The IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard provides the air interface for WiMAX, but does not define the full end-to-end WiMAX network. The WiMAX Forum's Network Working Group (NWG) is responsible for developing the end-to-end network requirements, architecture, and protocols for WiMAX, using IEEE 802.16e-2005 as the air interface.
The WiMAX NWG has developed a network reference model to serve as an architecture framework for WiMAX deployments and to ensure interoperability among various WiMAX equipment and operators.
The network reference model envisions a unified network architecture for supporting fixed, nomadic, and mobile deployments and is based on an IP service model. Below is simplified illustration of an IP-based WiMAX network architecture. The overall network may be logically divided into three parts −
Mobile Stations (MS) used by the end user to access the network.
The access service network (ASN), which comprises one or more base stations and one or more ASN gateways that form the radio access network at the edge.
Connectivity service network (CSN), which provides IP connectivity and all the IP core network functions.
The network reference model developed by the WiMAX Forum NWG defines a number of functional entities and interfaces between those entities. The following figure shows some of the more important functional entities.
Base station (BS) − The BS is responsible for providing the air interface to the MS. Additional functions that may be part of the BS are micro mobility management functions, such as handoff triggering and tunnel establishment, radio resource management, QoS policy enforcement, traffic classification, DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) proxy, key management, session management, and multicast group management.
Access service network gateway (ASN-GW) − The ASN gateway typically acts as a layer 2 traffic aggregation point within an ASN. Additional functions that may be part of the ASN gateway include intra-ASN location management and paging, radio resource management, and admission control, caching of subscriber profiles, and encryption keys, AAA client functionality, establishment, and management of mobility tunnel with base stations, QoS and policy enforcement, foreign agent functionality for mobile IP, and routing to the selected CSN.
Connectivity service network (CSN) − The CSN provides connectivity to the Internet, ASP, other public networks, and corporate networks. The CSN is owned by the NSP and includes AAA servers that support authentication for the devices, users, and specific services. The CSN also provides per user policy management of QoS and security. The CSN is also responsible for IP address management, support for roaming between different NSPs, location management between ASNs, and mobility and roaming between ASNs.
The WiMAX architecture framework allows for the flexible decomposition and/or combination of functional entities when building the physical entities. For example, the ASN may be decomposed into base station transceivers (BST), base station controllers (BSC), and an ASNGW analogous to the GSM model of BTS, BSC, and Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN).