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Real-Time Video Distribution over WiMAX Networks

Dmitry Tsitserov
Dep. of communication systems InfoLab21, South Drive, Lancaster University Lancaster, LA1 4WA E-mail: d.tsitserov@lancaster.ac.uk Fax: +44 152 4510493

Prof. Garik Markarian


Dep. of communication systems InfoLab21, South Drive, Lancaster University Lancaster, LA1 4WA E-mail: g.markarian@lancaster.ac.uk Fax: +44 152 4510493

Ivan Manuylov
Dep. of communication systems InfoLab21, South Drive, Lancaster University Lancaster, LA1 4WA E-mail: ivan.manuylov@gmail.com

Abstract - This paper addresses concrete questions concerning the delivery of streaming video and multimedia application services over emerging WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) networks, making a special emphasis on the features of the mobile implementation. The authors examined a selected number of current challenging WiMAX system designs and architectures in regards with their ability to provide flexible QoS parameters for dynamic real-time traffic such as video-gaming, streaming video and conferencing services, highlighting cross-layer interaction to achieve effective system performance and support resource allocation between multiple users. Deriving from the simulation results and conclusions advanced by the researchers, an experimental approach has been put forward to explore cross-layer optimization method providing direct correspondence between QoS (quality of services) parameters for up-layer user applications and MAC service flows in the WiMAX network. The article is subdivided in 4 main sections. In the first section, we briefly review WiMAX theoretical aspects and general essentials, focusing on MAC layer operations and QoS concept supported by this standard. The second section includes general analysis of 2 advanced system designs proposed for the realtime video distribution over the Mobile WiMAX network. We clarify and stress on salient features successfully established and exploited by the authors to optimize the standard fundamentals for useful implementation of streaming video services. Further on, we propose a novel technique for delivering real-time video in Mobile 802.16 networks, which is based on key principles of MPEG-4/AVC video compression technology integrated with proven WiMAX design and technical features positively demonstrated in the analyzed solutions. Finally, in the fourth section, we provide conclusions summarizing the paper.

station) in Point-to-multipoint mode, where each BS serves a group of SSs in a broadcast manner [3]. In Mesh mode, SSs can directly establish a link between each other, when one of communicating SS acts as a host.
TABLE 1 MOBILE WIMAX APPLICATIONS AND QUALITY OoS Category UGS Unsolicited Grant Service Applications VoIP ErtPS Extended RealTime Polling Service Voice with activity detection
OF

SERVICES

rtPS Real-Time Polling Service

Streaming audio or video

QoS Specifications Maximum sustained rate Maximum latency tolerance Jitter tolerance Minimum reserved rate Maximum sustained rate Maximum latency tolerance Traffic priority Minimum reserved rate Maximum sustained rate Maximum latency tolerance Jitter tolerance Traffic priority Minimum reserved rate Maximum sustained rate Traffic priority Maximum sustained rate Traffic priority

I. INTRODUCTION The WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is based on IEEE 802.16 wireless MAN air interface standard, developed and promoted by the WiMAX Forum. The WiMAX networks can be easily deployed as a last mile broadband effective solution in NLoS (non-line-of-sight) environments, while fixed link DSL or cable system are significantly more expensive and cumbersome to install. The 802.16-WMAN standard possesses a number of challenging features providing high traffic rates, bounded delays, flexible and scalable system architecture, which makes it commercially attractive for various broadband wireless services. The fixed network 802.16a-2004 was upgraded to 802.16e-2005, which was developed for mobile users. Mobile WiMAX offers a wireless solution to link fixed and mobile broadband networks through a broadband radio access technology and an advanced architecture defined by the standard [1-4]. The IEEE 802.16 standard supports PMP (point-to-multipoint) and Mesh-mode topologies, and is commonly comprised of BSs (Base station) communicating with different SSs (subscriber

nrtPS Nonreal-Time Polling Service

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

BE Best-Effort Service

Data transfer, Web Brousing, etc.

Mobile WiMAX MAC layer consists of 3 sub-layers: Convergence Sublayer, Common MAC Sublayer and MAC privacy Sublayer. The Convergence Sublayer was introduced to support better interface with existing protocols of upper layers such as IP, ETHERNET, ATM and potential future technologies. Currently it can operate only with the IP and ETHERNET protocols [2]. The MAC layer is responsible for supporting QoS (quality of services) requirements and borrows basic elements of QoS design from DOCSIS cable standard. The IEEE 802.16 standard exploits service flows to provide QoS parameters such as latency, jitter, minimum reserved traffic rate, maximum sustained traffic rate etc. [3]. It is not feasible to cover all QoS of various current and future applications, therefore 5 QoS selected categories (scheduling services) were specified to address application

