations.
Both LOS and NLOS coverage conditions are governed by propagation characteristics of their environment, radio link budget, and path loss. In both the cases, relays help to extend the range of the BS footprint coverage allowing for a cost-efficient deployment and service.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Mobile WiMAX operates in licensed frequency bands in the range of 2 to 6 MHz. The technologies employed by mobile WiMAX include the following:
  • Scalable orthogonal frequency division multiple access (SOFDMA) on the physical layer
  • MIMO
  • IP
  • Adaptive antenna systems (AAS)
  • Adaptive modulation schemes (AMS)
  • Advanced encryption standard (AES) encryption


Mobile WiMAX will initially operate in the 2.3, 2.5, 3.3, and 3.4–3.8 GHz spectrum bands using SOFDMA. OFDMA is perhaps the most important technology associated with WiMAX. SOFDMA is based on OFDMA which in turn is based on OFDM. OFDM is a form of frequency division multiplexing, but it has higher spectral efficiency and resistance to multipath fading and path loss compared to other multiplexing methods. It divides the allocated frequency spectrum into subcarriers which are at right angles to each other. This reduces the possibility of cross-channel interference thereby allowing the subcarriers to overlap. This reduces the amount of frequency spectrum required, hence the high spectral efficiency. The reduced data rate of each stream reduces the possibility of intersymbol interference because there is more time between the arrival of symbols from different paths. This feature of OFDM makes it resistant to multipath fading and ideal for nonline of sight (NLOS) applications. In OFDMA each frequency subcarrier is divided into subchannels which can be accessed by multiple users hence increasing the capacity of OFDM.
Scalable OFDMA is a form of OFDMA which allows variable channel bandwidth allocation from 1.25 to 20 MHz. SOFDMA has capabilities which make it ideal for the implementation of IP and hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ). WiMAX also uses other features to enhance the performance of OFDMA. They include dynamic frequency shifting, MIMO, AAS, and software-defined radios. Dynamic frequency shifting monitors the signal and changes frequencies to avoid interference. Software-defined radios are controlled by changing software settings and this gives the equipment more flexibility when switching frequencies.
MIMO is a technology that has already found use in WiFi (IEEE 802.11n). MIMO multiplies the point-to-point spectral efficiency by using multiple antennas and RF chains at both the BS and the MS. MIMO achieves a multiplicative increase in throughput compared to single-input, single-output (SISO) architecture by carefully coding the transmitted signal across antennas, OFDM symbols, and frequency tones. These gains are achieved at no cost in bandwidth or transmit power.
AAS are spatial processing systems which combine antenna arrays with sophisticated signal processing. They reduce the effects of interference from multiple signal paths thereby also contributing to high capacity of the system and the use of mobile WiMAX in NLOS environments.


The 802.16 MAC sublayer uses a scheduling algorithm for which the subscriber station only needs to compete for initial entry into the network. The scheduling algorithm also allows the BS to control QoS parameters by balancing the time-slot assignments among the application needs of the subscriber stations.
WiMAX supports QoS differentiation for different types of applications. The 802.16 standard defines the following types of services:
  • Unsolicited grant services (UGS): UGS is designed to support constant bit rate (CBR) services, such as T1/E1 emulation, and Voice-over-IP (VoIP) without silence suppression.
  • Real-time polling services (rtPS): rtPS is designed to support real-time services that generate variable size data packets on a periodic basis, such as MPEG video or VoIP with silence suppression.
  • Nonreal-time polling services (nrtPS): nrtPS is designed to support nonreal-time services that require variable size data grant burst types on a regular basis.
  • Best effort (BE) services: BE services are typically provided by the Internet today for Web surfing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The CSN is the transport, authentication, and switching part of the network. It represents the core network in WiMAX. It consists of the home agent (HA) and the AAA system and also contains the IP servers, gateways to other networks, i.e., public switched telephone network (PSTN), and 3G.
WiMAX has five main open interfaces which include reference points R1, R2, R3, R4, and R5 interface. The R1 interface interconnects the subscriber to the BS in the ASN and is the air interface defined on the physical layer and Medium Access Control (MAC) sublayer. The R2 is the logical interface between the mobile subscriber and the CSN. It is associated with authorization, IP host configuration management, services management, and mobility management. The R3 is the interface between the ASN and CSN and supports AAA, policy enforcement, and mobility management capabilities. The R4 is an interface between two ASNs. It is mainly concerned with coordinating mobility of MSs between different ASNs. The R5 is an interface between two CSNs and is concerned with internetworking between two CSNs. It is through this interface that activities such as roaming are carried out.
The unbundling of WiMAX divides the network based on functionality. The ASN falls under the network access provider (NAP). The NAP is a business entity that provides WiMAX network access to a network service provider (NSP). The NSP is a business entity that provides core network services to the WiMAX network and consists of the CSN. The Applications services fall under the applications service provider (ASP).
If network operator wants to reap the full benefits that WiMAX and its all-IP architecture can deliver, they need to carefully select the ASN and CSN solutions that best suit their requirements and provide all the functionality required while avoiding unnecessary complexity in their network.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


