Pricing-based decentralized spectrum access control in cognitive radio networks

Lei Yang, Hongseok Kim, Junshan Zhang, Mung Chiang, Chee Wei Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


This paper investigates pricing-based spectrum access control in cognitive radio networks, where primary users (PUs) sell the temporarily unused spectrum and secondary users (SUs) compete via random access for such spectrum opportunities. Compared to existing market-based approaches with centralized scheduling, pricing-based spectrum management with random access provides a platform for SUs contending for spectrum access and is amenable to decentralized implementation due to its low complexity. We focus on two market models, one with a monopoly PU market and the other with a multiple-PU market. For the monopoly PU market model, we devise decentralized pricing-based spectrum access mechanisms that enable SUs to contend for channel usage. Specifically, we first consider SUs contending via slotted Aloha. Since the revenue maximization problem therein is nonconvex, we characterize the corresponding Pareto-optimal region and obtain a Pareto-optimal solution that maximizes the SUs' throughput subject to their budget constraints. To mitigate the spectrum underutilization due to the 'price of contention,' we revisit the problem where SUs contend via CSMA, which results in more efficient spectrum utilization and higher revenue. We then study the tradeoff between the PU's utility and its revenue when the PU's salable spectrum is controllable. Next, for the multiple-PU market model, we cast the competition among PUs as a three-stage Stackelberg game, where each SU selects a PU's channel to maximize its throughput. We explore the existence and the uniqueness of Nash equilibrium, in terms of access prices and the spectrum offered to SUs, and develop an iterative algorithm for strategy adaptation to achieve the Nash equilibrium. Our findings reveal that there exists a unique Nash equilibrium when the number of PUs is less than a threshold determined by the budgets and elasticity of SUs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6226814
Pages (from-to)522-535
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Cognitive radio
  • Pareto optimality
  • nonconvex optimization
  • pricing
  • random access
  • spectrum access control


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