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Market Research Report

Keeping Up with the Jetsons: A Benchmark Study of How LTE Networks Enable the Command and Control of Drones

Published by Signals Research Group Product code 769369
Published Content info 48 Pages
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Keeping Up with the Jetsons: A Benchmark Study of How LTE Networks Enable the Command and Control of Drones
Published: November 5, 2017 Content info: 48 Pages
Description

In this Signals Ahead report we provide results from the industry's first independent and in-depth analysis of LTE and its ability to provide command and control (C2) for drones. For this study, we tested the four major US mobile operators.

Highlights of the Report include the following:

  • Our Thanks. This study could not have been done without the support of Rohde & Schwarz who provided us with its TSMA scanner and post-processing software. Additional thanks to UAS Colorado and 3DVistas who provided and piloted the drone used in the study.
  • Our Approach. We used the R&S scanner to capture downlink parameters (RSRP, RSRQ, SINR) at various elevations up to 400 ft. and in different morphologies. We also conducted some limited flight tests when permissible. Our tests involved all four major US operators and frequency bands from 731.5 MHz to 2150 MHz. Although the uplink (drone to cell tower) could require high bandwidth for certain applications, like streaming video, the downlink is critical for command of the drone.
  • The Results. At a high level (pun intended), the networks performed better than we initially thought for some bands, but there are significant design considerations for both the eNB antenna system and the UAS antenna system. Further, there are likely changes to the standard that are required to ensure optimal and reliable performance while not degrading the terrestrial cellular network.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents

1.0. Executive Summary

2.0. Key Observations

3.0. Background and Technical Primer

3.1. Antennas

4.0. Detailed Analysis

4.1. Park Testing - Suburban Morphology

4.2. Church Testing - Dense Suburban Morphology

4.3. North Boulder - Rural Morphology

5.0. Test Methodology

6.0. Final Thoughts

7.0. Appendix

Index of Figures

  • Figure 1. Cell Site & Drone Testing Locations
  • Figure 2. US National Airspace System
  • Figure 3. Vertical Antenna Pattern
  • Figure 4. Mechanical & Electrical Downtilt Comparison
  • Figure 5. Map of Park Testing - Boulder, CO
  • Figure 6. Vertical Snapshot of Best Signal
  • Figure 7. SINR, RSRQ and RSRP Values for Each Operator's Best Performing Frequency Band - 0 ft. AGL
  • Figure 8. SINR, RSRQ and RSRP Values for Each Operator's Best Performing Frequency Band - 100 ft. AGL
  • Figure 9. SINR, RSRQ and RSRP Values for Each Operator's Best Performing Frequency Band - 400 ft. AGL
  • Figure 10. Spectrum Sweep - Park Testing at 0 ft. AGL
  • Figure 11. Spectrum Sweep - Park Testing at 50 ft. AGL
  • Figure 12. Spectrum Sweep - Park Testing at 100 ft. AGL
  • Figure 13. Spectrum Sweep - Park Testing at 200 ft. AGL
  • Figure 14. Spectrum Sweep - Park Testing at 300 ft. AGL
  • Figure 15. Spectrum Sweep - Park Testing at 400 ft. AGL
  • Figure 16. RSRP, RSRQ and SINR versus Elevation - Verizon Wireless Network in Band 13
  • Figure 17. Verizon Wireless 700 MHz Outage Probability
  • Figure 18. RSRP, RSRQ and SINR versus Elevation - AT&T Network in Band 4
  • Figure 19. AT&T AWS Outage Probability
  • Figure 20. RSRP, RSRQ and SINR versus Elevation - T-Mobile Network in Band 4
  • Figure 21. T-Mobile AWS Outage Probability
  • Figure 22. Geo Plot of SINR - Sprint 1900 MHz
  • Figure 23. Geo Plot of SINR - T-Mobile 2100 MHz
  • Figure 24. Geo Plot of SINR - AT&T 2100 MHz
  • Figure 25. Geo Plot of SINR - Verizon Wireless 700 MHz
  • Figure 26. AT&T Co-Located CA Site
  • Figure 27. Church Test Location
  • Figure 28. View from 400 ft. AGL
  • Figure 29. Church 0 ft. AGL Spectrum
  • Figure 30. Church 50 ft. AGL Spectrum
  • Figure 31. T-Mobile Co-located Site
  • Figure 32. T-Mobile 3 Bands Co-located Performance
  • Figure 33. RSRP from 0 to 275 feet AGL
  • Figure 34. Sprint Flight Path SINR at Church
  • Figure 35. T-Mobile Flight Path SINR at Church
  • Figure 36. Verizon Flight Path SINR at Church
  • Figure 37. AT&T Flight Path SINR at Church
  • Figure 38. Rural Drone Location
  • Figure 39. RSRP, RSRQ and SINR versus Elevation - AT&T Network in Band 17
  • Figure 40. AT&T 700 MHz Network Outage Probability Curves - North Boulder
  • Figure 41. T-Mobile 700 MHz Network Outage Probability Curves - North Boulder
  • Figure 42. R&S TSMA
  • Figure 43. Test Drone with TSMA Attached
  • Figure 44. Drone flying with TSMA Scanner
  • Figure 45. SINR, RSRQ and RSRP Values for Each Operator's Best Performing Frequency Band - 50 ft. AGL
  • Figure 46. SINR, RSRQ and RSRP Values for Each Operator's Best Performing Frequency Band - 200 ft. AGL
  • Figure 47. SINR, RSRQ and RSRP Values for Each Operator's Best Performing Frequency Band - 300 ft. AGL

Index of Tables

  • Table 1. FAA UAS Sales Forecast
  • Table 2. RF Signal Quality
  • Table 3. PCIs Observed in Park Testing
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