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Individual wireless access networks show limitations that can be overcome through the integration of different technologies into a unified platform [i.e., fourth-generation (4G) system]. Nevertheless, the integration of heterogeneous networks poses many challenges such as adding complexity to the processes of deciding when to handoff, selecting the best network, and minimizing roaming effects using appropriate handover methods. This paper presents PROTON, a novel solution that supports decision-making processes related to roaming between heterogeneous technologies. PROTON deploys a formal policy representation model, based on finite-state transducers, that evaluates policies using information from the context to manage mobiles' behavior in a transparent manner, hiding 4G systems' complexities. We blend concepts of autonomic computing into the design of the solution and manage to improve user experience in typical 4G scenarios, while keeping transparency.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2005