Our research

Below are some current research activities being conducted by the Pricing in Information Infrastructure and Next-Generation Communication Networks (PING) Research Group.

New regulatory approach to and investment incentives in the UltraFast Broadband network

In many jurisdictions, regulation of telecommunications operators has been based on analysis of the forward-looking costs over the long run of an efficient operator. Dissatisfaction with the practicalities has lead a growing number of jurisdictions to change their telecommunication regulatory approach to an alternative approach focussed on historic costs, which is often described as a Build Blocks Modelling (BBM) methodology. This approach combines the provision of incentives for the regulated entity to invest, at the same time ensuring that the profits of monopoly providers are limited to protect end-users from exploitation.

The UK and Australia have already changed their fixed line telecommunications regulation to the BBM methodology. In New Zealand, the government has announced it intends to make this change and use it in the regulation of NZ’s UltraFast Broadband network. This project analyses the incentives provided by such a BBM regulatory methodology. 

The economics of spectrum management

The conventional way of allocating spectrum for mobile communications is the simultaneous ascending auction (SAA), a mechanism that has been used and perfected over the last twenty years. Key recent insights into the weaknesses of the SAA have led researchers to propose and governments to adopt a new format which is known as the combinatorial clock auction (CCA). The auction is being popularised throughout its application in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

As critical as the capacity of an auction to raise revenue for the government may be, its design and particular rules should respond – whenever feasible – to the broader goals set by governments, the history and current state of the mobile markets, the regulator’s goals for competition in the new or affected markets, the evolution and potential of new technologies to modify spectrum utilisation efficiency and new spectrum exploitation forms allowed by authorities and sponsored by non-traditional market players.

The future of the digital dividend and the search for new spectrum, on the one hand, and the increasing adoption of mobile devices everywhere, on the other, demand a serious rethinking of the processes involved in deciding how much spectrum, what frequency bands, when to allocate it and the mechanisms for allocation and assignment.

Our current research builds a framework for the analysis of the mobile broadband spectrum allocation and assignment process. The framework is used to understand the role of the spectrum agency in promoting the efficient use of the spectrum while allowing new technology (hard and soft) approaches to spectrum use (ultra wideband, software defined radio, cognitive radio, spectrum sharing and licensed spectrum parks).

Data pricing in data marketplaces

In the age of big data, an increasing need and demand have given rise to the emergence of data marketplaces. These marketplaces are platforms designed to facilitate data trading among data providers, data brokers and data consumers. Several data companies, such as AggData, Datacoup and Datum, provide such platforms to procure data from data providers and/or sell them to data consumers, playing the role of data brokers. On the other hand, more people are aware of the risk of privacy leakage and are asking for compensations for possible privacy loss.

For the business involved, setting prices on data is an essential part of their operations. However, this is not easy given that data are intangible and the value of data is difficult to measure. Therefore, the prices of data should be determined by the perceived value of data providers and data consumers. Since the perceived value is known only to data providers and consumers themselves, but hidden to data brokers, incentive mechanisms can help reveal such hidden information. Furthermore, the mechanism should satisfy the privacy protection requirements of data providers. Our goal is to design mechanisms that price data while preserving data privacy.