Research at Cisco

Robust Video Streaming over IP: Adaptive Transport and Its Instrumentation

Project ID:



Robust Video Streaming over IP: Adaptive Transport and Its Instrumentation


IPTV and over-the-top (OTT) video services are becoming increasingly popular. Current IPTV systems use IP multicast, and hence, require substantial quality-of-service machinery to distribute live content to a large viewer population. On the other hand, OTT streaming services use best-effort transport but in a way that the transmission adapts to dynamic conditions. In this RFP, we are seeking proposals that study and analyze both adaptive and non-adaptive transport for live and on-demand content, design the necessary instrumentation protocols and tools, and perform measurements to validate the designs.

Full Description:

Entertainment-grade commercial distribution of live TV programs and on-demand content is rapidly moving to an all-IP infrastructure using facilities such as IP multicast and quality-of-service mechanisms. In addition to this IPTV model, over-the-top (OTT) video services and Internet TV applications are growing rapidly. These operate over the best-effort service of a wide range of networks to deliver mostly on-demand but also some live content. These approaches give viewers the flexibility of accessing content from various devices including TVs, PCs, gaming consoles and mobile phones. These devices usually have quite different screen resolutions and processing capabilities, and often need to acquire the content over network paths with diverse characteristics. There are a number of adaptive transport solutions being deployed. These have the goal to deliver the best possible quality under highly variable client and network conditions. However, addressing the specific needs of each target device type and access network in a scalable way is a challenging task.

For the first part of this research, we are soliciting proposals to investigate the design trade-offs in adaptive transport for both live and on-demand content, and evaluate different methods from a video quality, ease-of-implementation, ease-of-deployment and fairness viewpoint. We also would like to understand the consequences of deploying adaptive transport at large scale and the interactions between the streaming applications using adaptive transport and co-resident inelastic applications.

In the second part, we are interested in proposals for instrumentation methods deployable by service providers, Internet providers as well as the viewers to measure the quality of experience for the streaming services delivered using adaptive transport. Instrumentation is essential to collect information from various places inside the IP network and analyze that information for fault diagnosis, service assurance and capacity planning.

Some specific areas of interest include:

  • Design of server-side, client-side and network-based adaptation methods and hybrids of the three
  • Comparison of reliable multicast distribution vs. adaptive unicast streaming for broadcast (live) content
  • Investigation of the impact of adaptive transport in large-scale deployments
  • Development of instrumentation needed to assess the effectiveness of adaptive transport

Proposals for both short-term applied and experimental, and longer-term architectural and algorithmic research are welcome.

Constraints and other information:

This is a significant problem space, the solution to which will have broad benefit for the Internet. As such, nominally, Cisco will not seek IPR, and will also expect that promising results will be made available to the community without limiting licenses, royalties, or other encumbrances. Other arrangements may be negotiated.

Proposal submission:

Please use the link below to submit a proposal for research responding to this RFP. After a preliminary review, we may ask you to revise and resubmit your proposal.

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RFPs may be withdrawn as research proposals are funded, or interest in the specific topic is satisfied. Researchers should plan to submit their proposals as soon as possible. The deadline for Submissions is the Friday of the first week of each calendar quarter (the months of January, April, July, October). Funding decisions and communication will occur within 90 days from the quarterly submission deadline. The usage of funding is expected within 12 months of funding decision. Please plan your requests accordingly.

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