GlossaryReviews icon Handoff
The process of transferring an ongoing mobile phone call or data session from one base station to a geographically adjacent base station as the user is in motion. In a properly functioning network, handoff occurs smoothly, without gaps in communications and it is usually not noticed by the cellular user. There are three different forms of handoff: Hard handoff used in GSM and analog cellular networks, which allow active connection to one tower at a time. It requires the connection to the original tower to be broken for a brief period of time before establishing connection with the new tower. Soft handoff used in CDMA networks, does not require the original connection to be broken as the network allows simultaneous active connection to multiple base stations. It offers a smoother transition with less chance of a dropped signal. Inter-technology handoff refers to transferring a cellular phone call between two base stations, employing different technologies (e.g. a call transfer from GSM to W-CDMA).
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