WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

Computer Science Department

Using Bandwidth Estimation to Optimize Buffer and Rate Selection for Streaming Multimedia over IEEE 802.11 Wireless Networks

Mingzhe Li

Committee: Professor Mark Claypool (WPI), Professor Robert Kinicki (WPI), Professor Emmanuel Agu (WPI), and Professor Constantinos Dovrolis (Georgia Tech)

Ph.D. Thesis
Computer Science Department, WPI
Fall 2006


As streaming techniques and wireless access networks become more widely deployed, a streaming multimedia connection with the .last mile. being a wireless network is becoming increasingly common. However, since current streaming techniques are primarily designed for wired networks, streaming multimedia applications can perform poorly in wireless networks. Recent research has shown that the wireless network conditions, such as the wireless link layer rate adaptation, contending traffic, and interference can significantly degrade the performance of streaming media applications. This performance degradation includes increased multimedia frame losses and lower image quality caused by packet loss, and multiple rebuffering events that stop the media playout. This dissertation presents the model, design, implementation and evaluation of an application layer solution for improving streaming multimedia application performance in IEEE 802.11 wireless networks by using enhanced bandwidth estimation techniques. The solution includes two parts: 1) a new Wireless Bandwidth estimation tool (WBest) designed for fast, non-intrusive, accurate estimation of available bandwidth in IEEE 802.11 networks, which can be used by streaming multimedia applications to improve the performance in wireless networks; 2) a Buffer and Rate Optimization for Streaming (BROS) algorithm using WBest to guide the streaming rate selection and initial buffer optimization. WBest and BROS are implemented and incorporated into an emulated streaming client-server system, Emulated Streaming (EmuS), in Linux and evaluated under a variety of wireless conditions. The evaluations show that with WBest and BROS, the performance of streaming multimedia applications in wireless networks can be significantly improved in terms of multimedia frame loss, rebuffer events and buffer delay.