The growing demand for wireless Internet services is accelerating the evolution of wireless networks toward all-IP architecture, and the mobile WiMAX network is a prominent example. Although currently deployed mobile WiMAX networks use hierarchical architecture, flat architecture is feasible and specified as a design alternative in the mobile WiMAX standard. In flat architecture the functionalities of the ASN-GW and BS are consolidated into a single element. In this article we first discuss the benefits and challenges of flat architecture mobile WiMAX networks. We then present a scheme to deal with the seamless mobility issue, which is one of the key challenges of the flat architecture. The proposed scheme combines two standard IP-mobility protocols, Proxy Mobile IP and Fast Mobile IP, and customizes them for IEEE 802.16e-based mobile WiMAX networks. This provides interoperability with existing mobile WiMAX networks. We demonstrate the viability of the proposed scheme through simulations using NS-2.
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