We consider a setting in which several operators offer downlink wireless data access services in a certain geographical region. Each operator deploys several base stations or access points, and registers some subscribers. In such a situation, if operators pool their infrastructure, and permit the possibility of subscribers being served by any of the cooperating operators, then there can be overall better user satisfaction, and increased operator revenue. We use coalitional game theory to investigate such resource pooling and cooperation between operators.We use utility functions to model user satisfaction, and show that the resulting coalitional game has the property that if all operators cooperate (i.e., form a grand coalition) then there is an operating point that maximizes the sum utility over the operators while providing the operators revenues such that no subset of operators has an incentive to break away from the coalition. We investigate whether such operating points can result in utility unfairness between users of the various operators. We also study other revenue sharing concepts, namely, the nucleolus and the Shapely value. Such investigations throw light on criteria for operators to accept or reject subscribers, based on the service level agreements proposed by them. We also investigate the situation in which only certain subsets of operators may be willing to cooperate.
Date of this Version
coalitional game model, geographical region, revenue sharing concept, service level agreement, spectrum pooling, user satisfaction, utility function, wireless data access network, game theory, radio access networks
Date Posted: 28 May 2009