MIT develops protocol for efficient distribution of bandwidth in video streaming

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Researchers at MIT’s Csail division have developed a video streaming protocol that intelligently prioritizes specific streams in the event of an impending bandwidth shortage. The protocol calculates how ‘important’ a stream is based on various factors.

For example, the protocol looks at the genre; a sports match with fast moving images becomes a worse experience faster with less bandwidth than, for example, a cartoon. On that basis, a sports competition would therefore be given priority in a situation in which there is a shortage of bandwidth at some point, writes Engadget, among others. Furthermore, according to VentureBeat, screen size, screen resolution, device type and the size of the buffer are considered.

MIT’s experiments did use an automatic video quality setting, since throttling bandwidth at a fixed resolution always means buffering; only when the quality is automatically adjusted to the bandwidth can this concept do its job.

According to the researchers, the protocol, which they call Minerva, can be deployed at various points in the video stream. For example, with a streaming provider itself, Minerva can monitor the upstream bandwidth, but in a household, in a modem or router, it can be of service on the downstream side.

According to the researchers, the results of their tests were positive. There was about half the wait for rebuffering, and the progress in video quality through smart bandwidth allocation would be roughly equivalent to the jump from 720p to 1080p. The investigative report itself is not yet public; that will be presented sometime this month to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications in Los Angeles.

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