IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference
15-19 April 2019 // Marrakech, Morocco
Touch through Wireless

Panel 4



The widespread of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, over the past few years has generated an ample range of commercial applications. This spans over numerous areas such as surveillance, monitoring in industry and agriculture, disaster relief, and delivery of goods. In this sense, reliable connectivity, whether among UAVs themselves or with ground stations, is crucial for data management and control.

As the WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) standard IEEE 802.11 is available in most commercial drones, it is generally used in air-to-air links. For air-to-ground links, and given UAVs mobility, high speed and adaptive altitude, WLAN seems not to meet stringent service requirements in demanding applications. Cellular networks could potentially provide a good alternative. The issue is that they are not designed for flying devices: various problems including but not limited to cell association, handover management, and interference mitigation need to be solved to make such connection possible. Indeed, antennas at base stations (BSs) are down-tilted to reduce inter-cell interference for ground UEs (User Ends), while more favorable propagation conditions in air-to-Ground links (high Line-of-Sight probability) induce high levels of uplink interference generated by UAVs to ground UEs in neighboring cells whilst the UAVs itself suffers downlink interference from neighboring BSs.

This panel would shed lights on how connecting UAVs is dissimilar to connecting regular ground devices in order to capture the built-in technical challenges that drone-connected networks research has to deal with. Specific issues related to the return on investment from a mobile network operator point of view as well as further in-depth discussions regarding how 5G advent could benefit this soaring market are among the key themes to debate with the panelists while involving and interacting as much as possible with the attendees. Furthermore, given that UAV networking is still in its infancy, the panel organizers together with the panelists will try to define and share headlines of future research directions that could possibly shape to a certain extent the near future of this topic.

Panel Discussion Points:

Hereafter, we provide a potential set of questions to be addressed by the panelists

  1. The current interest of academia and industry in connected UAVs.
  2. New applications/markets and business opportunities enabled by connected UAVs.
  3. Technical challenges inherent to the use of cellular-connected UAVs as:

    • Flying mobile terminals (UEs)
    • Aerial base stations
    • Flying relays
  4. How to perform field tests? Moving from simulation-based research to real world experimentation.
  5. Regulatory aspects and security challenges in UAV networking.
  6. Are mobile network operators ready for providing specific capabilities for full support of UAVs as UEs in existing and future cellular technologies?
  7. Is/(How is) 5G going to revolutionize UAV networking?
  8. Expectations on the status of UAV networking for the next 5/10 years.

Panel Session Format:

The panel organizers propose the following plan assuming that the allocated duration is 90 minutes as for last year’s WCNC panels. If the time planned is shorter, the panel duration can be easily narrowed down.

  • Welcome notes and introduction of the panelists (10 min)
  • First round of questions targeting business and scientific opportunities of drone networks (20 min)
  • Interaction with the panel attendees and open questions (15 min)
  • Second round of questions with focus on challenges of UAV networking research (20 min)
  • Interaction with the panel attendees and open questions (15 min)
  • Wrap-up and final notes (10 min)

Panelist bios


Dr. Aymen Fakhreddine, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

Aymen Fakhreddine, Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems, University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria, Aymen Fakhreddine holds a doctoral and master degree in telematic engineering from the University Carlos III of Madrid (Spain) with expertise in wireless communications, networking, and localization. He is a senior researcher at the University of Klagenfurt working on cellular-connected drone systems. Before joining Bettstetter’s team, he was a researcher at IMDEA Networks and a visiting student at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He also holds a master degree in advanced wireless communication systems from École Supérieure d’Électricité (CentraleSupélec) in Paris (France) and an engineering degree in Telecommunications from INPT Rabat (Morocco).

Dr. Christian Bettstetter, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

Christian Bettstetter, Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems, University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria, Christian Bettstetter is professor for mobile systems at the University of Klagenfurt (Austria). He leads the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems and is also the founding scientific director of Lakeside Labs. He has 20 years of experience in academic and industrial research and leadership. His work in wireless communications and self-organization in networked systems resulted in 140 scientific publications. Bettstetter holds master level and doctoral degrees in electrical and information engineering from TU München (Germany).


Mr. Emini Driton, T-Mobile Austria GmbH, Austria

Driton Emini, Vice President, Technology/ Next Generation Networks & IoT, T-Mobile Austria GmbH, Vienna, Austria, Dipl.- Ing. Driton Emini (M.Sc.) was born on 17th July 1975 in Gjilan / Kosovo where he finished the elementary school. Beginning of 1992 Driton migrated to Germany and after learning the German language he finished the Gymnasium at the Robert Koch Gymnasium in Berlin. Driton received his Master Degree (Dipl.-Ing.) in Telecommunication from the Technical University of Berlin. For his Master Thesis he was awarded with the Siemens Excellence Award. Driton started his carrier in Teleca Nürnberg/Germany as Verification Engineer and was involved in different projects working in different countries. In 2009 he moved to T-Mobile Austria where he was working as Program Manager until 2012. In 2012 he became Senior Manager within Radio Networks department and one year later he was promoted to Vice President Radio Networks. Since August 2018 Driton is leading the Next Generation Networks IoT. In his role he is focused on introducing new technologies, cooperating with start-ups partner as well as with universities. Within Deutsche Telekom Group he is representing T-Mobile Austria and contributing to several steering boards with the focus on innovation topics. Driton is married and father of two daughters.

Dr. Evşen Yanmaz, Özyeğin University, Turkey

Evsen Yanmaz, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Özyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey, Evsen Yanmaz received the B.S. degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Bogazici University in 2000; the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from SUNY at Buffalo in 2002; and the Ph. D. degree in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. Before joining Özyegin University, she held positions as Senior Researcher and Project Leader at Lakeside Labs, Klagenfurt, as Senior Researcher at NES Institute at University of Klagenfurt, as postdoctoral researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and as researcher at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Yanmaz is a member of IEEE. Her research interests include self-organizing networks, cooperative networks, coordination of airborne and ground sensor networks, and design and analysis of multi-UAV systems.

Dr. Jeroen Wigard, Nokia Bell Labs, Denmark

Jeroen Wigard, Nokia Bell Labs, Aalborg, Denmark, jeroen.wigard@nokiabell- JEROEN WIGARD received the M.Sc. degree electrical engineering from Technische Universiteit Delft, Netherlands, in 1995 and the Ph.D. degree on the topic of handover algorithms and frequency planning in frequency hopping GSM networks from Aalborg University, Denmark, in 1999. He joined Nokia Aalborg, Denmark, where he was on radio resource management related topics for 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. He also has been studying several network deployment aspects related to LTE network evolution. He is currently with the Nokia Denmark Bell Labs, Aalborg (former Nokia Networks Aalborg) and involved in studies and 5G standardization related to UAVs, V2X and Non Terrestrial Networks (NTN). He is currently technical project lead of the European DroC2om project, focusing on drone critical communications, which is part of the SESAR program. He has authored and co-authored over 60 journal

Dr. Ursula Challita, Ericsson, Sweden

Ursula Challita, Ericsson(PRiMO-5G), Stockholm, Sweden, Ursula Challita received her PhD degree from The University of Edinburgh in 2018. From 2016-2018, she was a visiting research scholar at Virginia Tech, USA. Currently, she is an Experienced Researcher at Ericsson Research, Stockholm, Sweden working on artificial intelligence for next-generation cellular network. Her research interests include wireless networks, unmanned aerial vehicles, spectrum management, machine learning, and optimization theory. Dr. Challita is the recipient of the Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship and Principal’s Career Development Scholarship for the years 2014-2017 and the HiPEAC collaboration grant for the year 2016.