Network Working Group
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) M. Westerlund
Request for Comments: 8872 B. Burman
Category: Informational Ericsson
Expires: December 18, 2020
ISSN: 2070-1721 C. Perkins
University of Glasgow
Guidelines for using Using the Multiplexing Features of RTP to Support
Multiple Media Streams
The Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) is a flexible protocol that
can be used in a wide range of applications, networks, and system
topologies. That flexibility makes for wide applicability, applicability but can
complicate the application design process. One particular design
question that has received much attention is how to support multiple
media streams in RTP. This memo discusses the available options and
design trade-offs, and provides guidelines on how to use the
multiplexing features of RTP to support multiple media streams.
Status of This Memo
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Table of Contents
1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
2. Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.1. Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.2. Subjects Out Focus of Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 This Document
3. RTP Multiplexing Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
3.1. Reasons for Multiplexing and Grouping RTP Streams . . . . 5
3.2. RTP Multiplexing Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
3.2.1. RTP Session . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
3.2.2. Synchronisation Synchronization Source (SSRC) . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
3.2.3. Contributing Source (CSRC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
3.2.4. RTP Payload Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
3.3. Issues Related to RTP Topologies . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
3.4. Issues Related to RTP and RTCP Protocol . . . . . . . . . 13
3.4.1. The RTP Specification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3.4.2. Multiple SSRCs in a Session . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3.4.3. Binding Related Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3.4.4. Forward Error Correction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
4. Considerations for RTP Multiplexing . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
4.1. Interworking Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
4.1.1. Application Interworking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
4.1.2. RTP Translator Interworking . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
4.1.3. Gateway Interworking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
4.1.4. Multiple SSRC Legacy Considerations . . . . . . . . . 20 for Multiple SSRCs
4.2. Network Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
4.2.1. Quality of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
4.2.2. NAT and Firewall Traversal . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
4.2.3. Multicast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
4.3. Security and Key Management Key-Management Considerations . . . . . . . 24
4.3.1. Security Context Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
4.3.2. Key Management for Multi-party Sessions . . . . . . . 25
4.3.3. Complexity Implications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
5. RTP Multiplexing Design Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
5.1. Multiple Media Types in One Session . . . . . . . . . . . 26
5.2. Multiple SSRCs of the Same Media Type . . . . . . . . . . 28
5.3. Multiple Sessions for One Media Type . . . . . . . . . . 29
5.4. Single SSRC per Endpoint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
5.5. Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
6. Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
7. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
8. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
9. Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
10. Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
11. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
9.1. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
9.2. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Appendix A. Dismissing Payload Type Multiplexing . . . . . . . . 39
Appendix B. Signalling Signaling Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
B.1. Session Oriented Session-Oriented Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
B.2. SDP Prevents Multiple Media Types . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
B.3. Signalling Signaling RTP Stream Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
The Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) [RFC3550] is a commonly used
protocol for real-time media transport. It is a protocol that
provides great flexibility and can support a large set of different
applications. From the beginning, RTP was from the beginning designed for multiple
participants in a communication session. It supports many topology
paradigms and usages, as defined in [RFC7667]. RTP has several
multiplexing points designed for different purposes. These purposes; these points
enable support of multiple RTP streams and switching between
different encoding or packetization of techniques for the media. By
using multiple RTP sessions, sets of RTP streams can be structured
for efficient processing or identification. Thus, to meet an
application's needs, an RTP application designer needs to understand
how to best to use the RTP session, the RTP stream identifier (SSRC),
(synchronization source (SSRC)), and the RTP payload type to meet the application's
There have has been increased interest in more advanced more-advanced usage of RTP. For
example, multiple RTP streams can be used when a single endpoint has
multiple media sources (like multiple cameras or microphones)
which streams of media need to be sent simultaneously. Consequently,
questions are raised regarding the most appropriate RTP usage. The
limitations in some implementations, RTP/RTCP extensions, and signalling
signaling have also been exposed. This document aims to clarify the
usefulness of some functionalities in RTP which that, hopefully, will hopefully
result in more complete future implementations in the future. that are more complete.
The purpose of this document is to provide clear information about
the possibilities of RTP when it comes to multiplexing. The RTP
application designer needs to understand the implications arising
from a particular usage of the RTP multiplexing points. The This
will provide provides some guidelines and recommend recommends against some usages
as being unsuitable, in general or for particular purposes.
This document starts with some definitions and then goes into the
existing RTP functionalities around multiplexing. Both the desired
behavior and the implications of a particular behaviour behavior depend on
which topologies are used, which used; therefore, this topic requires some
is followed by a discussion of We then discuss some choices in regarding multiplexing behaviour
behavior and their impacts. the impacts of those choices. Some designs of RTP usage
are also discussed. Finally, some guidelines and examples are
The definitions in Section 3 of [RFC3550] are referenced normatively.
The taxonomy defined in [RFC7656] is referenced normatively.
The following terms and abbreviations are used in this document:
Multiparty: A communication situation including
Communication that includes multiple endpoints. In this document, it
"multi-party" will be used to refer to situations scenarios where more than
two endpoints communicate.
An operation of taking that takes multiple entities as input, aggregating
them onto some common resource while keeping the individual
entities addressable such that they can later be fully and
unambiguously separated (de-multiplexed) (demultiplexed) again.
An Endpoint endpoint or Middlebox middlebox receiving RTP streams and RTCP messages.
It uses at least one SSRC to send RTCP messages. An RTP Receiver receiver
may also be an RTP Sender. sender.
An Endpoint endpoint sending one or more RTP streams, streams but also sending RTCP
RTP Session Group:
One or more RTP sessions that are used together to perform some
function. Examples are include multiple RTP sessions used to carry
different layers of a layered encoding. In an RTP Session Group,
CNAMEs are assumed to be valid across all RTP
sessions, sessions and
designate synchronisation synchronization contexts that can cross RTP sessions; i.e.
i.e., SSRCs that map to a common CNAME can be assumed to have RTCP
Sender Report (SR) timing information derived from a common clock
such that they can be synchronised synchronized for playout.