The ASN is the access network of WiMAX and it provides the interface between the user and the core service network. Mandatory functions as defined by the WiMAX forum include the following:
  • Handover
  • Authentication through the proxy authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) server
  • Radio resource management
  • Interoperability with other ASN’s
  • Relay of functionality between CSN and mobile station (MS), e.g., IP address allocation
Base station (BS): The cell equipment comprises the basic BS equipment, radio equipment, and BS link to the backbone network. The BS is what actually provides the interface between the mobile user and the WiMAX network. The coverage radius of a typical BS in urban areas is around 500–900 m. In rural areas the operators are planning cells with a radius of 4 km. This is quite a realistic number now and quite similar to the coverage areas of GSM and UMTS high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) BSs today.
Deployment is driven either by the bandwidth required to meet demand, or by the geographic coverage required to cover the area. Based on the cell planning of other previous technologies, urban and suburban segments cell deployment will likely be driven by capacity. Rural segment deployment will likely be driven by the cell radius. For BTS systems, the emphasis is more on performance than on cost and size, although there still is an interest in low cost because WiMAX is a new deployment.
ASN gateway: The ASN gateway performs functions of connection and mobility management and interservice provider network boundaries through processing of subscriber control and bearer data traffic. It also serves as an Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) authenticator for subscriber identity and acts as a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) client to the operator’s AAA servers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The mobile WiMAX end-to-end network architecture is based on an All-Internet Protocol (IP) platform, all packet technology, and no circuit switch telephony. The end-to-end architecture makes the greatest possible use of IETF and IEEE standards and protocols along with the adoption of commonly available standard equipment.
The open IP architecture gives network operators great flexibility when selecting solutions that work with legacy networks or that use the most advanced technologies, and in determining what functionality they want their network to support. They can choose from a vertically integrated vendor that provides a turnkey solution or they can pick and choose from a dense ecosystem of best-of-breed players with a more narrow focus. The architecture allows modularity and flexibility to accommodate a broad range of deployment options such as small scale to large scale, urban, suburban, and rural coverage, mesh topologies, flat, hierarchical and their variant, and finally, coexistance of fixed, nomadic portable and mobile usage models.
Mobile WiMAX adds both the mobility and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) functionalities to the IEEE 802.16-2005 standard. It is one of two standards adopted by the WiMAX forum with the other one being the IEEE 802.16-2004. Mobile WiMAX network architecture mainly has three components. These include the access services network (ASN), the core services network (CSN), and the application services (AS) network. Figure 12.1 illustrates the interconnection of these networks. The WiMAX network supports the following key functions:
  • All-IP access and core service networks
  • Support for fixed, nomadic, and mobile access
  • Interoperability with existing networks via internetworking functions
  • Open interfaces between ASNs and between the ASN and the CSN
  • Support for differential quality of service (QoS) depending on the application
  • Unbundling of the access, core, and application service networks
Figure 1: WiMAX network architecture.

