Security in Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks: WiMAX and LTE

Security in Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks: WiMAX and LTE

Lei Chen (Sam Houston State University, USA), Cihan Varol (Sam Houston State University, USA), Qingzhong Liu (Sam Houston State University, USA) and Bing Zhou (Sam Houston State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4691-9.ch002
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Abstract

Thanks to the much larger geographical coverage and pleasing bandwidth of data transmissions, Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks (WMANs) have become widely accepted in many countries for everyday communications. Two of the main wireless technologies used in WMANs, the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX, also known as Wireless Local Loop or WLL) and Long Term Evolution (LTE), have generated billions of dollars in the ever-growing wireless communication market. While the IEEE 802.16 standards for WiMAX and the 3GPP standards LTE are updated and improved almost annually, it is inevitable that current standards still contain a number of security vulnerabilities, potentially leading to various security attacks. To address the security concerns in these two WMANs technologies, this chapter presents the technical details of security aspects of WiMAX and LTE. More specifically, the key generation, authentication, data, and key confidentiality and integrity of both technologies are deliberated. The chapter ends with a discussion of the security vulnerabilities, threats, and countermeasures of WiMAX and LTE.
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2. Fundamentals Of Wimax And Lte

WiMAX and LTE are the two most widely accepted and applied MAN technologies. WiMAX can provide up to 70 mbps of bandwidth over a radius of several miles (WiMAX, n.d.), and is a true 4G technology being used by consumers in over 150 countries and gaining acceptance in several industries. The WiMAX Forum is an industry-led, not-for-profit organization that certifies and promotes the compatibility and interoperability of broadband wireless products based on the IEEE 802.16 Standards. Its competitor LTE, based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, as specified in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 8 and 9 document series, was not originally considered as a true 4G technology, but was later decided by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and introduced, for marketing purpose, by major service providers such as Verizon Wireless as a 4G technology. LTE supports cell sizes from tens of meters to up to 62 miles with peak download rates up to 300 mbps and upload rates up to 70 mbps (LTE, n.d.).

In the rest of this section, we will examine the fundamentals of WiMAX, the IEEE 802.16 Standard, and LTE. The IEEE 802.16 working group was formed to address the projected increase in the demand for metropolitan and wide-area wireless internet access over the next few years. This working group has put forth a standard for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) systems, namely the IEEE 802.16 Standards. In this section we will also discuss the applications, technical aspects of the standard, and the services that can be expected by the end users.

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