You are on page 1of 5

International Journal of Electronics Communication and Computer Technology (IJECCT)

Volume 4 Issue 3 (May 2014)

Real-Time Video Streaming over NS3-based


Emulated LTE Networks
Abdurrahman Fouda, Ahmed N. Ragab, Ali Esswie, Mohamed Marzban, Amr Naser,
Mohamed Rehan, Ahmed S. Ibrahim
Intel Corporation, Middle East Mobile Innovation Center (MEMIC), Cairo, Egypt
Electronics and Electrical Communications Department, School of Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt
Abstract In this paper, we present a developed NS-3 based
emulation platform for evaluating and optimizing the
performance of the LTE networks. The developed emulation
platform is designed to provide real-time measurements. Thus it
eliminates the need for the high cost spent on real equipment.
The developed platform consists of three main parts, which are
video server, video client(s), and NS-3 based simulation
environment for LTE network. Using the developed platform, the
server streams video clips to the existing clients going through the
LTE simulated network. We utilize this setup to evaluate
multiple cases such as mobility and handover. Moreover, we use
it for evaluating multiple streaming protocols such as UDP, RTP,
and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH).

Keywords-DASH, Emulation, LTE, NS-3, Real-time, RTP,


UDP.

I.
INTRODUCTION
Currently, 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) [1] is the
most promising standard for the upcoming fourth generation
(4G) of mobile wireless communication systems. The
innovative aspects included in LTE are a high speed radio
interface based on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple
Access (OFDMA) technology and an all-IP Evolved Packet
Core (EPC) network. These designated specifications increase
the level of complexity and required hardware capabilities.
Subsequently, trends for facilitating performance optimization
and active network debugging have become emerging as well.
Unlike current communication systems, the ability to
transport multimedia content over a variety of networks at
different channel conditions and bandwidth capacities
with various requirements of quality-of-service (QoS), is
considered to be a fundamental challenge for future
communication systems. Hence, performance-aware adaptation
techniques have become hot topics in research nowadays to
achieve optimal and dynamic network configurations at all
times and for all network conditions.
Testing and optimizing the new technologies on real
equipment with real time applications deployed to get accurate
and realistic analysis outputs, requires very high expenditures.
Moreover, the real equipment is difficult to modify or upgrade
and requires large storage space. On the other hand, using
network simulators (to minimize the costs) will not allow realtime performance monitoring. Moreover, the obtained results

ISSN:2249-7838

will not maintain the required accuracy and credibility


especially when it comes to video streaming applications.
In this paper, we present a novel Hardware in the Loop
(HIL) platform for LTE emulations based on the open-source
NS-3 [2,3]. The main objective is to build a platform that
provides real- time measurements along with simulation
flexibility. The developed platform results in a reliable, robust,
controllable, and cost- effective simulation environment for
LTE networks, which in turn helps the LTE researchers to
evaluate their new ideas.
The platform consists of 3 physical devices (computers).
One physical device acts as a video streaming server. The
second device contains a simulation environment for the LTE
network. The third device acts as the streaming client. The
emulated LTE network is connected from one end to the server
and connected to the client from the other end. Using the
developed HIL procedure, the server streams video clips to the
client through the simulated LTE network. The HIL procedure
translates the real packets sent by the server to the simulationbased format so that the packets can flow through the
simulation environment on the second device and undergo the
LTE network conditions. When the packets finish their journey
in the simulated LTE environment, the HIL technique retranslates the packets back to the real data format so that they
could be sent to the client. The platform supports multiple
clients streaming. Furthermore, the platform supports the oneway communications protocols like UDP/RTP in addition to
the two-way communications protocols like HTTP and DASH.
The structure of this paper is as follows. Section II
describes the related works. Section III describes the base
simulation environment and the proposed platform structure
including the platform components in addition to the internal
LTE main nodes used. Section IV discusses three test cases
that were executed over the platform to verify its effectiveness
and the results of these cases. Conclusion and future work are
drawn in the final section.
II. RELATED WORKS
Video streaming is considered one of the hot target
technologies in future research. Wireless networks such as 4G
and beyond go for high data rate applications, which will
perfectly fit with the future requirements of the wireless video
streaming applications. Hence, interest in wireless video
streaming technologies and testing platforms rises to meet

