University of Oulu

K. Lin, M. A. Ullah, H. Alves, K. Mikhaylov and T. Hao, "Subterranean mMTC in Remote Areas: Underground-to-Satellite Connectivity Approach," in IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 61, no. 5, pp. 136-142, May 2023, doi: 10.1109/MCOM.002.2200194.

Subterranean mMTC in remote areas : underground-to-satellite connectivity approach

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Author: Lin, Kaiqiang1; Asad Ullah, Muhammad2; Alves, Hirley2;
Organizations: 1College of Surveying and Geo-Informatics, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
2Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC), University of Oulu (UO), Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2023
Publish Date: 2022-11-28


Wireless underground sensor networks (WUSNs) promise to deliver substantial social and economic benefits across different verticals. However, many of the relevant application scenarios are located in remote areas with no supporting infrastructure available. To address this challenge, we conceptualize in this study the underground direct-to-satellite (U-DtS) connectivity approach, implying the reception of the signals sent by the underground massive machine-type communication (mMTC) sensors by the gateways operating on the low Earth orbit satellites. We start by discussing the two alternative architectures for enabling such networks and underline their features and limitations. Then, we employ simulations to model a smart-farming application scenario for studying the feasibility and performance of UDtS mMTC based on LoRaWAN technology, with the focus on the effect of the parameters including the burial depths, soils characteristics, and communication settings. Our results reveal that the LoRa modulation fails to compete with the underground propagation losses and the high packets collision rate. However, the long range-frequency hopping spread spectrum (LR-FHSS) modulation is perspective for U-DtS networks and may enable connectivity for the subsurface nodes located at a depth of several dozens centimeters. Finally, we pinpoint the potential challenges and the research directions for future U-DtS studies.

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Series: IEEE communications magazine
ISSN: 0163-6804
ISSN-E: 1558-1896
ISSN-L: 0163-6804
Volume: 61
Issue: 5
Pages: 136 - 142
DOI: 10.1109/mcom.002.2200194
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Funding: This work was supported in part by National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2021YFB3900105), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 42074179 and 42211530077), the Academy of Finland, 6G Flagship program (No. 346208), and the China Scholarship Council.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 346208
Detailed Information: 346208 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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