SeaMoby Working Group                                    O. H. Levkowetz
Internet-Draft                                                      ABNW
Expires: August 20, 2001                                   P. R. Calhoun
                                                   Sun Microsystems, Inc
                                                              G. Kenward
                                                              H. M. Syed
                                                         Nortel Networks
                                                               J. Manner
                                                  University of Helsinki
                                                             M. Nakhjiri
                                                        G. Krishnamurthi
                                                               R. Koodli
                                                             K. S. Atwal
                                                        Zucotto Wireless
                                                               M. Thomas
                                                                M. Horan
                                                                 COM DEV
                                                            P. Neumiller
                                                       February 19, 2001

    Problem Description: Reasons For Doing Context Transfers Between
                     Nodes in an IP Access Network

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
   all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
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   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on August 20, 2001.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2001). All Rights Reserved.


   There are a large number of IP access networks that support mobility
   of hosts. For example, wireless Personal Area Networks (PANs) and
   LANs, satellite and cellular WANs. The nature of this mobility is
   such that the communication path to the host changes frequently, and

   This Internet-Draft aims at expressing the problems occurring during
   such mobility which require the exchange of IP flow context between
   different nodes in the access network.

   A reference architecture is described and the central terms
   "Context" and "Context Transfer" defined. Some explicit problems
   which benefits from context transfer are listed.

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Table of Contents

   1.      Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   2.      Reference Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   2.1     Definitions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   2.2     Architectural Diagram  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   3.      Context Defined  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   3.1     Basic definitions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   3.1.1   Microflows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   3.1.2   Feature  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   3.1.3   Feature State  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   3.1.4   Feature Context  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   3.1.5   Microflow Context  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   3.1.6   Context  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   3.2     Some Types of Context  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   3.2.1   Security and AAA information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   3.2.2   Header Compression State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Terminology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   3.2.3   Diffserv / Intserv . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   3.2.4   QoS Policy Management  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   3.2.5   Buffers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
   3.2.6   Sub-network layer state  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   4.      Context Transfer Defined . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   4.1     Context Transfer -- Alternative Approaches . . . . . . . . 15
   4.1.1   No context transfer  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   4.1.2   Mobile Updates new Access Router . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   4.1.3   Access Routers Exchange State  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   4.1.4   Central repository . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   4.1.5   Each Application is aware of handovers and access routers  17
   5.      Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
           References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
           Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   A.      Context Transfer Issues to Consider  . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   A.1     Selection of a generic architecture for context transfer . 20
   A.2     Definition of Sender and Receiver  . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   A.3     Transferring the context information . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   A.4     Knowledge of neighbour capabilities  . . . . . . . . . . . 22
   A.5     Per packet or real-time context information transfer . . . 22
   A.6     Partially Failed Context Transfer  . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
   A.7     Different security environments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   A.8     Dynamic trust relationships  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   A.9     Context Transfer Security Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   A.10    Mobile Routers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   A.11    Characteristics of a Context Transfer Transport Protocol . 24
           Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

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1. Introduction

   There are a large number of IP access networks that support mobility
   of hosts. For example, wireless Personal Area Networks (PANs) and
   LANs, satellite and cellular WANs. The nature of this mobility is
   such that the communication path to the host changes frequently, and
   rapidly. In many situations, the change of communications path
   includes a change in communications media between the host and
   access networking, including changes from a wireless to a wired

   This Internet-Draft aims at expressing the problems occurring during
   such mobility which require the exchange of IP flow context between
   different nodes in the access network.

   In networks where hosts are mobile, the success of real-time
   sensitive services like VoIP telephony, video, and others rests
   heavily on the matter of how seamless (Section 2.1) a handover can
   be made. Perfect seamlessness would mean that mobility will not give
   the user of IP based services any reduction in the quality of
   service received. There exist a number of impediments to perfectly
   seamless handovers if only existing protocols and technology are
   used. Some of these are listed in Section 3.2, and include set-up of
   AAA, header compression, Diffserv/Intserv, policies, and possibly
   lower layers, e.g. PPP, to be done after each handover. Context
   transfers reduce the effect of handovers on real-time applications,
   by minimizing the time needed to attain the level of service
   provided to the mobile node at the previous access router.

   In the rest of the draft, a reference architecture and definitions
   of the terms "Context" and "Context Transfer" will be given, during
   this we will list in more detail a number of cases where explicit
   context transfer would be advantageous, and why. In Appendix A we
   mention some issues that need to be considered in designing context
   transfer protocols.

2. Reference Architecture

   The reference architecture described with definitions and diagrams
   below is a functional map, and may map in many ways to physical
   implementations. In particular, one physical container may well
   include several different functional elements.

