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Wireless BroadBand Technologies

Hand-Off Hand-Off Evolution Evolution

with with Multiple Multiple Interfaces

Ching-Lun Lin and Chih-Hsiang Ho, Institute for Information Industry, Taiwan Jen-Yi Pan, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan

Multiple interface integration—particularly during hand-off—will be imperative in 4th-generation wireless networks. Interface scheduling could resolve routing optimization, improve connection quality of service, and save power, all at full bandwidth utilization, but new issues such as simultaneous location must also be considered.

U sers have experienced seamless hand- off during cell phone calls when con- nected to single interfaces. In the fu- ture, however, seamless hand-off will

become commonplace even when devices are con- nected to multiple interfaces. The Ambient Net- works project (www.ambient-networks.org) is de- veloping a framework to let devices navigate com- plex network environments, allowing users access to and control over communication services of- fered through multiple interfaces. A good multiple- interface management mechanism is clearly be- coming essential. A robust mechanism for handling multiple interfaces can ease hand-off latency and packet loss by using soft hand-off, which buffers essential data for continuous transmission and prevents

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P u b l i s h e d

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t h e

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interruptions in connections during hand-off. The hand-off mechanism should manage mul- tiple interfaces according to user requirements with minimum control packets. Under a high- density wireless network, control packet man- agement with multiple interfaces becomes more important than ever. The continuously hetero- geneous hand-off scenario, which we call hand- around, differs from hand-off in that it has highly overlapped wireless signals, a complicated deci- sion policy, and simultaneous location issues. Basic hand-off decision policies and network environment probing techniques make transmis- sion through multiple interfaces more efficient. In this article, we focus on multiple-interface hand-off management mechanisms rather than hand-off decision policies.

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The Evolution of Hand-Off

The term hand-off (also called hand-over) refers to the process of transferring an ongoing call or data session from one channel connected to the core network to another (www.3gpp.org/specs/ specs.htm). In wireless IP networks, Mobile IPv4 (MIP) 1 naturally defines the process of moving as hand-off. Hand-off latency is the time between the last connection and the next data transmis- sion, but it also involves layer-two (L2) hand- off delay (the interface-association time), layer- three (L3) hand-off delay (the IP registration- blocking period), and TCP/upper layer hand-off delay (connection-reestablishment time). As multiple interface technology has evolved, so too has hand-off—from homogeneous to heterogeneous. 1 Generally, we distinguish ho- mogeneous and heterogeneous hand-off by the types of interfaces involved. If we change the communication interface after the hand-off procedure, we’re doing a heterogeneous hand- off. Users can simultaneously connect to differ- ent IP domains through multiple L2 interfaces and synchronously transmit data on both links in the overlapped wireless area. Hand-off in this scenario is extremely complicated; we clas- sify and analyze four hand-off methods for per- forming it based on different L2 and L3 models in Table 1. We can differentiate homogeneous from heterogeneous hand-off by whether the com- munication device changes IP domains (either remaining within Wi-Fi or changing from Wi-Fi to 3G, for example). The terms “intra” and “inter” also indicate whether users need to change IP ad- dresses (for instance, moving from the 100.0.0.0 to the 200.0.0.0 IP domain). Table 1 highlights four scenarios:

1. The user remains in a single IP domain but changes to a different L2 base station (BS) for the hand-off procedure. This is as simple as a normal L2 hand-off procedure because it occurs within one IP domain.

2. The user has multiple interfaces located in different IP domains, and one interface changes to a different L2 BS for the hand- off procedure. Because we’re still using the same interface, the user simply processes a single-interface hand-off procedure, but we need to perform a common L3 IP mobility

Table 1. Hand-off scenario classifications.

Domain

Intra-IP domain (layer 2)

Inter-IP domain (layer 3)

Network

homogeneous

1. d l2

2. d l2 + d l3

heterogeneous

3. d in + d l2

4. d in + d l2 + d l3

D L2 : Layer 2 interface reassociation time. D L3 : Layer 3 MIPv4 / MIPv6 registration and IP reconfiguration time. D In : Time it takes the system to start or switch different layer 2 interfaces.

procedure because the new L2 BS belongs to a different IP domain.

3. The user remains in one IP domain and changes to a different L2 interface for a special purpose. The L2 wireless connec- tions switch interfaces (for example, from 3G to Wi-Fi). Given that both interfaces still belong to the same IP domain, we don’t need a new IP address to establish a new connection.