The process of configuring endpoints to participate in one or more
| Note: The above definitions of RTP Receiver "RTP receiver" and RTP Sender "RTP sender"
| are consistent with the usage in [RFC3550].
2.2. Subjects Out Focus of Scope This Document
This document is focused on issues that affect RTP. Thus, issues
that involve signalling protocols, signaling protocols -- such as whether SIP [RFC3261],
Jingle [JINGLE] [JINGLE], or some other protocol is in use for session
configuration; the particular syntaxes used to define RTP session
properties; or the constraints imposed by particular choices in the
signaling protocols -- are mentioned only as examples in order to
describe the RTP issues more precisely.
This document assumes that the applications will use RTCP. While
there are applications that don't send RTCP, they do not conform to
specification, specification and thus can be regarded as reusing the RTP
packet format but not implementing the RTP protocol. RTP.
3. RTP Multiplexing Overview
3.1. Reasons for Multiplexing and Grouping RTP Streams
There are several reasons why an endpoint might choose to send
multiple media streams. In the below discussion, discussion below, please keep in mind
that the reasons for having multiple RTP streams vary and include include,
but are not limited to to, the following:
* There might be multiple media sources
* Multiple RTP streams might be needed to represent one media source
source, for instance:
- To carry different layers of an a scalable encoding of a media
- Alternative encodings during simulcast, for instance using different codecs
for the same audio stream
- Alternative formats during simulcast, for instance multiple resolutions of
the same video stream
* A retransmission stream might repeat some parts of the content of
another RTP stream
* A Forward Error Correction (FEC) stream might provide material
that can be used to repair another RTP stream stream.
For each of these reasons, it is necessary to decide if whether each
additional RTP stream is sent within the same RTP session as the
other RTP streams, streams or if it is necessary to use additional RTP sessions
to group the RTP streams. The choice For a combination of reasons, the suitable
choice for one
situation, situation might not be the choice suitable in choice for another situation or
combination of reasons.
situation. The clearest understanding choice is associated
with easiest when multiplexing multiple media
sources of the same media type. However, all reasons warrant
discussion and clarification on regarding how to deal with them. As the
discussion below will show, in reality we
cannot choose a single one of SSRC or RTP session multiplexing
solutions for solution does not suit all
purposes. To utilise utilize RTP well and as efficiently as possible, both
are needed. The real issue is finding the right
guidance on knowing when to create additional multiple RTP
sessions and versus when
additional to send multiple RTP streams in the same a single RTP session is the right choice.
3.2. RTP Multiplexing Points
This section describes the multiplexing points present in the RTP
can be used to distinguish RTP streams and groups of RTP streams.
Figure 1 outlines the process of demultiplexing incoming RTP streams streams,
starting already at the socket with one or more sockets representing the reception of one
or more transport flows, e.g. e.g., based on the UDP destination port. It
also demultiplexes RTP/RTCP from any other protocols, such as STUN Session
Traversal Utilities for NAT (STUN) [RFC5389] and DTLS-SRTP [RFC5764]
on the same transport as described in [RFC7983]. The Processing and
Buffering (PB) step of in Figure 1 terminates the RTP/RTCP protocol and prepares the
RTP payload for input to the decoder.
| | |
| | | packets
+-- v v v
| | Socket(s) | Transport Protocol Demultiplexing
| || ||
RTP | RTP/ || |+-----> DTLS (SRTP Keying, keying, SCTP, etc) etc.)
Session | RTCP || +------> STUN (multiplexed using same port)
| ++(split by SSRC)-++---> Identify SSRC collision
| || || || ||
| (associate with signalling signaling by MID/RID)
| vv vv vv vv
RTP | +--+ +--+ +--+ +--+ Jitter buffer,
Streams | |PB| |PB| |PB| |PB| process RTCP, etc.
| +--+ +--+ +--+ +--+
+-- | | | |
(select decoder based on PT) payload type (PT))
+-- | / | /
| +-----+ | /
| / | |/
Payload | v v v
Formats | +---+ +---+ +---+
| |Dec| |Dec| |Dec| Decoders
| +---+ +---+ +---+
Figure 1: RTP Demultiplexing Process
3.2.1. RTP Session
An RTP session is the highest semantic layer in the RTP protocol, and represents an
association between a group of communicating endpoints. RTP does not
contain a session identifier, yet different RTP sessions must be
possible to identify both across a set of different endpoints and
from the perspective of a single endpoint.
For RTP session separation across endpoints, the set of participants
that form an RTP session is defined as those that share a single
synchronisation source SSRC
space [RFC3550]. That is, if a group of participants are each aware
of the synchronisation source SSRC identifiers belonging to the other participants, then
those participants are in a single RTP session. A participant can
become aware of a
synchronisation source an SSRC identifier by receiving an RTP packet
containing it the identifier in the SSRC field or CSRC contributing source
(CSRC) list, by receiving an RTCP packet mentioning listing it in an SSRC field,
or through signalling signaling (e.g., the Session Description Protocol (SDP)
[RFC4566] "a=ssrc:" attribute [RFC5576]). Thus, the scope of an RTP
session is determined by the participants' network interconnection
topology, in combination with RTP and RTCP forwarding strategies
deployed by the endpoints and any middleboxes, and by the signalling. signaling.