   In general, the definitions of draft-manner-seamoby-terms-00.txt [1]
   are applicable to this document. In particular, the following terms
   are useful:

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2.1 Definitions

         The absolute reference definition for a seamless handover is
         one in which there is no change in service capability,
         security, or quality.

         In practice, some degradation in service is to be expected.
         The definition of a seamless handover in the practical case
         should be that the end user does not detect any change in
         service capability, security or quality.

         Since the user's ability to detect change is subjective and
         conditioned  by many environmental conditions, this definition
         is extremely difficult  to quantify. Characterization of end
         user perception of seamlessness is  beyond the scope of an
         IETF working group. Thus, the reference definition, although
         stringent, is the best working definition for Seamless

      Mobile Node (MN)
         An IP node capable of changing its point of attachment to the
         network. The MN can be either a mobile end-node or a mobile
         router serving an arbitrarily complex mobile network.

      Mobile Router
         A mobile node can be a router, which is responsible for the
         mobility of one or more entire networks moving together,
         perhaps on an airplane, a ship, a train, an automobile, a
         bicycle, or a kayak. The nodes connected to a network served
         by the mobile router may themselves be fixed nodes or mobile
         nodes or routers. In this document, such networks are called
         "mobile networks". [2]

      Mobile Host (MH)
         An IP node capable of changing its point of attachment to the
         network. The MH only refers to an end-node without further
         routing support.

      Access Point (AP)
         A layer 2 device that is connected to one or more Access
         Routers and offers the wireless link connection to the MH.
         Access Points are sometimes called 'base stations'. Note that
         this usage differs from that used by some Access Router
         vendors, who call their boxes 'Access Points'.

      Access Router (AR)
         An IP router residing in an Access Network and connected to
         one or more access points. An AR offers connectivity to MNs.

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         The router may include intelligence beyond simple forwarding
         service offered by ordinary IP routers. An AR communicates
         with one or more Access Points.

      Access Network Gateway (ANG)
         An IP gateway that separates the Access Network from a third
         party network.

      Access Network (AN)
         An IP network that includes one or more ARs and ANGs.

      Administrative Domain(AD)
         Administrative Domain: A collection of networks under the same
         administrative control and grouped together for administrative
         purposes. [3]

      Radio Cell
         An area associated with each AP, where there is radio
         coverage, i.e. where radio communication between a MN and the
         specific AP is possible.

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2.2 Architectural Diagram

                   ---        ------                    -------  |
           |<-->   | | -------| AR | -------------------|     |  |
          []       ---       /------           \       /| ANG |--|
          MN        AP      /                   \     / |     |  |
                           /                     \   /  -------  |
                   ___    /                       \ /            |
                   | |----                         X             |
                   ---                            / \            |
                    AP                           /   \           |
                                                /     \ -------  |
                   ---       ------            /       \|     |  |
                   | |-------| AR |---------------------| ANG |--|
                   ---       ------                     |     |  |
                    AP                                  -------  |
                    Administrative Domain (AD) 1                 |
       - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  -| - - - - -
                    Administrative Domain (AD) 2                 |
                   ---        ------                    -------  |
           |<-->   | | -------| AR | -------------------|     |  |
          []       ---       /------                   /| ANG |--|
          MH        AP      /                         / |     |  |
                           /                         /  -------  |
                   ___    /                         /            |
                   | |----                         /             |
                   ---                            /              |
                    AP                           /               |
                                                /                |
                   ---       ------            /                 |
                   | |-------| AR |------------                  |
                   --- \     ------          /                   |
                    AP  \                   /                    |
                         \                 /                     |
                          \  ------       /                      |
                           --| AR |-------                       |
                             ------                              |

3. Context Defined

3.1 Basic definitions

   In this section we define the components of context, and context
   itself, as used in this document.

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3.1.1 Microflows

   The fundamental unit of IP service is the microflow. IP microflows
   may be bundled, or aggregated, for a variety of reasons. As
   examples, Differentiated Services are provided to aggregates of IP
   microflows, and authentication is typically associated with the all
   the IP microflows with the same source address. However, the
   smallest component of traffic sent to and from a given MN that may
   have a distinct context is an IP microflow.

   RFC 2475[4] defines microflow as 'A single instance of an
   application-to application flow of packets destined to or originated
   from a mobile device (MN or MH), which is identified by source
   address, source port, destination address, destination port and
   protocol id.'

   RFC 2207[5] also provides a definition of a microflow based on the
   IPsec SPI found in the AH or ESP header. Other handles for micro
   flows may be forthcoming in the future, and in particular the use of
   the IPv6 flow label may be standardized.

