The presence of a super high rate, but also cost-efficient, easy-to-deploy, and scalable, backhaul/ fronthaul framework, is essential in the upcoming 5G wireless networks and beyond. Motivated by the mounting interest in unmanned flying platforms of various types, including UAVs, drones, balloons, and HAPs/MAPs/LAPs, which we refer to as networked flying platforms (NFPs), for providing communications services, and by the recent advances in free space optics (FSO), this article investigates the feasibility of a novel vertical backhaul/fronthaul framework where the NFPs transport the backhaul/fronthaul traffic between the access and core networks via pointto- point FSO links. The performance of the proposed innovative approach is investigated under different weather conditions and a broad range of system parameters. Simulation results demonstrate that the FSO-based vertical backhaul/ fronthaul framework can offer data rates higher than the baseline alternatives, and thus can be considered a promising solution to the emerging backhaul/fronthaul requirements of the 5G+ wireless networks, particularly in the presence of ultra-dense heterogeneous small cells. This article also presents the challenges that accompany such a novel framework and provides some key ideas toward overcoming these challenges.

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Journal IEEE Communications Magazine
Alzenad, M. (Mohamed), Shakir, M.Z. (Muhammad Z.), Yanikomeroglu, H, & Alouini, M.-S. (Mohamed-Slim). (2018). FSO-Based Vertical Backhaul/Fronthaul Framework for 5G+ Wireless Networks. IEEE Communications Magazine, 56(1), 218–224. doi:10.1109/MCOM.2017.1600735