Airborne base stations (BSs) (carried by drones) have a great potential to enhance the coverage andcapacity of 6G cellular networks. However, one of the main challenges facing the deployment of airborne BSs is the limited available energy at the drone, which curtails the flight time. In fact, most current unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can only operate for a maximum of 1 h. The need to frequently visit the ground station (GS) to recharge limits the performance of the UAV-enabled cellular network and leaves the UAV’s coverage area temporarily out of service. In this article, we propose a UAV-enabled cellular network setup based on tethered UAVs (tUAVs). In the proposed setup, the tUAV is connected to a GS through a tether, which provides the tUAV with both energy and data. This enables a
flight that can last for days. We describe in detail the components of the proposed system. Furthermore, we list the main advantages of a tUAV-enabled cellular network compared to typical untethered UAVs (uUAVs). Next, we discuss the potential applications and use
cases for tUAVs.
Kishk, M., Bader, A., & Alouini, M.-S. (2020). Aerial Base Station Deployment in 6G Cellular Networks Using Tethered Drones: The Mobility and Endurance Tradeoff. IEEE Vehicular Technology Magazine, 0–0. doi:10.1109/mvt.2020.3017885
This work was presented in part during the 43rd Wireless World Research Forum meeting in London. The work was funded in part by the Center of Excellence for NEOM Research at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Figures 3 and 4 were produced by Xavier Pita, scientific illustrator at KAUST.