For RTP session separation within a single endpoint endpoint, RTP relies on
the underlying transport layer, layer and on the signalling signaling to identify RTP
sessions in a manner that is meaningful to the application. A single
endpoint can have one or more transport flows for the same RTP
session, and a single RTP session can span multiple transport layer transport-layer
flows even if all endpoints use a single transport layer transport-layer flow per
endpoint for that RTP session. The signalling signaling layer might give RTP
sessions an explicit identifier, or the identification might be
implicit based on the addresses and ports used. Accordingly, a
single RTP session can have multiple associated identifiers, explicit
and implicit, belonging to different contexts. For example, when
running RTP on top of UDP/IP, an endpoint can identify and delimit an
RTP session from other RTP sessions by their UDP source and
destination IP addresses and their UDP port numbers. A single RTP
session can be using multiple IP/UDP flows for receiving and/or
sending RTP packets to other endpoints or middleboxes, even if the
endpoint does not have multiple IP addresses. Using multiple IP
addresses only makes it more likely to require that multiple IP/UDP flows. flows will
be required. Another example is SDP media descriptions (the "m="
line and the following subsequent associated lines) that signal the transport
flow and RTP session configuration for the endpoint's part of the RTP
session. The SDP grouping framework [RFC5888] allows labeling of the
media descriptions to be used so that RTP Session Groups can be
created. Through the use of Negotiating "Negotiating Media Multiplexing Using
the Session Description Protocol (SDP) [I-D.ietf-mmusic-sdp-bundle-negotiation], (SDP)" [RFC8843], multiple media
descriptions become part of a common RTP session where each media
description represents the RTP streams sent or received for a media
RTP protocol makes no normative statements about the relationship between
different RTP sessions, however the sessions; however, applications that use more than one
RTP session will have some higher layer understanding
of the relationship between need to understand how the different RTP sessions that
they create. create relate to one another.
3.2.2. Synchronisation Synchronization Source (SSRC)
A synchronisation source (SSRC)
An SSRC identifies a source of an RTP stream, or an RTP receiver when
sending RTCP. Every endpoint has at least one SSRC identifier, even
if it does not send RTP packets. RTP endpoints that are only RTP
receivers still send RTCP and use their SSRC identifiers in the RTCP
packets they send. An endpoint can have multiple SSRC identifiers if
it sends multiple RTP streams. Endpoints that are function as both RTP
sender and RTP receiver use the same SSRC(s) in both roles.
The SSRC is a 32-bit identifier. It is present in every RTP and RTCP
packet header, header and in the payload of some RTCP packet types. It can
also be present in SDP signalling. signaling. Unless pre-signalled, e.g. presignaled, e.g., using
the SDP "a=ssrc:" attribute [RFC5576], the SSRC is chosen at random.
It is not dependent on the network address of the endpoint, endpoint and is
intended to be unique within an RTP session. SSRC collisions can
occur and are handled as specified in [RFC3550] and [RFC5576],
resulting in the SSRC of the colliding RTP streams or receivers
changing. An endpoint that changes its network transport address
during a session has to choose a new SSRC identifier to avoid being
interpreted as a looped source, unless a mechanism providing a
virtual transport (such as ICE Interactive Connectivity Establishment
(ICE) [RFC8445]) abstracts the changes.
SSRC identifiers that belong to the same synchronisation synchronization context
(i.e., that represent RTP streams that can be synchronised synchronized using
information in RTCP SR packets) use identical CNAME chunks in
corresponding RTCP SDES source description (SDES) packets. SDP signalling signaling
can also be used to provide explicit SSRC grouping [RFC5576].
In some cases, the same SSRC identifier value is used to relate
streams in two different RTP sessions, such as in RTP retransmission
[RFC4588]. This is to be avoided avoided, since there is no guarantee that
SSRC values are unique across RTP sessions. For In the case of RTP
retransmission [RFC4588] case [RFC4588], it is recommended to use explicit binding
of the source RTP stream and the redundancy stream, e.g. e.g., using the
RepairedRtpStreamId RTCP SDES item [I-D.ietf-avtext-rid]. [RFC8852]. The
RepairedRtpStreamId is a rather recent mechanism, so one cannot
expect older applications to follow this recommendation.
Note that the RTP sequence number and RTP timestamp are scoped by the
SSRC and are thus specific per RTP stream.
Different types of entities use an SSRC to identify themselves, as
* A real media source: Uses source uses the SSRC to identify a "physical" media
* A conceptual media source: Uses source uses the SSRC to identify the result of
applying some filtering function in a network node, node -- for example example,
a filtering function in an RTP mixer that provides the most active
speaker based on some criteria, or a mix representing a set of
* An RTP receiver: Uses receiver uses the SSRC to identify itself as the source of
its RTCP reports.
An endpoint that generates more than one media type, e.g. e.g., a
conference participant sending both audio and video, need not (and,
indeed, should not) use the same SSRC value across RTP sessions.
Using RTCP compound packets containing the CNAME SDES item is the
designated method to bind for binding an SSRC to a CNAME, effectively cross-
correlating SSRCs within and between RTP Sessions sessions as coming from the
same endpoint. The main property attributed to SSRCs associated with
the same CNAME is that they are from a particular synchronisation synchronization
context and can be synchronised synchronized at playback.
An RTP receiver receiving a previously unseen SSRC value will
interpret it as a new source. It might in fact be a previously
existing source that had to change its SSRC number due to an SSRC
conflict. Use of Using the MID media identification (MID) extension
helps to identify which media source the new SSRC represents represents, and use of
using the RID restriction identifier (RID) extension
[I-D.ietf-mmusic-rid] [RFC8851] helps to
identify what encoding or redundancy stream it represents, even
though the SSRC changed. However, the originator of the previous
SSRC ought to have ended the conflicting source by sending an RTCP
BYE for it prior to starting to send with the new SSRC, making the
new SSRC a new source.
3.2.3. Contributing Source (CSRC)
The Contributing Source (CSRC) CSRC is not a separate identifier. Rather Rather, an SSRC identifier is
listed as a CSRC in the RTP header of a packet generated by an RTP
mixer or video MCU/switch, Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) / switch, if the
corresponding SSRC was in the header of one of the packets that
contributed to the output.
