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The tremendous advancement and popularity of wireless access technologies necessitates the convergence of multimedia (audio, video, and text) services on a unified global (seamless) network infrastructure. Circuit-switched proprietary telecommunication networks are evolving toward more cost-effective and uniform packet-switched networks such as those based on IP. However, one of the key challenges for the deployment of such wireless Internet infrastructure is to efficiently manage user mobility. To provide seamless services to mobile users, several protocols have been proposed over the years targeting different layers in the network protocol stack. In this article we present a cross-layer perspective on the mobility protocols by identifying the key features of their design principles and performance issues. An analysis of the signaling overhead and handoff delay for some representative protocols in each layer is also presented. Our conclusion is that although the application layer protocol is worse than the protocols operating in the lower layers, in terms of handoff delay and signaling overhead, it is better suited as a potential mobility solution for the next-generation heterogeneous networks, if we consider such factors as protocol stack modification, infrastructure change, and inherent operational complexity.
Date of Publication: Oct 2003