A Cognitive Radio Enabled RF/FSO Communication Model for Aerial Relay Networks: Possible Configurations and Opportunities

Eylem Erdogan, Ibrahim Altunbas, Nihat Kabaoglu, Halim Yanikomeroglu

Two emerging technologies, cognitive radio (CR) and free-space optical (FSO) communication, have created much interest both in academia and industry recently as they can fully utilize the spectrum while providing cost-efficient secure communication. In this article, motivated by the mounting interest in CR and FSO systems and by their ability to be rapidly deployed for civil and military applications, particularly in emergency situations, we propose a CR enabled radio frequency (RF)/FSO communication model for an aerial relay network. In the proposed model, CR enabled RF communication is employed for a ground-to-air channel to exploit the advantages of CR, including spectrum efficiency, multi-user connectivity, and spatial diversity. For an air-to-air channel, FSO communication is used, since the air-to-air path can provide perfect line-of-sight connectivity, which is vital for FSO systems. Finally, for an air-to-ground channel, a hybrid RF/FSO communication system is employed, where the RF communication functions as a backup for the FSO communication in the presence of adverse weather conditions. The proposed communication model is shown to be capable of fully utilizing the frequency spectrum, while effectively dealing with RF network problems of spectrum mobility and underutilization, especially for emergency conditions when multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are deployed.

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