4. The user employs multiple interfaces located in different IP domains and changes to a dif- ferent L2 interface for a special purpose. The L2 wireless connections switch interfaces and trigger the L3 IP mobility procedure be- cause the new L3 IP domain is different.

In heterogeneous hand-off, we can perform a soft hand-off by using another interface. Mul- tiple connections help decrease hand-off latency and data loss. As Figure 1 illustrates, hand-around is a spe- cial case of heterogeneous hand-off. We define it as an iterative hand-off procedure incorpo- rated within a high-density network operation. 3 It takes place when a mobile station (MS) with multiple interfaces moves into an area with overlapping heterogeneous L2 wireless net- works and different L3 IP domains. Operating in a densely overlapped network, the MS al- ways maintains at least one connected interface while other interfaces process hand-offs. The MS rarely disconnects due to lack of signals. In hand-around, wireless coverage areas are high- ly overlapped, and two or more IP domains are likely to overlap, which means that users can synchronously transmit data through one or more interfaces.

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Wireless BroadBand Technologies

Hand-around challenges some previously held assumptions about hand-off processes:

Network construction. Wireless network con- struction has traditionally aimed to maximize coverage while minimizing the number of BSs. Both homogeneous and heterogeneous hand- off act on this assumption. In hand-around processing environments, such as airports and conference rooms, heavy load-sharing or im- proved transmission quality should be primary considerations in network construction rather than just connection coverage.

Hand-off latency. As far as we know, most MSs use only one network interface at a time. In dense wireless environments, MSs can con- tinuously receive wireless signals, but without technical enhancements, users can experience unacceptable hand-off latency. Soft hand-off could eliminate latency and instability if we use multiple interfaces. Devices can choose stable links based on the probing information gath- ered by unused interfaces. Yet, decision mak- ing becomes difficult in high-density network environments because the network conditions change frequently, and latency can increase to unacceptable levels. Hand-off latency occurs in

heterogeneous hand-off, but the network com- plexity makes it even worse in hand-around.

Bandwidth exhaustion. In heterogeneous hand- off, MSs can simultaneously receive packets through multiple interfaces in an overlapped area to avoid losing data. This method works in small overlapped areas, but it quickly ex- hausts bandwidth in the quest for better data stability and low hand-off latency. MSs con- currently use both interfaces for a long time and exhaust redundant bandwidth, so even though bandwidth exhaustion is generally banished from hand-off decision policies, it has a great influence on the decision to use hand-around.

Hand-around is a continuous hand-off proce- dure used in high-density, highly complex het-

erogeneous wireless networks. It is an evolution

of hand-off, as Figure 2 illustrates. The MS’s

automatic hand-off decision model assists in eliminating hand-off latency and bandwidth ex- haustion by considering real-time network envi- ronment conditions.

Current Hand-Off Approaches

A review of L2 and L3 hand-off mechanisms demonstrates the evolu-

tion of multiple interfaces technology.

802.11 network 3G network User move Domain 1 Domain 3 Domain 4 Domain 2
802.11 network
3G network
User move
Domain 1
Domain 3
Domain 4
Domain 2

Figure 1. Hand-around. This special case of heterogeneous hand-off occurs when the user is in an environment with overlapping networks.

802.21

Figure 3 shows the IEEE 802.21 architecture, which lies between L2 and L3 and has a service access point (SAP) connecting to L2 and L3 individually. The pur- pose of 802.21 is to accel- erate hand-off procedures between different interfaces (such as 802.11, 802.16, and 4G) and provide a hand- off management entrance (where users can execute their own management policies or mechanisms). 4 The standard introduces new functions to control the low-layer network and adds SAPs to provide infor-

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mation to the upper layer. Both the user side and the network side need to support 802.21 to com- municate with each other. The media-independent handover (MIH) function—a major part of 802.21—includes three separate services:

The event service initiates hand-off from the lower layer by means of low-layer trigger events, such as connection establishment or break and signal decline.

The command service initiates hand-off from the upper layer to control connectivity—for exam- ple, starting the hand-off process and switch- ing interfaces.

The information service controls communica- tions of basic static information, such as inter- face type, between the upper and lower layers.

Multiple interfaces can use these interactive ser- vices to communicate with each other. The lower layer (that is, any layer below L3) uses events to trigger special services, and the upper layer (L3 or higher) can perform the corresponding com- mands. Mobile devices use an interface provided by the information service to speed up the hand- off procedure.