   Two or more IP microflows may be collectively supporting a higher
   layer application. There is an association or co-dependency between
   these microflows that should also be preserved during handover.
   However, this co-dependency relationship between microflows is
   unknown to the network, and thus cannot be explicitly preserved by
   the network.

   It would seem reasonable that higher layer context would be
   preserved implicitly if seamless handover is achieved. There is
   cause for concern when a completely seamless handover cannot be
   achieved: degradation of the context for even one of a set of
   co-dependent microflows may have a disproportionate impact on the
   function or performance of the application.

3.1.2 Feature

   A feature is an IP network functionality offered to a mobile node
   that is of interest to context transfers.

   Each feature, in general, is an amalgamation of one or more
   protocols and the associated mechanisms that support them. It is
   worthwhile to observe the multiplicity of these "protocol
   mechanisms" underlying each feature.

   As an example, header compression is a feature that consists of
   various "mechanisms", such as IP/TCP compression and IPv6/UDP/RTP
   compression, operating according to well-defined "protocols". Thus,
   an instance of a feature reflects the state associated with

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   protocols and the corresponding mechanisms.

3.1.3 Feature State

   The condition or state of a particular feature instance,
   representing the current evolution of the behaviour of that feature.
   At a given instant in time, the state of a feature instance is
   represented by the values of the data elements associated with the
   feature instance. Some of these data elements are time invariant and
   represent the configuration of the feature instance, while others
   elements, often called "state variables" change value over time in
   support of various protocol operations related to that feature.

3.1.4 Feature Context

   This is the state information associated with a particular feature
   for a microflow. When a feature is supported by multiple protocol
   mechanisms, the state information has to be specific for each such
   protocol mechanism. As an example, header compression is a feature
   that may support IP/TCP compression and IPv6/UDP/RTP compression.
   The feature context for header compression must clearly specify the
   state information for each supported mechanism.

   A feature context is the smallest unit of context transfer.

3.1.5 Microflow Context

   A Microflow Context is a collection of various feature contexts
   associated with a microflow.

3.1.6 Context

   A set of all microflow contexts representing all the microflows
   associated with a mobile node.

   Eventual feature state modifications, needed for proper operation or
   maximizing the utility of a feature at the new network, are outside
   the scope of the context definition. The same applies to cases where
   protocols at the original network are not supported at the new
   network; matching equivalent protocols at different sides of a
   handover is outside the scope.

3.2 Some Types of Context

   Some examples of context that might need to be transferred is given
   below. This does not constitute a complete list of possible context
   to be transferred.

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3.2.1 Security and AAA information

   Examples of security services are those provided to a MH, such as
   user data encryption, user data integrity protection, and MH
   location privacy. Examples of network security requirements are
   network topology and policy protection. Example of AAA mechanisms
   are MH-to-network authentication, authorization of MH for access to
   a specific service type, and accounting, including network usage
   records for billing and traffic engineering purposes.

   Security and AAA context include the information regarding trust
   relationships to provide security services and the data to maintain
   AAA functionality. However, the context only includes the
   information that already exists at the source AR prior to handover,
   i.e. the information needed to re-establish the trust of AAA
   services at the target AR is not part of the context that must be
   transferred. This is explained in further detail as a security issue
   in Appendix A.

   Among the most important security and AAA context data are security
   associations (SA), which include encryption or authentication keys
   and algorithms, identification data necessary for authentication ,
   and authorization of usage privileges. For seamless handover, the
   security and AAA portion of the context, needs to be transferred as
   part of the context transfer process in order to expedite the
   resumption of the security and AAA services at the target AR.

3.2.2 Header Compression State

   Compression of IP and transport layer headers is crucial over
   low-bandwidth links in order to achieve efficient utilization of the
   link capacity to deliver useful payload to applications. Header
   compression requires the maintenance of state information at the
   network periphery, the AR, and at the MN.

   When terminal mobility is involved, relocation of the compression
   context(s) is needed in order to avoid surges in bandwidth
   consumption associated with compression context re-establishment,
   which causes interruptions to the smooth delivery of real-time
   packets. This overhead can be avoided, and thus the seamless
   operation of header compression facilitated, by a simple transfer of
   context variables from an access router's compression engine to that
   of the terminal's new access router. Terminology

   The following terminology is used in describing the need for header
   compression context relocation.

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         Header Compression

      Full Header (FH) packet:
         Contains the full IP and transport protocol headers, plus the
         HC-specific fields

      First Order (FO) [packet]:
         Contains only those fields that change from packet to packet
         (e.g. RTP timestamp), and does not contain fields that do not
         change at all.

