3D UAV placement and user association in software-defined cellular networks

  • Chunyu PanEmail author
  • Changchuan Yin
  • Norman C. Beaulieu
  • Jian Yu


With the onset of unexpected or temporary problems resulting in degraded user performance, the flexibility and elasticity requirements of future cellular networks may not be fully satisfied by fixed ground base stations. A promising solution for this deficiency is to establish drone cells, which are formed by quickly deploying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with base stations. Consequently, a UAV placement and user association algorithm for future software-defined cellular networks (SDCN) is proposed in this study. In consideration of the optimal three-dimensional placement of UAVs and the optimal drone cell users’ associations, a utility maximization problem is formulated by utilizing a global view of the SDCN controller. Following mathematical manipulation, the intractable multidimensional problem is transformed into a two-phase algorithm involving the optimal UAV placement altitude-to-radius ratio and the optimal two-dimensional (2D) drone cell horizontal coverage combined with user association. Simulation results indicate the superiority of the proposed algorithm, which increases the average throughput and average utility of all users compared with random, center and 2D UAV placement schemes. By deploying the new design, the maximum average throughput gain can reach up to \(36.4\%\).


CCCP Drone-cell Software defined cellular networks Unmanned aerial vehicles UAV placement User association 



This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grants 61671086, 61629101 and 61871041, in part by the 111 Project under Grant B17007.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing Laboratory of Advanced Information Network, Beijing Key Laboratory of Network System Architecture and ConvergenceBeijing University of Posts and TelecommunicationsBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Beijing Key Laboratory of Network System Architecture and Convergence, School of Information and Communication EngineeringBeijing University of Posts and TelecommunicationsBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.BeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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