Pricing activity within ARMOR project: present and future

Contact: Bruno Tuffin

Last update: November 27, 2003

Introduction to pricing

Pricing is a good example of a multi-disciplinary research activity half-way between applied mathematics, economy and networking. Indeed, the Internet is facing a tremendous increase of its traffic volume. As a consequence, real users complain that large data transfers take too long, without any possibility to improve this by themselves (by paying more, for instance). A possible solution to cope with congestion is to increase the link capacities; however, many authors consider that this is not a viable solution as the network must respond to increasing demand (and experience has shown that demand of bandwidth has always been ahead of supply), especially now that the Internet has become a commercial network. Furthermore, incentives to a fair utilization between customers are not included in the current Internet.

For these reasons, it has been suggested that the current flat-rate fees, where customers pay a subscription and obtain an unlimited usage, be replaced by usage-based fees. Besides, the future Internet will carry heterogeneous flows such as video, voice, email, web, file transfer and remote login among others. Each of these applications requires a different quality of service (QoS): for example, video needs very small delays and packet losses, voice requires small delays but can afford some packet losses, email can afford delay (within a given bound) while file transfer needs more a good average throughput and telnet requires small round-trip times. Some pricing incentives should exist so that each user doe not always choose the best QoS for her application and so that the final result is a fair utilisation of the bandwidth. On the other hand, we need to be aware of the trade-off between engineering efficiency and economic efficiency; for example, traffic measurements helps in improving the management of the network but is a costly option.

Pricing has then emerged as a hot topic in the telecommunication world, receiving a lot of attention. Among major projects involved in this research area, we can quote non-exhaustively

Pricing activity within ARMOR

The pricing activity started in 2001 in ARMOR. The active members are

We coordinate the PRIXNET INRIA ARC, cooperative research action with MISTRAL project, France Telecom, Prism laboratory (University of Versailles-St Quentin) and IBM (Watson research center). We especially have a strong collaboration with Mistral project, which might be involved in our future research activities.

The results we have obtained up to now have focused on the theoretical part of the pricing scheme design.

See also the list of publications of our group on this topic.

Research directions

Of course, we are also open to other research directions in this area.