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.
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