Survey on Aerial Radio Access Networks: Toward a Comprehensive 6G Access Infrastructure

02/14/2021 ∙ by Nhu-Ngoc Dao, et al. ∙ 0

Current network access infrastructures are characterized by heterogeneity, low latency, high throughput, and high computational capability, enabling massive concurrent connections and various services. Unfortunately, this design does not pay significant attention to mobile services in underserved areas. In this context, the use of aerial radio access networks (ARANs) is a promising strategy to complement existing terrestrial communication systems. Involving airborne components such as unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, and satellites, ARANs can quickly establish a flexible access infrastructure on demand. ARANs are expected to support the development of seamless mobile communication systems toward a comprehensive sixth-generation (6G) global access infrastructure. This paper provides an overview of recent studies regarding ARANs in the literature. First, we investigate related work to identify areas for further exploration in terms of recent knowledge advancements and analyses. Second, we define the scope and methodology of this study. Then, we describe ARAN architecture and its fundamental features for the development of 6G networks. In particular, we analyze the system model from several perspectives, including transmission propagation, energy consumption, communication latency, and network mobility. Furthermore, we introduce technologies that enable the success of ARAN implementations in terms of energy replenishment, operational management, and data delivery. Subsequently, we discuss application scenarios envisioned for these technologies. Finally, we highlight ongoing research efforts and trends toward 6G ARANs.

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