A Survey on Resource Allocation for 5G Heterogeneous Networks: Current Research, Future Trends, and Challenges

Yongjun Xu, Guan Gui, Haris Gacanin, Fumiyuki Adachi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


In the fifth-generation (5G) mobile communication system, various service requirements of different communication environments are expected to be satisfied. As a new evolution network structure, heterogeneous network (HetNet) has been studied in recent years. Compared with homogeneous networks, HetNets can increase the opportunity in the spatial resource reuse and improve users' quality of service by developing small cells into the coverage of macrocells. Since there is mutual interference among different users and the limited spectrum resource in HetNets, however, efficient resource allocation (RA) algorithms are vitally important to reduce the mutual interference and achieve spectrum sharing. In this article, we provide a comprehensive survey on RA in HetNets for 5G communications. Specifically, we first introduce the definition and different network scenarios of HetNets. Second, RA models are discussed. Then, we present a classification to analyze current RA algorithms for the existing works. Finally, some challenging issues and future research trends are discussed. Accordingly, we provide two potential structures for 6G communications to solve the RA problems of the next-generation HetNets, such as a learning-based RA structure and a control-based RA structure. The goal of this article is to provide important information on HetNets, which could be used to guide the development of more efficient techniques in this research area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9355403
Pages (from-to)668-695
Number of pages28
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • 5G communications
  • Resource allocation
  • heterogeneous networks
  • machine learning
  • spectrum efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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