Mobile IPv4

Simultaneous Binding for Mobile IP (SB-MIP) is an MIP extension for multiple interfaces, defined in RFC 3344. 1 MSs can use simultaneous mobil- ity binding with more than one network device to avoid packet loss during the moving process. Fig- ure 4 shows the SB-MIP procedure. MIP defines an “S” bit for a binding update (BU) message that indicates that simultaneous binding is required. If the S bit is activated, the home agent (HA) will reserve the previous care-of address (CoA) rather than clear it. As the MS starts the hand-off proce- dure, the HA duplicates all the packets that were originally forwarded to the MS and sends them to all the IP addresses that the MS had previously registered with the HA. As long as the MS re- tains at least one connection, it can continuously receive packets without interruption during the hand-off procedure. Other researchers describe similar ways to de- crease hand-off latency and data loss. Bechir Ham- daoui and Parameswaran Ramanathan discarded data streaming duplication, instead using Reed-

discarded data streaming duplication, instead using Reed- Hand-off Homo- geneou s hand-off Hand-around Hetero -
Hand-off Homo- geneou s hand-off Hand-around Hetero - geneou s hand-off Figure 2. Hand-off evolution.
Hand-off
Homo-
geneou s
hand-off
Hand-around
Hetero -
geneou s
hand-off
Figure 2. Hand-off evolution. Hand-around is a
continuous hand-off procedure used in high-density,
highly complex heterogeneous wireless networks. We
believe it represents an evolution in hand-off.
     

Command

      Command

MIH_SAP

service

MIH users

 

Event

Media-

serviceMedia- Layer 3 or higher mobility protocol

Layer 3 or higher

mobility protocol

independent

hand-over

Information service

service

independent hand-over Information service

(MIH)

     

function

 

Event

service,

   

LLC_SAP

   

LLC_SAP

   
             

command

 

Command

Command

MIH_LINK_SAP

Network 1

MIH_LINK_SAP

Network 2

service,

 

service

information

service

 

Event

 

(for example

802.16)

(for example

802.11)

service 

 
 

Information service

service

Information service
   

Figure 3. IEEE 802.21 architecture. The 802.21 general reference model introduces individual service access points (SAPs) for different network layers. The lower layer uses events to trigger special services, and the upper layer can perform the corresponding commands. Mobile devices use interface information provided by the information service to speed up the hand-off procedure.

Solomon codes for data-error correction. 5 In their approach, the MS achieves seamless hand-off by simultaneously receiving data and error-checking codes from different interfaces and fixing error data at the same time. Using multiple connections offers the advantage of reliably avoiding data loss, but the complexity of combining duplicated data streaming with redundant bandwidth exhaustion also has its disadvantages.

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Wireless BroadBand Technologies

Home agent Corresponded (HA) node (CN) Foreign agent Foreign agent (FA) (FA) Mobile station (MS)
Home agent
Corresponded
(HA)
node (CN)
Foreign agent
Foreign agent
(FA)
(FA)
Mobile station
(MS)
Binding update
Data transmission
Foreign
Foreign
network
network

Figure 4. Mobile IP with simultaneous binding. The HA duplicates all the packets that were originally forwarded to the MS and sends them to all the IP addresses that the MS had previously registered with the HA.

Binding table (1) HoA, BID1, CoA1 (may update to CoA3) (20 HoA, BID2, CoA2 All
Binding table
(1) HoA, BID1, CoA1
(may update to CoA3)
(20 HoA, BID2, CoA2
All in foreign
network
Home
agent
Binding update
Binding update
(use WLAN)
(use 3G)
CoA1
CoA1
CoA2
CoA2
CoA2
CoA3
CoA3
Use WLAN
Use 3G
Use WLAN

Figure 5. Multiple care-of addresses registration. The binding

update updates the IP address from CoA1 to CoA3, which can shrink

the growing binding table in the HA.

