Martin Ellis — Understanding the Performance of Internet Video Over Residential Networks

Congratulations to Martin Ellis, who successfully defended his PhD thesis (“Understanding the Performance of Internet Video Over Residential Networks”) today.

The abstract of Martin's dissertation reads:

Video streaming applications are now commonplace among home Internet users, who typically access the Internet using DSL or Cable technologies. However, the effect of these technologies on video performance, in terms of degradations in video quality, is not well understood. To enable continued deployment of applications with improved quality of experience for home users, it is essential to understand the nature of network impairments and develop means to overcome them.

In this dissertation, I demonstrate the type of network conditions experienced by Internet video traffic, by presenting a new dataset of the packet level performance of real-time streaming to residential Internet users. Then, I use these packet level traces to evaluate the performance of commonly used models for packet loss simulation, and finding the models to be insufficient, present a new type of model which more accurately captures the loss behaviour. Finally, to demonstrate how a better understanding of the network can improve video quality in a real application scenario, I evaluate the performance of forward error correction schemes for Internet video using the measurements. I show that performance can be poor, devise a new metric to predict performance of error recovery from the characteristics of the input, and validate that the new packet loss model allows more realistic simulations.

For the effective deployment of Internet video systems to users of residential access networks, a firm understanding of these networks is required. This dissertation provides insights into the packet level characteristics that can be expected from such networks, and techniques to realistically simulate their behaviour, promoting development of future video applications.

Update (17 October 2012): the final version of Martin's dissertation is now available.

Opinions expressed are my own, and do not represent those of my employers or the organisations that fund my research.