Distributed Rate Allocation in Switch-Based Multiparty Videoconferencing System

Multiparty videoconferences, or more generally multiparty video calls, are gaining a lot of popularity as they offer a rich communication experience. These applications have, however, large requirements in terms of both network and computational resources and have to deal with sets of heterogenous clients. The multiparty videoconferencing systems are usually either based on expensive central nodes, called Multipoint Control Units (MCU), with transcoding capabilities, or on a peer-to-peer architecture where users cooperate to distribute more efficiently the different video streams. Whereas the first class of systems requires an expensive central hardware, the second one depends completely on the redistribution capacity of the users, which sometimes might neither provide sufficient bandwidth nor be reliable enough. In this work we propose an alternative solution where we use a central node to distribute the video streams, but at the same time we maintain the hardware complexity and the computational requirements of this node as low as possible, e.g. it has no video decoding capabilities. We formulate the rate allocation problem as an optimization problem that aims at maximizing the Quality of Service (QoS) of the videoconference. We propose two different distributed algorithms for solving the optimization problem: the first algorithm is able to find an approximate solution of the problem in a one-shot execution, whereas the second algorithm, based on Lagrangian relaxation, performs iterative updates of the optimization variables in order to gradually increase the value of the objective function. The two algorithms, though being disjointed, nicely complement each other. If executed in sequence, they allow to achieve both, a quick approximate rate reallocation in case of a sudden change of the system conditions, and a precise refinement of the variables which avoids problems caused by possible faulty approximate solutions. We have further implemented our solution in a network simulator where we show that our rate allocation algorithm is able to properly optimize users' QoS. We also illustrate the benefits of our solution in terms of network usage and overall utility when compared to a baseline heuristic method operating on the same system architecture.

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ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications, 13, 3s, 41

 Record created 2017-04-07, last modified 2019-03-17

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