Traded Data Plans

The growing volume of mobile data traffic has led many Internet service providers (ISPs) to cap their users' monthly data usage, with steep overage fees for exceeding their caps. In this work, we examine a secondary data market in which users can buy and sell leftover data caps from each other. China Mobile Hong Kong recently introduced such a market. While similar to an auction in that users submit bids to buy and sell data, it differs from traditional double auctions in that the ISP serves as the middleman between buyers and sellers. Different buyers and sellers are willing to bid different prices for different amounts of data, allowing ISPs to match buyers and sellers so as to increase their profits. In fact, ISPs can increase their revenue by offering a secondary market: while the ISP loses revenue from overage fees, it can assess administration fees and pocket the differences between the buyer and seller prices.

L. Zheng, C. Joe-Wong, C. W. Tan, S. Ha and M. Chiang, "Secondary Markets for Mobile Data: Feasibility and Benefits of Traded Data Plans," accepted to IEEE INFOCOM, 2015. [pdf]
S. Sen, C. Joe-Wong, and S. Ha, “The Economics of Shared Data Plans,” WITS, 2012.