Radio Channel Characterization of Mid-band 5G Service Delivery for Ultra-Low Altitude Aerial Base Stations

P Catherwood, Brendan Black, Ebrahim Bedeer Mohamed, Adnan Ahmad Cheema, Joseph Rafferty, James McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
189 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a study which evaluated the potential for using ultra-low altitude, unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver fifth-generation (5G) cellular connectivity, particularly into areas requiring short-term enhancement in coverage. Such short-term enhancement requirements may include large gatherings of people or during disaster scenarios where there may be service outages or a need for increased bandwidth. An evaluation of this approach was conducted with empirically generated results regarding signal quality and cellular coverage - illustrating the potential of using unmanned ultra-low altitude aerial vehicles to deliver 5G cellular mobile services. Specifically, channel gain, mean time delay of the received signals (τmean), and the root-mean-square spread of the delay (τrms) were investigated for two distinct user modes at three different drone heights for three selected environments - an open area (field), a tree-lined environment, and an enclosed area. Maximum likelihood estimates for the various drone heights, user modes, and operational environments were found to be Rician distributed for the received signal strength measurements, whereas τmean and τrms for the open and tree-lined environments were Weibull distributed with the enclosed area tests being lognormally distributed. The paper also investigates how the channel gain may be affected when operating in each of the various global bands allocated for mid-5G communications, namely, Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, and North America. These regional mid-5G band allocations were found to yield minimal variance for all the environments considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8606910
Pages (from-to)8283-8299
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Access
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 23 Jan 2019


  • 5G
  • 5th Generation, Personalized Networks
  • Propagation
  • Signal Delay
  • Signal Reliability
  • UAV
  • propagation
  • signal delay
  • personalized networks
  • 5th generation
  • signal reliability


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