Cost-effective hybrid RF/FSO backhaul solution for next generation wireless systems
The rapid pace of demand for mobile data services and the limited supply of capacity in the current wireless access networks infrastructure are leading network operators to increase the density of base station deployments to improve network performance. This densification, made possible by small-cell deployment, also brings a novel set of challenges, specifically related to the cost of ownership, in which backhaul is of primary concern. This article proposes a cost-effective hybrid RF/free-space optical (FSO) solution to combine the advantages of RF backhauls (low cost, NLOS applications) and FSO backhauls (high-rate, low latency). To first illustrate the cost advantages of the RF backhaul solution, the first part of this article presents a business case of NLOS wireless RF backhaul, which has a low cost of ownership as compared to other backhaul candidates. RF backhaul, however, is limited by latency problems. On the other side, an FSO solution, which offers better latency and higher data rate than RF backhauls, remains sensitive to weather and nature conditions (e.g., rain, fog). To combine RF and FSO advantages, the second part of this article proposes a lowcost hybrid RF/FSO solution, wherein base stations are connected to each other using either optical fiber or hybrid RF/FSO links. This part addresses the problem of minimizing the cost of backhaul planning under reliability, connectivity, and data rate constraints, and proposes choosing the appropriate cost-effective backhaul connection between BSs (i.e., either OF or hybrid RF/FSO) using graph theory techniques.
© 2015 IEEE. Hayssam Dahrouj would like to thank Effat University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for funding the research reported in this paper through the Research and Consultancy Institute. The work of T. Y. Al-Naffouri was supported by KAUST project no. EE002355 at the Research Institute, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. The work of M. -S. Alouini was supported by the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation) under NPRP Grant NPRP 5-250-2-087. The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.