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.
Hard Handover, Break-Before-Make Handover