IJECCT | www.ijecct.org

659

International Journal of Electronics Communication and Computer Technology (IJECCT)


Volume 4 Issue 3 (May 2014)
these future requirements. In literature, several commercial
platforms and solutions are proposed for the sake of video
streaming applications testing from different perspectives e.g.
bandwidth, communication resources and quality of service
(QOS) measures [4-6]. Existing video streaming platforms
trend for compromising between the testing efficiency, quality
and flexibility of testing and the related expenditures.
A. OPNET
OPNET modeler [7] is a network modeling platform for
designing and implementing communication networks, devices
and applications. It introduces the System in The Loop (SITL)
technique that allows real time based applications to
communicate through an OPNET-inside simulation system. By
this, delay sensitive technologies such as video streaming and
Voice over IP (VOIP) can be tested and analyzed with high
levels of accuracy. The main issue in front of using OPNET
modelers is the high cost that might held many developing
research communities to perform their researches. OPNET has
complicated and very expensive system for licensing. So a
need for low cost or open source platform that has equivalent
system accuracy is recently researched and acquired.
B. OMNeT++
OMNeT++ modular is a discrete event simulator of
communication networks. It allows external real time
applications to communicate through the simulation domain
using multiple integrated techniques [8,9]. Most of core LTE
network interfaces and entities are not implemented in
OMNeT++. Moreover, the LTE protocol stack is not
implemented in OMNeT++, so it lacks the compatibility with
the current LTE and LTE-A systems. In fact OMNeT++
modular will be useless when it is used with the wireless video
streaming applications.
C. NS-2
NS2 is a discrete event simulator widely accepted for wired
and wireless network simulations [10]. Emulation inside NS2
faces many challenges which limits its growth. First, it has a
very complicated structure which leads to longer event
execution time than the corresponding event time in real world.
Second, NS2 is a single thread simulator while real network
nodes have to execute multiple events in the same time [11].
These limitations lead to inaccurate timing behavior that has a
negative effect on the performance of network emulation using
NS2.

Figure 2. The Main Components of the Simulated LTE Network

III. NS3-BASED HIL PLATFORM


A need for an innovative platform that overcomes most of
the above problems is raised. NS-3 is an open source discrete
event network simulator available under the GNU GPLv2
license for use, research and development. The Centre
Tecnolgic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC)
developed the LTE-EPC Network Simulator (LENA) [12-14]
in 2011 to be the first public release of the LTE module for the
NS-3. Since then, the LENA went through continuous
developments to be able to efficiently simulate not only the air
interface between the eNB and the UE, but also the core
network interfaces, protocols and entities (e.g. SGW, PGW and
MME). In this section, we present our implementation for the
HIL platform over the LENA/NS-3. The HIL platform is
shown in Fig. 1 and it is composed of the following.
A. Three real devices (computers)
Two devices act as a client and server and one device used
to simulate the LTE network. Connections between devices are
wired Ethernet.
B. Simulated LTE Network
The LTE network is composed of a remote host, a
SGW/PGW node and at least one eNB with at least one UE
attached to it as shown in Fig. 2. The ultimate goal is to
connect the end nodes of this simulated network (one UE and
the remote host) to the real client and server through the HIL
components to allow the flow of real packets through the
simulated network. The HIL components consist of tap
interfaces, software bridges, Tap-bridges and NS-3 nodes, as
shown in Figure 1. These components are discussed in more
detail below.
C. Tap Interfaces
They are virtual software interfaces created by the use of
the Tunctl Linux package [15]. From the Linux host
prospective, these virtual interfaces act as entry and exit points
for the traffic going to and coming from the LTE simulations.
The tap interfaces would appear to the Linux host as if they are
real interfaces connected to it.

