This is a purely informative rendering of an RFC that includes verified errata. This rendering may not be used as a reference.
The following 'Verified' errata have been incorporated in this document:
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) M. Westerlund
Request for Comments: 6679 I. Johansson
Category: Standards Track Ericsson
ISSN: 2070-1721 C. Perkins
University of Glasgow
University of Oxford
Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) for RTP over UDP
This memo specifies how Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) can be
used with the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) running over UDP,
using the RTP Control Protocol (RTCP) as a feedback mechanism. It
defines a new RTCP Extended Report (XR) block for periodic ECN
feedback, a new RTCP transport feedback message for timely reporting
of congestion events, and a Session Traversal Utilities for NAT
(STUN) extension used in the optional initialisation method using
Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE). Signalling and
procedures for negotiation of capabilities and initialisation methods
are also defined.
Status of This Memo
This is an Internet Standards Track document.
This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has
received public review and has been approved for publication by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Further information on
Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 5741.
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
Copyright (c) 2012 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
document authors. All rights reserved.
This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
(http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
publication of this document. Please review these documents
carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
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include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
described in the Simplified BSD License.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction ....................................................4
2. Conventions, Definitions, and Acronyms ..........................5
3. Discussion, Requirements, and Design Rationale ..................6
3.1. Requirements ...............................................8
3.2. Applicability ..............................................8
3.3. Interoperability ..........................................12
4. Overview of Use of ECN with RTP/UDP/IP .........................13
5. RTCP Extensions for ECN Feedback ...............................16
5.1. RTP/AVPF Transport-Layer ECN Feedback Packet ..............16
5.2. RTCP XR Report Block for ECN Summary Information ..........19
6. SDP Signalling Extensions for ECN ..............................21
6.1. Signalling ECN Capability Using SDP .......................21
6.2. RTCP ECN Feedback SDP Parameter ...........................26
6.3. XR Block ECN SDP Parameter ................................26
6.4. ICE Parameter to Signal ECN Capability ....................27
7. Use of ECN with RTP/UDP/IP .....................................27
7.1. Negotiation of ECN Capability .............................27
7.2. Initiation of ECN Use in an RTP Session ...................28
7.3. Ongoing Use of ECN within an RTP Session ..................35
7.4. Detecting Failures ........................................38
8. Processing ECN in RTP Translators and Mixers ...................42
8.1. Transport Translators .....................................42
8.2. Fragmentation and Reassembly in Translators ...............43
8.3. Generating RTCP ECN Feedback in Media Transcoders .........45
8.4. Generating RTCP ECN Feedback in Mixers ....................46
9. Implementation Considerations ..................................47
10. IANA Considerations ...........................................47
10.1. SDP Attribute Registration ...............................47
10.2. RTP/AVPF Transport-Layer Feedback Message ................47
10.3. RTCP Feedback SDP Parameter ..............................48
10.4. RTCP XR Report Blocks ....................................48
10.5. RTCP XR SDP Parameter ....................................48
10.6. STUN Attribute ...........................................48
10.7. ICE Option ...............................................48
11. Security Considerations .......................................48
12. Examples of SDP Signalling ....................................51
12.1. Basic SDP Offer/Answer ...................................52
12.2. Declarative Multicast SDP ................................54
13. Acknowledgments ...............................................54
14. References ....................................................55
14.1. Normative References .....................................55
14.2. Informative References ...................................56
This memo outlines how Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN)
[RFC3168] can be used for Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP)
[RFC3550] flows running over UDP/IP that use the RTP Control Protocol
(RTCP) as a feedback mechanism. The solution consists of feedback of
ECN congestion experienced markings to the sender using RTCP,
verification of ECN functionality end-to-end, and procedures for how
to initiate ECN usage. Since the initiation process has some
dependencies on the signalling mechanism used to establish the RTP
session, a specification for signalling mechanisms using the Session
Description Protocol (SDP) [RFC4566] is included.
ECN can be used to minimise the impact of congestion on real-time
multimedia traffic. The use of ECN provides a way for the network to
send congestion control signals to the media transport without having
to impair the media. Unlike packet loss, ECN signals unambiguously
indicate congestion to the transport as quickly as feedback delays
allow and without confusing congestion with losses that might have
occurred for other reasons such as transmission errors, packet-size
errors, routing errors, badly implemented middleboxes, policy
violations, and so forth.
The introduction of ECN into the Internet requires changes to both
the network and transport layers. At the network layer, IP
forwarding has to be updated to allow routers to mark packets, rather
than discarding them in times of congestion [RFC3168]. In addition,
transport protocols have to be modified to inform the sender that
ECN-marked packets are being received, so it can respond to the
congestion. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) [RFC3168],
Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) [RFC4960], and Datagram
Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP) [RFC4340] have been updated to
support ECN, but to date, there is no specification describing how
UDP-based transports, such as RTP [RFC3550], can use ECN. This is
due to the lack of feedback mechanisms in UDP. Instead, the
signalling control protocol on top of UDP needs to provide that
feedback. For RTP, that feedback is provided by RTCP.
The remainder of this memo is structured as follows. We start by
describing the conventions, definitions, and acronyms used in this
memo in Section 2 and the design rationale and applicability in
Section 3. Section 4 gives an overview of how ECN is used with RTP
over UDP. RTCP extensions for ECN feedback are defined in Section 5
and SDP signalling extensions in Section 6. The details of how ECN
is used with RTP over UDP are defined in Section 7. In Section 8, we
describe how ECN is handled in RTP translators and mixers. Section 9
discusses some implementation considerations; Section 10 lists IANA
considerations; and Section 11 discusses security considerations.
Finally, Section 12 provides some examples of SDP signalling for ECN
2. Conventions, Definitions, and Acronyms
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
"SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and
"OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC
Definitions and Abbreviations:
Sender: A sender of RTP packets carrying an encoded media stream.
The sender can change how the media transmission is performed by
varying the media coding or packetisation. It is one endpoint of
the ECN control loop.
Receiver: A receiver of RTP packets with the intention to consume
the media stream. It sends RTCP feedback on the received stream.
It is the other endpoint of the ECN control loop.
ECN-Capable Host: A sender or receiver of a media stream that is
capable of setting and/or processing ECN marks.
ECN-Capable Transport (ECT): A transport flow where both sender and
receiver are ECN-capable hosts. Packets sent by an ECN-capable
transport will be marked as ECT(0) or ECT(1) on transmission. See
[RFC3168] for the definition of the ECT(0) and ECT(1) marks.
ECN-CE: ECN Congestion Experienced mark (see [RFC3168]).
ECN-Capable Packets: Packets with ECN mark set to either ECT(0),
ECT(1), or ECN-CE.
Not-ECT packets: Packets that are not sent by an ECN-capable
transport and are not ECN-CE marked.
ECN-Capable Queue: A queue that supports ECN-CE marking of ECN-
capable packets to indicate congestion.
ECN-Blocking Middlebox: A middlebox that discards ECN-capable
ECN-Reverting Middlebox: A middlebox that changes ECN-capable
packets to not-ECT packets by removing the ECN mark.
Note that RTP mixers or translators that operate in such a manner
that they terminate or split the ECN control loop will take on the
role of receivers or senders. This is further discussed in
3. Discussion, Requirements, and Design Rationale
ECN has been specified for use with TCP [RFC3168], SCTP [RFC4960],
and DCCP [RFC4340] transports. These are all unicast protocols that
negotiate the use of ECN during the initial connection establishment
handshake (supporting incremental deployment and checking if ECN-
marked packets pass all middleboxes on the path). ECN-CE marks are
immediately echoed back to the sender by the receiving endpoint using
an additional bit in feedback messages, and the sender then
interprets the mark as equivalent to a packet loss for congestion
If RTP is run over TCP, SCTP, or DCCP, it can use the native ECN
support provided by those protocols. This memo does not concern
itself further with these use cases. However, RTP is more commonly
run over UDP. This combination does not currently support ECN, and
we observe that it has significant differences from the other
transport protocols for which ECN has been specified. These include:
Signalling: RTP relies on separate signalling protocols to negotiate
parameters before a session can be created and doesn't include an
in-band handshake or negotiation at session setup time (i.e.,
there is no equivalent to the TCP three-way handshake in RTP).
Feedback: RTP does not explicitly acknowledge receipt of datagrams.
Instead, the RTP Control Protocol (RTCP) provides reception
quality feedback, and other back channel communication, for RTP
sessions. The feedback interval is generally on the order of
seconds, rather than once per network round-trip time (RTT)
(although the RTP Audio-Visual Profile with Feedback (RTP/AVPF)
profile [RFC4585] allows more rapid feedback in most cases). RTCP
is also very much oriented around counting packets, which makes
byte-counting congestion algorithms difficult to utilise.
Congestion Response: While it is possible to adapt the transmission
of many audio/visual streams in response to network congestion,
and such adaptation is required by [RFC3550], the dynamics of the
congestion response may be quite different to that of TCP or other
Middleboxes: The RTP framework explicitly supports the concept of
mixers and translators, which are middleboxes that are involved in
media transport functions.
Multicast: RTP is explicitly a group communication protocol and was
designed from the start to support IP multicast (primarily Any-
Source Multicast (ASM) [RFC1112], although a recent extension
supports Source-Specific Multicast (SSM) [RFC3569] with unicast
Application Awareness: When ECN support is provided within the
transport protocol, the ability of the application to react to
congestion is limited, since it has little visibility into the
transport layer. By adding support of ECN to RTP using RTCP
feedback, the application is made aware of congestion, allowing a
wider range of reactions in response to that congestion
Counting vs. Detecting Congestion: TCP, and the protocols derived
from it, are mainly designed to respond in the same way whether
they experience a burst of congestion indications within one RTT
or just a single congestion indication, whereas real-time
applications may be concerned with the amount of congestion
experienced and whether it is distributed smoothly or in bursts.
When feedback of ECN was added to TCP [RFC3168], the receiver was
designed to flip the echo congestion experienced (ECE) flag to 1
for a whole RTT then flop it back to zero. ECN feedback in RTCP,
however, will need to report a count of how much congestion has
been experienced within an RTCP reporting period, irrespective of
These differences significantly alter the shape of ECN support in RTP
over UDP compared to ECN support in TCP, SCTP, and DCCP but do not
invalidate the need for ECN support.
ECN support is more important for RTP sessions than, for instance, is
the case for many applications over TCP. This is because the impact
of packet loss in real-time audio-visual media flows is highly
visible to users. For TCP-based applications, however, TCP will
retransmit lost packets, and while extra delay is incurred by having
packets dropped rather than ECN-CE marked, the loss is repaired.
Effective ECN support for RTP flows running over UDP will allow real-
time audio-visual applications to respond to the onset of congestion
before routers are forced to drop packets, allowing those
applications to control how they reduce their transmission rate and
hence media quality, rather than responding to and trying to conceal
the effects of unpredictable packet loss. Furthermore, widespread
deployment for ECN and active queue management in routers, should it
occur, can potentially reduce unnecessary queuing delays in routers,
lowering the round-trip time and benefiting interactive applications
of RTP, such as voice telephony.
Considering ECN, transport protocols supporting ECN, and RTP-based
applications, one can create a set of requirements that must be
satisfied to at least some degree if ECN is to be used by RTP over
o REQ 1: A mechanism must exist to negotiate and initiate the use of
ECN for RTP/UDP/IP sessions so that an RTP sender will not send
packets with ECT in the IP header unless it knows that all
potential receivers will understand any ECN-CE indications they
o REQ 2: A mechanism must exist to feed back the reception of any
packets that are ECN-CE marked to the packet sender.
o REQ 3: The provided mechanism should minimise the possibility of
cheating (either by the sender or receiver).
o REQ 4: Some detection and fallback mechanism should exist to avoid
loss of communication due to the attempted usage of ECN in case an
intermediate node clears ECT or drops packets that are ECT marked.
o REQ 5: Negotiation of ECN should not significantly increase the
time taken to negotiate and set up the RTP session (an extra RTT
before the media can flow is unlikely to be acceptable for some
o REQ 6: Negotiation of ECN should not cause media clipping at the
start of a session.
The following sections describe how these requirements can be met for
RTP over UDP.
The use of ECN with RTP over UDP is dependent on negotiation of ECN
capability between the sender and receiver(s) and validation of ECN
support in all elements on the network path(s) traversed. RTP is
used in a heterogeneous range of network environments and topologies,
with different signalling protocols. The mechanisms defined here
make it possible to verify support for ECN in each of these
environments, irrespective of the topology.
Due to the need for each RTP sender that intends to use ECN with RTP
to track all participants in the RTP session, the sub-sampling of the
group membership as specified by "Sampling of the Group Membership in
RTP" [RFC2762] MUST NOT be used.
The use of ECN is further dependent on a capability of the RTP media
flow to react to congestion signalled by ECN-marked packets.
Depending on the application, media codec, and network topology, this
adaptation can occur in various forms and at various nodes. As an
example, the sender can change the media encoding, the receiver can
change the subscription to a layered encoding, or either reaction can
be accomplished by a transcoding middlebox. [RFC5117] identifies
seven topologies in which RTP sessions may be configured and which
may affect the ability to use ECN:
Topo-Point-to-Point: This utilises standard unicast flows. ECN may
be used with RTP in this topology in an analogous manner to its
use with other unicast transport protocols, with RTCP conveying
ECN feedback messages.
Topo-Multicast: This is either an Any-Source Multicast (ASM) group
[RFC3569] with potentially several active senders and multicast
RTCP feedback or a Source-Specific Multicast (SSM) group [RFC4607]
with a single distribution source and unicast RTCP feedback from
receivers. RTCP is designed to scale to large group sizes while
avoiding feedback implosion (see Section 6.2 of [RFC3550],
[RFC4585], and [RFC5760]) and can be used by a sender to determine
if all its receivers, and the network paths to those receivers,
support ECN (see Section 7.2). It is somewhat more difficult to
determine if all network paths from all senders to all receivers
support ECN. Accordingly, we allow ECN to be used by an RTP
sender using multicast UDP provided the sender has verified that
the paths to all its known receivers support ECN, irrespective of
whether the paths from other senders to their receivers support
ECN ("all its known receivers" are all the synchronisation sources
(SSRCs) from which the RTP sender has received RTP or RTCP in the
last five reporting intervals, i.e., they have not timed out).
Note that group membership may change during the lifetime of a
multicast RTP session, potentially introducing new receivers that
are not ECN capable or have a path that doesn't support ECN.
Senders must use the mechanisms described in Section 7.4 to check
that all receivers, and the network paths traversed to reach those
receivers, continue to support ECN, and they need to fallback to
non-ECN use if any receivers join that do not.
SSM groups that use unicast RTCP feedback [RFC5760] do need a few
extra considerations. This topology can have multiple media
senders that provide traffic to the distribution source (DS) and
are separated from the DS. There can also be multiple feedback
targets. The requirement for using ECN for RTP in this topology
is that the media sender must be provided the feedback from the
receivers. It may be in aggregated form from the feedback
targets. We will not mention this SSM use case in the below text
specifically, but when actions are required by the media source,
they also apply to the case of SSM where the RTCP feedback goes to
the feedback target.
The mechanisms defined in this memo support multicast groups but
are known to be conservative and don't scale to large groups.
This is primarily because we require all members of the group to
demonstrate that they can make use of ECN before the sender is
allowed to send ECN-marked packets, since allowing some non-ECN-
capable receivers causes fairness issues when the bottleneck link
is shared by ECN and non-ECN flows that we have not (yet) been
able to satisfactorily address. The rules regarding Determination
of ECN Support in Section 7.2.1 may be relaxed in a future version
of this specification to improve scaling once these issues have
Topo-Translator: An RTP translator is an RTP-level middlebox that is
invisible to the other participants in the RTP session (although
it is usually visible in the associated signalling session).
There are two types of RTP translators: those that do not modify
the media stream and are concerned with transport parameters, for
example, a multicast to unicast gateway; and those that do modify
the media stream, for example, transcoding between different media
codecs. A single RTP session traverses the translator, and the
translator must rewrite RTCP messages passing through it to match
the changes it makes to the RTP data packets. A legacy, ECN-
unaware, RTP translator is expected to ignore the ECN bits on
received packets and to set the ECN bits to not-ECT when sending
packets, thus causing ECN negotiation on the path containing the
translator to fail (any new RTP translator that does not wish to
support ECN may do so similarly). An ECN-aware RTP translator may
act in one of three ways:
* If the translator does not modify the media stream, it should
copy the ECN bits unchanged from the incoming to the outgoing
datagrams, unless it is overloaded and experiencing congestion,
in which case it may mark the outgoing datagrams with an ECN-CE
mark. Such a translator passes RTCP feedback unchanged. See
* If the translator modifies the media stream to combine or split
RTP packets but does not otherwise transcode the media, it must
manage the ECN bits in a way analogous to that described in
Section 5.3 of [RFC3168]. See Section 8.2 for details.
* If the translator is a media transcoder, or otherwise modifies
the content of the media stream, the output RTP media stream
may have radically different characteristics than the input RTP
media stream. Each side of the translator must then be
considered as a separate transport connection, with its own ECN
processing. This requires the translator to interpose itself
into the ECN negotiation process, effectively splitting the
connection into two parts with their own negotiation. Once
negotiation has been completed, the translator must generate
RTCP ECN feedback back to the source based on its own reception
and must respond to RTCP ECN feedback received from the
receiver(s) (see Section 8.3).
It is recognised that ECN and RTCP processing in an RTP translator
that modifies the media stream is non-trivial.
Topo-Mixer: A mixer is an RTP-level middlebox that aggregates
multiple RTP streams, mixing them together to generate a new RTP
stream. The mixer is visible to the other participants in the RTP
session and is also usually visible in the associated signalling
session. The RTP flows on each side of the mixer are treated
independently for ECN purposes, with the mixer generating its own
RTCP ECN feedback and responding to ECN feedback for data it
sends. Since unicast transport between the mixer and any endpoint
are treated independently, it would seem reasonable to allow the
transport on one side of the mixer to use ECN, while the transport
on the other side of the mixer is not ECN capable, if this is
desired. See Section 8.4 for details on how mixers should process
Topo-Video-switch-MCU: A video-switching Multipoint Control Unit
(MCU) receives several RTP flows, but forwards only one of those
flows onwards to the other participants at a time. The flow that
is forwarded changes during the session, often based on voice
activity. Since only a subset of the RTP packets generated by a
sender are forwarded to the receivers, a video-switching MCU can
break ECN negotiation (the success of the ECN negotiation may
depend on the voice activity of the participant at the instant the
negotiation takes place - shout if you want ECN). It also breaks
congestion feedback and response, since RTP packets are dropped by
the MCU depending on voice activity rather than network
congestion. This topology is widely used in legacy products but
is NOT RECOMMENDED for new implementations and SHALL NOT be used
Topo-RTCP-terminating-MCU: In this scenario, each participant runs
an RTP point-to-point session between itself and the MCU. Each of
these sessions is treated independently for the purposes of ECN
and RTCP feedback, potentially with some using ECN and some not.
Topo-Asymmetric: It is theoretically possible to build a middlebox
that is a combination of an RTP mixer in one direction and an RTP
translator in the other. To quote [RFC5117], "This topology is so
problematic and it is so easy to get the RTCP processing wrong,
that it is NOT RECOMMENDED to implement this topology".
These topologies may be combined within a single RTP session.
The ECN mechanism defined in this memo is applicable to both sender-
and receiver-controlled congestion algorithms. The mechanism ensures
that both senders and receivers will know about ECN-CE markings and
any packet losses. Thus, the actual decision point for the
congestion control is not relevant. This is a great benefit as the
rate of an RTP session can be varied in a number of ways, for
example, a unicast media sender might use TCP Friendly Rate Control
(TFRC) [RFC5348] or some other algorithm, while a multicast session
could use a sender-based scheme adapting to the lowest common
supported rate or a receiver-driven mechanism using layered coding to
support more heterogeneous paths.
To ensure timely feedback of ECN-CE-marked packets when needed, this
mechanism requires support for the RTP/AVPF profile [RFC4585] or any
of its derivatives, such as RTP/SAVPF [RFC5124]. The standard RTP/
AVP profile [RFC3551] does not allow any early or immediate
transmission of RTCP feedback and has a minimal RTCP interval whose
default value (5 seconds) is many times the normal RTT between sender
To ensure interoperability for this specification, there is need for
at least one common initialisation method for all implementations.
Since initialisation using RTP and RTCP (Section 7.2.1) is the one
method that works in all cases, although it is not optimal for all
uses, it is selected as the mandatory-to-implement initialisation
method. This method requires both the RTCP XR extension and the ECN
feedback format, which require the RTP/AVPF profile to ensure timely
When one considers all the uses of ECN for RTP, it is clear that
congestion control mechanisms exist that are receiver driven only
(Section 7.3.3). These congestion control mechanisms do not require
timely feedback of congestion events to the sender. If such a
congestion control mechanism is combined with an initialisation
method that also doesn't require timely feedback using RTCP, like the
leap-of-faith method (Section 7.2.3) or the ICE-based method
(Section 7.2.2), then neither the ECN feedback format nor the RTP/
AVPF profile would appear to be needed. However, fault detection can
be greatly improved by using receiver-side detection (Section 7.4.1)
and early reporting of such cases using the ECN feedback mechanism.
For interoperability, we mandate the implementation of the RTP/AVPF
profile, with both RTCP extensions and the necessary signalling to
support a common operations mode. This specification recommends the
use of RTP/AVPF in all cases as negotiation of the common
interoperability point requires RTP/AVPF, mixed negotiation of RTP/
AVP and RTP/AVPF depending on other SDP attributes in the same media
block is difficult, and the fact that fault detection can be improved
when using RTP/AVPF.
The use of the ECN feedback format is also recommended, but cases
exist where its use is not required because timely feedback is not
needed. These will be explicitly noted using the phrase "no timely
feedback required" and generally occur in combination with receiver-
driven congestion control and with the leap-of-faith and ICE-based
initialisation methods. We also note that any receiver-driven
congestion control solution that still requires RTCP for signalling
of any adaptation information to the sender will still require RTP/
AVPF for timeliness.
4. Overview of Use of ECN with RTP/UDP/IP
The solution for using ECN with RTP over UDP/IP consists of four
different pieces that together make the solution work:
1. Negotiation of the capability to use ECN with RTP/UDP/IP
2. Initiation and initial verification of ECN-capable transport
3. Ongoing use of ECN within an RTP session
4. Handling of dynamic behaviour through failure detection,
verification, and fallback
Before an RTP session can be created, a signalling protocol is used
to negotiate or at least configure session parameters (see
Section 7.1). In some topologies, the signalling protocol can also
be used to discover the other participants. One of the parameters
that must be agreed is the capability of a participant to support
ECN. Note that all participants having the capability of supporting
ECN does not necessarily imply that ECN is usable in an RTP session,
since there may be middleboxes on the path between the participants
that don't pass ECN-marked packets (for example, a firewall that
blocks traffic with the ECN bits set). This document defines the
information that needs to be negotiated and provides a mapping to SDP
for use in both declarative and offer/answer contexts.
When a sender joins a session for which all participants claim to
support ECN, it needs to verify that the ECN support is usable.
There are three ways in which this verification can be done:
o The sender may generate a (small) subset of its RTP data packets
with the ECN field of the IP header set to ECT(0) or ECT(1). Each
receiver will then send an RTCP feedback packet indicating the
reception of the ECT-marked RTP packets. Upon reception of this
feedback from each receiver it knows of, the sender can consider
ECN functional for its traffic. Each sender does this
verification independently. When a new receiver joins an existing
RTP session, it will send RTCP reports in the usual manner. If
those RTCP reports include ECN information, verification will have
succeeded, and sources can continue to send ECT packets. If not,
verification fails, and each sender MUST stop using ECN (see
Section 7.2.1 for details).
o Alternatively, ECN support can be verified during an initial end-
to-end STUN exchange (for example, as part of ICE connection
establishment). After having verified connectivity without ECN
capability, an extra STUN exchange, this time with the ECN field
set to ECT(0) or ECT(1), is performed on the candidate path that
is about to be used. If successful, the path's capability to
convey ECN-marked packets is verified. A new STUN attribute is
defined to convey feedback that the ECT-marked STUN request was
received (see Section 7.2.2), along with an ICE signalling option
(Section 6.4) to indicate that the check is to be performed.
o Thirdly, the sender may make a leap of faith that ECN will work.
This is only recommended for applications that know they are
running in controlled environments where ECN functionality has
been verified through other means. In this mode, it is assumed
that ECN works, and the system reacts to failure indicators if the
assumption proved wrong. The use of this method relies on a high
confidence that ECN operation will be successful or an application
where failure is not serious. The impact on the network and other
users must be considered when making a leap of faith, so there are
limitations on when this method is allowed (see Section 7.2.3).
The first mechanism, using RTP with RTCP feedback, has the advantage
of working for all RTP sessions, but the disadvantages of potential
clipping if ECN-marked RTP packets are discarded by middleboxes and
slow verification of ECN support. The STUN-based mechanism is faster
to verify ECN support but only works in those scenarios supported by
end-to-end STUN, such as within an ICE exchange. The third one, leap
of faith, has the advantage of avoiding additional tests or
complexities and enabling ECN usage from the first media packet. The
downside is that if the end-to-end path contains middleboxes that do
not pass ECN, the impact on the application can be severe: in the
worst case, all media could be lost if a middlebox that discards ECN-
marked packets is present. A less severe effect, but still requiring
reaction, is the presence of a middlebox that re-marks ECT-marked
packets to not-ECT, possibly marking packets with an ECN-CE mark as
not-ECT. This could result in increased levels of congestion due to
non-responsiveness and impact media quality as applications end up
relying on packet loss as an indication of congestion.
Once ECN support has been verified (or assumed) to work for all
receivers, a sender marks all its RTP packets as ECT packets, while
receivers rapidly feed back reports on any ECN-CE marks to the sender
using RTCP in RTP/AVPF immediate or early feedback mode, unless no
timely feedback is required. Each feedback report indicates the
receipt of new ECN-CE marks since the last ECN feedback packet and
also counts the total number of ECN-CE-marked packets as a cumulative
sum. This is the mechanism to provide the fastest possible feedback
to senders about ECN-CE marks. On receipt of an ECN-CE-marked
packet, the system must react to congestion as if packet loss has
been reported. Section 7.3 describes the ongoing use of ECN within
an RTP session.
