ChitChat: Making Video Chat Robust to Packet Loss

Unknown author (2010-07-05)

Video chat is increasingly popular among Internet users. Often, however, chatting sessions suffer from packet loss, which causes video outage and poor quality. Existing solutions however are unsatisfying. Retransmissions increase the delay and hence can interact negatively with the strict timing requirements of interactive video. FEC codes introduce extra overhead and hence reduce the bandwidth available for video data even in the absence of packet loss. This paper presents ChitChat, a new approach for reliable video chat that neither delays frames nor introduces bandwidth overhead. The key idea is to ensure that the information in each packet describes the whole frame. As a result, even when some packets are lost, the receiver can still use the received packets to decode a smooth version of the original frame. This reduces frame loss and the resulting video freezes and improves the perceived video quality. We have implemented ChitChat and evaluated it over multiple Internet paths. In comparison to Windows Live Messenger 2009, our method reduces the occurrences of video outage events by more than an order of magnitude.