Modeling free space optical communication channels for future generation systems deployment

  • Fahad Alqurashi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The COVID-19 global pandemic forced long lock-downs and physical distancing in different world regions. As a consequence, many jobs, services, and courses switched to online mode. This sudden turn of events created a dramatic increase in internet bandwidth demand, which has reached crisis point—even in developed countries—and widened the gap between those living in cities and far-flung regions. Installing new optical fibers to extend the capacity can be expensive. Radiofrequency (RF) is cur- rently the technology of choice to satisfy the bandwidth demand in under-connected regions, but is bandwidth-limited and strictly regulated. Connecting the unconnected via laser beams propagating in the atmosphere can be an efficient solution to provide fiber-like connectivity, while also being economically profitable. Free-space optics (FSO) is an unlicensed technology that uses infrared links to connect two communi- cating terminals. FSO systems can be running quickly compared to RF ones. FSO is also seen as a potential solution to provide high-speed connectivity between satellites and ground stations, and fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground terminals. However, FSO is subject to various channel-related challenges, including atmospheric attenuation, turbulence, and pointing errors. In this thesis, we develop an FSO chan- nel simulation tool that considers the various effects that could potentially occur in terrestrial and vertical channels. We extend our study to cover structured light beams, which have been intensively considered in the last decade, as an extra degree of freedom for FSO. Finally, we consider realistic meteorological data from different regions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to identify the best locations to deploy FSO systems.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMohamed-Slim Alouini (Supervisor)


  • Optical wireless communications
  • FSO
  • Laser communications

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