IRate: Initial Video Bitrate Selection System for HTTP Streaming

Ricky K.P. Mok, Weichao Li, Kow Chuen Chang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


� 2016 IEEE. Many HTTP streaming video systems have been developed and widely deployed in recent years. Previous efforts were mainly spent on improving the caching of videos or proposing mid-stream measurement methods to update the best bitrate. However, since the video length is often short, the mid-stream measurement may not even converge to the best bitrate due to insufficient bandwidth estimates. On the other hand, because of diversified Web infrastructure, estimating the actual network quality at the pre-stream stage is increasingly challenging for video service providers. In this paper, we propose IRate, which enables video service providers to proactively profile clients' streaming performance by carrying out pre-stream measurement in the Content Delivery Network (CDN). With the measurement results, the video stream can start at the best video quality at the onset of streaming. This is especially beneficial to short video clips, which are very popular in the Internet today. IRate is composed of a probe kit and a quality oracle. The probe kit utilizes the pre-stream time window (e.g., user's think time and pre-roll advertisement) for measuring network quality by running a lightweight measurement script on the Web page to induce probe packets from the IRate middlebox on the server side. With the measurement results, the quality oracle estimates the clients' streaming performance by determining the highest initial bitrate with a pre-trained decision tree. Our testbed results show that IRate is able to achieve 80% accuracy in determining the bitrate within 10s. By having a better estimate of the best initial bitrate, the buffering time and rebuffering events are significantly reduced in HTTP streaming. Furthermore, the stability and the efficiency in dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP streaming are also improved by about 40% and 36%, respectively. Our user quality of experience (QoE) experiment further validates that IRate can improve the QoE by more than 6% and the perceived quality of initial quality by 24% in the actual Internet environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7460219
Pages (from-to)1914-1928
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • DASH
  • HTTP Streaming
  • Initial video bitrate
  • QoE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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