      Second Order (SO):
         Contains HC-specific header and sequence number. The rest of
         the fields are constructed from the sequence number info and
         the information maintained by the decompressor. Discussion

   The motivation for HC context relocation is best understood by
   examining the typical header compression operation.

   A compressor starts by sending Full Header (FH) packets with
   HC-specific headers in them and waits for few of the FHs to be
   reliably propagated (e.g., ACK-based or 'n' number of headers
   transmitted). Note that in bandwidth-constrained links, the link
   latency as well as higher error probabilities could force the
   transmission of many FHs before confirming reliable propagation of
   header information. Similarly, many FO packets are sent before
   confirming that transition to the SO state is possible. This process
   of "reference state" establishment is expensive. E.g., on a 60 ms
   cellular link and with 20 ms packetisation for voice, it would take
   6 FHs (assuming no errors and dropped packets) to establish the FH
   state that allows transition to FO, and 6 more FOs to establish the
   FH+FO reference state that allows transition to SO state. The total
   overhead is thus 240 ms plus the processing overhead associated with
   the header compression operation. Perhaps a value of 300 ms may be
   deemed typical. Since this context establishment needs to be done
   for each unidirectional packet stream, the overhead gets worse with
   multiple packets streams belonging to the same mobile node
   (approximately 600 ms for bi-directional voice). When Mobile IPv6 is
   used with Home Address option, FH = 84 bytes (excluding HC-specific
   fields) for a payload of about 20-30 bytes, and FO could be 8 bytes.
   In comparison, the overhead is 1 byte when operating in the SO

   The expensive overheads associated with context re-establishment can
   be avoided by relocating the appropriate context between access

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   routers. For each type of compression mechanism used
   (e.g.,IPv6/UDP/RTP, IPv6 only, IPv6/TCP wtc), a Compression Profile
   Type (CPT) identifies the particular type, and defines the state
   variables. Thus, the combination of CPT, and the associated state
   variables (along with a suitable identifier) constitutes the context
   for transfer purpose. This transfer (presumably) occurs
   synchronously with handover signalling associated with terminal

3.2.3 Diffserv / Intserv

   Integrated services and Differentiated services are the two proposed
   QoS-enabling frameworks in the IP networks. A resource reservation
   protocol (RSVP) enables the Integrated services framework. Both of
   the mechanisms (RSVP and Diffserv) are stateful and requires certain
   information to be maintained at the access router. For example, in a
   pure RSVP-enabled session, the access router requires the flow
   classification information and the bandwidth requirements of a
   particular flow to make a packet forwarding decision. The flow
   classification state is composed of the 5-tuples that uniquely
   identifies a flow (source/destination IP address, source/destination
   port and the protocol ID).

   Similarly, the Diffserv-enabled routers require the classification,
   packet forwarding and traffic conditioning information to perform an
   appropriate scheduling of the flows. In addition to the
   classification information, a Diffserv code point (DSCP) is also
   required as a state information at the access router. Meter values
   for an MN used to police and shape microflows also form part of the
   MN context.

   In a handover situation, all candidate access routers will need the
   QoS context used by the old access router to support an MN's
   microflows. Once the information is available (via context transfer)
   at the potential new access router, it can be processed to make any
   decisions on whether or not the whole (or partial) QoS context can
   be supported with the available capabilities of the access router.
   The target capabilities may include support of the QoS mechanism
   (for example the target router may not have Diffserv support), size
   of the queues, policy rules at the router, available resources on
   particular interfaces etc.

3.2.4 QoS Policy Management

   The authorization of the QoS requests against the user profile can
   be performed based on the service level agreements set up between
   the user's applications and the network. These agreements are
   translated into the network policies and controlled by policy
   servers responsible for the domain policy control. A policy-based

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   admission control framework has already been defined and
   standardized at the IETF [3]. The common open policy services (COPS)
   [6] is the protocol that carries the network policies in the form of
   device configuration parameters from a policy server to the actual
   device for enforcement. COPS is a stateful mechanism that keeps a
   synchronized copy of all decisions at both client and the server.

   There are two popular flavours of COPS protocol. The outsourcing
   model of COPS [7] allows the network devices to outsource the policy
   decisions to the policy server by encapsulating the RSVP message
   objects into COPS-RSVP protocol. The dynamic admission control
   decisions are based on a per RSVP request and the decision states
   are maintained at the client as well as the server. Any change in
   the decision or the device configuration is propagated to either
   side in a way that the client and server states are always mirrored.