It is not possible, in general, to extract media represented by an
individual CSRC CSRC, since it is typically the result of a media merge
(e.g., mix) operation on the individual media streams corresponding
to the CSRC identifiers. The exception is the case when where only a
single CSRC is indicated indicated, as this represent represents the forwarding of an RTP stream,
stream that might have been modified. The RTP header extension ("A
Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) Header Extension for
Mixer-to-Client Audio Level Indication [RFC6465] Indication" [RFC6465]) expands on the
receiver's information about a packet with a CSRC list. Due to these
restrictions, a CSRC will not be considered a fully qualified
multiplexing point and will be disregarded in the rest of this
3.2.4. RTP Payload Type
Each RTP stream utilises utilizes one or more RTP payload formats. An RTP
payload format describes how the output of a particular media codec
is framed and encoded into RTP packets. The payload format is
identified by the payload type (PT) field in the RTP packet header.
The combination of SSRC and PT therefore identifies a specific RTP
stream in a specific encoding format. The format definition can be
taken from [RFC3551] for statically allocated payload types, types but ought
to be explicitly defined in signalling, signaling, such as SDP, both for both static
and dynamic payload types. The term "format" here includes those
aspects described by out-of-band signalling signaling means; in SDP, the term
"format" includes media type, RTP timestamp sampling rate, codec,
codec configuration, payload format configurations, and various
robustness mechanisms such as redundant encodings [RFC2198].
The RTP payload type is scoped by the sending endpoint within an RTP
session. PT has the same meaning across all RTP streams in an RTP
session. All SSRCs sent from a single endpoint share the same
payload type definitions. The RTP payload type is designed such that
only a single payload type is valid at any time instant in time in the RTP
stream's timestamp time line, timeline, effectively time-multiplexing different
payload types if any change occurs. The payload type can change on a
per-packet basis for an SSRC, SSRC -- for example example, a speech codec making
use of generic comfort noise [RFC3389]. If there is a true need to
send multiple payload types for the same SSRC that are valid for the
same instant, then redundant encodings [RFC2198] can be used.
Several additional constraints constraints, other than the ones those mentioned above above,
need to be met to enable this use, usage, one of which is that the
combined payload sizes of the different payload types ought not
exceed the transport MTU.
Other aspects of using the RTP payload format use are described in How "How
to Write an RTP Payload Format Format" [RFC8088].
The payload type is not a multiplexing point at the RTP layer (see
Appendix A for a detailed discussion of why using the payload type as
an RTP multiplexing point does not work). The RTP payload type is,
however, used to determine how to consume and decode an RTP stream.
The RTP payload type number is sometimes used to associate an RTP
stream with the signalling, signaling, which in general requires that unique RTP
payload type numbers are be used in each context. Use of Using MID, e.g. e.g., when
bundling "m=" sections [I-D.ietf-mmusic-sdp-bundle-negotiation], [RFC8843], can replace the payload type as signalling association a
signaling association, and unique RTP payload types are then no
longer required for that purpose.
3.3. Issues Related to RTP Topologies
The impact of how RTP multiplexing is performed will in general vary
with how the RTP session participants are interconnected, as
by RTP Topology in "RTP Topologies" [RFC7667].
Even the most basic use case, denoted Topo-Point-to-Point case -- "Topo-Point-to-Point" as described in
[RFC7667] -- raises a number of considerations that considerations, which are discussed
in detail in the following sections. They range over such aspects as:
* Does my communication peer support RTP as defined with multiple
SSRCs per RTP session?
* Do I need network differentiation in the form of QoS
* Can the application more easily process and handle the media
streams if they are in different RTP sessions?
* Do I need to use additional RTP streams for RTP retransmission or
For some point to multi-point point-to-multipoint topologies (e.g. (e.g., Topo-ASM and Topo-SSM
[RFC7667]), multicast is used to interconnect the session
participants. Special considerations (documented in Section 4.2.3)
are then needed needed, as multicast is a one-to-many distribution system.
Sometimes, an RTP communication session can end up in a situation when
where the communicating peers are not compatible compatible, for various
* No common media codec for a media type type, thus requiring
* Different support for multiple RTP streams and RTP sessions.
* Usage of different media transport protocols, i.e., RTP or other.
o protocols (i.e., one peer uses
RTP, but the other peer uses a different transport protocol).
* Usage of different transport protocols, e.g., UDP, DCCP, the Datagram
Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP), or TCP.
* Different security solutions, e.g., solutions (e.g., IPsec, TLS, DTLS, or SRTP the
Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP)) with different keying
In many situations this is
These compatibility issues can often be resolved by the inclusion of
a translator between the two peers, peers -- the Topo-PtP-Translator, as
described by Topo-PtP-Translator in [RFC7667]. The translator's main purpose is to make the
peers look compatible to each other. There can also be other reasons other
than compatibility to insert for inserting a translator in the form of a
gateway, gateway -- for example example, a need to monitor the RTP
streams. Beware that changing the stream transport characteristics
in the translator can require a thorough understanding of aspects
ranging from congestion control and
media adaptation media-level adaptations to
Within the uses enabled by the RTP standard, the point to point point-to-point
topology can contain one or more RTP sessions with one or more media
sources per session, each having one or more RTP streams per media
3.4. Issues Related to RTP and RTCP Protocol
Using multiple RTP streams is a well-supported feature of RTP.
However, for most implementers or people writing RTP/RTCP
applications or extensions attempting to apply multiple streams, it
can be unclear when it is most appropriate to add an additional RTP
stream in an existing RTP session and when it is better to use
multiple RTP sessions. This section discusses the various
considerations needed. that need to be taken into account.
3.4.1. The RTP Specification
RFC 3550 contains some recommendations and a bullet numbered list with 5
(Section 5.2 of [RFC3550]) of five arguments for regarding different
aspects of RTP multiplexing. Please review Section 5.2 of [RFC3550].
Five important aspects are quoted below.
1. | If, say, two audio streams shared the same RTP session and the
| same SSRC value, and one were to change encodings and thus
| acquire a different RTP payload type, there would be no
| general way of identifying which stream had changed encodings.
This argument is to advocates the use of different SSRC SSRCs for each
individual RTP stream, which as this is fundamental to RTP operation.
2. | An SSRC is defined to identify a single timing and sequence
| number space. Interleaving multiple payload types would
| require different timing spaces if the media clock rates
| differ and would require different sequence number spaces to
| tell which payload type suffered packet loss.
