Media independent handovers : network selection for mobile IP nodes in heterogeneous wireless networks

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In Next Generation Networks (NGN), also known as 4G, Beyond 3G, Converged, Integrated and Interworked Network, user node mobility in wireless and wired environments will seamlessly cross disparate network boundaries. The effort to offer ubiquitous computing, providing access to services anywhere and anytime, strongly encourages the ability to roam across the different existing and future networks. Literature shows investigation of concepts such as Always Best Connected (ABC) when heterogeneous networks co-exist , which will work or compete with other schemes like Home Network Default (HND), Compatibility and Network Operator Agreements (CNOA) to guide network selection or access . With the variety of available networks, the mobile node may be faced with having to decide which network to connect to. We concentrate on the network selection aspects of these envisaged mobile, overlay and integrated environment in heterogeneous networks. The standard developments by the IEEE802.21 Working group and the IETF Networking group form the base of our approach that seeks to see mobility across heterogeneous networks a reality. We propose an IEEE802.21 Media Independent Handover Function (MIHF) based network discovery and network selection, leading to a handover. The selection may be further assisted by an MIHF capable Broker Node that is Third party to the Network Providers to provide a central yet distributed database of the available networks as encountered by the Mobile Node, to cater for Nodes with no prior knowledge of networks and software repository. A Mobile Node (MN) in our solution uses 802.21 communication messages to obtain information about foreign networks encountered before selecting the networks to connect to. Our evaluation through simulations, shows that network selection in heterogeneous wireless networks environment for the appropriately equipped devices is greatly enhanced by the use of the Media Independent Handover Protocol. In scenarios where the mobile node has no prior knowledge of the encountered different network architectures, the use of a Broker node can, for an optimal number of available networks also greatly enhance the mobile node’s network selection by reducing the delay associated and the packet losses incurred.

Includes abstract.

Includes bibliographical references (p. 79-82).