NeTS: Small: Collaborative Research:
Unleashing Spectrum Effectively and Willingly: Optimization and Incentives

Reference #: CNS 1420881/1421685
Sponsor: NSF CNS Core Programs
PIs: Guoliang Xue (1421685), Dejun Yang (1420881)
Duration: 09/01/2014 - 08/31/2017

Project Description: An intriguing fact emerges during the study of spectrum usage. On one hand, the proliferation of wireless devices, e.g. smartphones, laptops, and tablets, and bandwidth-hungry applications has resulted in the problem of spectrum scarcity. On the other hand, a recent report by FCC reveals that the licensed users are extremely underutilizing the allocated spectrum. To remove the barriers to efficient spectrum utilization, this project aims to 1) design effective spectrum allocation algorithms to allow as many secondary users (SUs) to coexist with the primary user (PU) as possible while taking into account the interference generated by both SUs and PU; and 2) develop incentive mechanisms for enticing spectrum licensees to share or license their under-utilized spectrum for better utilization. While designing spectrum allocation schemes, the physical interference model is adopted to characterize the interference closely to reality. Joint optimization of spectrum allocation and power control is explored to further improve the spectrum utilization. This can lead to efficient approximation algorithms with guaranteed performance comparing with the optimum, as well as effective heuristic algorithms. Another major task of this project is to design incentive auctions for enticing spectrum licensees to share their spectrum with unlicensed users in exchange for the proceeds from the auction. Three different application scenarios are investigated: 1) the spectrum holder is willing to coexist with the unlicensed users under the condition that the cumulative interference caused by them does not interrupt its own transmission; 2) small network operators are allowed to form groups for collective buying power to increase their chances of winning the spectrum; and 3) the competition among multiple spectrum licensees is considered.

This research can help ensure wireless networks in the USA keep pace with the continuously increasing demand for spectrum, so that they can support activities that increasingly rely on them, including public safety and health-care. The designed group-buying based incentive auctions can provide opportunities for small businesses to compete against big brand companies and win the access to desired spectrum that is essential to the success of their business. These small businesses are the engines of job creation and economic growth for the country. This project involves under-represented and minority students, as well as K-12 students to inspire their interests in science and engineering.