This argument is advocating advocates against demultiplexing RTP streams within
a session based only on their RTP payload type numbers, which numbers; it still stands
stands, as can been be seen by the extensive list of issues found discussed
in Appendix A.
3. | The RTCP sender and receiver reports (see Section 6.4) can
| only describe one timing and sequence number space per SSRC
| and do not carry a payload type field.
This argument is yet another argument against payload type
4. | An RTP mixer would not be able to combine interleaved streams
| of incompatible media into one stream.
This argument is advocates against multiplexing RTP packets that
require different handling into the same session. In most cases cases,
the RTP mixer must embed application logic to handle streams; the
separation of streams according to stream type is just another
piece of application logic, which might or might not be
appropriate for a particular application. One type of
application that can mix different media sources blindly is the
audio-only telephone bridge, although the ability to do that
comes from the well-defined scenario that is aided by the use of
a single media type, even though individual streams may use
incompatible codec types; most other types of applications need
application-specific logic to perform the mix correctly.
5. | Carrying multiple media in one RTP session precludes: the use
| of different network paths or network resource allocations if
| appropriate; reception of a subset of the media if desired,
| for example just audio if video would exceed the available
| bandwidth; and receiver implementations that use separate
| processes for the different media, whereas using separate RTP
| sessions permits either single- or multiple-process
This argument discusses network aspects that are described in
Section 4.2. It also goes into aspects of implementation, like Split
split component terminals (see Section 3.10 of [RFC7667]) --
endpoints where different processes or inter-connected interconnected devices
handle different aspects of the whole multi-media multimedia session.
A summary of
To summarize, RFC 3550's view on multiplexing is to use unique SSRCs
for anything that is its own media/packet stream, stream and to use different
RTP sessions for media streams that don't share a media type. This
document supports the first point; it is very valid. The latter
needs further discussion, as imposing a single solution on all usages
of RTP is inappropriate. "Multiple Media "Sending Multiple Types of Media in an a
Session specification" [I-D.ietf-avtcore-multi-media-rtp-session] Session" [RFC8860] updates RFC 3550 to allow multiple
media types in a an RTP session. It
also session and provides a detailed analysis of the
potential benefits and issues in related to having multiple media types
in the same RTP session. Thus,
that document [RFC8860] provides a wider scope for
an RTP session and considers multiple media types in one RTP session
as a possible choice for the RTP application designer.
3.4.2. Multiple SSRCs in a Session
Using multiple SSRCs at one endpoint in an RTP session requires
some unclear aspects of the RTP specification. specification be resolved. These
items could potentially lead to some interoperability issues as well
as some potential significant inefficiencies, as further discussed in "RTP
Considerations for Endpoints Sending
"Sending Multiple Media Streams" RTP Streams in a Single RTP Session" [RFC8108]. An
RTP application designer should consider these issues and the
application's possible application impact from caused by a lack of appropriate RTP
handling or optimization in the peer endpoints.
Using multiple RTP sessions can potentially mitigate application
issues caused by multiple SSRCs in an RTP session.
3.4.3. Binding Related Sources
A common problem in a number of various RTP extensions has been how
to bind related RTP streams together. This issue is common to both
using additional SSRCs and multiple RTP sessions.
The solutions can be divided into a few groups:
* RTP/RTCP based
* Signaling based, e.g. e.g., SDP
* Grouping related RTP sessions
* Grouping SSRCs within an RTP session
Most solutions are explicit, but some implicit methods have also been
applied to the problem.
The SDP-based signalling signaling solutions are:
SDP Media Description Grouping: media description grouping:
The SDP Grouping Framework grouping framework [RFC5888] uses various semantics to
group any number of media descriptions.
This SDP media description
grouping has primarily been grouping used to group RTP sessions, but in
combination with [I-D.ietf-mmusic-sdp-bundle-negotiation] [RFC8843], it can also group multiple media
descriptions within a single RTP session.
SDP Media Multiplexing: Negotiating media multiplexing:
"Negotiating Media Multiplexing Using the Session Description
[I-D.ietf-mmusic-sdp-bundle-negotiation] (SDP)" [RFC8843] uses information taken from both SDP and
RTCP information to associate RTP streams to SDP media descriptions. This
allows both SDP and RTCP to group RTP streams belonging to an SDP
media description, description and to group multiple SDP media descriptions into a
single RTP session.
SDP SSRC grouping: Source-Specific
"Source-Specific Media Attributes in SDP the Session Description
Protocol (SDP)" [RFC5576] includes a solution for grouping SSRCs
in the same way as that the
Grouping grouping framework groups Media Descriptions. media
The above grouping constructs support many use cases. Those
solutions have shortcomings in cases where the session's dynamic
properties are such that it is difficult or a drain on resources to
keep the list of related SSRCs up to date.
One RTP/RTCP-based grouping solution is to use the RTCP SDES CNAME to
bind related RTP streams to an endpoint or to a synchronization context.
For applications with a single RTP stream per type (media,
source source, or
redundancy stream), the CNAME is sufficient for that purpose
independent of whether one or more RTP sessions are used. However,
some applications choose not to use a CNAME because of perceived
complexity or a desire not to implement RTCP and instead use the same
SSRC value to bind related RTP streams across multiple RTP sessions.
RTP Retransmission [RFC4588] in retransmission [RFC4588], when configured to use multiple RTP session mode
sessions, and Generic generic FEC [RFC5109] both use the CNAME method to
relate the RTP streams, which may work but might have some downsides
in RTP sessions with many participating SSRCs. It is not recommended
to use identical SSRC values across RTP sessions to relate RTP
streams; When when an SSRC collision occurs, this will force a change of
that SSRC in all RTP sessions and will thus resynchronize all of them the
streams instead of only the single media stream having experiencing the
Another method to for implicitly bind binding SSRCs is used by RTP Retransmission
retransmission [RFC4588] when using the same RTP session as the
source RTP stream for retransmissions. The A receiver that is missing a
packet issues an RTP retransmission request, request and then awaits a new
SSRC carrying the RTP retransmission payload and payload, where that SSRC is from
the same CNAME. This limits a requester to having only one
outstanding retransmission request on any new source SSRCs per endpoint.
