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This paper studies an incentive structure for cooperation and its stability in peer-assisted services when there exist multiple content providers, using a coalition game theoretic approach. The authors first consider a generalized coalition structure consisting of multiple providers with many assisting peers, where peers assist providers to reduce the operational cost in content distribution. To distribute the profit from cost reduction to players (i.e., providers and peers), they then establish a generalized formula for individual payoffs when a "Shapley-like" payoff mechanism is adopted. They show that the grand coalition is unstable, even when the operational cost functions are concave, which is in sharp contrast to the recently studied case of a single provider where the grand coalition is stable.
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