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Aerial Base Stations for Global Connectivity: Is it a Feasible and Reliable Solution?
  • Maurilio Matracia ,
  • mustafa kishk ,
  • Mohamed-Slim Alouini
Maurilio Matracia

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mustafa kishk
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Mohamed-Slim Alouini
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Even though achieving global connectivity represents one of the main goals of 5G and beyond wireless networks, exurban areas are still suffering frequent outages due to the lack of proper telecom infrastructures, which are often available only in urban areas. Indeed, cellular network design is usually capacity-driven, and thus base stations’ densities mostly follow population and especially revenue densities. Contextually, we focus on one of the most promising solutions to provide sufficient and reliable coverage in far-flung areas: aerial base stations, which consist of unmanned aerial vehicles carrying cellular base station equipment. In this paper, we extensively discuss the problem of bridging the so-called urban-rural digital divide (i.e., the connectivity gap between urban and rural areas) from various perspectives. First, we showcase various alternative solutions, and compare conventional terrestrial networks with aerial networks from a techno-economic point of view. Then, we highlight the topological aspects of rural environments and explain how they can affect the actual design of cellular networks. In addition, we investigate both the coverage probability and the reliability of the communication links via simulations, proving that the integration of aerial base stations can be quite promising in a 6G perspective. Finally, we propose two original extensions of our case study as open problems.
2023Published in IEEE Vehicular Technology Magazine on pages 2-9. 10.1109/MVT.2023.3301228