Modeling the dynamics of network technology adoption and the role of converters

Soumya Sen, Youngmi Jin, Roch Guerin, Kartik Hosanagar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


New network technologies constantly seek to displace incumbents. Their success depends on technological superiority, the size of the incumbent's installed base, users' adoption behaviors, and various other factors. The goal of this paper is to develop an understanding of competition between network technologies and identify the extent to which different factors, in particular converters (a.k.a. gateways), affect the outcome. Converters can help entrants overcome the influence of the incumbent's installed base by enabling cross-technology interoperability. However, they have development, deployment, and operations costs and can introduce performance degradations and functionality limitations, so that if, when, why, and how they help is often unclear. To this end, the paper proposes and solves a model for adoption of competing network technologies by individual users. The model incorporates a simple utility function that captures key aspects of users' adoption decisions. Its solution reveals a number of interesting and at times unexpected behaviors, including the possibility for converters to reduce overall market penetration of the technologies and to prevent convergence to a stable state, something that never arises in their absence. The findings were tested for robustness, e.g., different utility functions and adoption models, and found to remain valid across a broad range of scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5467197
Pages (from-to)1793-1805
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received June 22, 2009; revised December 24, 2009; accepted April 09, 2010; approved by IEEE/ACM TRANSACTIONS ON NETWORKING Editor D. M. Chiu. Date of publication May 20, 2010; date of current version December 17, 2010. This work was supported by NSF Grant CNS-0721610.


  • Converters
  • diffusion
  • dynamics
  • equilibrium
  • externality
  • technology adoption


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