Towards an Optimal User Association in Heterogeneous Cellular Networks

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The authors investigate how a heterogeneous cellular network should self-organize by proposing a load-aware user association scheme. This is an important consideration, in order to move traffic off congested cells and onto more lightly loaded cells. Although the network-wide optimal association problem is NP hard, a closely related utility maximization problem can be made convex by applying relaxations on the association metric. They then address a low-complexity distributed algorithm that converges to a near-optimal solution with theoretical guarantee on its performance, requiring limited information and no coordination. This is directly related to range extension and small-cell biasing, which is how cell associations are likely to work in practice.