Mobile IPv6

Multiple Care-of Addresses (MCoA) is a multi- ple-interface management technology based on the Mobile IP version 6 (MIPv6) architecture; it defines and inserts unique binding identifi- cation number (BID) columns in addition to the original mapping from the home address (HoA) to the CoA. 6,7 The binding table in the

HA will logically appear as: HoABIDCoA. An MS appends BIDs in the BU mes- sage to register multiple interfaces. Each registration has a unique BID. MCoA also defines a priority column in the BU suboption for identifying user- desired interfaces to the HA. Thus, the HA can distinguish different L2 devices used by a given MS and update specific interface IP addresses according to the user policy. The MCoA operates as shown in Figure 5. The white circle in the mid- dle of the figure indicates a wireless network with large coverage (for ex- ample, 3G), and the small gray circles on both sides represent networks with small coverage areas (such as WLANs). Although MCoA doesn’t define how many interfaces should be used in the wireless overlapped area, we generally assume a single transmission path and all movements occurring under foreign networks. The MS sends a BU with a second interface’s BID and CoA2 as the MS moves into the wireless overlapped area for the first time. The MS then loses the wireless connectivity associated with CoA1 (represented in the middle of Fig- ure 5). Later, the MS receives a CoA3 from the first interface when moving back into the wireless overlapped area. The BU updates the IP address from CoA1 to CoA3, which can shrink the growing binding table in the HA. MCoA takes advantage of the HoABIDCoA mapping to increase flexibil- ity in using multiple interfaces. Conny Larsson and his colleagues 8 discuss the

quality-of-service (QoS) mechanism in binding data streaming policy with dif- ferent BIDs, and Keigo Aso and Benjamin Koh focus on BID mapping as they address data for- warding issues that arise when a device connects to multiple interfaces. 9 Little change is needed to the original MIPv6 environment beyond practical extensions. The disadvantage of using different BIDs is the increasing number of control signals resulting from the additional BID column.

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Table 2. Comparison of Multiple-Interface Technologies.

Multiple-

OSI

Interface

interface

network

usage

technology

layer

(concurrent)

Requirement

Advantage

Drawback

802.21

Between layer 2 and layer 3

one interface

Must write special service access point to individual interface

can display real-time network conditions

lack of mobile station information in core network; end-to-end devices both need 802.21 support

simultaneous

layer 3 iPv4

Multiple

Must combine

Better transmission

redundant bandwidth exhaustion under high-density network environments

Binding for

interfaces

duplicated data

stability

Mobile

streaming

(sB-MiP)

Multiple care-

layer 3 iPv6

one or

adds binding identification column in control message

can flexibly register iP addresses first and use them later in the core network

almost none under high-density network environments

of-address

multiple

registration

interfaces

(Mcoa)

 

Problems and Open Issues

Table 2 lists various multiple-interface technolo- gies. In L2 solution 802.21, the MIH function lets the MS display real-time network conditions. On the other hand, developing appropriate SAPs could be difficult because of business consider- ations as well as the complexity of dealing with multiple interfaces. If the mechanism is imple- mented in the IP layer, it will be transparent to the link layer regardless of network heterogene- ity. Thus, we consider L3 solutions to be more suitable than L2 solutions. MIP and MIPv6 mechanisms operate in L3 multiple interfaces. SB-MIP can simultaneously receive multiple data types and offer better trans- mission stability than MIP. Yet, SB-MIP can lead to bandwidth exhaustion in high-density net- works, and it doesn’t allow flexible use of mul- tiple interfaces because of the simultaneous data transmission. MCoA places BID records in HA binding tables, which enables the MS to register inter- faces before using them. MCoA uses only one transmission path in an overlapped area, which can dramatically decrease bandwidth exhaus- tion. BID can also provide an L2 interface to create flexible interface usage and support fu- ture technological advances, such as QoS and routing optimization. Using BIDs requires ad- ditional memory space and slightly greater sig- nal cost when using MCoA technology. Several issues arise as researchers develop technologies to handle multiple interfaces:

Routing optimization. Routing optimization has traditionally focused on choosing the most efficient data path, but that differs for each interface. Packet forwarding by different in- terfaces could decrease transmission hops, and the same idea could apply in general data transmission. 9

Connection QoS. Given that different transmis- sion capabilities are represented in multiple- interface technologies, MSs can forward data through different routing paths. Dividing data streaming among different interfaces could in- crease transmission capabilities.

Power savings. An MS with multiple interfaces can turn off specific interfaces to save power, but this action neither saves the signal nor ini- tiates power-saving mode. Nonetheless, using scheduling interfaces could lead to dramatic power savings.

Bandwidth utilization. Researchers must address issues such as how to separate data streaming in an HA and how to recombine data streams in an MS. Possible directions include same- data transmission by all interfaces for better stability or aggregating available bandwidth for better transmission throughput.

