Data Offloading in Load Coupled Networks: A Utility Maximization Framework

Chin Keong Ho, Di Yuan, Sumei Sun

We provide a general framework for the problem of data offloading in a heterogeneous wireless network, where some demand of cellular users is served by a complementary network. The complementary network is either a small-cell network that shares the same resources as the cellular network, or a WiFi network that uses orthogonal resources. For a given demand served in a cellular network, the load, or the level of resource usage, of each cell depends in a non-linear manner on the load of other cells due to the mutual coupling of interference seen by one another. With load coupling, we optimize the demand to be served in the cellular or the complementary networks, so as to maximize a utility function. We consider three representative utility functions that balance, to varying degrees, the revenue from serving the users vs the user fairness. We establish conditions for which the optimization problem has a feasible solution and is convex, and hence tractable to numerical computations. Finally, we propose a strategy with theoretical justification to constrain the load to some maximum value, as required for practical implementation. Numerical studies are conducted for both under-loaded and over-loaded networks.

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