   In the provisioning model [8], The Policy server provision the
   device policies when the device is introduced in its domain. These
   decisions contain both user and device specific policies. Again, the
   decision states are maintained at both client and server and any
   change is propagated to each other.

   In case of change in access router (due to user mobility), the new
   serving access router need the policy context created and maintained
   at the source access router. The new device may or may not reside in
   the same policy domain. In either case, the policy context would
   help the new access router or the policy server responsible for it
   to make any decision on whether the mobile's context can be
   supported at the device, or a subset of the whole context could be
   allowed. If the access router belongs to a different policy domain,
   the mobile's active sessions may need to be re-authorized against
   its profile in the new policy domain.

3.2.5 Buffers

   A requirement for seamless handovers is to minimize the packet loss
   when a MN moves from the old AR to the new AR. Thus, buffered
   packets must be transferred to provide seamless handovers in mobile
   networks. A research effort that supports this claim is [9]. The
   incoming packets to a MN are buffered at the old AR and are
   transferred to the new AR when the new AR is made known to the old
   AR. The new AR buffers the packets until they can be forwarded to
   the MN. A buffering context for the MN would comprise the packets
   that the MN receives at the old AR. Issues like buffer capacity at
   the new AR are to be considered to ensure successful buffering
   context transfer during a handover. The new AR, therefore, would
   need information about the buffer requirements for the MN.

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3.2.6 Sub-network layer state

   Sub-network Layer State information may include PPP state
   information. To prevent reestablishment of a connection during a
   handover from one AR to another this information may be transferred.
   Examples of PPP context are standard LCP parameters including Max
   Receive Unit, Authentication Protocol, Magic Number, and header
   compression. Examples of IPCP (NCP) parameters include IP address
   header compression and DNS information. However, it should be noted
   that some information, such as DNS, may change when moving to a new
   access router and therefore transferring this may be less than
   useful; instead renegotiation may be needed.

4. Context Transfer Defined

   Context transfer is a mechanism for establishing sufficient
   conditions at one or more ARs to fully support the microflow(s) of a
   mobile node. After completion of a context transfer, an AR will be
   capable of forwarding the IP packets to and from the mobile node
   without disruption of the established service.

4.1 Context Transfer -- Alternative Approaches

   There are many alternatives when considering context transfer
   between two Access Routers. The following sections discusses some of
   these alternatives and the considerations that need to be addressed.

4.1.1 No context transfer

   No context transfer is essentially how today's Mobile IP networks
   operate. When a Mobile Node moves to a New Access Router, it
   re-establishes any state with the Access Router. Each application
   will use its own protocol (signalling) to update the New Access

      -  Pro: No changes, no additional protocol.
      -  Con: Long latency (service interruption) during handover
      -  Con: Use of radio channel bandwidth to re-establish context
      -  Con: Every application needs to adapt to changing service
         levels from the network.

4.1.2 Mobile Updates new Access Router

   Another alternative would allow a Mobile to update the new Access
   Router with its state.  However, for the Mobile to have an accurate
   snapshot of the current context, it would be necessary to
   periodically transfer the AR context to the Mobile (e.g. AAA or QOS
   state may change periodically on the current Access Router).

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      -  Pro: No connectivity required between ARs.
      -  Con: Added state synchronization needed between AR and MN
      -  Con: Long latency (service interruption) during handover if
         the context transfer cannot be done proactively.
      -  Con: Use of radio channel bandwidth to re-establish context
      -  Con: Security problems, MN may not be a trusted entity
      -  Con: New protocol needed for context transfer

4.1.3 Access Routers Exchange State

   In this alternative, when Access Routers notice that a handover is
   occurring or imminent, context information would be sent to the
   candidate Access Routers.   It is assumed that a generalized
   protocol would carry all of the context for all of the mobile node's

      -  Pro: No use of radio bandwidth to re-establish context
      -  Pro: A large reduction of latency (service interruption)
         during handover compared to the case in Section 4.1.1
         (assuming radio bandwidth is much less than fixed bandwidth)
      -  Pro: Possibly elimination of latency due to context transfer,
         as it may be done before and / or during handover
      -  Con: Protocol needed for context transfer
      -  Con: A mechanism to choose candidate ARs and where to finally
         handover is needed.

4.1.4 Central repository

   The context transfer between access points/routers is controlled by
   a central entity in the network. This entity could be a policy
   server, one of the access network gateways, or one of the access
   routers. This entity keeps the context information for the mobiles
   that are registered under the domain of that entity and
   "re-installs" the context at the new access point/router as the
   mobile moves. This entity may also "delete" the context from the old
   access point, if required.

