Hybrid Pricing for Mobile Collaborative Internet Access

Meng Zhang, Lin Gao, Jianwei Huang*, Michael L Honig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Mobile collaborative Internet access (MCA) enables mobile users to share their Internet through flexible tethering arrangements. This can potentially make better use of network resources. However, from a mobile network operator's (MNO's) viewpoint, it can either reduce revenue or increase congestion, and thus has been blocked by some MNOs in practice. We propose a hybrid pricing framework for MNOs who charge users separately for access and tethering. This scheme serves to coordinate the tethering decisions of mobile users with MNO network management objectives. We analyze the MNOs' equilibrium pricing strategies in both cooperative and competitive scenarios. In the cooperative scenario, at the equilibrium, each user's cost is independent of any chosen tethering links. We then characterize the optimal hybrid pricing strategies of MNOs in this scenario. For the competitive scenario, we formulate the MNOs' competitive interactions as a pricing game, and we show that MNO competition leads to equalized prices for users if an equilibrium exists but does not guarantee its existence. Both insights motivate a quantity competition game, which is shown to guarantee equilibrium. Simulation results show that in scenarios of interest the proposed hybrid pricing schemes can double both MNOs' profit and users' payoff and such improvements increase with the degree of network heterogeneity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8700604
Pages (from-to)986-999
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Network economics
  • cooperative communications
  • fog communications
  • network optimization
  • pricing
  • tethering
  • user-provided networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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