ISBN: 978-1-902560-19-9 2008 PGNet

groups with comparable QoS requirements, as shown in Table 1 [2]. The MAC protocol is connection-oriented. Prior to the data MAC messages transmission, a SS and a BS establish a logical unidirectional link, called a connection between peer-to-peer layers. On that stage, a BS, which is fully responsible for coordination of up-link and down-link resource allocation and service parameters, agrees with a SS about the required and available QoS specifications. Then MAC associates the SDU traversing from upper layer to a service flow with a set of certain QoS parameters to be transmitted over the connection. Each connection is assigned a CID (connection identifier) supporting the particular data transmission over the link. A BS also issues a SFID (service flow identifier) and maps it to a unique connection. As a result, a unidirectional flow of packets, delivered over the connection, exploits a particular set of OoS parameters, which can be dynamically managed through the MAC messages and meet the dynamic service demand. Service flows may be provisioned through a scheduling mechanism or created dynamically through defined signaling mechanisms in the standard. Each SS is enabled to negotiate with a BS about establishing several connections with relevant QoS per each connection. Besides the main QoS specifications, listed in Table 1, IEEE 802.16 uses a few bandwidth request tools for a SS to address a BS about its bandwidth needs. Based on resource allocation between many SSs and their active connections a BS decides whether to grant or reject a SS request [2-4]. More detailed information about the WiMAX and its specifications can be found in [1]. II. VIDEO DISTRIBUTION IN MOBILE WIMAX In the following section, we analyze some advanced system architectures for streaming video application to demonstrate research achievements which can be beneficially exploited for the system design. Despite the fact that request mechanisms, such as unsolicited requests, unicast polls, broadcast/multicast polls, and piggybacking are clearly identified in the standard description, the choice of BS and SS scheduling design is left up to the manufactures. It should be noted, that although technically the standard operates at MAC and PHY layers, providing services for different traffic rates, delay-sensitive data and fixed/variable-sized packets at WiMAX MAC/PHY, questions arise regarding how to guarantee QoS for upper layers of numerous applications. As for the streaming video and multimedia content, the question of high quality image and fare bandwidth distribution is still under exploration due to the uncertainties of the scheduling design and architecture vagueness. There is a lack of test performance statistics and end-to-end QoS requirements guarantee caused by a drawback from the freedom for equipment given to vendors in their process of tailoring the WiMAX system elements to specific applications. Reference [7] provides research project overview, where the authors proposed cross-layer system design to control QoS parameters of the streaming video encoded by SVC in mobile WIMAX system. The authors use scalable video coding (SVC) based on scalable extension of the H.264/AVC standard to provide spatial, temporary and quality (SNR-signal/noise ratio) scalability of encoded video stream. The SVC puts data into

various layers depending on its assigned importance. The structured distribution and organization of the bitstream is realized by SVC streaming server interconnecting with the WiMAX subsystem through the IP-based backhaul network. Interaction between the CVS server and a BS is performed periodically and schematically illustrated in Fig. 1. Regularly, a BS informs the server about the average bandwidth according to the RF link conditions and resource capacity. The SVC server receives from a BS a target bit-rate for each of the report periods and sends data packets back to the BS based on the requested rate. The proposed design allows to establish multiple connections between the SVC server and a BS. As mentioned before, the SVC server can handle the video packets according to its importance and, thus, it can set multiple connections with the BS. Therefore, the BS receives packets from different connections with given priorities simultaneously. The BS stores the received packets as MAC SDUs in the queues and then treats them depending on the service type. The BS sets multiple MAC connections with MS and allocates MAC PDU between these connections to support QoS service flow concept adopted by the WIMAX standard. Thus, the BS can capture and relate the SDUs from SVC server - the BS connections to multiple MAC connections with various QoS parameters. In this research, the authors compare a system performance of a two-connection and one-connection scenarios. The SVC server allocates 80% of the more important data to the first connection and assigns the remaining 20%, with the lower priority, to the second one. To control MAC connections, such techniques as fragmentation, scheduling and MAC retransmission mechanism are used. Cross-layer design, demonstrated for the BS MAC modules in Figure 2, allows to effectively divide MAC SDU into MAC PDU utilizing the RF information for fragmentation process. The BS collects the information contained in UL CQOCH (Channel Quality Indication Channel) and decides about proper choice of modulation and coding scheme for each burst, as well as it manages the scheduling process. The Cell loading parameter is introduced as the ratio of occupied OFDMA slots to total DL OFDMA slots (excluding FCH, preamble, MAP overheads). Combining the information of the cell residue capacity and ACM scheme, the BS can calculate an available bandwidth for the streaming services over the duration of report period and inform the server about it.

