Sunday, February 5, 2012


In Figure 1, we present the overall network architecture of a WiMAX network. The network can be logically partitioned into three components, user terminals, ASN, and CSN. User terminals capture the data origination points, could be using the fixed, mobile, or portable WiMAX technology. All the three variations can be supported using a common air interface. ASN spans the BS and the ASN-GW. BS receives the transmitted signal, processes it, and converts into an IP packet and sends to the GW on the outgoing IP transport link. GW receives and upon processing determines the destination on the network side and sends the packet. BS and GW are connected to each other using an IP transport. Typical implementations would have BS located in the field/coverage area and the GW will be centrally located in the switch centers. Therefore, the IP link between BS and GW forms the transport backhaul network. CSN contains many different commercial off-the shelf (COTS) components, which provide connectivity services to the WiMAX subscribers. Addressing, authentication, and availability (AAA) servers, mobile IP home agent (MIP HA), IP multimedia services (IMS), content services, etc. provide support for seamless services to subscribers. AAA servers ensure that a user is uniquely identified and authenticated as legitimate customer. MIP HA ensures that roaming across IP networks is handled and accurate routing of data packets is ensured. Call processing related services are provided by IMS entity. Billing and operational support systems help in managing the overall network.

Figure 1: Logical network architecture of a WiMAX network.
In Figure 2, we present typical implementation of a WiMAX network in a market. For example, say a carrier plans to lay down WiMAX network in Washington D.C. market. Typically, we would have more than 100 BSs connecting to a GW location, based on the anticipated traffic, each GW location might require a cluster of servers providing the functions of the GW. Each IP transport link would be leased from the local carrier and provisioned. Based upon the cost points and required capacity, the carrier can choose to directly lease a TDM segment, Ethernet link, fiber connectivity, etc. Components of the CSN located at each switch center might also be implemented using clusters and would have enough capacity to support the entire market. Switch centers could be connected to each other using a high speed IP network running on an OC-192 (or higher) SONET ring leased from local exchange carrier. Actual network would also include connectivity to the other markets, trunking with public switched telephone network (PSTN) via the end office (EO), tandem connections with other wireless carriers, etc.

Figure 2: Physical network architecture of a WiMAX network.
For most WiMAX networks, it is unlikely that the carriers would provision the IP transport based on the capacity of the WiMAX air interface. According to WiMAX forum, air interface built on 10 MHz channel with 2 × 2 MIMO can support peak downlink rate of 63 Mbps and peak uplink rate of 28 Mbps per sector. Assuming three sectors per BS, this would translate into close to 200 Mbps of backhaul transport for each BS. When we share the symbols 3:1 between DL and UL, it could provide data rates of 46 Mbps DL and 8 Mbps UL per sector. Even then it would require about 150 Mbps of capacity between BS and GW. Such a requirement would lead to an unmanageable backhaul cost, which might become a road block in the large-scale adoption of the WiMAX technology.
Our contention is that the service providers will only provision based on the anticipated demand. For example, they might provision just enough capacity for voice calls, Mvideo calls, and few more Mbps for best effort. This would ensure that the initial cost of building the network is manageable, and as the users grow, more backhaul can be added to ensure acceptable QoS for the subscribers.
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