This rapid feedback is not optimised for reliability, so another
mechanism, RTCP XR ECN Summary Reports, is used to ensure more
reliable, but less timely, reporting of the ECN information. The ECN
Summary Report contains the same information as the ECN feedback
format, only packed differently for better efficiency with reports
for many sources. It is sent in a compound RTCP packet, along with
regular RTCP reception reports. By using cumulative counters for
observed ECN-CE, ECT, not-ECT, packet duplication, and packet loss,
the sender can determine what events have happened since the last
report, independently of any RTCP packets having been lost.
RTCP reports MUST NOT be ECT marked, since ECT-marked traffic may be
dropped if the path is not ECN compliant. RTCP is used to provide
feedback about what has been transmitted and what ECN markings that
are received, so it is important that it is received in cases when
ECT-marked traffic is not getting through.
There are numerous reasons why the path the RTP packets take from the
sender to the receiver may change, e.g., mobility and link failure
followed by re-routing around it. Such an event may result in the
packet being sent through a node that is ECN non-compliant, thus
re-marking or dropping packets with ECT set. To prevent this from
impacting the application for longer than necessary, the operation of
ECN is constantly monitored by all senders (Section 7.4). Both the
RTCP XR ECN Summary Reports and the ECN feedback packets allow the
sender to compare the number of ECT(0), ECT(1), and not-ECT-marked
packets received with the number that were sent, while also reporting
ECN-CE-marked and lost packets. If these numbers do not agree, it
can be inferred that the path does not reliably pass ECN-marked
packets. A sender detecting a possible ECN non-compliance issue
should then stop sending ECT-marked packets to determine if that
allows the packets to be correctly delivered. If the issues can be
connected to ECN, then ECN usage is suspended.
5. RTCP Extensions for ECN Feedback
This memo defines two new RTCP extensions: one RTP/AVPF [RFC4585]
transport-layer feedback format for reporting urgent ECN information
and one RTCP XR [RFC3611] ECN Summary Report block type for regular
reporting of the ECN marking information.
5.1. RTP/AVPF Transport-Layer ECN Feedback Packet
This RTP/AVPF transport-layer feedback format is intended for use in
RTP/AVPF early or immediate feedback modes when information needs to
urgently reach the sender. Thus, its main use is to report reception
of an ECN-CE-marked RTP packet so that the sender may perform
congestion control or to speed up the initiation procedures by
rapidly reporting that the path can support ECN-marked traffic. The
feedback format is also defined with reduced-size RTCP [RFC5506] in
mind, where RTCP feedback packets may be sent without accompanying
Sender or Receiver Reports that would contain the extended highest
sequence number and the accumulated number of packet losses. Both
are important for ECN to verify functionality and keep track of when
CE marking does occur.
The RTP/AVPF transport-layer feedback packet starts with the common
header defined by the RTP/AVPF profile [RFC4585], which is reproduced
in Figure 1. The FMT field takes the value 8 to indicate that the
Feedback Control Information (FCI) contains an ECN Feedback Report,
as defined in Figure 2.
0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
|V=2|P| FMT=8 | PT=RTPFB=205 | length |
| SSRC of packet sender |
| SSRC of media source |
: Feedback Control Information (FCI) :
Figure 1: RTP/AVPF Common Packet Format for Feedback Messages
0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
| Extended Highest Sequence Number |
| ECT (0) Counter |
| ECT (1) Counter |
| ECN-CE Counter | not-ECT Counter |
| Lost Packets Counter | Duplication Counter |
Figure 2: ECN Feedback Report Format
The ECN Feedback Report contains the following fields:
Extended Highest Sequence Number: The 32-bit extended highest
sequence number received, as defined by [RFC3550]. Indicates the
highest RTP sequence number to which this report relates.
ECT(0) Counter: The 32-bit cumulative number of RTP packets with
ECT(0) received from this SSRC.
ECT(1) Counter: The 32-bit cumulative number of RTP packets with
ECT(1) received from this SSRC.
ECN-CE Counter: The cumulative number of RTP packets received from
this SSRC since the receiver joined the RTP session that were
ECN-CE marked, including ECN-CE marks in any duplicate packets.
The receiver should keep track of this value using a local
representation that is at least 32 bits and only include the 16
bits with least significance. In other words, the field will wrap
if more than 65535 ECN-CE-marked packets have been received.
not-ECT Counter: The cumulative number of RTP packets received from
this SSRC since the receiver joined the RTP session that had an
ECN field value of not-ECT. The receiver should keep track of
this value using a local representation that is at least 32 bits
and only include the 16 bits with least significance. In other
words, the field will wrap if more than 65535 not-ECT packets have
Lost Packets Counter: The cumulative number of RTP packets that the
receiver expected to receive minus the number of packets it
actually received that are not a duplicate of an already received
packet, from this SSRC since the receiver joined the RTP session.
Note that packets that arrive late are not counted as lost. The
receiver should keep track of this value using a local
representation that is at least 32 bits and only include the 16
bits with least significance. In other words, the field will wrap
if more than 65535 packets are lost.
Duplication Counter: The cumulative number of RTP packets received
that are a duplicate of an already received packet from this SSRC
since the receiver joined the RTP session. The receiver should
keep track of this value using a local representation that is at
least 32 bits and only include the 16 bits with least
significance. In other words, the field will wrap if more than
65535 duplicate packets have been received.
All fields in the ECN Feedback Report are unsigned integers in
network byte order. Each ECN Feedback Report corresponds to a single
RTP source (SSRC). Multiple sources can be reported by including
multiple ECN Feedback Report packets in an compound RTCP packet.
The counters SHALL be initiated to 0 for each new SSRC received.
This enables detection of ECN-CE marks or packet loss on the initial
report from a specific participant.
The use of at least 32-bit counters allows even extremely high packet
volume applications to not have wrapping of counters within any
timescale close to the RTCP reporting intervals. However, 32 bits
are not sufficiently large to disregard the fact that wrappings may
happen during the lifetime of a long-lived RTP session, and
implementations need to be written to handle wrapping of the
counters. It is recommended that implementations use local
representation of these counters that are longer than 32 bits to
enable easy handling of wraps.
There is a difference in packet duplication reports between the
packet loss counter that is defined in the Receiver Report Block
[RFC3550] and that defined here. To avoid holding state for what RTP
sequence numbers have been received, [RFC3550] specifies that one can
count packet loss by counting the number of received packets and
comparing that to the number of packets expected. As a result, a
packet duplication can hide a packet loss. However, when populating
the ECN Feedback Report, a receiver needs to track the sequence
numbers actually received and count duplicates and packet loss
separately to provide a more reliable indication. Reordering may,
however, still result in packet loss being reported in one report and
then removed in the next.
The ECN-CE counter is robust for packet duplication. Adding each
received ECN-CE-marked packet to the counter is not an issue; in
fact, it is required to ensure complete tracking of the ECN state.
If one of the clones was ECN-CE marked, that is still an indication
of congestion. Packet duplication has a potential impact on the ECN
verification, and there is thus a need to count the duplicates.
5.2. RTCP XR Report Block for ECN Summary Information
This unilateral XR report block combined with RTCP SR or RR report
blocks carries the same information as the ECN Feedback Report and is
based on the same underlying information. However, the ECN Feedback
Report is intended to report an ECN-CE mark as soon as possible,
while this extended report is for the regular RTCP reporting and
continuous verification of the ECN functionality end-to-end.
The ECN Summary Report block consists of one RTCP XR report block
header, shown in Figure 3 followed by one or more ECN Summary Report
data blocks, as defined in Figure 4.
0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
| BT=13 | Reserved | Block Length |
Figure 3: RTCP XR Report Header
0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
| SSRC of Media Sender |
| ECT (0) Counter |
| ECT (1) Counter |
| ECN-CE Counter | not-ECT Counter |
| Lost Packets Counter | Duplication Counter |
Figure 4: RTCP XR ECN Summary Report
The RTCP XR ECN Summary Report contains the following fields:
BT: Block Type identifying the ECN Summary Report block. Value is
Reserved: All bits SHALL be set to 0 on transmission and ignored on
Block Length: The length of this XR report block, including the
header, in 32-bit words minus one. Used to indicate the number of
ECN Summary Report data blocks present in the ECN Summary Report.
This length will be 5*n, where n is the number of ECN Summary
Report blocks, since blocks are a fixed size. The block length
MAY be zero if there is nothing to report. Receivers MUST discard
reports where the block length is not a multiple of five, since
these cannot be valid.
SSRC of Media Sender: The SSRC identifying the media sender this
report is for.
ECT(0) Counter: as in Section 5.1.
ECT(1) Counter: as in Section 5.1.
ECN-CE Counter: as in Section 5.1.
not-ECT Counter: as in Section 5.1.
Lost Packets Counter: as in Section 5.1.
Duplication Counter: as in Section 5.1.
The extended highest sequence number counter for each SSRC is not
present in an RTCP XR report, in contrast to the feedback version.
The reason is that this summary report will rely on the information
sent in the Sender Report (SR) or Receiver Report (RR) blocks part of
the same RTCP compound packet. The extended highest sequence number
is available from the SR or RR.
All the SSRCs that are present in the SR or RR SHOULD also be
included in the RTCP XR ECN Summary Report. In cases where the
number of senders are so large that the combination of SR/RR and the
ECN summary for all the senders exceed the MTU, then only a subset of
the senders SHOULD be included so that the reports for the subset
fits within the MTU. The subsets SHOULD be selected round-robin
across multiple intervals so that all sources are periodically
reported. In case there are no SSRCs that currently are counted as
senders in the session, the report block SHALL still be sent with no
report block entry and a zero report block length to continuously
indicate to the other participants the receiver capability to report
6. SDP Signalling Extensions for ECN
This section defines a number of SDP signalling extensions used in
the negotiation of the ECN for RTP support when using SDP. This
includes one SDP attribute "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" that negotiates the
actual operation of ECN for RTP. Two SDP signalling parameters are
defined to indicate the use of the RTCP XR ECN summary block and the
RTP/AVPF feedback format for ECN. One ICE option SDP representation
is also defined.
6.1. Signalling ECN Capability Using SDP
One new SDP attribute, "a=ecn-capable-rtp:", is defined. This is a
media-level attribute and MUST NOT be used at the session level. It
is not subject to the character set chosen. The aim of this
signalling is to indicate the capability of the sender and receivers
to support ECN, and to negotiate the method of ECN initiation to be
used in the session. The attribute takes a list of initiation
methods, ordered in decreasing preference. The defined values for
the initiation method are:
rtp: Using RTP and RTCP as defined in Section 7.2.1.
ice: Using STUN within ICE as defined in Section 7.2.2.
leap: Using the leap-of-faith method as defined in Section 7.2.3.
Further methods may be specified in the future, so unknown methods
MUST be ignored upon reception.
In addition, a number of OPTIONAL parameters may be included in the
"a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute as follows:
mode: This parameter signals the endpoint's capability to set and
read ECN marks in UDP packets. An examination of various
operating systems has shown that end-system support for ECN
marking of UDP packets may be symmetric or asymmetric. By this,
we mean that some systems may allow endpoints to set the ECN bits
in an outgoing UDP packet but not read them, while others may
allow applications to read the ECN bits but not set them. This
either/or case may produce an asymmetric support for ECN and thus
should be conveyed in the SDP signalling. The "mode=setread"
state is the ideal condition where an endpoint can both set and
read ECN bits in UDP packets. The "mode=setonly" state indicates
that an endpoint can set the ECT bit but cannot read the ECN bits
from received UDP packets to determine if upstream congestion
occurred. The "mode=readonly" state indicates that the endpoint
can read the ECN bits to determine if congestion has occurred for
incoming packets, but it cannot set the ECT bits in outgoing UDP
packets. When the "mode=" parameter is omitted, it is assumed
that the node has "setread" capabilities. This option can provide
for an early indication that ECN cannot be used in a session.
This would be the case when both the offerer and answerer set the
"mode=" parameter to "setonly" or both set it to "readonly".
ect: This parameter makes it possible to express the preferred ECT
marking. This is either "random", "0", or "1", with "0" being
implied if not specified. The "ect" parameter describes a
receiver preference and is useful in the case where the receiver
knows it is behind a link using IP header compression, the
efficiency of which would be seriously disrupted if it were to
receive packets with randomly chosen ECT marks. It is RECOMMENDED
that ECT(0) marking be used.
The ABNF [RFC5234] grammar for the "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute is
shown in Figure 5.
ecn-attribute = "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" SP init-list [SP parm-list]
init-list = init-value *("," init-value)
init-value = "rtp" / "ice" / "leap" / init-ext
init-ext = token
parm-list = parm-value *(";" SP parm-value)
parm-value = mode / ect / parm-ext
mode = "mode=" ("setonly" / "setread" / "readonly")
ect = "ect=" ("0" / "1" / "random")
parm-ext = parm-name "=" parm-value-ext
parm-name = token
parm-value-ext = token / quoted-string
quoted-string = ( DQUOTE *qdtext DQUOTE )
qdtext = %x20-21 / %x23-5B / %x5D-7E / quoted-pair / UTF8-NONASCII
; No DQUOTE and no "\"
quoted-pair = "\\" / ( "\" DQUOTE )
UTF8-NONASCII = UTF8-1 / UTF8-2 / UTF8-3 / UTF8-4
; external references:
; token from RFC 4566
; SP and DQUOTE from RFC 5234
; UTF8-1, UTF8-2, UTF8-3, and UTF8-4 from RFC 3629
Figure 5: ABNF Grammar for the "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" Attribute
Note the above quoted string construct has an escaping mechanism for
strings containing ". This uses \ (backslash) as an escaping
mechanism, i.e., a " is replaced by \" (backslash double quote) and
any \ (backslash) is replaced by \\ (backslash backslash) when put
into the double quotes as defined by the above syntax. The string in
a quoted string is UTF-8 [RFC3629].