Fig. 1. The interaction between the server and the base station [7].

The MAC retransmission is adopted to increase channel robustness, so ARQ feature, defined in Mobile WiMAX, is exploited to apply the retransmission of lost video packets with higher priority, which are packets delivered through the first connection [2]. The MS communicates with the BS through UP link CQICH message and sends ACH information to support ARQ-enable connection. The authors carried out a number of tests, aimed at investigating the benefits of having multiple-connection scenario in comparison with single connection for streaming video. The findings show that cross-layer system design with multipleconnection scenario outperforms one-connection in terms of SDU failure rate of important video packets, irrespective of cell loading. In [8] the authors propose and advocate for a system design that supports multicast/broadcast video service (MBS) over Mobile WiMAX. The flexible QoS mechanisms adopted by the standard can help to implement Mobile TV services with an appropriate video quality. In the considered end-to-end MBS solution the crosslayer approach coupled with some error protection schemes are used to resolve some critical problems, associated with baseline MBS system applied in the multi-BS network. As shown in Figure 3, the new sublayer, transport-sublayer entity, is defined in the proposed scheme to achieve and sustain a better MBS performance. The MBS server communicates with the MS client at the application layer, the MS client is a subscriber, receiving mobile TV services at the MSS (mobile subscriber station) terminal. A new feature of the proposed architecture is embodied in introduction of the MBS-enhanced transport sublayer. The transport-sublayer is critical in the overall scheme as it operates as a medium between transport and application layers providing shaping, video-mulitplexing, coding, encryption (at MBS server side), at the same time it is responsible for constructing MAC PDUs, burst allocating, allocating OFDMA data region for wireless transmission between BSs and MSS. Besides, the transport-sublayer at MBS server side maps video channel (ID) to multicast connection (CID) in order to functionally link each MBS_MAC_PDU with a particular video channel.

Fig. 3. The proposed end-to-end MBS solution over WiMAX [8]

Fig. 2. Base Station MAC Control modules [7].

The MBS-enhanced transport sublayer PDUs, constructed by the MBS server, traverse into network and lower layers at the MBS controller and then deliver through the means of a wired PHY medium to a BS. The BS is added with a new sublayer entity responsible for the MBS queuing and mapping. The entity communicates at the same transport sublayer with incoming MBS-enhanced transport sublayer PDUs, buffers them and transforms into the MBS-DATA_IEs, MBS_MAC_PDUs to transmit in OFDMA frames at WiMAX PHY/MAC, as shown in Fig. 4. The MBS-enhanced transport sublayer at a client side receives MBS_MAC_PDUs rising from PHY/MAC and decodes only those, selected by video channel switcher, installed at the terminal. As it has been mentioned earlier, a video channel strongly corresponds to a CID multicast connection through mapping at the server side. Thus, the MSS generates multicast CID by choosing the required video channel, WiMAX PHY/MAC reads the MBS MAP and finds an appropriate MBS_DATA_IE, containing multicast CID information and identifying the related MBS_MAC_PDU. In accordance with the indicated algorithm, MSS decodes only those MBSMAC_PDUs relevant for watching a certain video channel, while ignoring others at the current moment. To support an on-line channel switching, MBS_DATA-IE includes data redirection providing MSS with the knowledge of the next frame number containing the interested MBS_MAC_PDU belonging to the selected channel. In the described research H.264/AVC standard was applied for encoding video stream. The selected standard allows to exploit video scalability in the proposed architecture. A temporary scalability was provided to split general stream into 2 layers: base-layer GOP (group of objects) subsequence and the enhanced-layer GOP subsequence. This approach divides coded sequence into different levels of importance. More robust FEC coding is given to a base-layer to provide better data decoding in comparison with that of the enhanced one. In addition, dropping policy is implemented to facilitate buffer queuing at BS MBS-enhanced transport sublayer. Video packets from the enhanced-layer can be dropped in case of buffer overloading leading to a transmission delay. The proposed system design resolves the actual problems, typically facing baseline MBS architecture over WiMAX.

Fig. 4. OFDMA frame region for mapping MBS_MAC_PDU [8].

