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Reducing Unnecessary Handovers: Call Admission Control Mechanism for Handover between WiMAX Macrocells and Femtocells

Rekha Singoria and Talmai Oliveira Technical Report No. 002.12.2010 School of Computing Sciences and Informatics Center for Distributed and Mobile Computing University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 45221-0030, USA singorra@mail.uc.edu, oliveitb@mail.uc.edu

AbstractFemtocells are capable of providing services in shadowed areas of the WiMAX macrocell (cell coverage enhancement) and can relieve trafc from the macrocell networks, reduce infrastructure costs for the network operators, allow for network capacity increase, and provide needed service quality in indoor environments. However, conventional handover methods cannot support a good enough performance under different mobility patterns and dynamic network conditions. Unnecessary handovers pose serious problems since it may cause reduction in the users QoS level and the system capacity. This work introduces an appropriate call admission control and proposes a resource management scheme that signicantly reduce unnecessary handovers. Simulation results are shown to validate our performance predictions. Keywords-WiMAX Femtocell, Handover

internal areas of the cell. Here, we propose to employ femtocells which are low-power access points that are capable of duplicating the role of the macrocells and operate in licensed spectrum, whilst providing wireless voice and broadband services to customers and reducing infrastructure costs. Key benets of femtocells include load sharing, infrastructure cost reduction, and signal quality enhancement [ 7]. In this paper, a simple handover mechanism is described between macrocell and femtocells for WiMAX networks that signicantly reduces the amount of unnecessary handovers in networks with hybrid access WiMAX Femto Access Point (WFAP). II. A DVANTAGES OF THE F EMTOCELL APPROACH The need for higher data rates has traditionally been dealt with by increasing the bandwidth of the radio frequency carriers, better modulation and channelization techniques and by spectrum reuse through division of the coverage area into smaller cells. For continuous indoor coverage, however, there are two alternative technologies: WiFi and Relay stations. According to [8], seamless roaming between a WiFi Access Point (WiFi AP) and the cellular network can occur when the MS is a dual-mode handset and once within transmission range, voice/data trafc is carried over the IP network. However, from the network operator point of view, this can be less favorable since they cannot charge for services carried over WiFi APs. For subscribers, dual-mode MSs have the undesired property of a much higher cost and stringent power constraints. Finally, QoS and security over unlicensed spectrum can be of a great concern. Relay stations [9] can be used to extend point-tomultipoint links between the macrocell BS and the MS, by intelligently relaying data between the macrocell BSs and the MSs located in the border area of the cell. Relay stations conduct all transmission through their wireless interfaces not requiring wires nor IP backhaul - and provide a costeffective way to extend coverage and capacity. This strategy

I. I NTRODUCTION It is reasonable to assume that the demand for high data rates wireless networks will only increase, as users expect providers to support IP telephony, ultra broadband Internet access, gaming services, streamed multimedia and many other activities. Existing wireless communication systems, however - even as they evolve to a true 4G network face an increased number of challenges [1]. Although not the only solution, WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) system is one of the most attractive technologies for this future scenario [2] as both the coverage area as well as the capacity of existing cellular networks systems are expanded. Unfortunately, offering QoS is difcult in WiMAX when indoors [3, 4] due to high frequency OFDMA used with MIMO, as it has been shown that higher the transmission frequency is, larger will be penetration losses through walls. To makes matters worse, more than half of voice calls and data usage are performed indoors [ 5, 6]. Wireless service providers could deploy additional WiMAX macrocells, but this would increase their cost of operation. The use of relay stations (RS) in the border area have been advocated to enhance the quality of wireless signals. Such a solution is effective in the WiMAX cell edges, but is rather cumbersome to deploy indoors or in