6.1.1. Use of "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" with the Offer/Answer Model
When SDP is used with the offer/answer model [RFC3264], the party
generating the SDP offer MUST insert an "a=ecn-capable-rtp:"
attribute into the media section of the SDP offer of each RTP session
for which it wishes to use ECN. The attribute includes one or more
ECN initiation methods in a comma-separated list in decreasing order
of preference, with any number of optional parameters following. The
answering party compares the list of initiation methods in the offer
with those it supports in order of preference. If there is a match
and if the receiver wishes to attempt to use ECN in the session, it
includes an "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute containing its single
preferred choice of initiation method, and any optional parameters,
in the media sections of the answer. If there is no matching
initiation method capability, or if the receiver does not wish to
attempt to use ECN in the session, it does not include an "a=ecn--
capable-rtp:" attribute in its answer. If the attribute is removed
in the answer, then ECN MUST NOT be used in any direction for that
media flow. If there are initialisation methods that are unknown,
they MUST be ignored on reception and MUST NOT be included in an
The endpoints' capability to set and read ECN marks, as expressed by
the optional "mode=" parameter, determines whether ECN support can be
negotiated for flows in one or both directions:
o If the "mode=setonly" parameter is present in the "a=ecn-capable-
rtp:" attribute of the offer and the answering party is also
"mode=setonly", then there is no common ECN capability, and the
answer MUST NOT include the "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute.
Otherwise, if the offer is "mode=setonly", then ECN may only be
initiated in the direction from the offering party to the
o If the "mode=readonly" parameter is present in the "a=ecn-capable-
rtp:" attribute of the offer and the answering party is
"mode=readonly", then there is no common ECN capability, and the
answer MUST NOT include the "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute.
Otherwise, if the offer is "mode=readonly", then ECN may only be
initiated in the direction from the answering party to the
o If the "mode=setread" parameter is present in the "a=ecn-capable-
rtp:" attribute of the offer and the answering party is "setonly",
then ECN may only be initiated in the direction from the answering
party to the offering party. If the offering party is
"mode=setread" but the answering party is "mode=readonly", then
ECN may only be initiated in the direction from the offering party
to the answering party. If both offer and answer are
"mode=setread", then ECN may be initiated in both directions.
Note that "mode=setread" is implied by the absence of a "mode="
parameter in the offer or the answer.
o An offer that does not include a "mode=" parameter MUST be treated
as if a "mode=setread" parameter had been included.
In an RTP session using multicast and ECN, participants that intend
to send RTP packets SHOULD support setting ECT marks in RTP packets
(i.e., should be "mode=setonly" or "mode=setread"). Participants
receiving data need the capability to read ECN marks on incoming
packets. It is important that receivers can read ECN marks
("mode=readonly" or "mode=setread"), since otherwise no sender in the
multicast session would be able to enable ECN. Accordingly,
receivers that are "mode=setonly" SHOULD NOT join multicast RTP
sessions that use ECN. If session participants that are not aware of
the ECN for RTP signalling are invited to a multicast session and
simply ignore the signalling attribute, the other party in the offer/
answer exchange SHOULD terminate the SDP dialogue so that the
participant leaves the session.
The "ect=" parameter in the "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute is set
independently in the offer and the answer. Its value in the offer
indicates a preference for the sending behaviour of the answering
party, and its value in the answer indicates a sending preference for
the behaviour of the offering party. It will be the sender's choice
to honour the receiver's preference for what to receive or not. In
multicast sessions, all senders SHOULD set the ECT marks using the
value declared in the "ect=" parameter.
Unknown optional parameters MUST be ignored on reception and MUST NOT
be included in the answer. That way, a new parameter may be
introduced and verified as supported by the other endpoint by having
the endpoint include it in any answer.
6.1.2. Use of "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" with Declarative SDP
When SDP is used in a declarative manner, for example, in a multicast
session using the Session Announcement Protocol (SAP) [RFC2974],
negotiation of session description parameters is not possible. The
"a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute MAY be added to the session
description to indicate that the sender will use ECN in the RTP
session. The attribute MUST include a single method of initiation.
Participants MUST NOT join such a session unless they have the
capability to receive ECN-marked UDP packets, implement the method of
initiation, and generate RTCP ECN feedback. The mode parameter MAY
also be included in declarative usage, to indicate the minimal
capability is required by the consumer of the SDP. So, for example,
in an SSM session, the participants configured with a particular SDP
will all be in a media receive-only mode; thus, "mode=readonly" may
be used as the receiver only needs to be able to report on the ECN
markings. In ASM sessions, using "mode=readonly" is also reasonable,
unless all senders are required to attempt to use ECN for their
outgoing RTP data traffic, in which case the mode needs to be set to
6.1.3. General Use of the "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" Attribute
The "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute MAY be used with RTP media
sessions using UDP/IP transport. It MUST NOT be used for RTP
sessions using TCP, SCTP, or DCCP transport or for non-RTP sessions.
As described in Section 7.3.3, RTP sessions using ECN require rapid
RTCP ECN feedback, unless timely feedback is not required due to a
receiver-driven congestion control. To ensure that the sender can
react to ECN-CE-marked packets, timely feedback is usually required.
Thus, the use of the Extended RTP Profile for RTCP-Based Feedback
(RTP/AVPF) [RFC4585] or another profile that inherits RTP/AVPF's
signalling rules MUST be signalled unless timely feedback is not
required. If timely feedback is not required, it is still
RECOMMENDED to use RTP/AVPF. The signalling of an RTP/AVPF-based
profile is likely to be required even if the preferred method of
initialisation and the congestion control do not require timely
feedback, as the common interoperable method is likely to be
signalled or the improved fault reaction is desired.
6.2. RTCP ECN Feedback SDP Parameter
A new "nack" feedback parameter "ecn" is defined to indicate the
usage of the RTCP ECN feedback packet format (Section 5.1). The ABNF
[RFC5234] definition of the SDP parameter extension is:
rtcp-fb-nack-param = <See Section 4.2 of [RFC4585]>
rtcp-fb-nack-param =/ ecn-fb-par
ecn-fb-par = SP "ecn"
The offer/answer rules for these SDP feedback parameters are
specified in the RTP/AVPF profile [RFC4585].
6.3. XR Block ECN SDP Parameter
A new unilateral RTCP XR block for ECN summary information is
specified; thus, the XR block SDP signalling also needs to be
extended with a parameter. This is done in the same way as for the
other XR blocks. The XR block SDP attribute as defined in Section
5.1 of the RTCP XR specification [RFC3611] is defined to be
extensible. As no parameter values are needed for this ECN summary
block, this parameter extension consists of a simple parameter name
used to indicate support and intent to use the XR block.
xr-format = <See Section 5.1 of [RFC3611]>
xr-format =/ ecn-summary-par
ecn-summary-par = "ecn-sum"
For SDP declarative and offer/answer usage, see the RTCP XR
specification [RFC3611] and its description of how to handle
6.4. ICE Parameter to Signal ECN Capability
One new ICE [RFC5245] option, "rtp+ecn", is defined. This is used
with the SDP session level "a=ice-options" attribute in an SDP offer
to indicate that the initiator of the ICE exchange has the capability
to support ECN for RTP-over-UDP flows (via "a=ice-options: rtp+ecn").
The answering party includes this same attribute at the session level
in the SDP answer if it also has the capability and removes the
attribute if it does not wish to use ECN or doesn't have the
capability to use ECN. If the ICE initiation method (Section 7.2.2)
is actually going to be used, it is also needs to be explicitly
negotiated using the "a=ecn-capable-rtp:" attribute. This ICE option
SHALL be included when the ICE initiation method is offered or
declared in the SDP.
Note: This signalling mechanism is not strictly needed as long as
the STUN ECN testing capability is used within the context of this
document. It may, however, be useful if the ECN verification
capability is used in additional contexts.
7. Use of ECN with RTP/UDP/IP
In the detailed specification of the behaviour below, the different
functions in the general case will first be discussed. In case
special considerations are needed for middleboxes, multicast usage,
etc., those will be specially discussed in related subsections.
7.1. Negotiation of ECN Capability
The first stage of ECN negotiation for RTP over UDP is to signal the
capability to use ECN. An RTP system that supports ECN and uses SDP
for its signalling MUST implement the SDP extension to signal ECN
capability as described in Section 6.1, the RTCP ECN feedback SDP
parameter defined in Section 6.2, and the XR Block ECN SDP parameter
defined in Section 6.3. It MAY also implement alternative ECN
capability negotiation schemes, such as the ICE extension described
in Section 6.4. Other signalling systems will need to define
signalling parameters corresponding to those defined for SDP.
The "ecn-capable-rtp:" SDP attribute MUST be used when employing ECN
for RTP according to this specification in systems using SDP. As the
RTCP XR ECN Summary Report is required independently of the
initialisation method or congestion control scheme, the "rtcp-xr"
attribute with the "ecn-sum" parameter MUST also be used. The
"rtcp-fb" attribute with the "nack" parameter "ecn" MUST be used
whenever the initialisation method or a congestion control algorithm
requires timely sender-side knowledge of received CE markings. If
the congestion control scheme requires additional signalling, this
should be indicated as appropriate.
7.2. Initiation of ECN Use in an RTP Session
Once the sender and the receiver(s) have agreed that they have the
capability to use ECN within a session, they may attempt to initiate
ECN use. All session participants connected over the same transport
MUST use the same initiation method. RTP mixers or translators can
use different initiation methods to different participants that are
connected over different underlying transports. The mixer or
translator will need to do individual signalling with each
participant to ensure it is consistent with the ECN support in those
cases where it does not function as one endpoint for the ECN control
At the start of the RTP session, when the first few packets with ECT
are sent, it is important to verify that IP packets with ECN field
values of ECT or ECN-CE will reach their destination(s). There is
some risk that the use of ECN will result in either reset of the ECN
field or loss of all packets with ECT or ECN-CE markings. If the
path between the sender and the receivers exhibits either of these
behaviours, the sender needs to stop using ECN immediately to protect
both the network and the application.
The RTP senders and receivers SHALL NOT ECT mark their RTCP traffic
at any time. This is to ensure that packet loss due to ECN marking
will not effect the RTCP traffic and the necessary feedback
information it carries.
An RTP system that supports ECN MUST implement the initiation of ECN
using in-band RTP and RTCP described in Section 7.2.1. It MAY also
implement other mechanisms to initiate ECN support, for example, the
STUN-based mechanism described in Section 7.2.2, or use the leap-of-
faith option if the session supports the limitations provided in
Section 7.2.3. If support for both in-band and out-of-band
mechanisms is signalled, the sender when negotiating SHOULD offer
detection of ECT using STUN with ICE with higher priority than
detection of ECT using RTP and RTCP.
No matter how ECN usage is initiated, the sender MUST continually
monitor the ability of the network, and all its receivers, to support
ECN, following the mechanisms described in Section 7.4. This is
necessary because path changes or changes in the receiver population
may invalidate the ability of the system to use ECN.
7.2.1. Detection of ECT Using RTP and RTCP
The ECN initiation phase using RTP and RTCP to detect if the network
path supports ECN comprises three stages. First, the RTP sender
generates some small fraction of its traffic with ECT marks to act as
a probe for ECN support. Then, on receipt of these ECT-marked
packets, the receivers send RTCP ECN feedback packets and RTCP ECN
Summary Reports to inform the sender that their path supports ECN.
Finally, the RTP sender makes the decision to use ECN or not, based
on whether the paths to all RTP receivers have been verified to
Generating ECN Probe Packets: During the ECN initiation phase, an
RTP sender SHALL mark a small fraction of its RTP traffic as ECT,
while leaving the reminder of the packets unmarked. The main
reason for only marking some packets is to maintain usable media
delivery during the ECN initiation phase in those cases where ECN
is not supported by the network path. A secondary reason to send
some not-ECT packets is to ensure that the receivers will send
RTCP reports on this sender, even if all ECT-marked packets are
lost in transit. The not-ECT packets also provide a baseline to
compare performance parameters against. Another reason for only
probing with a small number of packets is to reduce the risk that
significant numbers of congestion markings might be lost if ECT is
cleared to not-ECT by an ECN-reverting Middlebox. Then, any
resulting lack of congestion response is likely to have little
damaging effect on others. An RTP sender is RECOMMENDED to send a
minimum of two packets with ECT markings per RTCP reporting
interval. In case a random ECT pattern is intended to be used, at
least one packet with ECT(0) and one with ECT(1) should be sent
per reporting interval; in case a single ECT marking is to be
used, only that ECT value SHOULD be sent. The RTP sender SHALL
continue to send some ECT-marked traffic as long as the ECN
initiation phase continues. The sender SHOULD NOT mark all RTP
packets as ECT during the ECN initiation phase.