Firstly, introduction of sublayer entity provides broadcast synchronization among multi-BS, securing all MSS clients to receive the same video content at the same time with analogous frequency sub-channel allocation. Secondly, the scalability of the video stream together with unequal coding mechanism supports smoother video quality degradation for mobile users. In addition, quality segmentation of the video traffic jointly with strong correspondence between channels and MAC connections (CID) can be further positively exploited to support various QoS specifications in commercial practice. The burst-based transmission and scheduling/multiplexing scheme proposed in the system design supports selective decoding of video channel on the MSS terminals and optimizes power savings by putting receiver in the sleep/idle mode. Another feature for optimizing energy efficiency is to decode only those packets belonging to the instantly watched video, thus, no resources are wasted for decoding the whole video stream. There are some more features applied to reduce frame error rate (FER), protocol layers overhead, which are described in detail in [8]. NOVEL SYSTEM STREAMING VIDEO SERVICE III. APPROACH FOR DELIVERING OVER MOBILE WIMAX NETWORKS

into several ES with different set of QoS parameters and categorize them in terms of variable/fixed packet size, delay boundaries, jitter-sensitive and synchronization-optimal data, taking into consideration user application and customer requirements for video-data quality parameters. Utilizing the WiMAX MAC service flow concept, each ES maps to a definite MAC connection maintaining categorized QoS service (UGS, rtPS, BE, e.t.c) adopted by the Mobile WiMAX standard. Thus, while elaborating on relevant cross-layer architecture, we expect coded video data, related to corresponding primitive scene, objects or group of objects, to traverse through transport, network and MAC layers with various levels of importance, enabling to allocate the WiMAX network resources in accordance to data priority and scheduling threshold criteria. Fragmentation and recombination of video packets, related to different ES to form initial general stream (GS), are expected to be performed at upper sublayers close to application one in codec device. We assume, that the proposed novel technique will demonstrate wider throughput maintaining adequate video quality in comparison with baseline approach for streaming video routing over the Mobile WiMAX network, exploiting only rtPS QoS category to support real-time video applications. IV. CONCLUSIONS In this paper we analyze two existing solutions for efficient video distribution over mobile WIMAX network. We identify the similar features introduced in these solutions, its essential role in supporting streaming services in the most suitable applications. In addition, we introduce a novel video distribution technique, which allows further optimization via utilization of objects in the video stream. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors would like to express their gratitude to Rinicom Ltd. (www.rinicom.com) for both financial and technical support and cooperation provided in the course of this research project. REFERENCES
[1] Jeffrey G. Andrews Fundamentals of WiMAX: Understanding Broadband Wireless Networking (Prentice Hall Communications Engineering and Emerging Technologies Series) Prentice Hall; 2007. Mobile WiMAX Part I: A Technical Overview and Performance Evaluation, AUGUST 2006 WiMAX Forum, http://www.wimaxforum.org/news/downloads. Claudio Cicconetti, Luciano Lenzini, and Enzo Mingozzi, University of Pisa, Carl Eklund, Nokia Research Center, Quality of Service Support in IEEE 802.16 Networks, IEEE Network March/April 2006, pp.50-55. Carl Eklund, Roger B. Marks, Kenneth L. Stanwood, and Stanley Wang, IEEE Standard 802.16: A Technical Overview of the WirelessMAN Air Interface for Broadband Wireless Access, IEEE Communications Magazine, June 2002, pp. 98-107. Overview of the MPEG-4 Standard, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11, N4668, March 2002; http://www.cmpe.boun.edu.tr/courses/cmpe535/spring2005/Refs/MPEG4%20description.htm. Ian E.G. Richardson H.264 and MPEG-4 Video Compression, Video Coding for Next-generation Multimedia.The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK. Hung-Hui Juan, Hsiang-Chun Huang, Ching Yao Huang and Tihao Chiang, Cross-layer System Designs for Scalable Video Streaming over Mobile WiMAX , IEEE 2007, pp.1862-1866. Jianfeng Wang, Muthaiah Venkatachalam, and Yuguang Fang, System Architecture and Cross-Layer Optimization of Video Broadcast over WiMAX, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, Vol. 25, No. 4, May 2007, pp.712-721.

Summarizing the above sited findings of the proposed solutions for the optimization of the streaming video quality, we can point out that scalable segmentation of the video stream as well as cross-layer design plays a positive role in improving technical parameters of the Mobile WiMAX network performance. In our investigations we intend to implement a novel technique for delivering streaming video over WiMAX network. We select MPEG-4 as a classical standard for coding video/multimedia data given its popularity, taking into account its basic technical principles, generally inherited by later modifications, such as MPEG-4 Visual, H.264/MPEG-4 Part10. In MPEG-4 audiovisual complex scene (video scene) is composed of groups of media objects, primitive objects, describing simple video scene or still images [5-6]. These scenes may vary from still background, trees, some animated objects to a person in motion, running or talking. Each primitive object is coded to generate elementary stream (ES) or a number of ESs. Then, applying synchronization, multiplexing and description process video codec combines ESs to output general stream (GS) related to complex audiovisual scenes. We intend to divide GS

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