has been proposed in the IEEE 802.16j task group draft [ 10, 11]. However, since it uses wireless backhaul, the amount of spectrum available for access further is reduced. Moreover, relay support is completely transparent to the WiMAX MS, and therefore the MS is never aware that it is receiving control messages from the macrocell BS and data trafc from the RS. The MS is then unable to control interference nor to distinguish between the two entities when measuring signal strength of interfering stations. Another limitation is that the underlying topology is a tree, while a more general mesh or distributed control functionality would allow the network to operate in a more efcient manner as cell size is decreased when the number of RSs is increased. Furthermore, it is difcult to utilize RSs in the interior of the cell, making it especially impractical to use RSs indoor. On the other hand, Femtocells are installed indoors, in the customers residence, and data packets received by the WFAP are relayed back and forth, utilizing cellular technology with IP backhaul through the customers xed broadband Internet connection to the providers network. A considerable amount of trafc handled by the macrocells can then be transfered to the femtocell system. But, in order for this scenario to take place, unique technical challenges must be tackled, including handoff, synchronization, QoS and interferences in the implementation of the WFAP. Network integration of WiMAX and femtocells is not predetermined by the network operator, but through a random and unknown rationales determined by the users, greatly affecting the interference measurements intrasystem and intersystem among WFAPs and macrocells. Furthermore, if the number of neighboring WFAPs are large within a macrocell area, unnecessary handoffs need to be eliminated. Equipped with self-organization capabilities, femtocells make the network easy to operate and manage, and a more distributed handover decision process can make the overall network more efcient. Not to mention the fact that WFAPs can support only low-mobility users with high data rates, while existing macrocell and RS deployments can serve users with high mobility. Therefore, competing technologies such as WiFi and RS may coexist in the network [8]. III. W I MAX A RCHITECTURE The WiMAX network architecture is based on IEEE 802.16e standard [12], a WiMAX Forum Network Working Group specication. It species everything from the PHY and MAC of the radio link, as well as the end-to-end architecture. It also differentiates the functional and business domains, providing modularity and exibility in deployment. Instead of describing the whole standard, a basic description of the key elements will now be covered from [ 7, 12, 13]. A Mobile Station (MS) consists of the user equipment, providing wireless connectivity between a user and a WiMAX network. Like any other wireless network, WiMAX requires a xed transceiver that has radio coverage over 2

a wide area which enables MS to communicate over a range of 4 to 5 miles. The Network Access Provider (NAP) is a business entity that provides WiMAX radio access infrastructure through the Macrocell Base Stations (BS) and the Access Service Network gateways (ASN-GW) that serves as a point of entry for the MS to the WiMAX network. A NAP is deployed as one or more ASNs. The ASNGW plays an important role as it aggregates subscriber and control trafc from the BSs, as this entity permits network optimization and enables provides to deploy highly scalable broadband networks. The Network Service Provider (NSP) is the business entity that manages user subscriptions, provides IP connectivity according to a negociated service level agreement, and manages the WiMAX services. NSPs include a home agent, authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) as well as other corresponding servers and databases. NSPs shares NAPs, and a single NSP may control multiple NAPs.

Figure 1.

WiMAX femtocell high-level architecture

In a femtocell populated WiMAX network, for scalability reasons, similar entities must be deployed, and so the Femto-NAP, Femto-NSP, Femto-Security-GW and FemtoASN-GW are introduced. Logically separated from their respective conventional WiMAX counterparts, these entities are reponsible for MSs subscriptions, AAA operations, femtocell management and self-organization subsystems, femto-specic functionalities such as closed subscriber group, subscriber admission control as well as interference management. The Femto-Security-GW provides IP security for the WFAPs with IPSec tunnels and is responsible for authentication and authorization to other funcional entities in the WiMAX network. Furthermore, the inherent potential of many WFAPs being deployed in overlay coverage of macrocell BSs or of neighboring WFAPs, the operating parameters such as network performance, coverage and capacity must be

well monitored, and handover to/from macrocell and to/from femtocells need to be efcient. Figure 1 shows the described entities. One aspect still not mentioned is that of the access preference to the WFAPs. Since these will use the residential backhaul - paid by the primary femtocell subscriber - some sort of access restriction is expected, or at least a preferential access should be given to the users associated with the primary femtocell subscriber. Depending on the business and deployment models, WFAPs may be congured to operate in either open access mode with no access limits on admission, closed subscriber group mode where only a selected list of MSs have access, or in a hybrid access mode where certain MSs are admitted with a higher level of QoS, but nonmembers are admitted (at a lower level of QoS) as long as there exists any surplus bandwidth. IV. H ANDOVER C HALLENGES Seamless handover between a WFAP and a macrocell, or to other WFAPs is one of the key technical challenges in the development of femtocell products, as well as one of the reasons that limits their widespread deployment. As mobility is inherent to MS, providing continuous service without interruption can only be achieved by WFAPs and macrocells that support handoff. However, MSs with varied speeds may move through an area with deployed WFAPs and perform multiple handovers, most of which are unnecessary, specially for high speed users [14]. Considering dense urban neighborhoods, WFAPs may be installed in a large number of homes, therefore the Femto-ASN-GW may need to manage thousands of femtocells [15]. The conventional advertising technique of broadcasting the WFAPs status leads to very large neighborhood advertising message sizes, high delays during the scanning period, and wasted resources [ 4, 13]. Even the access mode of the cell may affect handover 1. In an open access mode, frequent and unnecessary handovers could occur under a dense scenario. In the closed access mode, while exclusive access is limited to a list of MSs, un-registered MSs in range of the WFAP may cause high levels of interference, thus lowering the service quality [ 16]. Any handover procedure needs to be able to optimize and improve the performance of both the femtocell and the conventional WiMAX network. For these reasons, some modication of the handover procedure is required in order to improve the performance of femtocell/macrocell networks. A. Existing Handover Schemes Handover procedures can normally be divided into 3 phases: a preparation phase where measurements are made and information about surrounding BSs and WFAPs are
1 In fact, only hybrid access mode is capable of reducing unnecessary handovers [6]. For this reason, we assume that WFAPs use hybrid access mode in this paper.

