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A heterogeneous network is a network connecting computers and other devices with different operating systems and/or protocols. For example, local area networks (LANs) that connect Microsoft Windows and Linux based personal computers with Apple Macintosh computers are heterogeneous. The word heterogeneous network is also used in wireless networks using different access technologies. For example, a wireless network which provides a service through a wireless LAN and is able to maintain the service when switching to a cellular network is called a wireless heterogeneous network.
Reference to a HetNet often indicates the use of multiple types of access nodes in a wireless network. A Wide Area Network can use macrocells, picocells, and/or femtocells in order to offer wireless coverage in an environment with a wide variety of wireless coverage zones, ranging from an open outdoor environment to office buildings, homes, and underground areas. Mobile Experts defines the HetNet as a network with complex interoperation between macrocell, small cell, and in some cases WiFi network elements used together to provide a mosaic of coverage, with handoff capability between network elements. A recent research study from ARCchart estimates that HetNets will help drive the mobile infrastructure market to account for nearly $57 Billion in spending globally by 2017.
Semantic of “Heterogeneous Network” in Telecommunications
From a semantical point of view, it is very important to note that the Heterogeneous Network terminology may have different connotations in wireless telecommunications. For instance, it may refer to the paradigm of seamless and ubiquitous interoperability between various multi-coverage protocols (a.k.a. HetNet). Otherwise, it may refer to the non-uniform spatial distribution of users or wireless nodes (a.k.a. Spatial Inhomogeneity). Therefore, using the term "heterogeneous network" without putting it into perspective may result in a source of confusion in scientific literature and during the peer-review cycle. In fact, the confusion may further be aggravated, especially in light of the fact that the “HetNet” paradigm may also be researched from a “geometrical” angle.
- Archi Delphinanto; Ben Hillen, Igor Passchier, Bas van Schoonhoven, Frank den Hartog (January 2009). "Remote Discovery and Management of End-User Devices in Heterogeneous Private Networks". 6th IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC 2009).: 1–5. doi:10.1109/CCNC.2009.4784889.
- Archi Delphinanto; Ton Koonen, Frank den Hartog (January 2011). "End-to-end available bandwidth probing in heterogeneous IP home networks". 8th IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC 2011).: 431–435. doi:10.1109/CCNC.2011.5766506.
- "HetNet Forecast". Mobile Experts. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
- "HetNet Market Summary & Forecasts: Macro Cells, Small Cells & Wi-Fi Offload". ARCchart. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- Mouhamed Abdulla. "On the Fundamentals of Stochastic Spatial Modeling and Analysis of Wireless Networks and its Impact to Channel Losses". Ph.D. Dissertation, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Concordia Univ., Montréal, Québec, Canada, Sep. 2012.: (footnote of Page 126).
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