This memo does not mandate which RTP packets are marked with ECT
during the ECN initiation phase. An implementation should insert
ECT marks in RTP packets in a way that minimises the impact on
media quality if those packets are lost. The choice of packets to
mark is very media dependent. For audio formats, it would make
sense for the sender to mark comfort noise packets or similar.
For video formats, packets containing P- or B-frames (rather than
I-frames) would be an appropriate choice. No matter which RTP
packets are marked, those packets MUST NOT be sent in duplicate,
with and without ECT, since the RTP sequence number is used to
identify packets that are received with ECN markings.
Generating RTCP ECN Feedback: If ECN capability has been negotiated
in an RTP session, the receivers in the session MUST listen for
ECT or ECN-CE-marked RTP packets and generate RTCP ECN feedback
packets (Section 5.1) to mark their receipt. An immediate or
early (depending on the RTP/AVPF mode) ECN feedback packet SHOULD
be generated on receipt of the first ECT- or ECN-CE-marked packet
from a sender that has not previously sent any ECT traffic. Each
regular RTCP report MUST also contain an ECN Summary Report
(Section 5.2). Reception of subsequent ECN-CE-marked packets MUST
result in additional early or immediate ECN feedback packets being
sent unless no timely feedback is required.
Determination of ECN Support: RTP is a group communication protocol,
where members can join and leave the group at any time. This
complicates the ECN initiation phase, since the sender must wait
until it believes the group membership has stabilised before it
can determine if the paths to all receivers support ECN (group
membership changes after the ECN initiation phase has completed
are discussed in Section 7.3).
An RTP sender shall consider the group membership to be stable
after it has been in the session and sending ECT-marked probe
packets for at least three RTCP reporting intervals (i.e., after
sending its third regularly scheduled RTCP packet) and when a
complete RTCP reporting interval has passed without changes to the
group membership. ECN initiation is considered successful when
the group membership is stable and all known participants have
sent one or more RTCP ECN feedback packets or RTCP XR ECN Summary
Reports indicating correct receipt of the ECT-marked RTP packets
generated by the sender.
As an optimisation, if an RTP sender is initiating ECN usage
towards a unicast address, then it MAY treat the ECN initiation as
provisionally successful if it receives an RTCP ECN Feedback
Report or an RTCP XR ECN Summary Report indicating successful
receipt of the ECT-marked packets, with no negative indications,
from a single RTP receiver (where a single RTP receiver is
considered as all SSRCs used by a single RTCP CNAME). After
declaring provisional success, the sender MAY generate ECT-marked
packets as described in Section 7.3, provided it continues to
monitor the RTCP reports for a period of three RTCP reporting
intervals from the time the ECN initiation started, to check if
there are any other participants in the session. Thus, as long as
any additional SSRC that report on the ECN usage are using the
same RTCP CNAME as the previous reports and they are all
indicating functional ECN, the sender may continue. If other
participants are detected, i.e., other RTCP CNAMEs, the sender
MUST fallback to only ECT-marking a small fraction of its RTP
packets, while it determines if ECN can be supported following the
full procedure described above. Different RTCP CNAMEs received
over a unicast transport may occur when using translators in a
multi-party RTP session (e.g., when using a centralised conference
Note: The above optimisation supports peer-to-peer unicast
transport with several SSRCs multiplexed onto the same flow
(e.g., a single participant with two video cameras or SSRC
multiplexed RTP retransmission [RFC4588]). It is desirable to
be able to rapidly negotiate ECN support for such a session,
but the optimisation above can fail if there are
implementations that use the same CNAME for different parts of
a distributed implementation that have different transport
characteristics (e.g., if a single logical endpoint is split
across multiple hosts).
ECN initiation is considered to have failed at the instant the
initiating RTP sender received an RTCP packet that doesn't contain
an RTCP ECN Feedback Report or ECN Summary Report from any RTP
session participant that has an RTCP RR with an extended RTP
sequence number field that indicates that it should have received
multiple (>3) ECT-marked RTP packets. This can be due to failure
to support the ECN feedback format by the receiver or some
middlebox or the loss of all ECT-marked packets. Both indicate a
lack of ECN support.
If the ECN negotiation succeeds, this indicates that the path can
pass some ECN-marked traffic and that the receivers support ECN
feedback. This does not necessarily imply that the path can robustly
convey ECN feedback; Section 7.3 describes the ongoing monitoring
that must be performed to ensure the path continues to robustly
When a sender or receiver detects ECN failures on paths, they should
log these to enable follow up and statistics gathering regarding
broken paths. The logging mechanism used is implementation
7.2.2. Detection of ECT Using STUN with ICE
This section describes an OPTIONAL method that can be used to avoid
media impact and also ensure an ECN-capable path prior to media
transmission. This method is considered in the context where the
session participants are using ICE [RFC5245] to find working
connectivity. We need to use ICE rather than STUN only, as the
verification needs to happen from the media sender to the address and
port on which the receiver is listening.
Note that this method is only applicable to sessions when the remote
destinations are unicast addresses. In addition, transport
translators that do not terminate the ECN control loop and may
distribute received packets to more than one other receiver must
either disallow this method (and use the RTP/RTCP method instead) or
implement additional handling as discussed below. This is because
the ICE initialisation method verifies the underlying transport to
one particular address and port. If the receiver at that address and
port intends to use the received packets in a multi-point session,
then the tested capabilities and the actual session behaviour are not
To minimise the impact of setup delay, and to prioritise the fact
that one has working connectivity rather than necessarily finding the
best ECN-capable network path, this procedure is applied after having
performed a successful connectivity check for a candidate, which is
nominated for usage. At that point, an additional connectivity check
is performed, sending the "ECN-CHECK" attribute in a STUN packet that
is ECT marked. On reception of the packet, a STUN server supporting
this extension will note the received ECN field value and send a
STUN/UDP/IP packet in reply with the ECN field set to not-ECT and an
ECN-CHECK attribute included. A STUN server that doesn't understand
the extension, or is incapable of reading the ECN values on incoming
STUN packets, should follow the rule in the STUN specification for
unknown comprehension-optional attributes and ignore the attribute,
resulting in the sender receiving a STUN response without the ECN-
CHECK STUN attribute.
The ECN STUN checks can be lost on the path, for example, due to the
ECT marking but also due to various other non ECN-related reasons
causing packet loss. The goal is to detect when the ECT markings are
rewritten or if it is the ECT marking that causes packet loss so that
the path can be determined as not-ECT. Other reasons for packet loss
should not result in a failure to verify the path as ECT. Therefore,
a number of retransmissions should be attempted. But, the sender of
ECN STUN checks will also have to set a criteria for when it gives up
testing for ECN capability on the path. Since the ICE agent has
successfully verified the path, an RTT measurement for this path can
be performed. To have a high probability of successfully verifying
the path, it is RECOMMENDED that the client retransmit the ECN STUN
check at least 4 times. The transmission for that flow is stopped
when an ECN-CHECK STUN response has been received, which doesn't
indicate a retransmission of the request due to a temporary error, or
the maximum number of retransmissions has been sent. The ICE agent
is recommended to give up on the ECN verification MAX(1.5*RTT, 20 ms)
after the last ECN STUN check was sent.
The transmission of the ECT-marked STUN connectivity checks
containing the ECN-CHECK attribute can be done prior as well in
parallel to actual media transmission. Both cases are supported,
where the main difference is how aggressively the transmission of the
STUN checks are done. The reason for this is to avoid adding
additional startup delay until media can flow. If media is required
immediately after nomination has occurred, the STUN checks SHALL be
done in parallel. If the application does not require media
transmission immediately, the verification of ECT SHOULD start using
the aggressive mode. At any point in the process until ECT has been
verified or found to not work, media transmission MAY be started, and
the ICE agent SHALL transition from the aggressive mode to the
The aggressive mode uses an interval between the retransmissions
based on the Ta timer as defined in Section 16.1 for RTP Media
Streams in ICE [RFC5245]. The number of ECN STUN checks needing to
be sent will depend on the number of ECN-capable flows (N) that is to
be established. The interval between each transmission of an ECN-
CHECK packet MUST be Ta. In other words, for a given flow being
verified for ECT, the retransmission timeout (RTO) is set to Ta*N.
The parallel mode uses transmission intervals in order to prevent the
ECT verification checks from increasing the total bitrate more than
10%. As ICE's regular transmission schedule is mimicking a common
voice call in amount, to meet that goal for most media flows, setting
the retransmission interval to Ta*N*k where k=10 fulfills that goal.
Thus, the default behaviour SHALL be to use k=10 when in parallel
mode. In cases where the bitrate of the STUN connectivity checks can
be determined, they MAY be sent with smaller values of k, but k MUST
NOT be smaller than 1, as long as the total bitrate for the
connectivity checks are less than 10% of the used media bitrate. The
RTP media packets being sent in parallel mode SHALL NOT be ECT marked
prior to verification of the path as ECT.
The STUN ECN-CHECK attribute contains one field and a flag, as shown
in Figure 6. The flag indicates whether the echo field contains a
valid value or not. The field is the ECN echo field and, when valid,
contains the two ECN bits from the packet it echoes back. The ECN-
CHECK attribute is a comprehension optional attribute.
0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
| Type | Length |
| Reserved |ECF|V|
Figure 6: ECN-CHECK STUN Attribute
V: Valid (1 bit) ECN Echo value field is valid when set to 1 and
invalid when set 0.
ECF: ECN Echo value field (2 bits) contains the ECN field value of
the STUN packet it echoes back when the field is valid. If
invalid, the content is arbitrary.
Reserved: Reserved bits (29 bits) SHALL be set to 0 on transmission
and SHALL be ignored on reception.
This attribute MAY be included in any STUN request to request the ECN
field to be echoed back. In STUN requests, the V bit SHALL be set to
0. A compliant STUN server receiving a request with the ECN-CHECK
attribute SHALL read the ECN field value of the IP/UDP packet in
which the request was received. Upon forming the response, the
server SHALL include the ECN-CHECK attribute setting the V bit to
valid and include the read value of the ECN field into the ECF field.
If the STUN responder was unable to ascertain, due to temporary
errors, the ECN value of the STUN request, it SHALL set the V bit in
the response to 0. The STUN client may retry immediately.
The ICE-based initialisation method does require some special
consideration when used by a translator. This is especially for
transport translators and translators that fragment or reassemble
packets, since they do not separate the ECN control loops between the
endpoints and the translator. When using ICE-based initiation, such
a translator must ensure that any participants joining an RTP session
for which ECN has been negotiated are successfully verified in the
direction from the translator to the joining participant.
Alternatively, it must correctly handle remarking of ECT RTP packets
towards that participant. When a new participant joins the session,
the translator will perform a check towards the new participant. If
that is successfully completed, the ECT properties of the session are
maintained for the other senders in the session. If the check fails,
then the existing senders will now see a participant that fails to
receive ECT. Thus, the failure detection in those senders will
eventually detect this. However, to avoid misusing the network on
the path from the translator to the new participant, the translator
SHALL remark the traffic intended to be forwarded from ECT to not-
ECT. Any packets intended to be forwarded that are ECN-CE marked
SHALL be discarded and not sent. In cases where the path from a new
participant to the translator fails the ECT check, then only that
sender will not contribute any ECT-marked traffic towards the
7.2.3. Leap-of-Faith ECT Initiation Method
This method for initiating ECN usage is a leap of faith that assumes
that ECN will work on the used path(s). The method is to go directly
to "ongoing use of ECN" as defined in Section 7.3. Thus, all RTP
packets MAY be marked as ECT, and the failure detection MUST be used
to detect any case when the assumption that the path is ECT capable
is wrong. This method is only recommended for controlled
environments where the whole path(s) between sender and receiver(s)
has been built and verified to be ECT.
If the sender marks all packets as ECT while transmitting on a path
that contains an ECN-blocking middlebox, then receivers downstream of
that middlebox will not receive any RTP data packets from the sender
and hence will not consider it to be an active RTP SSRC. The sender
can detect this and revert to sending packets without ECT marks,
since RTCP SR/RR packets from such receivers will either not include
a report for the sender's SSRC or will report that no packets have
been received, but this takes at least one RTCP reporting interval.
It should be noted that a receiver might generate its first RTCP
packet immediately on joining a unicast session, or very shortly
after joining an RTP/AVPF session, before it has had chance to
receive any data packets. A sender that receives an RTCP SR/RR
packet indicating lack of reception by a receiver SHOULD therefore
wait for a second RTCP report from that receiver to be sure that the
lack of reception is due to ECT-marking. Since this recovery process
can take several tens of seconds, during which time the RTP session
is unusable for media, it is NOT RECOMMENDED that the leap-of-faith
ECT initiation method be used in environments where ECN-blocking
middleboxes are likely to be present.
7.3. Ongoing Use of ECN within an RTP Session
Once ECN has been successfully initiated for an RTP sender, that
sender begins sending all RTP data packets as ECT-marked, and its
receivers send ECN feedback information via RTCP packets. This
section describes procedures for sending ECT-marked data, providing
ECN feedback information via RTCP, and responding to ECN feedback
7.3.1. Transmission of ECT-Marked RTP Packets
After a sender has successfully initiated ECN use, it SHOULD mark all
the RTP data packets it sends as ECT. The sender SHOULD mark packets
as ECT(0) unless the receiver expresses a preference for ECT(1) or
for a random ECT value using the "ect" parameter in the "a=ecn--
The sender SHALL NOT include ECT marks on outgoing RTCP packets and
SHOULD NOT include ECT marks on any other outgoing control messages
(e.g., STUN [RFC5389] packets, Datagram Transport Layer Security
(DTLS) [RFC6347] handshake packets, or ZRTP [RFC6189] control
packets) that are multiplexed on the same UDP port. For control
packets there might be exceptions, like the STUN-based ECN-CHECK
defined in Section 7.2.2.
