Small cell and D2D offloading in heterogeneous cellular networks
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Future wireless networks are evolving to become ever more heterogeneous, including small cells such as picocells and femtocells, and direct device-to-device (D2D) communication that bypasses base stations (BSs) altogether to share stored and personalized content. Conventional user association schemes are unsuitable for heterogeneous networks (HetNets), due to the massive disparities in transmit power and capabilities of different BSs. To make the most of the new low-power infrastructure and D2D communication, it is desirable to facilitate and encourage users to be offloaded from the macro BSs. This dissertation characterizes the gain in network performance (e.g., the rate distribution) from offloading users to small cells and the D2D network, and develops efficient user association, resource allocation, and interference management schemes aiming to achieve the performance gain. First, we optimize the load-aware user association in HetNets with single-antenna BSs, which bridges the gap between the optimal solution and a simple small cell biasing approach. We then develop a low-complexity distributed algorithm that converges to a near-optimal solution with a theoretical performance guarantee. Simulation results show that the biasing approach loses surprisingly little with appropriate bias factors, and there is a large rate gain for cell-edge users. This framework is then extended to a joint optimization of user association and resource blanking at the macro BSs – similar to the enhanced intercell interference coordination (eICIC) proposed in the global cellular standards, 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Though the joint problem is nominally combinatorial, by allowing users to associate to multiple BSs, the problem becomes convex. We show both theoretically and through simulation that the optimal solution of the relaxed problem still results in a mostly unique association. Simulation shows that resource blanking can further improve the network performance. Next, the above framework with single-antenna transmission is extended to HetNets with BSs equipped with large-antenna arrays and operating in the massive MIMO regime. MIMO techniques enable the option of another interference management: serving users simultaneously by multiple BSs – termed joint transmission (JT). This chapter formulates a unified utility maximization problem to optimize user association with JT and resource blanking, exploring which an efficient dual subgradient based algorithm approaching optimal solutions is developed. Moreover, a simple scheduling scheme is developed to implement near-optimal solutions. We then change direction slightly to develop a flexible and tractable framework for D2D communication in the context of a cellular network. The model is applied to study both shared and orthogonal resource allocation between D2D and cellular networks. Analytical SINR distributions and average rates are derived and applied to maximize the total throughput, under an assumption of interference randomization via time and/or frequency hopping, which can be viewed as an optimized lower bound to other more sophisticated scheduling schemes. Finally, motivated by the benefits of cochannel D2D links, this dissertation investigates interference management for D2D links sharing cellular uplink resources. Showing that the problem of maximizing network throughput while guaranteeing the service of cellular users is non-convex and hence intractable, a distributed approach that is computationally efficient with minimal coordination is proposed instead. The key algorithmic idea is a pricing mechanism, whereby BSs optimize and transmit a signal depending on the interference to D2D links, who then play a best response (i.e., selfishly) to this signal. Numerical results show that our algorithms converge quickly, have low overhead, and achieve a significant throughput gain, while maintaining the quality of cellular links at a predefined service level.