accumulated. Authentications are also acquired for security purposes [6, 15]. A processing phase where the best candidate is selected and a handover decision is made, and nally, an execution phase, where termination with the serving BS/WFAP is executed, and network entry is carried out through the new BS/WFAP. As dened in the IEEE standard, 3 basic handover modes are supported to enable continuous data transmission and services when a MS moves across the cell boundaries of macrocells, and they are: Hard Handover (HHO), Macro Diversity Handover (MDHO) and Fast Base Station Switching (FBSS) [3]. In HHO, a break-before-make approach is taken, which is less complex but high latency may be exhibited, possibly interrupting delay sensitive application. HHO uses different frequencies between neighboring BSs, and only allows a MS to be connected to one BS at a time. Before the handover request is made, a suitable target BS is selected. In MDHO, all the BSs use the same frequency. A diversity set that includes several BSs that may be involved in the handover process is kept for the MS, and the MS may communicate will all BSs in the set simultaneously. The diversity set is updated based on the long-term statistical signal strength of BSs, and whenever a BS is above (or below) a predetermined threshold, it will be added (or removed) from the set. Among these, one is selected as an Anchor BS for the transmission of management messages. In FBSS, a similar set is maintained, but the MS may only connect to the Anchor BS for both data and management message transmission. The Anchor BS may be changed according to some MS requirement, or whenever the MS is handoff. Out of these 3, however, only the HHO is mandatory, but although very similar to that used in cellular technologies like EV-DO [17] and HSDPA [18, 19], the HHO scheme in WiMAX is highly bandwidth efcient, fast, smooth and nearly glitch-free [20]. Comparatively, HHO is simple to implement, minimizes handover overheads and, most of the time tends to ensure sufcient QoS without signicant interruptions and degradations of QoS. However, depending on the network load, this may not be true, and long delays may be experienced. HHO is not very good for handling voice-based requirements with high-speed MSs. MDHO and FBSS, on the other hand, are designed to allow full seamless mobility at a much higher MS speed. Both the macro-diversity handover schemes used by these are designed to provide better performance with respect to multi-access interference, exibility and coverage. However, according to [20], there is still a long way to go before adequate support measures for these two techniques can be developed and deployed in WiMAX networks. A brief summary of WiMAX handover techniques can be seen in Table I. For these reasons, several fast handover schemes have been proposed. In [21], a target BS selection algorithm is proposed to reduce the redundant scanning. The basic idea 3

Table I C OMPARISON OF W I MAX HANDOVER TECHNIQUES . Parameters Latency Complexity Reliability Packet Loss Cost Speed Link Quality HHO High Low Low High Low Low Low FBSS Medium Medium Medium Low Medium Medium Medium MDHO Low High High Low High High High

is to select only one target BS to be scanned or associated based on the estimated mean carrier to interference-plusnoise ratio (CINR) among neighboring BSs. Although this reduces time spent on multiple rounds of scanning, it does not provide a feasible way to estimate the CINR from the neighboring BSs. In [22], data transmission is immediately allowed after handover synchronization. Normally, the MS can receive data only in the normal operation mode after the whole handover process is completed, which may cause loss of data and impair real-time services. On the other hand, Ma [3] has argued that it could only be applicable to realtime downlink services such as video streaming. The work of [23] allows for both uplink and downlink transmissions before the handover process is completed, through prior reservation of resources. But, due to limited number of resources that can be reserved, this scheme is recommended exclusively for real-time applications. V. P ROPOSED H ANDOVER S CHEME Our proposed handover scheme optimizes the selection functionalities in the femtocell/macrocell handover. Both macrocell to femtocell handover, as well as femtocell to macrocell handover are complex in many ways. The former may have several possible target femtocells for handover. The appropriate WFAP needs to be selected by considering the mobility factors, interference levels, as well as authorization (access model). The latter is signicantly easier, since whenever a user moves away from a femtocell network, there is no other option other than the macrocell networks. But, one very important issue in that of the handover time, which should be very small. A. Macrocell to Femtocell Handover In the WFAP selection phase, to determine a suitable one for performing handover, a MS may scan or associate with neighboring WFAPs. This step is carried out before the handover request is made, following the steps of HHO. The macrocell serving BS periodically broadcasts the topology information and the channel information of neighbor WFAPs with Mobile Neighbor Advertisement (MOB-NBR-ADV) message. A BS may also obtain that information over the backbone. The MS can acquire this information and use it for cell selection before starting any particular scanning process. 4

