Oligopolies in private spectrum commons: analysis and regulatory implications
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In an effort to make more spectrum available, recent initiatives by the FCC let mobile providers offer spot service of their licensed spectrum to secondary users, hence paving the way to dynamic secondary spectrum markets. This dissertation investigates secondary spectrum markets under different regulatory regimes by identifying profitability conditions and possible competitive outcomes in an oligopoly model. We consider pricing in a market where multiple providers compete for secondary demand. First, we analyze the market outcomes when providers adopt a coordinated access policy, where, besides pricing, a provider can elect to apply admission control on secondary users based on the state of its network. We next consider a competition when providers implement an uncoordinated access policy (i.e., no admission control). Through our analysis, we identify profitability conditions and fundamental price thresholds, including break-even and market sharing prices. We prove that regardless of the specific form of the secondary demand function, competition under coordinated access always leads to a price war outcome. In contrast, under uncoordinated access, market sharing becomes a viable market outcome if the intervals of prices for which the providers are willing to share the market overlap. We then turn our attention to how a network provider use carrier (spectrum) aggregation in order to lower its break-even price and gain an edge over its competition. To this end, we determine the optimal (minimum) level of carrier aggregation that a smaller provider needs. Under a quality-driven (QD) regime, we establish an efficient way of numerically calculating the optimal carrier aggregation and derive scaling laws. We extend the results to delay-related metrics and show their applications to profitable pricing in secondary spectrum markets. Finally, we consider the problem of profitability over a spatial topology, where identifying system behavior suffers from the curse of dimensionality. Hence, we propose an approximation model that captures system behavior to the first-order and provide an expression to calculate the break-even price at each network location and provide simulation results for accuracy comparison. All of our results hold for general forms of demand, thus avoid restricting assumptions of customer preferences and the valuation of the spectrum.