7.3.2. Reporting ECN Feedback via RTCP
An RTP receiver that receives a packet with an ECN-CE mark, or that
detects a packet loss, MUST schedule the transmission of an RTCP ECN
feedback packet as soon as possible (subject to the constraints of
[RFC4585] and [RFC3550]) to report this back to the sender unless no
timely feedback is required. The feedback RTCP packet SHALL consist
of at least one ECN feedback packet (Section 5.1) reporting on the
packets received since the last ECN feedback packet and will contain
(at least) an RTCP SR/RR packet and an SDES packet, unless reduced-
size RTCP [RFC5506] is used. The RTP/AVPF profile in early or
immediate feedback mode SHOULD be used where possible, to reduce the
interval before feedback can be sent. To reduce the size of the
feedback message, reduced-size RTCP [RFC5506] MAY be used if
supported by the endpoints. Both RTP/AVPF and reduced-size RTCP MUST
be negotiated in the session setup signalling before they can be
Every time a regular compound RTCP packet is to be transmitted, an
ECN-capable RTP receiver MUST include an RTCP XR ECN Summary Report
as described in Section 5.2 as part of the compound packet.
The multicast feedback implosion problem, which occurs when many
receivers simultaneously send feedback to a single sender, must be
considered. The RTP/AVPF transmission rules will limit the amount of
feedback that can be sent, avoiding the implosion problem but also
delaying feedback by varying degrees from nothing up to a full RTCP
reporting interval. As a result, the full extent of a congestion
situation may take some time to reach the sender, although some
feedback should arrive in a reasonably timely manner, allowing the
sender to react on a single or a few reports.
7.3.3. Response to Congestion Notifications
The reception of RTP packets with ECN-CE marks in the IP header is a
notification that congestion is being experienced. The default
reaction on the reception of these ECN-CE-marked packets MUST be to
provide the congestion control algorithm with a congestion
notification that triggers the algorithm to react as if packet loss
had occurred. There should be no difference in congestion response
if ECN-CE marks or packet drops are detected.
Other reactions to ECN-CE may be specified in the future, following
IETF Review. Detailed designs of such alternative reactions MUST be
specified in a Standards Track RFC and be reviewed to ensure they are
safe for deployment under any restrictions specified. A potential
example for an alternative reaction could be emergency communications
(such as that generated by first responders, as opposed to the
general public) in networks where the user has been authorised. A
more detailed description of these other reactions, as well as the
types of congestion control algorithms used by end-nodes, is outside
the scope of this document.
Depending on the media format, type of session, and RTP topology
used, there are several different types of congestion control that
can be used:
Sender-Driven Congestion Control: The sender is responsible for
adapting the transmitted bitrate in response to RTCP ECN feedback.
When the sender receives the ECN feedback data, it feeds this
information into its congestion control or bitrate adaptation
mechanism so that it can react as if packet loss was reported.
The congestion control algorithm to be used is not specified here,
although TFRC [RFC5348] is one example that might be used.
Receiver-Driven Congestion Control: In a receiver-driven congestion
control mechanism, the receivers can react to the ECN-CE marks
themselves without providing ECN-CE feedback to the sender. This
may allow faster response than sender-driven congestion control in
some circumstances and also scale to large number of receivers and
multicast usage. One example of receiver-driven congestion
control is implemented by providing the content in a layered way,
with each layer providing improved media quality but also
increased bandwidth usage. The receiver locally monitors the
ECN-CE marks on received packets to check if it experiences
congestion with the current number of layers. If congestion is
experienced, the receiver drops one layer, thus reducing the
resource consumption on the path towards itself. For example, if
a layered media encoding scheme such as H.264 Scalable Video
Coding (SVC) is used, the receiver may change its layer
subscription and so reduce the bitrate it receives. The receiver
MUST still send an RTCP XR ECN Summary to the sender, even if it
can adapt without contact with the sender, so that the sender can
determine if ECN is supported on the network path. The timeliness
of RTCP feedback is less of a concern with receiver-driven
congestion control, and regular RTCP reporting of ECN summary
information is sufficient (without using RTP/AVPF immediate or
Hybrid: There might be mechanisms that utilise both some receiver
behaviours and some sender-side monitoring, thus requiring both
feedback of congestion events to the sender and taking receiver
decisions and possible signalling to the sender. In this case,
the congestion control algorithm needs to use the signalling to
indicate which features of ECN for RTP are required.
Responding to congestion indication in the case of multicast traffic
is a more complex problem than for unicast traffic. The fundamental
problem is diverse paths, i.e., when different receivers don't see
the same path and thus have different bottlenecks, so the receivers
may get ECN-CE-marked packets due to congestion at different points
in the network. This is problematic for sender-driven congestion
control, since when receivers are heterogeneous in regards to
capacity, the sender is limited to transmitting at the rate the
slowest receiver can support. This often becomes a significant
limitation as group size grows. Also, as group size increases, the
frequency of reports from each receiver decreases, which further
reduces the responsiveness of the mechanism. Receiver-driven
congestion control has the advantage that each receiver can choose
the appropriate rate for its network path, rather than all receivers
having to settle for the lowest common rate.
We note that ECN support is not a silver bullet to improving
performance. The use of ECN gives the chance to respond to
congestion before packets are dropped in the network, improving the
user experience by allowing the RTP application to control how the
quality is reduced. An application that ignores ECN Congestion
Experienced feedback is not immune to congestion: the network will
eventually begin to discard packets if traffic doesn't respond. To
avoid packet loss, it is in the best interest of an application to
respond to ECN congestion feedback promptly.
7.4. Detecting Failures
Senders and receivers can deliberately ignore ECN-CE and thus get a
benefit over behaving flows (cheating). The ECN nonce [RFC3540] is
an addition to TCP that attempts to solve this issue as long as the
sender acts on behalf of the network. The assumption that senders
act on behalf of the network may be false due to the nature of peer-
to-peer use of RTP. Still, a significant portion of RTP senders are
infrastructure devices (for example, streaming media servers) that do
have an interest in protecting both service quality and the network.
Even though there may be cases where the nonce may be applicable for
RTP, it is not included in this specification. This is because a
receiver interested in cheating would simply claim to not support the
nonce, or even ECN itself. It is, however, worth mentioning that, as
real-time media is commonly sensitive to increased delay and packet
loss, it will be in the interest of both the media sender and
receivers to minimise the number and duration of any congestion
events as they will adversely affect media quality.
RTP sessions can also suffer from path changes resulting in a non-
ECN-compliant node becoming part of the path. That node may perform
either of two actions that has an effect on the ECN and application
functionality. The gravest is if the node drops packets with the ECN
field set to ECT(0), ECT(1), or ECN-CE. This can be detected by the
receiver when it receives an RTCP SR packet indicating that a sender
has sent a number of packets that it has not received. The sender
may also detect such a middlebox based on the receiver's RTCP RR
packet, when the extended sequence number is not advanced due to the
failure to receive packets. If the packet loss is less than 100%,
then packet loss reporting in either the ECN feedback information or
RTCP RR will indicate the situation. The other action is to re-mark
a packet from ECT or ECN-CE to not-ECT. That has less dire results;
however, it should be detected so that ECN usage can be suspended to
prevent misusing the network.
The RTCP XR ECN summary packet and the ECN feedback packet allow the
sender to compare the number of ECT-marked packets of different types
received with the number it actually sent. The number of ECT packets
received, plus the number of ECN-CE-marked and lost packets, should
correspond to the number of sent ECT-marked packets plus the number
of received duplicates. If these numbers don't agree, there are two
likely reasons: a translator changing the stream or not carrying the
ECN markings forward or some node re-marking the packets. In both
cases, the usage of ECN is broken on the path. By tracking all the
different possible ECN field values, a sender can quickly detect if
some non-compliant behaviour is happening on the path.
Thus, packet losses and non-matching ECN field value statistics are
possible indications of issues with using ECN over the path. The
next section defines both sender and receiver reactions to these
7.4.1. Fallback Mechanisms
Upon the detection of a potential failure, both the sender and the
receiver can react to mitigate the situation.
A receiver that detects a packet loss burst MAY schedule an early
feedback packet that includes at least the RTCP RR and the ECN
feedback message to report this to the sender. This will speed up
the detection of the loss at the sender, thus triggering sender-side
A sender that detects high packet loss rates for ECT-marked packets
SHOULD immediately switch to sending packets as not-ECT to determine
if the losses are potentially due to the ECT markings. If the losses
disappear when the ECT-marking is discontinued, the RTP sender should
go back to initiation procedures to attempt to verify the apparent
loss of ECN capability of the used path. If a re-initiation fails,
then two possible actions exist:
1. Periodically retry the ECN initiation to detect if a path change
occurs to a path that is ECN capable.
2. Renegotiate the session to disable ECN support. This is a choice
that is suitable if the impact of ECT probing on the media
quality is noticeable. If multiple initiations have been
successful, but the following full usage of ECN has resulted in
the fallback procedures, then disabling of the ECN support is
We foresee the possibility of flapping ECN capability due to several
reasons: video-switching MCU or similar middleboxes that select to
deliver media from the sender only intermittently; load-balancing
devices that may in worst case result in some packets taking a
different network path than the others; mobility solutions that
switch the underlying network path in a transparent way for the
sender or receiver; and membership changes in a multicast group. It
is, however, appropriate to mention that there are also issues such
as re-routing of traffic due to a flappy route table or excessive
reordering and other issues that are not directly ECN related but
nevertheless may cause problems for ECN.
7.4.2. Interpretation of ECN Summary Information
This section contains discussion on how the ECN Summary Report
information can be used to detect various types of ECN path issues.
We first review the information the RTCP reports provide on a per-
source (SSRC) basis:
ECN-CE Counter: The number of RTP packets received so far in the
session with an ECN field set to CE.
ECT (0/1) Counters: The number of RTP packets received so far in the
session with an ECN field set to ECT (0) and ECT (1) respectively.
not-ECT Counter: The number of RTP packets received so far in the
session with an ECN field set to not-ECT.
Lost Packets Counter: The number of RTP packets that where expected
based on sequence numbers but never received.
Duplication Counter: The number of received RTP packets that are
duplicates of already received ones.
Extended Highest Sequence number: The highest sequence number seen
when sending this report, but with additional bits, to handle
disambiguation when wrapping the RTP sequence number field.
The counters will be initialised to zero to provide values for the
RTP stream sender from the first report. After the first report, the
changes between the last received report and the previous report are
determined by simply taking the values of the latest minus the
previous, taking wrapping into account. This definition is also
robust to packet losses, since if one report is missing, the
reporting interval becomes longer, but is otherwise equally valid.
In a perfect world, the number of not-ECT packets received should be
equal to the number sent minus the Lost Packets Counter, and the sum
of the ECT(0), ECT(1), and ECN-CE counters should be equal to the
number of ECT-marked packet sent. Two issues may cause a mismatch in
these statistics: severe network congestion or unresponsive
congestion control might cause some ECT-marked packets to be lost,
and packet duplication might result in some packets being received
and counted in the statistics multiple times (potentially with a
different ECN-mark on each copy of the duplicate).
The rate of packet duplication is tracked, allowing one to take the
duplication into account. The value of the ECN field for duplicates
will also be counted, and when comparing the figures, one needs to
take into account in the calculation that some fraction of packet
duplicates are not-ECT and some are ECT. Thus, when only sending
not-ECT, the number of sent packets plus reported duplicates equals
the number of received not-ECT. When sending only ECT, the number of
sent ECT packets plus duplicates will equal ECT(0), ECT(1), ECN-CE,
and packet loss. When sending a mix of not-ECT and ECT, there is an
uncertainty if any duplicate or packet loss was an not-ECT or ECT.
If the packet duplication is completely independent of the usage of
ECN, then the fraction of packet duplicates should be in relation to
the number of not-ECT vs. ECT packets sent during the period of
comparison. This relation does not hold for packet loss, where
higher rates of packet loss for not-ECT is expected than for ECT
Detecting clearing of ECN field: If the ratio between ECT and not-ECT
transmitted in the reports has become all not-ECT, or has
substantially changed towards not-ECT, then this is clearly an
indication that the path results in clearing of the ECT field.
Dropping of ECT packets: To determine if the packet-drop ratio is
different between not-ECT and ECT-marked transmission requires a mix
of transmitted traffic. The sender should compare if the delivery
percentage (delivered/transmitted) between ECT and not-ECT is
significantly different. Care must be taken if the number of packets
is low in either of the categories. One must also take into account
the level of CE marking. A CE-marked packet would have been dropped
unless it was ECT marked. Thus, the packet loss level for not-ECT
should be approximately equal to the loss rate for ECT when counting
the CE-marked packets as lost ones. A sender performing this
calculation needs to ensure that the difference is statistically
If erroneous behaviour is detected, it should be logged to enable
follow up and statistics gathering.