"RTP Payload Format Restrictions [I-D.ietf-mmusic-rid] Restrictions" [RFC8851] provides an
based mechanism to unambiguously identify the RTP streams within an
RTP session and restrict the streams' payload format parameters in a
codec-agnostic way beyond what is provided with the regular payload
types. The mapping is done by specifying an "a=rid" value in the SDP
offer/answer signalling signaling and having the corresponding RtpStreamId value
as an SDES item and an RTP header extension. extension [RFC8852]. The RID
solution also includes a solution for binding redundancy RTP streams
to their original source RTP streams, given that those streams use
RID identifiers. The redundancy stream uses the RepairedRtpStreamId
SDES item and RTP header extension to declare the RtpStreamId value
of the source stream to create the binding.
Experience has found shown that an explicit binding between the RTP
streams, agnostic of SSRC values, behaves well. That way, solutions
using multiple RTP streams in a single RTP session and in multiple
RTP sessions will use the same type of binding.
3.4.4. Forward Error Correction
There exist a number of Forward Error Correction (FEC) based FEC-based schemes
for how designed to mitigate packet
loss in the original streams. Most of the FEC schemes protect a
single source flow. The This protection is achieved by transmitting a
certain amount of redundant information that is encoded such that it
can repair one or more instances of packet losses loss over the set of
packets the redundant information protects. This sequence of
redundant information needs to be transmitted as its own media
stream, or stream
or, in some cases, instead of the original media stream. Thus, many
of these schemes create a need for binding related flows flows, as
discussed above. Looking at the history of these schemes, there are
schemes using multiple SSRCs and schemes using multiple RTP sessions,
and some schemes that support both modes of operation.
Using multiple RTP sessions supports the case where some set of
receivers might not be able to utilise utilize the FEC information. By
placing it in a separate RTP session and if separating RTP sessions
at the transport level, FEC can easily be ignored already on at the transport
level, without considering any RTP layer RTP-layer information.
In usages involving multicast, having the sending FEC information on its own in a separate
multicast group allows for similar flexibility. This is especially
useful when receivers see heterogeneous packet loss rates. A
receiver can decide, based on measurement of experienced packet loss
rates, whether to join a multicast group with the suitable FEC data
4. Considerations for RTP Multiplexing
4.1. Interworking Considerations
There are several different kinds of interworking, and this section
discusses two; two: interworking directly between different applications, applications
and the interworking of applications through an RTP Translator. translator. The
discussion includes the implications of potentially different RTP
multiplexing point choices and limitations that have to be considered
when working with some legacy applications.
4.1.1. Application Interworking
It is not uncommon that applications or services of similar but not
identical usage, especially the ones those intended for interactive
communication, encounter a situation where one want wants to interconnect
two or more of these applications.
In these cases, one ends up in a situation where one might use a
gateway to interconnect applications. This gateway must then either
change the multiplexing structure or adhere to the respective
limitations in each application.
There are two fundamental approaches to building a gateway: using RTP
translator interworking (RTP bridging), where the gateway acts as an
RTP Translator translator with the two interconnected applications being members
of the same RTP session; or using Gateway Interworking gateway interworking
(Section 4.1.3) with RTP termination, where there are independent RTP
sessions between each interconnected application and the gateway.
For interworking to be feasible, any security solution in use needs
to be compatible and capable of exchanging keys with either the peer
or the gateway under the used trust model. model being used. Secondly, the
applications need to use media streams in a way that makes sense in
4.1.2. RTP Translator Interworking
From an RTP perspective, the RTP Translator translator approach could work if
all the applications are using the same codecs with the same payload
types, have made the same multiplexing choices, and have the same
capabilities in regarding the number of simultaneous RTP streams
combined with the same set of RTP/RTCP extensions being supported.
Unfortunately, this might not always be true.
When a gateway is implemented via an RTP Translator, translator, an important
consideration is if the two applications being interconnected need to
use the same approach to multiplexing. If one side is using RTP
session multiplexing and the other is using SSRC multiplexing with
BUNDLE [I-D.ietf-mmusic-sdp-bundle-negotiation], [RFC8843], it may be possible for the RTP translator to map
the RTP streams between both sides using some method, e.g. e.g., based on
the number and order of SDP "m=" lines from each side. There are
also challenges with related to SSRC collision
handling handling, since, unless
SSRC translation is applied on the RTP translator, there may be a
collision on the SSRC multiplexing side that the RTP session
multiplexing side will not be aware of. Furthermore, if one of the
applications is capable of working in several modes (such as being
able to use additional RTP streams in one RTP session or multiple RTP
sessions at will), will) and the other one is not, successful
interconnection depends on locking the more flexible application into
the operating mode where interconnection can be successful, even if
none of the participants are using the less flexible application when
the RTP sessions are being created.
4.1.3. Gateway Interworking
When one terminates RTP sessions at the gateway, there are certain
tasks that the gateway has to carry out:
* Generating appropriate RTCP reports for all RTP streams (possibly
based on incoming RTCP reports), reports) originating from SSRCs controlled
by the gateway.
* Handling SSRC collision resolution in each application's RTP
* Signaling, choosing, and policing appropriate bit-rates bitrates for each
For applications that use any security mechanism, e.g., in the form
of SRTP, the gateway needs to be able to decrypt and verify source
integrity of the incoming packets, packets and then re-encrypt, integrity
protect, and sign the packets as the peer in the other application's
security context. This is necessary even if all that's needed is a
simple remapping of SSRC numbers. If this is done, the gateway also
needs to be a member of the security contexts of both sides, sides and thus
a trusted entity.
