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On the Access Pricing and Network Scaling Issues of Wireless Mesh Networks
November 2007 (vol. 56 no. 11)
pp. 1456-1469
Distributed wireless mesh network technology isready for public deployment in the near future. Yet without anincentive system, one should not assume private, self-interestedwireless nodes would participate in such a public network andcooperate in the packet forwarding service. This paper studiesthe use of pricing as an incentive mechanism to stimulateparticipation and collaboration in public wireless mesh networks.Our focus is on the "economic behavior" of the network nodes--the pricing and purchasing strategies of the access point, wirelessrelaying nodes, and clients. We use a "game theoretic approach"to analyze their interactions from one-hop to multi-hop networksand when the network has an unlimited or limited channelcapacity. The important results we show are that the access pointand relaying wireless nodes will adopt a simple, yet optimal, fixedratepricing strategy in a multi-hop network with an unlimitedcapacity. Yet, the access price grows quickly with the hop distancebetween a client and the access point, which may limit the"scalability" of the wireless mesh network. In the case thatthe network has a limited capacity, the optimal strategy for theaccess point is to vary the access charge and may even interruptservice to connecting clients. To this end, we focus on the accesspoint adopting a non-self-enforcing but more practical "fixedrate,non-interrupted service" model, and propose an algorithmbased on the Markovian decision theory to devise the optimalpricing strategy. Results show that the scalability of a networkwith a limited capacity is upper bound by one with an unlimitedcapacity. We believe this work will shed light on the deploymentand pricing issues of distributed public wireless mesh networks.

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Index Terms:
Wireless mesh networks, economics, game theory, Markov decision process.
Ray K. Lam, Dah-Ming Chiu, John C.S. Lui, "On the Access Pricing and Network Scaling Issues of Wireless Mesh Networks," IEEE Transactions on Computers, vol. 56, no. 11, pp. 1456-1469, Nov. 2007, doi:10.1109/TC.2007.70753
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