Modeling buffer starvations of video streaming in cellular networks with large-scale measurement of user behavior

Yuedong Xu, Zhujun Xiao, Hui Feng, Tao Yang, Bo Hu, Yipeng Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Unraveling quality of experience (QoE) of video streaming is very challenging in bandwidth shared wireless networks. It is unclear how QoE metrics such as starvation probability and buffering time interact with dynamics of streaming traffic load. In this paper, we collect view records from one of the largest streaming providers in China over two weeks and perform an in-depth measurement study on flow arrival and viewing time that shed light on the real traffic pattern. Our most important observation is that the viewing time of streaming users fits a hyper-exponential distribution quite well. This implies that all the views can be categorized into two classes, short and long views with separated time scales. We then map the measured traffic pattern to bandwidth shared cellular networks and propose an analytical framework to compute the closed-form starvation probability on the basis of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). Our framework can be naturally extended to investigate practical issues including the progressive downloading and the finite video duration. Extensive trace-driven simulations validate the accuracy of our models. Our study reveals that the starvation metrics of the short and long views possess different sensitivities to the scheduling priority at base station (BS). Hence, a better QoE tradeoff between the short and long views has a potential to be leveraged by offering them different scheduling weights. The flow differentiation involves tremendous technical and non-technical challenges because video content is owned by content providers but not the network operators and the viewing time of each session is unknown beforehand. To overcome these difficulties, we propose an online Bayesian approach to infer the viewing time of each incoming flow with the “least” information from content providers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7588094
Pages (from-to)2228-2245
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Measurement
  • quality of experience
  • buffer starvation
  • ordinary differential equations
  • discriminatory processor sharing
  • Bayesian inference


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