In this paper, we introduce and study the potentials and challenges of integrated access and backhaul (IAB) as one of the promising techniques for evolving 5G networks. We study IAB networks from different perspectives. We summarize the recent Rel-16 as well as the upcoming Rel-17 3GPP discussions on IAB, and highlight the main IAB-specific agreements on different protocol layers. Also, concentrating on millimeter wave-based communications, we evaluate the performance of IAB networks in both dense and suburban areas. Using a finite stochastic geometry model, with random distributions of IAB nodes as well as user equipments (UEs) in a finite region, we study the service coverage rate defined as the probability of the event that the UEs’ minimum rate requirements are satisfied. We present comparisons between IAB and hybrid IAB/fiber-backhauled networks where a part or all of the small base stations are fiber-connected. Finally, we study the robustness of IAB networks to weather and various deployment conditions and verify their effects, such as blockage, tree foliage, rain as well as antenna height/gain on the coverage rate of IAB setups, as the key differences between the fiber-connected and IAB networks. As we show, IAB is an attractive approach to enable the network densification required by 5G and beyond.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the ChaseOn project of Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology. The work of C. Madapatha in this publication is part of his research work at Chalmers University of Technology, funded by a Swedish Institute