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The availability of multiple collocated wireless networks using heterogeneous technologies and the multiaccess support of contemporary mobile devices have allowed wireless connectivity optimization, enabled through vertical handover (VHO) operations. However, this comes at high energy consumption on the mobile device due to the inherently expensive nature of some of the involved operations. This work proposes exploiting short-range cooperation among collocated mobile devices to improve the energy efficiency of vertical handover operations. The proactive exchange of handover-related information through low-energy short-range communication technologies, like Bluetooth, can help in eliminating expensive signaling steps when the need for a VHO arises. A model is developed for capturing the mean energy expenditure of such an optimized VHO scheme in terms of relevant factors by means of closed-form expressions. The descriptive power of the model is demonstrated by investigating various typical usage scenarios and is validated through simulations. It is shown that the proposed scheme has superior performance in several realistic usage scenarios considering important relevant factors, including network availability, the local density of mobile devices, and the range of the cooperation technology. Finally, the paper explores cost/benefit trade-offs associated with the short-range cooperation protocol. It is demonstrated that the protocol may be parametrized so that the trade-off becomes nearly optimized and the cost is maintained affordable for a wide range of operational scenarios.
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