We consider a network in which several service providers offer wireless access service to their respective subscribed customers through potentially multi-hop routes. If providers cooperate, i.e., pool their resources, such as spectrum and base stations, and agree to serve each others' customers, their aggregate payoffs, and individual shares, can potentially substantially increase through efficient utilization of resources and statistical multiplexing. The potential of such cooperation can however be realized only if each provider intelligently determines who it would cooperate with, when it would cooperate, and how it would share its resources during such cooperation. Also, when the providers share their aggregate revenues, developing a rational basis for such sharing is imperative for the stability of the coalitions. We model such cooperation using transferable payoff coalitional game theory. We first consider the scenario that locations of the base stations and the channels that each provider can use have already been decided apriori. We show that the optimum cooperation strategy, which involves the allocations of the channels and the base stations to mobile customers, can be obtained as solutions of convex optimizations. We next show that the grand coalition is stable in this case, i.e. if all providers cooperate, there is always an operating point that maximizes the providers' aggregate payoff, while offering each such a share that removes any incentive to split from the coalition. Next, we show that when the providers can choose the locations of their base stations and decide which channels to acquire, the above results hold in important special cases. Finally, we examine cooperation when providers do not share their payoffs, but still share their resources so as to enhance individual payoffs. We show that the grand coalition continues to be stable.
Date of this Version
channel allocation, game theory, radio networks, resource allocation, channel allocations, coalition stability, convex optimizations, cooperative profit sharing, game theory, mobile customers, multihop routes, wireless access service, wireless networks resource allocation
Date Posted: 27 October 2009