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Enabling 5G on the Ocean: A Hybrid Satellite-UAV-Terrestrial Network Solution

by   Xiangling Li, et al.

Current fifth generation (5G) cellular networks mainly focus on the terrestrial scenario. Due to the difficulty of deploying communications infrastructure on the ocean, the performance of existing maritime communication networks (MCNs) is far behind 5G. This problem can be solved by using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as agile aerial platforms to enable on-demand maritime coverage, as a supplement to marine satellites and shore-based terrestrial based stations (TBSs). In this paper, we study the integration of UAVs with existing MCNs, and investigate the potential gains of hybrid satellite-UAV-terrestrial networks for maritime coverage. Unlike the terrestrial scenario, vessels on the ocean keep to sea lanes and are sparsely distributed. This provides new opportunities to ease the scheduling of UAVs. Also, new challenges arise due to the more complicated maritime prorogation environment, as well as the mutual interference between UAVs and existing satellites/TBSs. We discuss these issues and show possible solutions considering practical constraints.


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