Fundamentals of Heterogeneous Cellular Networks




Dhillon, Harpreet Singh

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The increasing complexity of heterogeneous cellular networks (HetNets) due to the irregular deployment of small cells demands significant rethinking in the way cellular networks are perceived, modeled and analyzed. In addition to threatening the relevance of classical models, this new network paradigm also raises questions regarding the feasibility of state-of-the-art simulation-based approach for system design. This dissertation proposes a fundamentally new approach based on random spatial models that is not only tractable but also captures current deployment trends fairly accurately.

First, this dissertation presents a general baseline model for HetNets consisting of K different types of base stations (BSs) that may differ in terms of transmit power, deployment density and target rate. Modeling the locations of each class of BSs as an independent Poisson Point Process (PPP) allows the derivation of surprisingly simple expressions for coverage probability and average rate. One interpretation of these results is that adding more BSs or tiers does not necessarily change the coverage probability, which indicates that fears of "interference overload" in HetNets are probably overblown.

Second, a flexible notion of BS load is incorporated by introducing a new idea of conditionally thinning the interference field. For this generalized model, the coverage probability is shown to increase when lightly loaded small cells are added to the existing macrocellular networks. This is due to the fact that owing to the smaller loads, small cells typically transmit less often than macrocells, thus contributing less to the interference power. The same idea of conditional thinning is also shown to be useful in modeling the non-uniform user distributions, especially when the users lie closer to the BSs.

Third, the baseline model is extended to study multi-antenna HetNets, where BSs across tiers may additionally differ in terms of the number of transmit antennas, number of users served and the multi-antenna transmission strategy. Using novel tools from stochastic orders, a tractable framework is developed to compare the performance of various multi-antenna transmission strategies for a fairly general spatial model, where the BSs may follow any general stationary distribution. The analysis shows that for a given total number of transmit antennas in the network, it is preferable to spread them across many single-antenna BSs vs. fewer multi-antenna BSs.

Fourth, accounting for the load on the serving BS, downlink rate distribution is derived for a generalized cell selection model, where shadowing, following any general distribution, impacts cell selection while fading does not. This generalizes the baseline model and all its extensions, which either ignore the impact of channel randomness on cell selection or lumps all the sources of randomness into a single random variable. As an application of these results, it is shown that in certain regimes, shadowing naturally balances load across various tiers and hence reduces the need for artificial cell selection bias.

Fifth and last, a slightly futuristic scenario of self-powered HetNets is considered, where each BS is powered solely by a self-contained energy harvesting module that may differ across tiers in terms of the energy harvesting rate and energy storage capacity. Since a BS may not always have sufficient energy, it may not always be available to serve users. This leads to a notion of availability region, which characterizes the fraction of time each type of BS can be made available under variety of strategies. One interpretation of this result is that the self-powered BSs do not suffer performance degradation due to the unreliability associated with energy harvesting if the availability vector corresponding to the optimal system performance lies in the availability region.



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