The gateway might also need to apply transcoding (for incompatible
codec types), media-level adaptations that cannot be solved through
media negotiation (such as rescaling for incompatible video size
requirements), suppression of content that is known not to be handled
in the destination application, or the addition or removal of
redundancy coding or scalability layers to fit the needs of the
From the above, we can see that the gateway needs to have an intimate
knowledge of the application requirements; a gateway is by its nature
application specific, specific and not a commodity product.
These gateways might therefore potentially block application
evolution by blocking RTP and RTCP extensions that the applications
have been extended with but that are unknown to the gateway.
If one uses a security mechanism, mechanism like SRTP, the gateway and the
necessary trust in it by the peers is pose an additional risk to the
communication security. The gateway also incur incurs additional
complexities in the form of the decrypt-encrypt cycles needed for
each forwarded packet. SRTP, due to its keying structure, also
requires that each RTP session needs need different master keys, as the use
of the same key in two RTP sessions can can, for some ciphers ciphers, result in
a reuse of a one-time pad that completely breaks the confidentiality
of the packets.
4.1.4. Multiple SSRC Legacy Considerations for Multiple SSRCs
Historically, the most common RTP use cases have been point-to-point
Voice over IP (VoIP) or streaming applications, commonly with no more
than one media source per endpoint and media type (typically audio or
video). Even in conferencing applications, especially voice-only,
the conference focus or bridge has provided a single stream provides to each participant a single
stream containing a mix of the other participants. It is also common
to have individual RTP sessions between each endpoint and the RTP
mixer, meaning that the mixer functions as an RTP-terminating
Applications and systems that aren't updated to handle multiple
streams following these recommendations can have issues with
participating in RTP sessions containing multiple SSRCs within a
single session, such as:
1. Need The need to handle more than one stream simultaneously rather
than replacing an already existing already-existing stream with a new one.
2. Be Being capable of decoding multiple streams simultaneously.
3. Be Being capable of rendering multiple streams simultaneously.
This indicates that gateways attempting to interconnect to this class
of devices have to make sure that only one RTP stream of each media
type gets delivered to the endpoint if it's expecting only one, one and
that the multiplexing format is what the device expects. It is
highly unlikely that RTP translator-based interworking can be made to
function successfully in such a context.
4.2. Network Considerations
The RTP implementer needs to consider that the RTP multiplexing
choice also impacts network level network-level mechanisms.
4.2.1. Quality of Service
Quality of Service
QoS mechanisms are either flow based or packet marking based. RSVP
[RFC2205] is an example of a flow based flow-based mechanism, while
[RFC2474] is an example of a packet marking based one. packet-marking-based mechanism.
For a flow based flow-based scheme, additional SSRC SSRCs will receive the same QoS
as all other RTP streams being part of the same 5-tuple (protocol,
source address, destination address, source port, destination port),
which is the most common selector for flow based flow-based QoS.
For a packet marking based packet-marking-based scheme, the method of multiplexing will
not affect the possibility to use of using QoS. Different Differentiated
Services Code Points (DSCP) (DSCPs) can be assigned to different packets
within a transport flow (5-Tuple) (5-tuple) as well as within an RTP stream,
assuming the usage of UDP or other transport protocol protocols that do not
have issues with packet reordering within the transport flow
(5-tuple). To avoid packet reording packet-reordering issues, packets belonging to
the same RTP flow should limits its limit their use of DSCP DSCPs to those packets whose
Hop Per-Hop Behavior (PHB) that do not enable reordering. If
the transport protocol being used assumes in order in-order delivery of packet, such as
packets (e.g., TCP and
SCTP, the Stream Control Transmission Protocol
(SCTP)), then a single DSCP should be used. For more discussion of on
this topic, see [RFC7657].
The method for assigning marking to packets can impact what number of
RTP sessions to choose. If this marking is done using a network
ingress function, it can have issues discriminating the different RTP
streams. The network API on the endpoint also needs to be capable of
setting the marking on a per-packet basis to reach the full
4.2.2. NAT and Firewall Traversal
In today's networks networks, there exist a large number of middleboxes. The
Those that normally have the most impact on RTP are Network Address
Translators (NAT) (NATs) and Firewalls (FW).
Below, we analyse analyze and comment on the impact of requiring more
underlying transport flows in the presence of NATs and Firewalls:
Endpoint Port Consumption:
A given IP address only has 65536 available local ports per
transport protocol for all consumers of ports that exist on the
machine. This is normally never an issue for an end-user machine.
It can become an issue for servers that handle a large number of
simultaneous streams. However, if the application uses ICE to
authenticate STUN requests, a server can serve multiple endpoints
from the same local port, port and use the whole 5-tuple (source and
destination address, source and destination port, protocol) as the
identifier of flows after having securely bound them to the remote
endpoint address using the STUN request. In theory, the minimum
number of media server ports needed are is the maximum number of
simultaneous RTP sessions a single endpoint can use. In practice, implementation
implementations will probably benefit from using more server ports
to simplify implementation or avoid performance bottlenecks.
If an endpoint sits behind a NAT, each flow it generates to an
external address will result in a state that has to be kept in the
NAT. That state is a limited resource. In home or Small
Office/Home Office (SOHO) NATs, memory or processing are usually the most limited resources. resource is
memory or processing. For large scale large-scale NATs serving many internal
endpoints, available external ports are likely the scarce
resource. Port limitations is are primarily a problem for larger
centralized NATs where endpoint independent endpoint-independent mapping requires each
flow to use one port for the external IP address. This affects
the maximum number of internal users per external IP address.
However, as a comparison, a real-time video conference session
with audio and video likely uses less than 10 UDP flows, compared
to certain web applications that can use 100+ TCP flows to various
servers from a single browser instance.
