Fairness in Wireless Networks: Issues, Measures and Challenges

Creative Commons License

Shi H., Prasad R. V. , Onur E. , Niemegeers I. G. M. M.

IEEE COMMUNICATIONS SURVEYS AND TUTORIALS, vol.16, no.1, pp.5-24, 2014 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/surv.2013.050113.00015
  • Page Numbers: pp.5-24


The pervasiveness of wireless technology has indeed created massive opportunity to integrate almost everything into the Internet fabric. This can be seen with the advent of Internet of Things and Cyber Physical Systems, which involves cooperation of massive number of intelligent devices to provide intelligent services. Fairness amongst these devices is an important issue that can be analysed from several dimensions, e. g., energy usage, achieving required quality of services, spectrum sharing, and so on. This article focusses on these viewpoints while looking at fairness research. To generalize, mainly wireless networks are considered. First, we present a general view of fairness studies, and pose three core questions that help us delineate the nuances in defining fairness. Then, the existing fairness models are summarized and compared. We also look into the major fairness research domains in wireless networks such as fair energy consumption control, power control, topology control, link and flow scheduling, channel assignment, rate allocation, congestion control and routing protocols. We make a distinction amongst fairness, utility and resource allocation to begin with. Later, we present their inter-relation. At the end of this article, we list the common properties of fairness and give an example of fairness management. Several open research challenges that point to further work on fairness in wireless networks are also discussed. Indeed, the research on fairness is entangled with many other aspects such as performance, utility, optimization and throughput at the network and node levels. While consolidating the contributions in the literature, this article tries to explain the niceties of all these aspects in the domain of wireless networking.