Simultaneous location. Simultaneous location occurs when an MS connects to a home net- work and a foreign network, using multiple interfaces, at the same time. When an MS moves back to its home network, however, it can use only one interface for a mobile pur- pose (for example, to receive a cell phone

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Wireless BroadBand Technologies

call). Researchers need to address this limi- tation when developing technology for using

Wireless Comm., Networking, and Mobile Computing (WiCOM ’07), IEEE CS Press, 2007, pp. 1775–1778.

multiple interfaces.

4.

IEEE 802.21/D9.0, Draft IEEE Standard for Local and

Connection-lost delay. As long as an MS remains connected to a default router, there is no need

Metropolitan Area Networks: Media Independent Handover Services, IEEE, 2008.

to execute a hand-off procedure. If an MS con-

5.

B.

Hamdaoui and P. Ramanathan, “A Network-Layer

nects to a default router through two interfaces

Soft Hand-Off Approach for Mobile Wireless IP-

and loses one connection when the MS moves away from a router, the HA will continue using

Based Systems,” IEEE J. Selected Areas in Comm., vol. 22, no. 4, 2004, pp. 630–642.

the incorrect MS IP address until the L2 inter-

6.

R.

Wakikawa, T. Ernst, and K. Nagami, “Multiple

face detects the lost connection. During that time, the user could miss calls. Moreover, if

Care-of Addresses Registration,” IETF Internet draft, May 2008; work in progress.

the L2 interface is inadvertently placed in sleep

7.

D.

Johnson, C. Perkins, and J. Arkko, Mobility Sup-

mode, hand-off latency will increase.

port in IPv6, IETF RFC 3775, June 2004; www.ietf.

Interface selection. Major issues in interface

org/rfc/rfc3775.txt.

selection include which to use and when to

8.

C.

Larsson et al., “A Filter Rule Mechanism for Multi-

change. The appropriate choice depends on signal strength, stability, efficiency, and power

access Mobile IPv6,” IETF Internet draft, Mar. 2007; work in progress.

consumption.

9.

K.

Aso and B. Koh, “Multiple Forwarding Destina-

We should take a different view of interfaces to resolve traditional network problems. As multiple-interface technology progresses, it si- multaneously solves existing problems and cre- ates new issues.

A s they continue to develop, technologies using multiple interfaces will be expect- ed to resolve traditional network prob-

lems as well as address new issues that arise. Interface scheduling is one possible solution to resolve routing optimization, connection QoS, power savings, and bandwidth utilization. Under the upcoming 4G network, devices will need to be equipped with appropriate technol- ogy to manage multiple interfaces. For example, researchers are working on interface schedul- ing, using layer 7 to control interface usage for

better performance.

layer 7 to control interface usage for better performance. References 1. C. Perkins, IP Mobility Support

References

1. C. Perkins, IP Mobility Support for IPv4, IETF RFC 3344, Aug. 2002; www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3344.txt.

2. N. Shenoy and R. Montalvo, “A Framework for Seamless Roaming across Cellular and Wireless Lo- cal Area Networks,” IEEE Wireless Comm., vol. 12, no. 3, 2005, pp. 50–57.

3. J.-L. Lin and J.-Y. Pan, “Hand-Around: A Hand-Off Evolution with Monami6,” Proc. 3rd IEEE Int’l Conf.

28 IT Pro September/October 2008

tions Notification,” IETF Internet draft, Jan. 2006; work in progress.

Ching-Lun Lin is an associate engineer with the In- stitute for Information Industry (III), Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. His research interests include WiMAX and mobil- ity management. Lin has a BS in computer science and an MS in communication engineering from National Chung Cheng University, Min-Hsiung, Taiwan. Contact him at

jerry0422@nmi.iii.org.tw.

Chih-Hsiang Ho is a section manager of the WiMAX Technology Center at III. His research interests include mobile and wireless networking. Ho has a BS in aerospace engineering from Tamkang University, Taipei, and an MS in applied mechanics from National Taiwan University, Taipei. Ho is now a PhD student at National Taiwan Uni- versity, Taipei. Contact him at andrew@nmi.iii.org.tw.

Jen-Yi Pan is an assistant professor in the Department of Communications Engineering and Center for Telecom- munication Research, National Chung Cheng University, Chaiyi, Taiwan. His research interests include performance evaluation of medium access control and mobility manage- ment. Pan has a BS and a PhD in computer science from National Tsing-Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan. He is a member of the ACM and the IEEE. Contact him at jypan@ccu.edu.tw.

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