Later, a Mobile Scanning Request (MOB-SCN-REQ) may be initiated by the MS to request allocation of scanning intervals. Then, these scanning intervals are allocated and acknowledged by serving BS via Mobile Scanning Response (MOB-SCN-RSP). During the scanning process, the MS measures the channel quality or signal strength of each neighboring WFAP. A list of neighboring WFAPs may be selected as a candidate for the actual handover. The cell selection is performed prior to actual handover, and the connection to the serving BS is still maintained. Both the MS and the serving BS can request a handover activity, and thus a handover process is initiated by MS Handover Request message (MOB-MSHO-REQ) or Mobile BS Handover Request message (MOB-BSHO-REQ) when the conditions to perform handover are satised. If the handover is requested by the MS, the MS may send a MOB-MSHO-REQ and indicate the possible target WFAPs based on the analysis of the metrics measures from the scanning procedure. The serving BS may negotiate with the recommended target WFAPs via backbone network, and it sends acknowledgement to the MS with Mobile BS Handover Response message (MOB-BSHO-RSP). On the other hand, if the handover is requested by the serving BS, it sends a MOB-BSHO-REQ to the MS, in which neighboring WFAPs are suggested. The MS can conduct handover to one of the recommended WFAPs, or reject this list, and attempt to perform handover to some other WFAP. During the message exchange, dedicated ranging opportunity may be allocated to speed up the ranging process for later network re-entry. After this exchange of information, authorizations/registration of the MS onto the network is re-started. In this phase, the MS needs to synchronize with downlink transmission and obtain downlink and uplink transmission parameters with target WFAP through the Femto-ASN-GW. A Ranging Request message (RNG-REQ) is to start a ranging process. A dedicated ranging opportunity may be available if it is allocated in the previous step, so as to avoid contention-based ranging. Later, Ranging Response message (RNG-RSP) is transmitted, and in which the re-entry management messages that can be omitted are indicated. After the channel parameters are adjusted, the MS can communicate with target WFAP (once again through the Femto-ASN-GW) to negotiate channel capability, perform authorization and conduct registration. This happens through the transmission of a Basic Capability Request (SBC-REQ) message and authentication with Privacy key management messages (PKM-REQ/PKM-RSP). To speed up the process, some information about the MS may be transmitted to the target WFAP via the internet backhaul. Finally, Mobile Handover Indication message (MOB-HO-IND) is issued to terminate the connection with the serving BS. The handover procedure is completed thereafter, and the data transmission between the MS and the new serving WFAP can be started.

Figure 2.

MAC layer macrocell to femtocell handover procedure

Figure 3.

MAC layer femtocell to macrocell handover procedure

The handover procedure at the MAC layer is illustrated in Figure 2. B. Femtocell to Macrocell Handover As previously stated, the handover from a WFAP to a BS can be a bit less complex due to the fact that as a MS moves away from a WFAP, there is likely to be only one option of macrocell BSs. Time is of essence, and the handover should be executed as quickly as possible. Since there is no complex interference analysis and multi-level authorization check, this process is somewhat simpler. Due to space limitations, a full description will not be included, but the reader may notice the similarities in the messages sent during the handover procedure at the MAC Layer between macrocell to femtocell. Figure 3 demonstrates the procedure. deserve to be mentioned. First, since BSs and WFAPs broadcast a neighbor list used by the MS to learn where to search for potential handover targets. If the number of adjoining cells are large, the MAX overhead becomes signicant due to the increased message size of the neighboring cells list. Second, since a femtocell coverage area is possibly small, a high speed MS can enter many such areas in a short time, causing two or more unnecessary handover due to movement. This leads to reduced end-to-end QoS level as well as decrease in the overall capacity of the system. So, minimization is highly desired, if not absolutely necessary. For this reason, we also propose a new Call Admission Control (CAC) mechanism. Whenever a WFAP receives a handover request from the Femto-ASN-GW or from the MS, the WFAP makes a decision to allow the handover according to the proposed CAC seen in Figure 4. The reader is once again reminded that femtocell are preferred to operate in a hybrid access mode, which is more exible and eliminates a number of unnecessary handover [ 24], but may also operate in open or closed mode. 5

