Opportunistic third-party backhaul for cellular wireless networks

Russell Ford, Changkyu Kim, Sundeep Rangan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


With high capacity air interfaces and large numbers of small cells, backhaul - the wired connectivity to base stations - is increasingly becoming the cost driver in cellular wireless networks. One reason for the high cost of backhaul is that capacity is often purchased on leased lines with guaranteed rates provisioned to peak loads. In this paper, we present an alternate opportunistic backhaul model where third parties provide base stations and backhaul connections and lease out excess capacity in their networks to the cellular provider when available, presumably at significantly lower costs than guaranteed connections. We describe a scalable architecture for such deployments using open access femtocells, which are small plug-and-play base stations that operate in the carrier's spectrum but can connect directly into the third-party provider's wired network. Within the proposed architecture, we present a general user association optimization algorithm that enables the cellular provider to dynamically determine which mobiles should be assigned to the third-party femtocells based on the traffic demands, interference and channel conditions and third-party access pricing. Although the optimization is non-convex, the algorithm uses a computationally efficient method for finding approximate solutions via dual decomposition. Simulations of the deployment model based on actual base station locations are presented that show that large capacity gains are achievable if adoption of third-party, open access femtocells can reach even a small fraction of the current market penetration of WiFi access points.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConference Record of the 47th Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781479923908
StatePublished - 2013
Event2013 47th Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers - Pacific Grove, CA, United States
Duration: Nov 3 2013Nov 6 2013

Publication series

NameConference Record - Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers
ISSN (Print)1058-6393


Other2013 47th Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPacific Grove, CA


  • 3GPP LTE
  • access pricing
  • cellular networks
  • femtocells
  • utility maximization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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