8. Processing ECN in RTP Translators and Mixers
RTP translators and mixers that support ECN for RTP are required to
process and potentially modify or generate ECN marking in RTP
packets. They also need to process and potentially modify or
generate RTCP ECN feedback packets for the translated and/or mixed
streams. This includes both downstream RTCP reports generated by the
media sender and also reports generated by the receivers, flowing
upstream back towards the sender.
8.1. Transport Translators
Some translators only perform transport-level translations, such as
copying packets from one address domain, like from unicast to
multicast. They may also perform relaying like copying an incoming
packet to a number of unicast receivers. This section details the
ECN-related actions for RTP and RTCP.
For RTP data packets, the translator, which does not modify the media
stream, SHOULD copy the ECN bits unchanged from the incoming to the
outgoing datagrams, unless the translator itself is overloaded and
experiencing congestion, in which case it may mark the outgoing
datagrams with an ECN-CE mark.
A transport translator does not modify RTCP packets. However, it
MUST perform the corresponding transport translation of the RTCP
packets as it does with RTP packets being sent from the same source/
8.2. Fragmentation and Reassembly in Translators
An RTP translator may fragment or reassemble RTP data packets without
changing the media encoding and without reference to the congestion
state of the networks it bridges. An example of this might be to
combine packets of a voice-over-IP stream coded with one 20 ms frame
per RTP packet into new RTP packets with two 20 ms frames per packet,
thereby reducing the header overhead and thus stream bandwidth, at
the expense of an increase in latency. If multiple data packets are
re-encoded into one, or vice versa, the RTP translator MUST assign
new sequence numbers to the outgoing packets. Losses in the incoming
RTP packet stream may also induce corresponding gaps in the outgoing
RTP sequence numbers. An RTP translator MUST rewrite RTCP packets to
make the corresponding changes to their sequence numbers and to
reflect the impact of the fragmentation or reassembly. This section
describes how that rewriting is to be done for RTCP ECN feedback
packets. Section 7.2 of [RFC3550] describes general procedures for
other RTCP packet types.
The processing of arriving RTP packets for this case is as follows.
If an ECN-marked packet is split into two, then both the outgoing
packets MUST be ECN marked identically to the original; if several
ECN-marked packets are combined into one, the outgoing packet MUST be
either ECN-CE marked or dropped if any of the incoming packets are
ECN-CE marked. If the outgoing combined packet is not ECN-CE marked,
then it MUST be ECT marked if any of the incoming packets were ECT
RTCP ECN feedback packets (Section 5.1) contain seven fields that are
rewritten in an RTP translator that fragments or reassembles packets:
the extended highest sequence number, the duplication counter, the
Lost Packets Counter, the ECN-CE counter, and not-ECT counter, the
ECT(0) counter, and the ECT(1) counter. The RTCP XR report block for
ECN summary information (Section 5.2) includes all of these fields
except the extended highest sequence number, which is present in the
report block in an SR or RR packet. The procedures for rewriting
these fields are the same for both the RTCP ECN feedback packet and
the RTCP XR ECN summary packet.
When receiving an RTCP ECN feedback packet for the translated stream,
an RTP translator first determines the range of packets to which the
report corresponds. The extended highest sequence number in the RTCP
ECN feedback packet (or in the RTCP SR/RR packet contained within the
compound packet, in the case of RTCP XR ECN Summary Reports)
specifies the end sequence number of the range. For the first RTCP
ECN feedback packet received, the initial extended sequence number of
the range may be determined by subtracting the sum of the Lost
Packets Counter, the ECN-CE counter, the not-ECT counter, the ECT(0)
counter and the ECT(1) counter minus the duplication counter, from
the extended highest sequence number. For subsequent RTCP ECN
feedback packets, the starting sequence number may be determined as
being one after the extended highest sequence number of the previous
RTCP ECN feedback packet received from the same SSRC. These values
are in the sequence number space of the translated packets.
Based on its knowledge of the translation process, the translator
determines the sequence number range for the corresponding original,
pre-translation, packets. The extended highest sequence number in
the RTCP ECN feedback packet is rewritten to match the final sequence
number in the pre-translation sequence number range.
The translator then determines the ratio, R, of the number of packets
in the translated sequence number space (numTrans) to the number of
packets in the pre-translation sequence number space (numOrig) such
that R = numTrans / numOrig. The counter values in the RTCP ECN
Feedback Report are then scaled by dividing each of them by R. For
example, if the translation process combines two RTP packets into
one, then numOrig will be twice numTrans, giving R=0.5, and the
counters in the translated RTCP ECN feedback packet will be twice
those in the original.
The ratio, R, may have a value that leads to non-integer multiples of
the counters when translating the RTCP packet. For example, a Voice
over IP (VoIP) translator that combines two adjacent RTP packets into
one if they contain active speech data, but passes comfort noise
packets unchanged, would have an R value of between 0.5 and 1.0
depending on the amount of active speech. Since the counter values
in the translated RTCP report are integer values, rounding will be
necessary in this case.
When rounding counter values in the translated RTCP packet, the
translator should try to ensure that they sum to the number of RTP
packets in the pre-translation sequence number space (numOrig). The
translator should also try to ensure that no non-zero counter is
rounded to a zero value, unless the pre-translated values are zero,
since that will lose information that a particular type of event has
occurred. It is recognised that it may be impossible to satisfy both
of these constraints; in such cases, it is better to ensure that no
non-zero counter is mapped to a zero value, since this preserves
congestion adaptation and helps the RTCP-based ECN initiation
One should be aware of the impact this type of translator has on the
measurement of packet duplication. A translator performing
aggregation and most likely also an fragmenting translator will
suppress any duplication happening prior to itself. Thus, the
reports and what is being scaled will only represent packet
duplication happening from the translator to the receiver reporting
on the flow.
It should be noted that scaling the RTCP counter values in this way
is meaningful only on the assumption that the level of congestion in
the network is related to the number of packets being sent. This is
likely to be a reasonable assumption in the type of environment where
RTP translators that fragment or reassemble packets are deployed, as
their entire purpose is to change the number of packets being sent to
adapt to known limitations of the network, but is not necessarily
valid in general.
The rewritten RTCP ECN Feedback Report is sent from the other side of
the translator to that from which it arrived (as part of a compound
RTCP packet containing other translated RTCP packets, where
8.3. Generating RTCP ECN Feedback in Media Transcoders
An RTP translator that acts as a media transcoder cannot directly
forward RTCP packets corresponding to the transcoded stream, since
those packets will relate to the non-transcoded stream and will not
be useful in relation to the transcoded RTP flow. Such a transcoder
will need to interpose itself into the RTCP flow, acting as a proxy
for the receiver to generate RTCP feedback in the direction of the
sender relating to the pre-transcoded stream and acting in place of
the sender to generate RTCP relating to the transcoded stream to be
sent towards the receiver. This section describes how this proxying
is to be done for RTCP ECN feedback packets. Section 7.2 of
[RFC3550] describes general procedures for other RTCP packet types.
An RTP translator acting as a media transcoder in this manner does
not have its own SSRC and hence is not visible to other entities at
the RTP layer. RTCP ECN feedback packets and RTCP XR report blocks
for ECN summary information that are received from downstream relate
to the translated stream and so must be processed by the translator
as if they were the original media source. These reports drive the
congestion control loop and media adaptation between the translator
and the downstream receiver. If there are multiple downstream
receivers, a logically separate transcoder instance must be used for
each receiver and must process RTCP ECN Feedback and Summary Reports
independently of the other transcoder instances. An RTP translator
acting as a media transcoder in this manner MUST NOT forward RTCP ECN
feedback packets or RTCP XR ECN Summary Reports from downstream
receivers in the upstream direction.
An RTP translator acting as a media transcoder will generate RTCP
reports upstream towards the original media sender, based on the
reception quality of the original media stream at the translator.
The translator will run a separate congestion control loop and media
adaptation between itself and the media sender for each of its
downstream receivers and must generate RTCP ECN feedback packets and
RTCP XR ECN Summary Reports for that congestion control loop using
the SSRC of that downstream receiver.
8.4. Generating RTCP ECN Feedback in Mixers
An RTP mixer terminates one-or-more RTP flows, combines them into a
single outgoing media stream, and transmits that new stream as a
separate RTP flow. A mixer has its own SSRC and is visible to other
participants in the session at the RTP layer.
An ECN-aware RTP mixer must generate RTCP ECN feedback packets and
RTCP XR report blocks for ECN summary information relating to the RTP
flows it terminates, in exactly the same way it would if it were an
RTP receiver. These reports form part of the congestion control loop
between the mixer and the media senders generating the streams it is
mixing. A separate control loop runs between each sender and the
An ECN-aware RTP mixer will negotiate and initiate the use of ECN on
the mixed RTP flows it generates and will accept and process RTCP ECN
Feedback Reports and RTCP XR report blocks for ECN relating to those
mixed flows as if it were a standard media sender. A congestion
control loop runs between the mixer and its receivers, driven in part
by the ECN reports received.
An RTP mixer MUST NOT forward RTCP ECN feedback packets or RTCP XR
ECN Summary Reports from downstream receivers in the upstream
9. Implementation Considerations
To allow the use of ECN with RTP over UDP, an RTP implementation
desiring to support receiving ECN-controlled media streams must
support reading the value of the ECT bits on received UDP datagrams,
and an RTP implementation desiring to support sending ECN-controlled
media streams must support setting the ECT bits in outgoing UDP
datagrams. The standard Berkeley sockets API pre-dates the
specification of ECN and does not provide the functionality that is
required for this mechanism to be used with UDP flows, making this
specification difficult to implement portably.
10. IANA Considerations
10.1. SDP Attribute Registration
Following the guidelines in [RFC4566], the IANA has registered one
new media-level SDP attribute:
o Contact name, email address and telephone number: Authors of RFC
o Attribute-name: ecn-capable-rtp
o Type of attribute: media-level
o Subject to charset: no
This attribute defines the ability to negotiate the use of ECT (ECN-
capable transport) for RTP flows running over UDP/IP. This attribute
is put in the SDP offer if the offering party wishes to receive an
ECT flow. The answering party then includes the attribute in the
answer if it wishes to receive an ECT flow. If the answerer does not
include the attribute, then ECT MUST be disabled in both directions.
10.2. RTP/AVPF Transport-Layer Feedback Message
The IANA has registered one new RTP/AVPF Transport-Layer Feedback
Message in the table of FMT values for RTPFB Payload Types [RFC4585]
as defined in Section 5.1:
Long name: RTCP ECN Feedback
Reference: RFC 6679
10.3. RTCP Feedback SDP Parameter
The IANA has registered one new SDP "rtcp-fb" attribute "nack"
parameter "ecn" in the SDP ("ack" and "nack" Attribute Values)
Value name: ecn
Long name: Explicit Congestion Notification
Usable with: nack
Reference: RFC 6679
10.4. RTCP XR Report Blocks
The IANA has registered one new RTCP XR Block Type as defined in
Block Type: 13
Name: ECN Summary Report
Reference: RFC 6679
10.5. RTCP XR SDP Parameter
The IANA has registered one new RTCP XR SDP Parameter "ecn-sum" in
the "RTCP XR SDP Parameters" registry.
Parameter name XR block (block type and name)
ecn-sum 13 ECN Summary Report
10.6. STUN Attribute
A new STUN [RFC5389] attribute in the comprehension-optional range
under IETF Review (0x8000-0xFFFF) has been assigned to the ECN-CHECK
STUN attribute (0x802D) defined in Section 7.2.2. The STUN attribute
registry can currently be found at:
10.7. ICE Option
A new ICE option "rtp+ecn" has been registered in the "ICE Options"
registry created by [RFC6336].
11. Security Considerations
The use of ECN with RTP over UDP as specified in this document has
the following known security issues that need to be considered.
External threats to the RTP and RTCP traffic:
Denial of Service affecting RTCP: An attacker that can modify the
traffic between the media sender and a receiver can achieve either
of two things: 1) report a lot of packets as being congestion
experience marked, thus forcing the sender into a congestion
response; or 2) ensure that the sender disables the usage of ECN
by reporting failures to receive ECN by changing the counter
fields. This can also be accomplished by injecting false RTCP
packets to the media sender. Reporting a lot of ECN-CE-marked
traffic is likely the more efficient denial-of-service tool as
that may likely force the application to use the lowest possible
bitrates. The prevention against an external threat is to
integrity protect the RTCP feedback information and authenticate
Information leakage: The ECN feedback mechanism exposes the
receiver's perceived packet loss and the packets it considers to
be ECN-CE marked. This is mostly not considered sensitive
information. If it is considered sensitive, the RTCP feedback
should be encrypted.
Changing the ECN bits: An on-path attacker that sees the RTP packet
flow from sender to receiver and who has the capability to change
the packets can rewrite ECT into ECN-CE, thus leading to erroneous
congestion response in the sender or receiver. This denial of
service against the media quality in the RTP session is impossible
for an endpoint to protect itself against. Only network
infrastructure nodes can detect this illicit re-marking. It will
be mitigated by turning off ECN; however, if the attacker can
modify its response to drop packets, the same vulnerability exist.
Denial of Service affecting the session setup signalling: If an
attacker can modify the session signalling, it can prevent the
usage of ECN by removing the signalling attributes used to
indicate that the initiator is capable and willing to use ECN with
RTP/UDP. This attack can be prevented by authentication and
integrity protection of the signalling. We do note that any
attacker that can modify the signalling has more interesting
attacks they can perform than prevent the usage of ECN, like
inserting itself as a middleman in the media flows enabling wire-
tapping also for an off-path attacker.
