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Nokia Institute of Technology: ensuring a consistent mobile Internet connection

The research team at the Nokia Institute of Technology (INdT) in Brazil have been developing a technology that improves the operators’ networks to allow for a more efficient connection when travelling between different cell sites, known as a handover.

“In an unprecedented achievement for the INdT, this is an important milestone for us Brazilians. It is a technology designed in the country that will be applied worldwide. Our contribution demonstrates the quality of our projects and further enhances our recognition by the international scientific and industrial community.”

What happens currently is that when you travel, your mobile phone is connected to a particular cell site for calls and a data connection. The same can be said about the hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of people also attached to that cell site at any one time.

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On mobile Internet systems such as 3G and LTE, mobility is managed by use of the Proxy Mobile IPv6 (PMIPv6) protocol, standardised by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

This standard sends single signalling messages – known as Binding Updates – from your mobile phone to the operators’ cell.

What the INdT proposes is for a new way of sending data to the operators’ station in what it’s calling Bulk PMIPv6 Binding Updates to identity many users within the cell range a single ID, rather than many. This saves the constant back and forth of signalling and reduces load on the network, reducing bottlenecks that ultimately lead to performance degradation.

Architecture

Most of the time, mobile phone users don’t realise what goes on in the background to make everything work. But it’s a huge strain on the operators and their equipment. That’s why improvements were needed to give people a better mobile Internet experience.

“A typical┬áLocal Mobility Anchor on operator premises serves multiple┬áMobile Access Gateways at the same time, and the capacity of that node is quite high, typically in the order of a few millions users. The currently specified approach for extending the lifetimes of multiple mobility sessions is inefficient or sub-optimal.”

Explains Fuad Abinader, Senior Researcher at the INdT Brazil, and then continues:

“We saw an opportunity to optimise such signalling procedures by allowing the LMA and MAG to perform bulk binding update operations, so we decided to submit this proposal so that it could be enforced as an optional PMIPv6 standard extension.”

Bulk PMIPv6 Binding Updates only applies to mobile Internet connections. However, as LTE adoption evolves, systems are converging to provide voice services via what is known as Voice-over-IP (VoIP); as such, if VoIP service is used instead of GSM commuted voice service, then there’s no reason as to why voice callers can’t make use of the new technology, too.

The solution was developed and co-authored with researchers from Nokia, Ericsson and Cisco. The adoption of this technology by manufacturers of networking equipment is optional, will take place gradually and be available for purchase by the Brazilian operators from the end of 2012.