Figure 1. HIL Platform Allowing Connecting a Simulated Network to Real


Devices

ISSN:2249-7838

D. Software Bridges
A software bridge is constructed between each Ethernet
interface and its corresponding tap interface by the use of the
Brctl Linux package [16]. Thus, the traffic arriving at an
IJECCT | www.ijecct.org

660

International Journal of Electronics Communication and Computer Technology (IJECCT)


Volume 4 Issue 3 (May 2014)
Ethernet interface would be sent to its corresponding tap
interface through the bridge and vice versa.
E. Tap-Bridge [17]
The tap-bridge is installed to create a software channel
between a virtual tap interface and a node inside the NS-3
simulations, thus providing a mechanism for the exchange of
data between the NS-3 simulations and the Linux host. In the
platform shown in Fig. 1, two tap-bridges are installed in two
NS-3 nodes to connect the two end nodes of the LTE network
with the Linux host. When the traffic is sent from the Linux to
a tap interface, it is received by the tap-bridge which
transforms the arriving real packets to simulated packets by
making a write operation inside the NS-3 simulation.
On the other hand, when the tap-bridge receives the
simulated packets from the NS-3 simulation, it transforms the
arriving simulated packets to real packets by making a write
operation on the tap interface. Then, it appears to the Linux
host as if the packets have arrived on one of its interfaces.
Thus, the tap-bridge allows the flow of packets from the Linux
host to the NS-3 simulations and vice versa.
F. NS-3 nodes and CSMA links [18]
The Tap-bridge can only be installed on the NS-3 CSMA and
Wi-Fi devices, and this is not the case with the UE which is
attached to the eNB via the air interface and the remote host
which is connected to the SGW/PGW via a point to point
(internet) link. So, each end node of the LTE network is
connected to an NS-3 node via a CSMA link and the tap-bridge
is installed on these two NS-3 nodes as shown in Figure 1. It is
worth mentioning that there is a deterministic mechanism for
sending data over the CSMA link which eliminates the
probability of collision on that link (i.e., the users are served
based on discrete time scheduling, so there is only one user
served on the CSMA channel at the same event. Therefore,
there is no need for collision detection in the CSMA channels).
Moreover, the delay and the data rate attributes of the CSMA
link are given to match the attributes of the LTE network so
that there is no added overhead on the LTE network.
TABLE I.

Parameter
eNB Operating Power
Physical Layer Profile

Antenna type
Path Loss Model
Channel Model

UE Operating Power
eNB Noise Figure
UE Noise Figure
Transmission mode

IV.

SIMULATION TEST CASES

In order to verify the developed platform we present three


sample test cases from a group of test cases applied over the
platform. These test cases are video client mobility, streaming
video to multiple clients and handover over the HIL platform.
In order to know the effect of each test case on the experienced
end-user performance, we visualized the throughput statistics at
the client side using Matlab. Moreover, some screen shots were
captured from the VLC player at the client side showing the
effect of the handover scenario on the received video quality.
The simulation parameters used to configure the simulated
LTE network for all the test cases are listed in table 1.
A. Video client mobility
Through this test case, we verify the user mobility model and
observe the high level performance of the network through
received video quality on the client side. Video is being
streamed over RTP protocol. Test sample compares the
performance of two scenarios. The first scenario represents a
stationary UE, which is 141.42 meters away from its serving
eNB and the second scenario has one mobile UE, which moves
at speed of 60 Km/h in a straight line parallel to the x-axis of
its serving eNB. Fig. 3 shows the UE throughput statistics
captured on an end-to-end basis. As shown, the stationary UE
experiences almost steady received data throughput since
communication DL channel is steady and stationary as well in
this case. On the contrary, the Mobile UE suffers from variant
data throughput because of its exposure to the applied EVA
fading channels [19] resulted from mobility and channel
variations. Such throughput variation is directly reflected on
the received video quality on end client video player.

LTE NETWORK PARAMETERS

Description
50 dbm
OFDMA, FDD
DL : 5 MHz
UL : 1.4 MHz
Isotropic
Friis free space model
Extended Pedestrian A model
(stationary client)
Extended Vehicular A model
(Mobile client)
26 dbm
2dB
7dB
SISO

After installing appropriate routing protocols on each node


in the platform shown in Fig. 1 and the simulated network
ISSN:2249-7838

shown in Fig. 2, you can exchange real packets between the


real devices and the end nodes of the LTE network.

