The presence of a super high rate, but also cost-efficient, easy-to-deploy, and scalable, backhaul/fronthaul framework is essential in the upcoming fifth-generation (5G)wireless networks & beyond. Motivated by the mounting interest in the unmanned flying platforms of various types including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones, balloons,and high-altitude/medium-altitude/low-altitude platforms(HAPs/MAPs/LAPs), which we refer to as the networked flying platforms (NFPs), for providing communications services, and by the recent advances in free-space optics (FSO), this article investigates the feasibility of a novel vertical backhaul/fronthaul framework where the NFPs transport the backhaul/fronthaul traffic between the access and core networks via point-to-point FSO links. The performance of the proposed innovative approach is investigated under different weather conditions and a broad range of system parameters. Simulation results demonstrate that the FSO-based vertical backhaul/fronthaul framework canoffer data rates higher than the baseline alternatives, and thus can be considered as a promising solution to the emerging backhaul/fronthaul requirements of the 5G+ wireless networks,particularly in the presence of ultra-dense heterogeneous small cells. The paper also presents the challenges that accompany such a novel framework and provides some key ideas towards overcoming these challenges.
Alzenad, M., Shakir, M. Z., Yanikomeroglu, H., & Alouini, M-S. (2018). FSO-based vertical fronthaul/backhaul framework for 5G+ systems. IEEE Communications Magazine, 56(1), 218-224. https://doi.org/10.1109/MCOM.2017.1600735