Section: New Results

Network Economics

Participants : Bruno Tuffin, Patrick Maillé.

The general field of network economics, analyzing the relationships between all acts of the digital economy, has been an important subject for years in the team. The whole problem of network economics, from theory to practice, describing all issues and challenges, is described in our book [83].

Reliability/security. In an ad hoc network, accessing a point depends on the participation of other, intermediate, nodes. Each node behaving selfishly, we end up with a non-cooperative game where each node incurs a cost for providing a reliable connection but whose success depends not only on its own reliability investment but also on the investment of nodes which can be on a path to the access point. Our purpose in [76] is to formally define and analyze such a game: existence of an equilibrium output, comparison with the optimal cooperative case, etc.

Roaming. In October 2015, the European parliament has decided to forbid roaming charges among EU mobile phone users, starting June 2017, as a first step toward the unification of the European digital market. We discuss in [79] the impact consequences of such a measure.

Community networks. Community networks have emerged as an alternative to licensed-band systems (WiMAX, 4G, etc.), providing an access to the Internet with Wi-Fi technology while covering large areas. A community network is easy and cheap to deploy, as the network is using members' access points in order to cover the area. We study in [80] the competition between a community operator and a traditional operator (using a licensed-band system) through a game-theoretic model, while considering the mobility of each user in the area.

Spectrum sharing & cognitive networks. Licensed shared access (LSA) is a new approach that allows Mobile Network Operators to use a portion of the spectrum initially licensed to another incumbent user, by obtaining a license from the regulator via an auction mechanism. In this context, different truthful auction mechanisms have been proposed, and differ in terms of allocation (who gets the spectrum) but also on revenue. Since those mechanisms could generate an extremely low revenue, we extend them by introducing a reserve price per bidder which represents the minimum amount that each winning bidder should pay. Since this may be at the expense of the allocation fairness, for each mechanism we find in [44] by simulation the reserve price that optimizes a trade-off between expected fairness and expected revenue. For each mechanism, we analytically express the expected revenue when valuations of operators for the spectrum are independent and identically distributed from a uniform distribution. We also propose in [46] PAM: Proportional Allocation Mechanism, which is a truthful auction mechanism offering a good compromise between fairness and efficiency and can generate the highest revenue to the regulator compared to other truthful mechanisms proposed in the literature.

Selfish primary user emulation (PUE) is a serious security problem in cognitive radio networks. By emitting emulated incumbent signals, a PUE attacker can selfishly occupy more channels. Consequently, a PUE attacker can prevent other secondary users from accessing radio resources and interfere with nearby primary users. To mitigate the selfish PUE, a surveillance process on occupied channels could be performed. Determining surveillance strategies, particularly in multi-channel context, is necessary for ensuring network operation fairness. Since a rational attacker can learn to adapt to the surveillance strategy, the question is how to formulate an appropriate modeling of the strategic interaction between a defender and an attacker. In [24], we study the commitment model in which the network manager takes the leadership role by committing to its surveillance strategy and forces the attacker to follow the committed strategy. The relevant strategy is analyzed through the Strong Stackelberg Equilibrium (SSE). Analytical and numerical results suggest that, by playing the SSE strategy, the network manager significantly improves its utility with respect to playing a Nash equilibrium (NE) strategy, hence obtains a better protection against selfish PUEs. Moreover, the computational effort to compute the SSE strategy is lower than to find a NE strategy.

Network neutrality. Most of our activity has been devoted to the vivid network neutrality debate, going beyond the traditional for or against neutrality, and trying to tackle it from different angles. We gave a tutorial on this topic [33], with a video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaKtzxPHluU .

In [78], we place and discuss with a net neutrality context the conflict in early 2018 between Orange and TV channel TF1 to prevent some content to be distributed. The related issue of big CPs puhsing ISPs to improve their (own) QoS is further analyzed [77][54]. Indeed, there is a trend for big content providers such as Netflix and YouTube to give grades to ISPs, to incentivize those ISPs to improve at least the quality offered to their service. We design a model analyzing ISPs' optimal allocation strategies in a competitive context and in front of quality-sensitive users. We show that the optimal strategy is non-neutral, that is, it does not allocate bandwidth proportionally to the traffic share of content providers. On the other hand, we show that non-neutrality does not benefit ISPs but is surprisingly favorable to users' perceived quality.

Another current important issue in the current net neutrality debate is that of sponsored data: With wireless sponsored data, a third party, content or service provider, can pay for some of your data traffic so that it is not counted in your plan's monthly cap. This type of behavior is currently under scrutiny, with telecommunication regulators wondering if it could be applied to prevent competitors from entering the market, and what the impact on all telecommunication actors can be. To answer those questions, we design and analyze in [55] a model where a Content Provider (CP) can choose the proportion of data to sponsor and a level of advertisement to get a return on investment, and several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in competition. We distinguish three scenarios: no sponsoring, the same sponsoring to all users, and a different sponsoring depending on the ISP you have subscribed to. This last possibility may particularly be considered an infringement of the network neutrality principle. We see that sponsoring can be beneficial to users and ISPs depending on the chosen advertisement level. We also discuss the impact of zero-rating where an ISP offers free data to a CP to attract more customers, and vertical integration where a CP and an ISP are the same company.

Search engines. Different search engines provide different outputs for the same keyword. This may be due to different definitions of relevance, and/or to different knowledge/anticipation of users' preferences, but rankings are also suspected to be biased towards own content, which may prejudicial to other content providers. In [75], we make some initial steps toward a rigorous comparison and analysis of search engines, by proposing a definition for a consensual relevance of a page with respect to a keyword, from a set of search engines. More specifically, we look at the results of several search engines for a sample of keywords, and define for each keyword the visibility of a page based on its ranking over all search engines. This allows to define a score of the search engine for a keyword, and then its average score over all keywords. Based on the pages visibility, we can also define the consensus search engine as the one showing the most visible results for each keyword. We have implemented this model and present in [75] an analysis of the results.