      -  Pro: No use of radio bandwidth to re-establish context
      -  Pro: A large reduction of latency (service interruption)
         during handover compared to the case in Section 4.1.1
         (assuming radio bandwidth is much less than fixed bandwidth)
      -  Pro: Possibly elimination of latency due to context transfer,
         as it may be done before and / or during handover
      -  Pro: one clear decision point (similar to PDP) and information
         storage. Knows the state of the whole (sub) network.
      -  Con: New protocol needed for context transfer
      -  Con: As in Section 4.1.2, added synchronization is needed,
         this time between AR and repository
      -  Con: May have scalability problems in terms of the number of

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         mobiles registered within the domain of the entity and the
         number of active sessions per mobile. Can be even worse if
         multiple access networks are involved.
      -  Con: Contract relationship  must pre-exist or be established

4.1.5 Each Application is aware of handovers and access routers

   A last alternative would be to define the requirements for context
   transfer, and modify all applications to arrange for state to be
   moved between Access Routers.

      -  Pro: Context transfer more fully under application control
      -  Con: Context transfer additions needed for every single higher
         protocol -- multiplied complexity
      -  Con: Only applications specifically adapted for context
         transfer would be able to take advantage of seamless mobility
      -  Con: wasted bandwidth (if all application transfer their
         context information individually)

5. Security Considerations

   This type of non-protocol document does not directly affect the
   security of the Internet.  (However, for some comments on possible
   security issues with the implementation of context transfer, see
   Appendix A.7, Appendix A.8 and Appendix A.9).


   [1]  Manner, et al., "Mobility Related Terminology",
        draft-manner-seamoby-terms-00 (work in progress), January 2001.

   [2]  Perkins, C., "IP Mobility Support", RFC 2002, October 1996.

   [3]  Yavatkar, et al., "A Framework for Policy-based Admission
        Control", RFC 2753, January 2000.

   [4]  Blake, et al., "An Architecture for Differentiated Services",
        RFC 2475, December 1998.

   [5]  Berger & O'Malley, , "RSVP Extensions for IPSEC Data Flows",
        RFC 2207, September 1997.

   [6]  Durham, et al., "The COPS Common Open Policy Services
        protocol", RFC 2748, January 2000.

   [7]  Herzog, et al., "COPS Usage for RSVP", RFC 2749, January 2000.

   [8]  Chan, et al., "COPS Usage for Policy provisioning",
        draft-ietf-rap-pr-05 (work in progress), October 2000.

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   [9]  Caceres, R. and V.N. Padmanabhan, "Fast and scalable wireless
        handovers in support of mobile Internet audio", Mobile Networks
        and Applications 3, 1998, pp. 351-363, 1998.

Authors' Addresses

   O. Henrik Levkowetz
   A Brand New World
   √ôster√∑gatan 1
   S-164 28 Kista

   Phone: +46 8 477 9942

   Pat R. Calhoun
   Network and Security Research Center, Sun Labs
   15 Network Circle
   Menlo Park  CA 94025

   Phone: +1 650-786-7733

   Gary Kenward
   Nortel Networks
   3500 Carling Avenue
   Nepean, Ontario  K2G 6J8

   Phone: +1 613-765-1437

   Hamid Syed
   Nortel Networks
   100 Constellation Crescent
   Nepean  Ontario K2G 6J8

   Phone: +1 613 763-6553

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   Jukka Manner
   Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki
   P.O. Box 26 (Teollisuuskatu 23)
   FIN-00014 Helsinki

   Phone: +358-9-191-44210

   Madjid Nakhjiri
   1501 West Shure Drive
   Arlington Heights  IL 60004

   Phone: +1 847-632-5030

   Govind Krishnamurthi
   Communications Systems Laboratory, Nokia Research Center
   5 Wayside Road
   Burlington  MA 01803

   Phone: +1 781 993 3627

   Rajeev Koodli
   Communications Systems Lab, Nokia Research Center
   313 Fairchild Drive
   Mountain View  CA 94043

   Phone: +1 650 625 2359

   Kulwinder S. Atwal
   Zucotto Wireless Inc.
   Ottawa  Ontario K1P 6E2

   Phone: +1 613 789 0090

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   Michael Thomas
   Cisco Systems
   375 E Tasman Rd
   San Jose  CA 95134

   Phone: +1 408 525 5386

   Mat Horan
   COM DEV Wireless Group
   San Luis Obispo  CA 93401

   Phone: +1 805 544 1089

   Phillip Neumiller
   3Com Corporation
   1800 W. Central Road
   Mount Prospect  IL 60056


Appendix A. Context Transfer Issues to Consider

   Context transfer may come in many flavours and implementations. This
   section lists some issues that have come to light during the
   formulation of the problem statement for context transfer.

