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6. RTP Control Protocol -- RTCP Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
6. RTP Control Protocol -- RTCP

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6. RTP Control Protocol -- RTCP

6. RTP Control Protocol -- RTCP

The RTP control protocol (RTCP) is based on the periodic transmission of control packets to all participants in the session, using the same distribution mechanism as the data packets. The underlying protocol must provide multiplexing of the data and control packets, for example using separate port numbers with UDP. RTCP performs four functions:

  1. The primary function is to provide feedback on the quality of the data distribution. This is an integral part of the RTP's role as a transport protocol and is related to the flow and congestion control functions of other transport protocols. The feedback may be directly useful for control of adaptive encodings [8,9], but experiments with IP multicasting have shown that it is also critical to get feedback from the receivers to diagnose faults in the distribution. Sending reception feedback reports to all participants allows one who is observing problems to evaluate whether those problems are local or global. With a distribution mechanism like IP multicast, it is also possible for an entity such as a network service provider who is not otherwise involved in the session to receive the feedback information and act as a third-party monitor to diagnose network problems. This feedback function is performed by the RTCP sender and receiver reports, described below in Section 6.3.

  2. RTCP carries a persistent transport-level identifier for an RTP source called the canonical name or CNAME, Section 6.4.1. Since the SSRC identifier may change if a conflict is discovered or a program is restarted, receivers require the CNAME to keep track of each participant. Receivers also require the CNAME to associate multiple data streams from a given participant in a set of related RTP sessions, for example to synchronize audio and video.

  3. The first two functions require that all participants send RTCP packets, therefore the rate must be controlled in order for RTP to scale up to a large number of participants. By having each participant send its control packets to all the others, each can independently observe the number of participants. This number is used to calculate the rate at which the packets are sent, as explained in Section 6.2.

  4. A fourth, optional function is to convey minimal session control information, for example participant identification to be displayed in the user interface. This is most likely to be useful in "loosely controlled" sessions where participants enter and leave without membership control or parameter negotiation. RTCP serves as a convenient channel to reach all the participants, but it is not necessarily expected to support all the control communication requirements of an application. A higher-level session control protocol, which is beyond the scope of this document, may be needed.

Functions 1-3 are mandatory when RTP is used in the IP multicast environment, and are recommended for all environments. RTP application designers are advised to avoid mechanisms that can only work in unicast mode and will not scale to larger numbers.


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Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
6. RTP Control Protocol -- RTCP

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