Figure 3. Traffic Throughput (bps) for Mobile and Stationary Video Clients

B. Streaming Video to Multiple Clients


One of the emergent features of our real time proposed
platform is the ability to support multiple physical clients. Over
this test case, the video is streamed using RTP protocol over a
network having one eNB and two stationary UEs attached to it.
Therefore, we have four physical clients that are connected to
the simulated NS-3 environment through wired Ethernet
connections and HIL components as shown in Fig. 4.
During the simulation time, the first client starts streaming
the target video. Then, after a while (nearly a minute), the
IJECCT | www.ijecct.org

661

International Journal of Electronics Communication and Computer Technology (IJECCT)


Volume 4 Issue 3 (May 2014)
second client starts streaming the video sharing the available
bandwidth with the first client and so on up to the fourth client.
All clients will be streaming the video for a minute and after
that, clients start in sequence to stop streaming and release
network resources.
In Fig. 5, results are obtained from the simulator when four
UEs are sharing a limited bandwidth. In other words, it shows
how the experienced end-user performance in terms of received
throughput can be affected when the number of active clients
increases.
At the beginning of the simulation, the available resources
are allocated in a way to serve one client; therefore, this client
reaches its maximum traffic throughput since network is
relaxed. Once the second client starts it's streaming, the
available bandwidth will be shared between the two clients and
the traffic throughput of the first client decreases dramatically
and hence up to the fourth client. Finally, the sequence is
reversed and clients start to withdraw their streaming & release
their allocated resources for other remaining clients.

eNB is broken before establishing the new connection to the


target eNB), this degradation is due to the packet losses that
reaches 100% at the handover instance. Moreover, only the
seamless handover is implemented in NS-3, so the
unacknowledged PDCP SDUs will be lost during the
simulation. Therefore the video suffers from some cutoff
moments that cause degradation in the throughput values.
Aiming to solve this problem, we have recently developed our
platform to support Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP
(DASH) as it has the Possibilities that qualify it to overcome
this problem, it was built based on a reliable TCP protocol, it
adapts the requested data bit rate according to the network
conditions, i.e. when the client estimates a very small
download rate during the handover process, it adapts the
requested video representation to match the current data
download rate delivering the optimum viewing experience.
Moreover, at the beginning of the DASH streaming session, the
client DASH player enters a startup state and start to fill its
buffer to a certain threshold before it enters the play out state
then it try to maintain this threshold during the whole session.
Therefore When the packet loss reaches 100% at the handover
instance, the client buffers the video from the stored
packets which has a direct implication on the experienced
video quality at the client side.

Figure 4. Streaming Video to Multiple Clients

Figure 6. Handover Over the HIL platform

Figure 5. Traffic Throughput (bps) for Four LTE Clients

C.

Handover Over the HIL Platform

The main purpose of this test is to evaluate the effect of the


handover [20] on the transmitted data inside the network. The
simulation is performed having two eNBs located on the same
axis separated by distance equal to 1400 meter. One UE starts
to move from the serving eNB coverage area toward the target
eNB coverage area with a constant speed equal to 60 Km/h as
shown in Fig. 6. The multi-path fading environment is
simulated using the EVA model. We studied the effect of the
handover on the transmitted data by monitoring the network
throughput values of streamed video from the server side to the
UE side using RTP protocol.
Fig. 7 illustrates effect of the handover process on the
quality of the streamed video, the handover in LTE is hard
handover (i.e. the connection between the UE and the source
ISSN:2249-7838

Figure 7.