A.1 Selection of a generic architecture for context transfer

   Two architectures can be discussed here: Centralized Vs Distributed

   The first architecture assumes a single central entity in the
   network or in a defined domain, which maintains the updated context
   information on behalf of a set of access routers and is also
   responsible for distributing it amongst the potential receivers.
   This role can be applied, for example, to the access network
   gateway, an entity like a policy server or an elected access router
   itself. This approach may suffer with scalability issues as the
   number of microflow information per mobile per access router could
   be a very large data to process and transfer in real-time with
   minimum delays.

   The second architecture distributes the role of context maintenance

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   and distribution to the access routers itself. This approach seems
   to be more appropriate as the access routers hold most of the
   context information (QoS, Policy etc). Moreover, the access router
   is responsible for the context information or the microflows of the
   mobiles that are connected through them, which is scalable.

A.2 Definition of Sender and Receiver

   Defining the sender and the potential receiver(s) of the context
   information and "events" that enable access routers become the
   members of one "context group":

   A mobile may have radio connectivity (at least it may receive RF
   signals) from more than a single AP. The case where the APs are
   connected to the same access router AR, no context transfer is
   required but when the potential APs are connected to different ARs,
   the access routers may expect the mobile's QoS sessions to arrive.
   These access routers, therefore, become the potential receivers of
   the context information. A "context group" can be defined as the
   group of potential access routers in the network that have, or need
   to have, the context information related to a mobile. There are few
   issues to resolve in the 'dynamic' formation of a context group;
      -  The addition and deletion of the members to a context group:
         This could be triggered by certain network events. These
         events may be network policy/configuration conditions that
         dictate the access routers to join a context group or could be
         an event generated by the mobile's movement prediction that
         dictates an access router to become the member of a context
      -  How does a (potential) new member identify the context group
         associated with the mobile?: This requires an 'identifier' for
         each context group per mobile and the information of the
         identifier should be propagated to any potential member of the
         context group

A.3 Transferring the context information
      -  How does a new member of a context group know about the sender
         of the context? The context information of the mobile are
         maintained by some access router in the network or in other
         words, there is one potential sender per context group. The
         new member needs to know who to contact (within the context
         group) in order to retrieve the current context.
      -  When should the context information be transferred? Two
         possible approaches are "reactive" and "proactive or
         make-before-break". In the later approach, the context
         information is transferred to any new member as soon as it
         joins the context group irrespective of the fact that the
         mobile may not choose the access router for data connectivity.
      -  How updates in the context propagate to the members of the

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         context group, and probably any associated events that trigger
         the context update need to be understood.

A.4 Knowledge of neighbour capabilities

   In some circumstances, knowledge of neighbouring ARs can lead to
   better handover strategies, as well as help with load balancing,
   etc. While not necessary, and possibly undesirable in some cases, it
   would be useful to have the capability to use topology knowledge
   when helpful.

A.5 Per packet or real-time context information transfer

   There are pieces of information that an access router calculates and
   maintains on a per packet basis. Metering in a Diffserv-enabled
   router is one example of such an information. The context transfer
   solution must address how and when the per packet information could
   be transferred between the access routers and what are the
   trade-offs. For example, for a proactive case, the transferred
   metering information may become irrelevant or obsolete at the new
   access router because of the instant of it was last updated and the
   time when the router really needs this information could be large
   enough. Even for a reactive transfer mode, by the time the
   information is propagated to the new access router , it may become
   obsolete or irrelevant.

A.6 Partially Failed Context Transfer

   [Editor: Rajeev had some comments on this text on Jan 18, these have
   not been taken into consideration here. Hamid or Rajeev, would you
   like to propose a changed text, please?]

   A part of the "definition of context transfer: problem statement" is
   the fact that the "context information" may not be completely
   supported by one or more of the receivers of the context. The reason
   could be a different set of capabilities available at the receivers
   of the context data, due to which one or more of the "sub-contexts"
   may not be supported. This may likely to happen in a heterogeneous
   "context group" where the members of the context group have
   different set of capabilities. One simple example of such a scenario
   is failure of admission control due to unavailability of resources
   required by a "sub-context". The impact could be a service
   disruption/degradation for one or more sessions of the mobile.

   The capabilities of a receiver cannot be known without actual
   transfer of context. The receiver may then decide whether a complete
   support of the requirements indicated by the "context" is available
   or not. In case the outcome is negative, there is a chance of
   service degradation for one or more of the mobile's sessions.

