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In this paper, we investigate the network utility maximization problem in FDMA systems. We summarize with a suite of criteria on designing utility functions so as to achieve the global optimization convex. After proposing the general form of the utility functions, we present examples of commonly used utility function forms that are consistent with the criteria proposed in this paper, which include the well-known proportional fairness function and the sigmoidal-like functions. In the second part of this paper, we use numerical results to demonstrate a case study based on the criteria mentioned above, which deals with the subcarrier scheduling problem with dynamic rate allocation in FDMA system.