Threats that exist from misbehaving senders or receivers:
Receivers cheating: A receiver may attempt to cheat and fail to
report reception of ECN-CE-marked packets. The benefit for a
receiver cheating in its reporting would be to get an unfair
bitrate share across the resource bottleneck. It is far from
certain that a receiver would be able to get a significant larger
share of the resources. That assumes a high enough level of
aggregation that there are flows to acquire shares from. The risk
of cheating is that failure to react to congestion results in
packet loss and increased path delay.
Receivers misbehaving: A receiver may prevent the usage of ECN in an
RTP session by reporting itself as non-ECN capable, forcing the
sender to turn off usage of ECN. In a point-to-point scenario,
there is little incentive to do this as it will only affect the
receiver, thus failing to utilise an optimisation. For multi-
party sessions, some motivation exists for why a receiver would
misbehave as it can prevent the other receivers from using ECN.
As an insider into the session, it is difficult to determine if a
receiver is misbehaving or simply incapable, making it basically
impossible in the incremental deployment phase of ECN for RTP
usage to determine this. If additional information about the
receivers and the network is known, it might be possible to deduce
that a receiver is misbehaving. If it can be determined that a
receiver is misbehaving, the only response is to exclude it from
the RTP session and ensure that it no longer has any valid
security context to affect the session.
Misbehaving senders: The enabling of ECN gives the media packets a
higher degree of probability to reach the receiver compared to
not-ECT-marked ones on an ECN-capable path. However, this is no
magic bullet, and failure to react to congestion will most likely
only slightly delay a network buffer over-run, in which its
session also will experience packet loss and increased delay.
There is some possibility that the media sender's traffic will
push other traffic out of the way without being affected too
negatively. However, we do note that a media sender still needs
to implement congestion control functions to prevent the media
from being badly affected by congestion events. Thus, the
misbehaving sender is getting an unfair share. This can only be
detected and potentially prevented by network monitoring and
administrative entities. See Section 7 of [RFC3168] for more
discussion of this issue.
We note that the endpoint security functions needed to prevent an
external attacker from interfering with the signalling are source
authentication and integrity protection. To prevent information
leakage from the feedback packets, encryption of the RTCP is also
needed. For RTP, multiple possible solutions exist depending on the
application context. Secure RTP (SRTP) [RFC3711] does satisfy the
requirement to protect this mechanism. Note, however, that when
using SRTP in group communication scenarios, different parties might
share the same security context; in this case, the authentication
mechanism only shows that one of those parties is involved, not
necessarily which one. IPsec [RFC4301] and DTLS [RFC6347] can also
provide the necessary security functions.
The signalling protocols used to initiate an RTP session also need to
be source authenticated and integrity protected to prevent an
external attacker from modifying any signalling. An appropriate
mechanism to protect the used signalling needs to be used. For SIP/
SDP, ideally Secure MIME (S/MIME) [RFC5751] would be used. However,
with the limited deployment, a minimal mitigation strategy is to
require use of SIPS (SIP over TLS) [RFC3261] [RFC5630] to at least
accomplish hop-by-hop protection.
We do note that certain mitigation methods will require network
12. Examples of SDP Signalling
This section contains a few different examples of the signalling
mechanism defined in this specification in an SDP context. If there
are discrepancies between these examples and the specification text,
the specification text is definitive.
12.1. Basic SDP Offer/Answer
EID 3586 (Verified) is as follows:Section: 12.1
a=ecn-capable-rtp: ice rtp ect=0 mode=setread
a=ecn-capable-rtp: ice ect=0 mode=readonly
a=ecn-capable-rtp: ice,rtp ect=0; mode=setread
a=ecn-capable-rtp: ice ect=0; mode=readonly
The examples does not match the ABNF rules for the a=ecn-capaable-rtp attribute. Two issues are present, first the init method list must be comma separated with no spaces, secondly any additional parameters shall be semi colon plus space separated. Therefore both a=ecn-capable-rtp lines have been corrected.
This is primarily an editorial issues but people needs to aware of the errors in the example.
This example is a basic offer/answer SDP exchange, assumed done by
SIP (not shown). The intention is to establish a basic audio session
point-to-point between two users.
o=jdoe 3502844782 3502844782 IN IP4 10.0.1.4
i=SDP offer for VoIP call with ICE and ECN for RTP
m=audio 45664 RTP/AVPF 97 98 99
c=IN IP4 192.0.2.3
a=fmtp:98 octet-align=1; mode-change-capability=2
a=ecn-capable-rtp: ice rtp ect=0 mode=setread
a=rtcp-fb:* nack ecn
a=rtcp-fb:* trr-int 1000
a=candidate:1 1 UDP 2130706431 10.0.1.4 8998 typ host
a=candidate:2 1 UDP 1694498815 192.0.2.3 45664 typ srflx raddr
10.0.1.4 rport 8998
This SDP offer presents a single media stream with 3 media payload
types. It proposes to use ECN with RTP, with the ICE-based
initialisation being preferred over the RTP/RTCP one. Leap of faith
is not suggested to be used. The offerer is capable of both setting
and reading the ECN bits. In addition, the use of both the RTCP ECN
feedback packet and the RTCP XR ECN Summary Report are supported.
ICE is also proposed with two candidates. It also supports reduced-
size RTCP and can use it.
o=jdoe 3502844783 3502844783 IN IP4 198.51.100.235
i=SDP offer for VoIP call with ICE and ECN for RTP
m=audio 53879 RTP/AVPF 97 99
c=IN IP4 198.51.100.235
a=ecn-capable-rtp: ice ect=0 mode=readonly
a=rtcp-fb:* nack ecn
a=rtcp-fb:* trr-int 1000
a=candidate:1 1 UDP 2130706431 198.51.100.235 53879 typ host
The answer confirms that only one media stream will be used. One RTP
payload type was removed. ECN capability was confirmed, and the
initialisation method will be ICE. However, the answerer is only
capable of reading the ECN bits, which means that ECN can only be
used for RTP flowing from the offerer to the answerer. ECT always
set to 0 will be used in both directions. Both the RTCP ECN feedback
packet and the RTCP XR ECN Summary Report will be used. Reduced-size
RTCP will not be used as the answerer has not indicated support for
it in the answer.
12.2. Declarative Multicast SDP
The session below describes an Any-Source Multicast using a session
with a single media stream.
o=jdoe 3502844782 3502844782 IN IP4 198.51.100.235
s=Multicast SDP session using ECN for RTP
i=Multicasted audio chat using ECN for RTP
m=audio 56144 RTP/AVPF 97
c=IN IP4 18.104.22.168/127
a=ecn-capable-rtp: rtp mode=readonly; ect=0
a=rtcp-fb:* nack ecn
a=rtcp-fb:* trr-int 1500
This is a declarative SDP example and indicates required
functionality in the consumer of the SDP. The initialisation method
required is the RTP/RTCP-based one, indicated by the "a=ecn-capable-
rtp: rtp ..." line. Receivers are required to be able to read ECN
marks ("mode=readonly"), and the ECT value is recommended to be set
to 0 always ("ect=0"). The ECN usage in this session requires both
ECN feedback and RTCP XR ECN Summary Reports, and their use is
indicated through the "a=rtcp-fb:" and "a=rtcp-xr:ecn-sum" lines.
The authors wish to thank the following individuals for their reviews
and comments: Thomas Belling, Bob Briscoe, Roni Even, Kevin P.
Flemming, Tomas Frankkila, Christian Groves, Christer Holmgren,
Cullen Jennings, Tom Van Caenegem, Simo Veikkolainen, Bill Ver Steeg,
Dan Wing, Qin Wu, and Lei Zhu.
14.1. Normative References
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.
[RFC3168] Ramakrishnan, K., Floyd, S., and D. Black, "The Addition
of Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) to IP",
RFC 3168, September 2001.
[RFC3550] Schulzrinne, H., Casner, S., Frederick, R., and V.
Jacobson, "RTP: A Transport Protocol for Real-Time
Applications", STD 64, RFC 3550, July 2003.
[RFC3611] Friedman, T., Caceres, R., and A. Clark, "RTP Control
Protocol Extended Reports (RTCP XR)", RFC 3611,
[RFC3629] Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
10646", STD 63, RFC 3629, November 2003.
[RFC4566] Handley, M., Jacobson, V., and C. Perkins, "SDP: Session
Description Protocol", RFC 4566, July 2006.
[RFC5234] Crocker, D. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
Specifications: ABNF", STD 68, RFC 5234, January 2008.
[RFC5245] Rosenberg, J., "Interactive Connectivity Establishment
(ICE): A Protocol for Network Address Translator (NAT)
Traversal for Offer/Answer Protocols", RFC 5245,
[RFC5348] Floyd, S., Handley, M., Padhye, J., and J. Widmer, "TCP
Friendly Rate Control (TFRC): Protocol Specification",
RFC 5348, September 2008.
[RFC5389] Rosenberg, J., Mahy, R., Matthews, P., and D. Wing,
"Session Traversal Utilities for NAT (STUN)", RFC 5389,
[RFC6336] Westerlund, M. and C. Perkins, "IANA Registry for
Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) Options",
RFC 6336, July 2011.
14.2. Informative References
[RFC1112] Deering, S., "Host extensions for IP multicasting", STD 5,
RFC 1112, August 1989.
[RFC2762] Rosenberg, J. and H. Schulzrinne, "Sampling of the Group
Membership in RTP", RFC 2762, February 2000.
[RFC2974] Handley, M., Perkins, C., and E. Whelan, "Session
Announcement Protocol", RFC 2974, October 2000.
[RFC3261] Rosenberg, J., Schulzrinne, H., Camarillo, G., Johnston,
A., Peterson, J., Sparks, R., Handley, M., and E.
Schooler, "SIP: Session Initiation Protocol", RFC 3261,
[RFC3264] Rosenberg, J. and H. Schulzrinne, "An Offer/Answer Model
with Session Description Protocol (SDP)", RFC 3264,
[RFC3540] Spring, N., Wetherall, D., and D. Ely, "Robust Explicit
Congestion Notification (ECN) Signaling with Nonces",
RFC 3540, June 2003.
[RFC3551] Schulzrinne, H. and S. Casner, "RTP Profile for Audio and
Video Conferences with Minimal Control", STD 65, RFC 3551,
[RFC3569] Bhattacharyya, S., "An Overview of Source-Specific
Multicast (SSM)", RFC 3569, July 2003.
[RFC3711] Baugher, M., McGrew, D., Naslund, M., Carrara, E., and K.
Norrman, "The Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP)",
RFC 3711, March 2004.
[RFC4301] Kent, S. and K. Seo, "Security Architecture for the
Internet Protocol", RFC 4301, December 2005.
[RFC4340] Kohler, E., Handley, M., and S. Floyd, "Datagram
Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP)", RFC 4340, March 2006.
[RFC4585] Ott, J., Wenger, S., Sato, N., Burmeister, C., and J. Rey,
"Extended RTP Profile for Real-time Transport Control
Protocol (RTCP)-Based Feedback (RTP/AVPF)", RFC 4585,
[RFC4588] Rey, J., Leon, D., Miyazaki, A., Varsa, V., and R.
Hakenberg, "RTP Retransmission Payload Format", RFC 4588,
[RFC4607] Holbrook, H. and B. Cain, "Source-Specific Multicast for
IP", RFC 4607, August 2006.
[RFC4960] Stewart, R., "Stream Control Transmission Protocol",
RFC 4960, September 2007.
[RFC5117] Westerlund, M. and S. Wenger, "RTP Topologies", RFC 5117,
[RFC5124] Ott, J. and E. Carrara, "Extended Secure RTP Profile for
Real-time Transport Control Protocol (RTCP)-Based Feedback
(RTP/SAVPF)", RFC 5124, February 2008.
[RFC5506] Johansson, I. and M. Westerlund, "Support for Reduced-Size
Real-Time Transport Control Protocol (RTCP): Opportunities
and Consequences", RFC 5506, April 2009.
[RFC5630] Audet, F., "The Use of the SIPS URI Scheme in the Session
Initiation Protocol (SIP)", RFC 5630, October 2009.
[RFC5751] Ramsdell, B. and S. Turner, "Secure/Multipurpose Internet
Mail Extensions (S/MIME) Version 3.2 Message
Specification", RFC 5751, January 2010.
[RFC5760] Ott, J., Chesterfield, J., and E. Schooler, "RTP Control
Protocol (RTCP) Extensions for Single-Source Multicast
Sessions with Unicast Feedback", RFC 5760, February 2010.
[RFC6189] Zimmermann, P., Johnston, A., and J. Callas, "ZRTP: Media
Path Key Agreement for Unicast Secure RTP", RFC 6189,
[RFC6347] Rescorla, E. and N. Modadugu, "Datagram Transport Layer
Security Version 1.2", RFC 6347, January 2012.
SE-164 80 Kista
Phone: +46 10 714 82 87
SE-971 28 Lulea
Phone: +46 73 0783289
University of Glasgow
School of Computing Science
Glasgow G12 8QQ
University of Oxford
Oxford Internet Institute
1 St Giles
Oxford OX1 3JS
1600 Clarendon Blvd