Aspects of Critical Communications in Disturbance Scenarios

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    Infrastructures are the foundations of modern societies. The most important ones are the so-called critical infrastructures: mobile networks and electricity networks. If these networks are damaged or otherwise unavailable, the functionality of the whole society is at risk and can result even in public safety hazards. Furthermore, people expect all the time ubiquitous access to internet through mobile networks as many services rely on these wireless networks. The dependence is growing all the time as the number of worldwide subscriptions has already exceeded the world population and the amount of internet of things (IoT) and other connected devices continues to increase exponentially.

    This thesis focuses on the critical communications aspects of mobile networks during disturbance scenarios. These are defined as situations where, e.g. there is a power blackout in the electricity network, which affects the functionality of the mobile network.

    The contributions of this thesis can be divided into three main themes. The first one is the actual functionality of mobile networks during disturbance scenarios. This includes finding out how the behavior of subscribers changes when there is an uncommon disturbance scenario in the mobile network and how to prolong the disturbance time functionality of the existing networks. The results show that subscribers utilize mobile networks more than usual already before the power blackout starts when they try to find out information about the status of an upcoming storm. Immediately after the disturbance scenario starts, the subscribers within the blackout area are more active as the statistics show 73 % increase in the number of new calls and 84 % in the amount of short message service (SMS) messages. The results show also that the majority of mobile network availability is lost after 3–4 hours from the start of the incident. In order to prolong this availability time, simulations are performed to find out how utilizing only a portion of the available base station (BS) sites affects the service coverage. The results show that around 20 % of BS sites would be enough to cover 75 % of the original service coverage. Therefore, the operational time of the so-called mobile network backup coverage could be increased several times given that core network (CN) and backhaul network are also operational.

    The second main theme in this thesis presents a new developed situation awareness system (SAS) that combines the outage information of both mobile and electricity networks. This is an important tool for monitoring the networks and performing disaster and disturbance management. The user interface of the developed SAS is a map view showing the outage information, i.e. the faults, in both networks. It utilizes operational data from both networks such as the coverage outage areas of the mobile network and the outages of transformers in the electricity network in near real-time. The developed SAS helps to prioritize maintenance and repair work to the most critical areas as well as help to form a better overall situation awareness that fire and rescue services and authorities could utilize for improving public safety actions.

    The last main theme in the thesis considers innovative solutions in order to find out methods to improve the performance, i.e., to mitigate the outage of mobile networks in disturbance scenarios. The three different approaches presented are the indirect guidance of subscribers, the concept of a temporary low altitude platform (LAP) network with the help of drones, and the concept of a macro sensor network (MSN). First, the energy and capacity aspects of mobile networks can be improved when the subscribers are indirectly guided to self-optimize their location in the serving cell area. This can result in serving more user equipment (UEs) within a cell or to decrease the amount of energy needed for transmissions. Next, the coverage aspects of a LAP system are studied in order to find out the suitability of forming a temporary emergency coverage with a wireless local area network (WLAN) equipped drones. The results show that this kind of approach could provide a suitable emergency coverage for a limited area with a reasonable number of drones. Finally, a framework for MSN is studied to investigate the possibility of bringing wireless sensor network (WSN) functionalities into mobile networks. The results show that the concept of MSN could remarkably improve the resilience of mobile networks in situations where the backhaul connection is broken. However, implementing and further developing this kind of functionality will require changes in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications and self-organizing network (SON) features within the network.

    Overall, this thesis provides insight on how to develop the current and future mobile networks toward more resilient infrastructures. It highlights the importance of critical communications as a fundamental part of modern societies. Thus, securing the functionality and performance of mobile networks in all situations is crucial. As a result, the contributions in this thesis can be utilized as a starting point in the future research to develop new functionalities for mobile networks. One of such approaches can be a safety mode, which would improve the mobile network resiliency during disasters and disturbance scenarios.
    KustantajaTampere University of Technology
    ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-15-3933-6
    ISBN (painettu)978-952-15-3932-9
    TilaJulkaistu - 28 huhtik. 2017
    OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Artikkeliväitöskirja


    NimiTampere University of Technology. Publication
    ISSN (painettu)1459-2045


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