Unleashing the potential of networked tethered flying platforms (NTFPs)

The Sixth Generation (6G) of mobile networks is expected to be a game-changer in the telecom industry with applications and services such as enhanced mobile communications, increased indoor positioning accuracy, holographic telepresence, tactile communications, extended reality, and worldwide connectivity. 6G will rely on terrestrial networks such as tower masts and Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs) such as satellites, High-Altitude Platforms (HAPs), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

To complement this communication ecosystem and cope with the shortcoming of these platforms another type of platform is emerging termed Networked Tethered Flying Platforms (NTFPs). NTFPs can be incorporated into the Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs) in the future 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) releases to bypass the limitations of the aforementioned communication infrastructures. Thus, creating a communication ecosystem involving different infrastructures that work synergically to provide ubiquitous coverage.

NTFPs, as their name suggests, are flying platforms tethered to a ground unit. The tether continuously supplies the flying platforms with data and power. NTFPs are cost-efficient and inexpensive to operate compared to free-flying platforms. In addition, from a wireless communications perspective, they are cheaper than other communication infrastructures, such as tower masts and satellites. Other aspects that make NTFPs an attractive solution compared to free-flying platforms (HAPs and UAVs) are their endurance and persistence, which are crucial to telecommunication and surveillance missions. They are also quick and relatively easy to deploy. But the most relevant properties of NTFPs are their backhaul capacity, constant power supply, and security. Applications of NTFPs go beyond the communication realm, which includes energy harvesting, entertainment, science, research, public safety, disaster relief, government, and defense.



More information can be found in the video given below and the paper:

B. E. Y. Belmekki and M. -S. Alouini, "Unleashing the potential of networked tethered flying platforms: Prospects, challenges, and applications", IEEE Open Journal of Vehicular Technology, To appear 2022