The concept of multimedia streaming gives the end-users the ability to playback various multimedia contents while they are still being downloaded from the provider. This provides a major advantage in which users do not need to wait for the whole media clips to be downloaded; it also reduces the time of delivery and allows their bandwidth to be efficiently used for other purposes. In this chapter, we review the advantages, limitations and challenges faced by current peer-to-peer approaches in multimedia streaming, taking a close look at the architectures, protocols, service quality, and case studies. Our analysis reveals that, when placed in the context of mobile systems, peer-to-peer streaming is still at its infancy. We illustrate shortcomings and provide an outlook for mobile peer-to-peer streaming, highlighting the most pressing research issues. The reader will appreciate the current state-of-the-art of this remarkable technology and ways in which it may become a reality.
The concept of P2P technologies were first applied to file-sharing application in which equal peers form an overlay network to allow them to share and locate files within the overlay network. The overlay network is usually formed with little regard with the underlying network but newer P2P applications now put the network topology into consideration. P2P technologies are no longer limited to file sharing but are now being extended to other applications such as Voice over IP and multimedia conferencing as in Skype (Hoßfeld & Binzenhöfer, 2007), collaborative environments (Leuf, 2002) and multimedia streaming (Wen, 2006). In this section we discuss three broad approaches to multimedia streaming, looking at their advantages and limitations, how these approaches are mapped to the underling networks in both fixed and mobile networks and properties that are needed in a mobile P2P streaming application.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Multimedia Streaming: Allows the instantaneous playback of media clips while it is still being downloaded from the provider.
Converged Networks: The Integration of two or more different networks (e.g. mobile and fixed networks)
Overlays Network: A network that is built on top of another network
Peer-to-Peer Streaming Technologies: Technologies used to facilitate P2P streaming applications.
Mobile Peer-to-Peer Streaming: The sharing and streaming of media clips among peers in a mobile environment.
Fixed Peer-to-Peer Streaming: The sharing and streaming of media clips among peers in a fixed environment.