How to ensure reliable connectivity for aerial vehicles over cellular networks

Huan Cong Nguyen, Rafhael Medeiros de Amorim, Jeroen Wigard, Istvan Kovács, Troels Bundgaard Sørensen, Preben Elgaard Mogensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)
305 Downloads (Pure)


Widely deployed cellular networks are an attractive solution to provide large scale radio connectivity to unmanned aerial vehicles. One main prerequisite is that co-existence and optimal performance for both aerial and terrestrial users can be provided. Today's cellular networks are, however, not designed for aerial coverage, and deployments are primarily optimized to provide good service for terrestrial users. These considerations, in combination with the strict regulatory requirements, lead to extensive research and standardization efforts to ensure that the current cellular networks can enable reliable operation of aerial vehicles in various deployment scenarios. In this paper, we investigate the performance of aerial radio connectivity in a typical rural area network deployment using extensive channel measurements and system simulations. First, we highlight that downlink and uplink radio interference play a key role, and yield relatively poor performance for the aerial traffic, when load is high in the network. Second, we analyze two potential terminal side interference mitigation solutions: interference cancellation and antenna beam selection. We show that each of these can improve the overall, aerial and terrestrial, system performance to a certain degree, with up to 30% throughput gain, and an increase in the reliability of the aerial radio connectivity to over 99%. Further, we introduce and evaluate a novel downlink inter-cell interference coordination mechanism applied to the aerial command and control traffic. Our proposed coordination mechanism is shown to provide the required aerial downlink performance at the cost of 10% capacity degradation in the serving and interfering cells.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Access
Pages (from-to)12304-12317
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

European Union (EU) Horizon 2020, Drone Critical Communications (DroC2om ), Grant Agreement number 763601


  • aerial vehicles
  • cellular network
  • LTE
  • 3D coverage
  • drone
  • interference management
  • propagation channel
  • UAV
  • DroC2om


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