C. Reducing Unnecessary Handover In Section IV we listed some of the most important challenges that need to be tackled when a handover occurs in a femtocell enabled WiMAX network. Of these, two aspects

Important parameters considered during the modeling of our CAC are the detected signal level, the expected time of residence in a cell coverage area given the MS speed, the duration of time the MS is capable of maintaining the minimum required signal level and signal-to-interference (SIR) level, and the capacity (bandwidth) that one femtocell can accept.

the CAC carefully handles the handover. The threshold is the minimum level required for the handover to be executed from the serving BS or serving WFAP. If this threshold is higher, then the available bandwidth is taken into account. Otherwise, we check if the serving BS or serving WFAP has lowered their signal quality. If this occurs, then handover may still be the best option. The access mode of the WFAP affects the handover, and therefore, the MS may need to authenticate (when closed or hybrid), and to check if the signal level is greater then a threshold time specied by the network operator. This is needed since, sometimes the MS detects a signal larger than the threshold, but for a very short time-span. Finally, the SIR levels are tested and the MS will be accepted to handover to that WFAP or not. VI. P ERFORMANCE E VALUATION In order to reinforce the benets of our proposed CAC, simulations are performed. Table II shows the simulation parameters used. We calculate the angle of movement of a MS, update the MS position according to the movement speed, and scan for available WFAPs. We assume 100 WFAPs within a macrocell coverage area. 10, 000 runs are executed and the average results are used for the plots.
Table II S IMULATION PARAMETERS Shape of WFAP coverage Radius of WFAP coverage area MS Speed MS Speed MS Speed Number of WFAP within Macrocell Number of MS Number of Runs Circular 10 m Low: (0-15km/h) Med (15-30km/h) High (30-60km/h) 100 1 to 33 10,000

Figure 4.

Proposed Call Admission Control (CAC)

Since users with high velocity may cross multiple WFAP boundaries, the MSs QoS may not be maintained. Therefore, the work of [14] persuades that, unless the MSs trafc requires a strict real-time service, the handover can wait as delay and packet loss can be tolerated to some extent. Therefore, a mobile state is initially dened as Low, Medium or High. Low mobile state: from 0 to 15km/h, slow walk, stationary. Medium mobile state: from 15 to 30km/h, speed equivalent to that of riding a bicycle. High mobile state: anything above 30km/h. Depending on the sensitivity of the MSs requirements, 6

Figure 5 demonstrates that the number of handovers are reduced when using our CAC. The differentiated treatment of the signal threshold and the expected time of residence in a cell coverage area given the MS speed, the duration of time the MS is capable of maintaining the minimum required signal level and signal-to-interference (SIR) level, and the capacity (bandwidth) that one femtocell can support. This can signicantly reduce the amount of unnecessary handovers and is expected to provide better service and QoS. It also shows how the handovers are affected by the MS speed, when not relying on our CAC. The slower the MS moves, the more effectively WFAPs can withstand any handover. Obviously, at very high speeds, it will encounter fewer WFAPs at any given time, thereby reducing the number of handovers.

Figure 6 shows the average number of users that each WFAP serves. Note that, without CAC, on an average, every

and the improvement of handover performance depends on how resources are managed. Our call admission control procedure, not only considers mobility (a inherent characteristic of MS), but also signalto-interference level and available bandwidth in such a way that allows for WFAPs to provide continuous service without interruption while MSs execute handover procedures. Simulations results reinforces our intuition that these parameters can be used to improve conventional schemes. As a future work, we plan on analyzing how a network-assisted WFAP management scheme can be used to further reduce the number of scanning operations and the size of the neighbor advertisement message, such as proposed in [4]. R EFERENCES
Figure 5. Simulation results of the number of handovers for the users that move from Macrocell to WFAP coverage

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WFAP serves a MS when more than 30 are present. However, quickly choosing another target WFAP, signicantly reduces the QoS. On the other hand, using CAC reduces the occurrence of this event.

Figure 6. Simulation results of the average number of users that are served by WFAPs

VII. C ONCLUSION From a technical standpoint, femtocell deployment of WiMAX services have a very difcult uphill battle. Seamless handover between a WFAP and a macrocell, or to other WFAPs is one of the key technical challenges in enhancing acceptance of femtocell products, and that is what is considered in this work. Unnecessary handovers signicantly affect QoS - the result of which usually degrades the communication of the overall broadband wireless system 7

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