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P2P vs. IP Multicast: Comparing Approaches to IPTV Streaming Based on TV Channel Popularity


Alex Bikfalvi, Jaime García-Reinoso, Iván Vidal, Francisco Valera, Arturo Azcorra


Already a popular application in the Internet, IPTV is becoming, among the service providers, a preferred alternative to conventional broadcasting technologies. Since many of the existing deployments have been done within the safe harbor of telco-owned networks, IP multicast has been the desired streaming solution. However, previous studies showed that the popularity of the TV channels follows the Pareto principle, with the bulk of TV channels being watched only by a small fraction of viewers. Recognizing the potential scalability issues, we believe that multicast streaming approach may not be desirable for unpopular TV channels, especially when there are many such channels in the provider’s service package. For this reason, the peer-to-peer content distribution paradigm is seen as an alternative, in particular for non-popular content. In order to analyze its viability, in this paper we perform a comparative analysis between IP multicast and a peer-to-peer overlay using unicast connections as streaming approaches, in the context of channels with different degrees of popularity. The analysis targets the bandwidth utilization, video quality and scalability issues, and our findings show that while multicast is always more efficient, peer-to-peer has a comparable performance for unpopular channels with a low number of viewers.


Computer Networks by Elsevier B.V.
Volume 55, Issue 6, Pages 1310-1325, April 25 2011

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Last updated: April 8, 2011