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   The question is whether any solution investigation for this problem
   falls under "context transfer" activity or is beyond the scope of
   this forum. To explain it better, two possible scenarios can be

   1. There could be a mechanism that prevents a handover of bearer
   traffic to any receiver of context that provides a partial support
   to the "transferred context". In this scenario, the definition of
   such a mechanism really goes out of the context transfer activity.
   Only a feedback on the outcome of the decision on transferred
   context could be used to trigger such a mechanism. This scenario
   really based on the assumptions that all the session of mobile's
   should be handed over to a single receiver.

   2. The second scenario may assume that different sub-contexts of the
   mobile may be supported by different receivers and therefore, the
   actual handover of the mobile's session would be done to multiple
   targets. This scenario may require some decisions to be made at the
   source access router to which sessions are to be moved to which
   target based on any feedback from the target access routers. This is
   a complicated situation and may require a substantial amount of work
   to be done both on context transfer and "partial handover" of

   Context transfer may also fail due to imperfect transport, over
   wired or wireless medium. This also need to be considered in a
   possible solution.

A.7 Different security environments

   Depending on the design of the security provisioning systems and
   existing trust relationships (e.g. existence of public key
   infrastructures or AAA administrative domains), in some handover
   cases, some of data in the security portion of the context might be
   available at the target network. However, context transfer might not
   need to consider these (possibly special) cases and will include all
   the context data in the context transfer procedure in order to cover
   more general cases.

A.8 Dynamic trust relationships

   According to the mobile IP model, at many instances, when a mobile
   moves into a new administrative domain, a re-authentication of the
   mobile to the new foreign network (and at times to the home network)
   is necessary. In a AAA based authentication, besides the static
   trust relationships, that already exist prior to the arrival of the
   mobile at the edge of each network (such as that between the target
   network AAA and home network AAA authorities and that between a
   network mobility agent and its AAA authority), there are

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   relationships that have to be created dynamically. One such
   relationship is the one needed for re-authentication of MH to the
   target access agent (may or may not be AP/AR?). The delay involved
   in re-authentication triggered as a result of a handover might cause
   considerable and unacceptable latency and loss for many mobile

   Context transfer seeks to provide a faster mechanism for transfer of
   the STATIC security and AAA data than those transfer mechanism
   already available. However, due to the need for creation of dynamic
   trust relationships, a trade off in favour of seamlessness might
   lead to security and AAA compromises before completion the handover.

A.9 Context Transfer Security Issues

   Context transfer should include a mutual authentication process, by
   which the party receiving the context and the party transmitting the
   context, each provides proof of legitimacy to the other side. Data
   integrity protection should provided, so that the context
   information is protected from tampering by a third party. Encryption
   of context data might be necessary, in case MH location privacy and
   network topology and policy protection are required. The mechanisms
   for establishing trust between the two parties involved in context
   transfer in order to transfer context data securely (as described
   above) should be provided.

   The mobile node must ultimately retain control over whether it moves
   or not, and under what conditions it consents to have a network
   based move done on its behalf. In particular, the mobile node must
   have the ability to veto a move that could happen transparently, but
   may result in higher access charges, unexpected service degradation,
   loss of privacy, or other policy based exclusions.

A.10 Mobile Routers

   In the case where the MN is actually a mobile network, which may
   contain it's own wireless Access Points, Access Routers and
   Mobile-IP entities, there may exist unsolved and even undiscovered
   issues related to Mobile-IP and mobile routers.

A.11 Characteristics of a Context Transfer Transport Protocol

   Assuming that context transfer is needed, the actual protocol used
   to implement the transport needs to address some problems found in
   the micro/macro-mobility environments. It is fairly clear that the
   context transfer will likely need to be extensible since the context
   examples given in this draft are diverse and subject to change.

   It is likely that the context transfer will need to be invoked just

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   prior to handoff decisions, if the very latest version of it is
   desired. This means that it will need to be efficient and offer a
   standard method for indicating success and/or failure of the
   transfer to the caller, which is likely to be a MIP mobility agent
   or a SeaMoby micro-mobility entity.

   There are methods that COULD be used to decouple context transfer
   from  mobility. One method COULD involve handoff neighbour ARs
   periodically  updating each other irrespective of the mobile traffic
   that they are  carrying. Another method COULD be to perform
   neighbour AR update  whenever a micro-flow is added or dropped from
   an AR. This subject has not been debated by the SeaMoby WG to any
   large extent.

   Another item of interest is the actual transport protocol used for
   the context transfer. The merits of reliable versus unreliable,  and
   TCP or SCTP have not been debated extensively by the SeaMoby WG yet.

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