The Interplay of Markets and Security in 5G Shared Spectrum Services

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant CNS-1908087. This support is graciously acknowledged.


Efficient and secure use of shared spectrum is critical to support the demands from emerging 5G wireless applications that have potential benefits across society. This project is addressing these by considering intertwined economic and security issues in 5G wireless networks that use more flexible spectrum access paradigms, such as the recently finalized rules for the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band. These new paradigms will result in new market structures for providing wireless services. However, this expanded flexibility can also lead to an increase in the security vulnerabilities of wireless systems. These two issues are inherently coupled. For example, the emerging market structures can impact the security a firm can offer to its customers and the firm’s willingness to develop and deploy technology to improve on this. Moreover, in many spectrum sharing paradigms there may be different types of interacting firms such as service providers, database operators, etc. The economic and technological interactions among these firms will dictate the resulting security level given to end-users. Such interactions are not well understood in general. The goal of this project is to develop a deeper understanding of the interactions between security and markets in emerging spectrum sharing paradigms, including characterizing the cost and incentives of deploying security mechanisms in market environments. Thus, the project is expected to reduce economic uncertainties tied to security issues in shared spectrum bands.

The research is combining ideas from wireless networking, cyber-security and network economics in ways that have not been previously explored in the context of shared spectrum. Specific problems areas being addressed include (1) studying how wireless service providers should price and provision “security-as-a-service”; (2) understanding the market interactions of multiple wireless service providers and how different spectrum sharing approaches impact the competition and security investment incentives of the providers; (3) evaluating the impact of spatial interferences and their knock-on economic and security effects. The theoretical insights are complemented with an evaluation plan that leverages simulations and available data sets to ensure their robustness and applicability. Other broader impacts being pursued include: (1) engaging undergraduate and under-represented students; (2) developing wireless security labs; and (3) organizing workshop and tutorial sessions on the project’s topic at leading conferences, to inform stakeholders from government, industry, and academia and foster interactions.


Prof. David Starobinski (BU)


NataĊĦa Trkulja (PhD)
Byron Mitchell (Undergraduate)


Prof. Randall Berry (Northwestern U.)