Friday, July 1, 2011

WiMAX—Architecture, Planning, and Business Model

The fixed/portable broadband wireless access is becoming a necessity for many residential and business subscribers worldwide. The demand is exploding as the pricing of broadband services is rapidly decreasing. The worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX) technology is an integral part of the portfolio by complementing 2G/3G mobile access, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) broadband fixed access, and Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) hotspot access. An extended overview of WiMAX and its applications in higher generation wireless networks as a cost-effective solution to answering the challenges posed by the digital divide is presented. Technology behind WiMAX and its network architecture, design, and deployment are examined in addition to factors that impact WiMAX planning and performance. A WiMAX radio coverage simulation and analysis at different frequency bands for different demographic is presented. Furthermore, the WiMAX business models and a comparison with two enhanced third-generation (3G) technologies that are potential competitors to WiMAX are explored. 

Telecommunications has grown at a tremendous rate in the last ten to twenty years. Improved semiconductor and electronics manufacturing technology, and the growth of the Internet and mobile telecommunications have been some of the factors which have fueled this growth in telecommunications. The deployment of state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure and services has, however, been restricted to the developed world. The least developed countries have been left in the technological dark ages with few or none of the next-generation networks installed. Developed countries now boast high-speed connections with a large percentage of homes having access to the Internet and broadband services at an affordable fee. The underdeveloped countries are yet to enjoy such facilities. This is referred to as the digital divide. During the first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in December 2003, the Digital Divide was defined as the unequal access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), where the least developed countries are separated from the developed countries because of a lack of technology particularly ICT.
The digital divide has persisted due to the relatively high cost of putting up modern telecommunications infrastructure. This is compounded by the fact that there are a number of different services available and each service requires its own technology and network. Therefore, existing technologies such as Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), and the relatively new 3G technologies have not been able to provide a total solution to closing the digital divide. Figure 1 illustrates the main network types and the prevalent technologies associated with each, mapped against usage models and access modes.

Figure 1: Wireless network type and range. MAN—metropolitan area network (citywide, rural area), LAN—local area network (office, home, campus), and WAN—wide area network (countrywide, international).
WiMAX will boost today’s fragmented broadband wireless access market and mobile WiMAX promises to offer a solution to closing the existing digital divide. WiMAX can address the fixed wireless access and portable Internet market, complementing other broadband wireless technologies. Government initiatives to reduce the digital divide are making gains for broadband wireless countries such as Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States have programs in place today, and there has been a push by the European Commission for more flexible spectrum policies.
WiMAX access can be easily integrated within both fixed and mobile architectures, enabling operators to integrate it within a single converged core network, thereby providing new capabilities for a user-centric broadband world.
WiMAX addresses the following needs which may answer the question of closing the digital divide:
  • Cost effective
  • Offers high data rates
  • Supports fixed, nomadic, and mobile applications thereby converging the fixed and mobile networks
  • Easy to deploy and has flexible network architectures
  • Supports interoperability with other networks
  • Aimed at being the first truly a global wireless broadband network
WiMAX is a standard that is championed by the WiMAX forum which was formed in June 2001 to promote conformance to IEEE 802.16 standard. The WiMAX forum currently has more than 470 members comprising the majority of operators, component, and equipment companies in the communications ecosystem. The WiMAX forum promotes interoperability by working closely with IEEE and other standards groups such as the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) which have their own versions of broadband wireless. Along these lines, the WiMAX forum works closely with service providers and regulators to ensure that WiMAX forum certified systems meet customer and government requirements.
The original WiMAX standard only catered for fixed and nomadic services. It was reviewed to address full mobility applications; hence, the mobile WiMAX standard, defined under the IEEE 802.16e specification was created. Mobile WiMAX supports full mobility, nomadic, and fixed systems to compete against DSL to cover isolated areas such as rural hot spots, private campus networks, and remote neighborhoods. Mobile WiMAX is more promising to be deployed as a cellular network that offers ubiquitous broadband services to mobile users to over large geographical areas. It can be deployed as a central office bypass to avoid using existing wired infrastructure for competitive local exchange carriers and wireless Internet service provider. Figure 2 shows the standard history for 802.16.

Figure 2: 802.16 standard evolution.
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