Tutor: GENTILI GIAN GUIDO Abstract:
Infrastructure and spectrum sharing in mobile networks
The mobile networks ecosystem has undergone several technology migrations in the last 20 years: starting with 3G, LTE and recent efforts on LTE-A (4G) and 5G expected by 2020. The combination of ubiquitous use of mobile smart devices and increasing network capacity/throughput provided by the latest technologies results in a vicious circle of ever-increasing growth of data traffic and the need for network upgrade to support it. Given the current data pricing models, frequent network roll-outs are both expensive and little profitable for operators. As a result, the conventional single-ownership of mobile radio networks is being challenged: joint investments in new infrastructures allow operators to cut down on the network capital and operational costs.
Network sharing is a broad study field considering the different network levels where operators can limit the sharing, i.e., passive sharing (sites/masts), active sharing (antennas, access network components up to core network components) and spectrum sharing. In addition to being economically attractive for operators, network sharing has been investigated in the scope of reducing the digital divide and the ICT environmental impact. The focus of related works is in the classification of sharing scenarios, their economic viability/profitability, assessment of drivers and barriers, enabling technologies for network sharing (virtualization, outsourcing, regulatory entities) and new approaches for management of shared resources. Most of these works concern 3G networks, whereas the contribute to 4G and 5G is quite limited.
This PhD research will focus on the infrastructure sharing problem in mobile networks. A techno-economic approach will be pursued as economic aspects (revenues, pricing, costs) of mobile radio networks are unavoidably coupled to technical ones (QoS/QoE etc.). As a result, it will be possible to capture both the user and the operator standpoint in the sharing process. The PhD work will resort to game theory and mathematical modeling to capture the simultaneously cooperative and competitive nature of infrastructure sharing given the inherently selfish behavior of mobile operators. Thus, factors that determine these equilibria will be analyzed. Moreover, the user response to certain network sharing configurations be will investigated and, as a result, possible bilevel formulations of the problem will be considered. Furthermore, the spectrum sharing dimension will be incorporated due to its advantage (efficient use of a scarce resource) and implementation feasibility (carrier aggregation enabled in LTE-A).
Advisor: Antonio Capone