Hard Handoff

What Does Hard Handoff Mean?

A hard handoff is a handoff technique used with cellular networks that requires the user’s connection to be entirely broken with an existing base station before being switched to another base station. It enables mobile/cellular service providers to provide continuous service to users, especially when they are moving away from the connected base station/cell toward another base station/cell.


A hard handoff is also known as a hard handover or break-before-make handover.

Techopedia Explains Hard Handoff

A hard handoff is primarily implemented when the subscriber/user is being connected to a base station with a different radio frequency than the current base station. All intra-frequency handovers/handoffs are types of hard handoffs. A hard handoff is generally implemented in FDMA and TDMA based cellular networks and is more suited for applications/services that can afford a slight delay such as Internet, VoIP and WiMAX. However, a hard handoff is generally fast enough that user don’t feel an interruption or breakage in service. Moreover, unlike soft handovers that have multiple simultaneously connected channels, a hard handover is cheaper because it requires only one channel to operate.


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Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…