Vertical Handover

What Does Vertical Handover Mean?

Vertical handover is a network node that automatically changes its connection type to access a supporting infrastructure. When a computing device could connect to the Internet via two different network technologies, it is automatically connected to the available network. This shuffling or changing from one network to the other is the vertical handover.


Vertical handover enables the exploitation of higher bandwidth and lower costs for networks like wide local area networks. It also provides extended coverage for cellular networks.

Vertical handover is also known as vertical handoff.

Techopedia Explains Vertical Handover

Many laptop users have dual technology in their laptops to connect to the Internet; a laptop may use wireless LAN (WLAN) or cellular network connection technologies. WLAN provides higher bandwidth at very low rates. A cellular network is not as reliable, is often costly, and available bandwidth is dependent on network traffic. The WLAN is configured by default on the laptop. However, upon WLAN failure, the cellular network is available to keep the user connected to the Internet. The movement from one type of technology to the other is the vertical handover, which keeps a user’s machine connected to the Internet and provides uninterrupted communication.

For a vertical handover to occur, the following must be considered:

  • A vertical handover supported device must contain a dual card to connect the two different wireless networks.
  • With vertical handover, two wireless technologies are compared by means of handover-metrics. The wireless technology with the better handover metric is preferred.
  • User requirements and preferences, relative-signal strength, overall network conditions and costs are major factors for the handover decision.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.