A multiagent system for application of market concepts to emerging mobile communication services
Various multi-provider, multi-media and multi-technology systems have emerged from the convergence of communications and computing technologies. With such systems, the provision of services over heterogeneous networks with competing service providers becomes a very challenging issue. In the mobile communication environment, this trend is also accompanied by a reorganisation of the business model. For instance, with first generations of mobile systems, the network operator was also the service provider. This is now changing with the recent introduction of organisations that offer mobile services without owning a network infrastructure nor a radio licence to operate a network. It becomes therefore apparent that there will be a separation between the service and network provider roles in emerging mobile communication systems. This research study proposes a framework to allow this separation by allowing heterogeneous networks to support various service creation platforms. The proposal is organised around a set of 'digital marketplaces' where agents acting on behalf of users and organisations are able to trade communication services. These inter-agent interactions are performed according to a pre-defined auction protocol and controlled by a market provider. Dynamics of a marketplace are driven by economics principles so as to reach a market equilibrium where the demand of services equals its associated supply. In this context, scarce resources are preserved for users who value them most. In each marketplace, a reputation mechanism is in place to penalise network operators which are not fulfilling their contract commitments. Smart services can exploit the dynamics of a digital marketplace by exploiting more efficiently the radio resources. The key features of the proposed marketbased framework are a self-organisation in an environment where providers and users can register dynamically, a competition at the service level, the possibility to develop fairer pricing shemes and the integration of various service creation platforms over heterogeneous networks.