Received Video Quality at the Handover Instance

V. CONCLUSION
In this paper, we presented the implementation of a
complete open source emulation platform for LTE networks.
The platform provided a good tradeoff between emulation
accuracy and simulation flexibility. The base simulation
environment is NS-3 and the embedded LTE module inside
(LENA). The proposed solution integrated physical devices,
routing protocols, software bridges and virtual terminals for the
LTE simulation network. Thus, it enabled the real-time
applications to drive the network in server and multiple clients'
scenarios. The platform was mainly designed for Video
streaming applications over UDP/RTP and adaptively over

IJECCT | www.ijecct.org

662

International Journal of Electronics Communication and Computer Technology (IJECCT)


Volume 4 Issue 3 (May 2014)
HTTP (DASH). The LTE interface was well-tested under many
channel phenomena's e.g. EVA & EPA fading channels, Friis
pathloss, mobility and handover, etc.
VI.
[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

[8]

REFERENCES

S. Sesia, I. Toufik and M. Baker, (2011), LTE - The UMTS Long Term
Evolution - from theory to practice. 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons
Ltd, United Kingdom.
Thomas R. Henderson, Mathieu Lacage, George F. Riley, (August 17
22, 2008). Network Simulations with the ns-3 Simulator, in
Proceedings of the SIGCOMM08, Seattle, Washington, USA.
The
ns-3development
team,
ns-3
manual
(2010),
http://www.nsnam.org/docs/release/3.16/manual/singlehtml/index.html,2
012 .
Mario Montagud, Fernando Boronat, Vicent Vidal, Simulation platform
for video streaming evaluation, Software, Telecommunications and
Computer Networks (SoftCOM), 2010, 397 - 401.
Done Bugdaycl, Emin Zerman, Gozde Bozdagl, Real time streaming of
3D video from embedded platforms to mobile devices; Signal
Processing and Communications Applications Conference (SIU), 2012,
1 - 4.
Danang Tri Massandy, Dr. Ir. Rinaldi Muni, Secured video streaming
development
on
smartphones
with
Android
platform,
Telecommunication Systems, Services, and Applications (TSSA), 2012,
339 - 344.
Riverbed Technology, Network Simulation (OPNET Modeler
Suite),http://www.riverbed.com/products-solutions/products/networkperformance-management/network-planning-simulation/NetworkSimulation.html
OMNET++ development team, OMNET++ version 4.4.1
manual,http://www.omnetpp.org/doc/omnetpp/manual/usman.html

ISSN:2249-7838

[9]

[10]
[11]

[12]
[13]

[14]

[15]
[16]
[17]

[18]
[19]

[20]

C. Mayer, T. Gamer, Integrating real world applications into


OMNET++, Institute of Telematics, University of Karlsruhe, Germany,
2008.
The ns2 development team, ns2 maual, http://www.isi.edu/nsnam/ns/.
Daniel Mahrenholz and Svilen Ivanov, Real-Time Network Emulation
with ns-2, Distributed Simulation and Real-Time Applications, 2004,
29 36.
Centre Tecnolgic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC), ns-3
LTE module documentation, http://lena.cttc.es/manual/.
N.Baldo, M.Requena-Esteso, J.Nin-Guerrero and M.Miozzo, (2012), A
new model for the simulation of the LTE-EPC data plane, in
Proceedings of the Workshop on ns-3 (WNS3 2012), Sirmione, Italy, 23
March 2012.
N.Baldo, M.Miozzo, M.Requena-Esteso and J.Nin-Guerrero, (2011),
An Open Source Product-Oriented LTE Network Simulator based on
ns-3, in Proceedings of the 14th ACM International Conference on
Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of Wireless and Mobile Systems ,
Miami Beach, FL (USA).
Matt
Zimmerman,
tunctl(8)

Linux
man
page,
http://linux.die.net/man/8/tunctl, January 2013.
Lennert
Buytenhek,
brctl(8)

Linux
man
page,
http://linux.die.net/man/8/brctl, January 2013.
The ns-3 development team, The tap bridge model,
http://www.nsnam.org/docs/release/3.10/doxygen/group___tap_bridge_
model.html, January 2013.
The ns-3 development team, (2011), CSMA NetDevice,
http://www.nsnam.org/docs/release/3.13/models/html/csma.html
3GPP, Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA); Base
Station (BS) radio transmission and reception (Release 9), 3GPP TS
36.104.
3GPP, Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access Network (EUTRAN); X2 general aspects and principles (Release 10), 3GPP TS
36.420.

IJECCT | www.ijecct.org

663