Radio access networks are moving towards the small-cell based paradigm, where the macro-cell base stations are aided by additional ones with small coverage but high traffic capabilities. This is for instance what is happening when using mmwave technology for 5G networks. This paradigm shift solves the “last meter problem” but a new challenge kicks in: backhaul links are needed to connect the small cell base stations and carry the traffic to the core network or at least to the network gateway. Currently, both wired and wireless solutions exist, but none of them is universally considered optimal and they all require further infrastructure deployment. An idea is then to exploit the existing power line infrastructure that is used to power the base stations to convey the backhaul traffic, i.e., to exploit Power Line Communications (PLC) technology.
A number of questions than arise: how much is the traffic ? How is the power distribution grid structured ? What PLC technology to use ? Does PLC work and does it fulfill the requirements ? How to structure the PLC network and what media access protocols to use ?
To start answering these questions in a rigorous way, we have combined stochastic geometry, statistical traffic modeling and bottom-up channel modeling to infer what the performance of such a hybrid cellular-PLC network will be. The results are quite interesting and show quantitatively that it can work.
F. Marcuzzi and A. M. Tonello, “Radio Access Network Backhauling using Power Line Communications,” in Broadband Communications Networks – Recent Advances and Lessons from Practice, A. Haidine, A. Aqqal (Ed.s), InTech, 2018.
F. Marcuzzi and A.M. Tonello, “Smart Routing for Improved PLC Backhauling of the Radio Access Network,” proc. of WSPLC 2017, Prague, Sept. 21, 2017
F. Marcuzzi and A. M. Tonello, “Stochastic Geometry for the Analysis of Small Radio Cells and PLC Back-Hauling,” Int. ITG Conference on Systems, Communications and Coding 2107, Hamburg, Germany, February 6-9, 2017.
A. M. Tonello and F. Marcuzzi, “Statistical Assessment of PLC Networking for Front-Hauling in Small Radio Cells,” Proc. of WSPLC 2016, Paris, France, October 9-10, 2016.