Jae Chung and Mark Claypool
Increasingly popular commercial streaming media applications over the Internet often use UDP as the underlying transmission protocol for performance reasons. Hand-in-hand with the increase in streaming media comes the impending threat of unresponsive UDP traffic, often cited as the major threat to the stability of the Internet. Unfortunately, there are few empirical studies that analyze the responsiveness, or lack of it, of commercial streaming media applications. In this work, we evaluate the responsiveness of RealNetworks' RealVideo over UDP by measuring the performance of numerous streaming video clips selected from a variety of RealServers on the Internet, analyze the TCP-Friendliness of the UDP streams and correlate the results with network and application layer statistics. We find that most RealVideo UDP streams respond to Internet congestion by reducing the application layer encoding rate, and streams with a minimum encoding rate less than the fair share of the capacity often achieve a TCP-Friendly rate. In addition, our results suggest that a reason streaming applications choose not to use TCP is that the TCP API hides network information, such as loss rate and round-trip time, making it difficult to estimate the available capacity for effective media scaling.
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