Extra Delay: Delay Added by NAT Traversal:
Performing the NAT/FW traversal takes a certain amount of time for
each flow. It also takes time in a
phase of communication between accepting to communicate and the
media path being established, which is fairly critical. The best
case best-case scenario for additional NAT/FW traversal
time after finding the first valid candidate pair following the
specified ICE procedures is 1.5*RTT + Ta*(Additional_Flows-1),
where Ta is the pacing timer. That assumes a message in one
direction, immediately followed by a check back. The reason it return message in the
opposite direction to confirm reachability. It isn't more,
because ICE first finds one candidate pair that works works, prior to
attempting to establish multiple flows. Thus, there is no extra
time until one has found a working candidate pair. Based on that
working pair, the extra time is needed to in parallel establish
the, the additional
flows (two or three, in most cases 2-3, additional flows. cases) in parallel. However, packet
loss causes extra delays, delays of at least 500 ms, which is the ms (the minimal
retransmission timer for ICE. ICE).
NAT Traversal Failure Rate:
Due to the need to establish more than a single flow through the
NAT, there is some risk that establishing the first flow succeeds will
succeed but that one or more of the additional flows will fail. The
risk that of this happens happening is hard to quantify, quantify but
ought to should be fairly low
low, as one flow from the same interfaces has just been
successfully established. Thus Thus, only such rare events such as NAT
resource overload, or selecting particular port numbers that are filtered
filtered, etc., ought to be reasons for failure.
Deep Packet Inspection and Multiple Streams: Firewalls
FWs differ in how deeply they inspect packets. Due to all previous issues with
experience using FWs and Session Boarder Border Gateways (SBG) (SBGs) with RTP transport
media e.g. in Voice over IP (VoIP) systems,
shows that there exists is a significant risk that deeply inspecting firewalls the FWs and SBGs will have
similar legacy issues with multiple SSRCs as some
reject RTP stack
implementations. sessions that use multiple SSRCs.
Using additional RTP streams in the same RTP session and transport
flow does not introduce any additional NAT traversal complexities per
RTP stream. This can be compared with normally (normally) one or two
additional transport flows per RTP session when using multiple RTP
sessions. Additional lower layer lower-layer transport flows will be needed,
unless an explicit de-multiplexing demultiplexing layer is added between RTP and the
transport protocol. At the time of writing this writing, no such mechanism
Multicast groups provides provide a powerful tool for a number of real-time
applications, especially the ones those that desire broadcast-like
with one endpoint transmitting to a large number of receivers, like
in IPTV. There is also the An RTP/RTCP extension to better support Source Specific Source-Specific
Multicast (SSM) [RFC5760]. Many-to-
many [RFC5760] is also available. Many-to-many
communication, which RTP [RFC3550] was originally built to support,
has several limitations in common with multicast.
One limitation is that, for any group, sender side adaptation sender-side adaptations with
the intent to suit all receivers would have to adapt to the most
limited receiver experiencing the worst conditions among the group
participants, which imposes degradation for all participants. For
broadcast-type applications with a large number of receivers, this is
not acceptable. Instead, various receiver-based solutions are
employed to ensure that the receivers achieve the best possible
performance. By using scalable encoding and placing each scalability
layer in a different multicast group, the receiver can control the
amount of traffic it receives. To have each scalability layer on in a
different multicast group, one RTP session per multicast group is
In addition, the transport flow considerations in multicast are a bit
different from unicast; NATs with port translation are not useful in
the multicast environment, meaning that the entire port range of each
multicast address is available for distinguishing between RTP
Thus, when using broadcast applications it appears easiest and most
straightforward to use multiple RTP sessions for sending different
media flows used for adapting to network conditions. It is also
common that streams improving transport robustness are sent in their
own multicast group to allow for interworking with legacy
applications or to support different levels of protection.
Many-to-many applications have different needs needs, and the most
appropriate multiplexing choice will depend on how the actual
application is realized. Multicast applications that are capable of
using sender side sender-side congestion control can avoid the use of multiple
multicast sessions and RTP sessions that result from the use of receiver
receiver-side congestion control.
The properties of a broadcast application using RTP multicast: multicast are as
1. Uses The application uses a group of RTP sessions, sessions -- not just one.
Each endpoint will need to be a member of a number of RTP
sessions in order to perform well.
2. Within each RTP session, the number of RTP receivers is likely to
be much larger than the number of RTP senders.
3. The applications need signalling application needs signaling functions to identify the
relationships between RTP sessions.
4. The applications need signalling application needs signaling or RTP/RTCP functions to identify
the relationships between SSRCs in different RTP sessions when needs beyond
more complex relations than those that can be expressed by the
Both broadcast and many-to-many multicast applications share a
signaling requirement; all of the participants need the same RTP and
payload type configuration. Otherwise, A could could, for example example, be
using payload type 97 as the video codec H.264 while B thinks it is
MPEG-2. SDP offer/answer [RFC3264] is not appropriate for ensuring
this property in a broadcast/multicast context. The signalling signaling
aspects of broadcast/multicast are not explored further in this memo.
Security solutions for this type of group communication are also
challenging. First, the key-management mechanism and the security
protocol need to support group communication. Second, source
authentication requires special solutions. For more discussion on
this topic, please review Options "Options for Securing RTP Sessions Sessions"
4.3. Security and Key Management Key-Management Considerations
When dealing with point-to-point, 2-member point-to-point two-member RTP sessions only, there
are few security issues that are relevant to the choice of having one
RTP session or multiple RTP sessions. However, there are a few
aspects of multiparty multi-party sessions that might warrant consideration.
For general information of regarding possible methods of securing RTP,
please review RTP Security Options [RFC7201].
4.3.1. Security Context Scope
When using SRTP [RFC3711], the security context scope is important
and can be a necessary differentiation in some applications. As
SRTP's crypto suites are (so far) built around symmetric keys, the
receiver will need to have the same key as the sender. This results
in that As a result,
no one in a multi-party session can be certain that a received packet really
was really sent by the claimed sender and not by another party having
access to the key. The single SRTP algorithm not having this propery
property is the TESLA Timed Efficient Stream Loss-Tolerant Authentication
(TESLA) source authentication [RFC4383]. However, TESLA adds delay
to achieve source authentication. In most cases, symmetric ciphers
provide sufficient security properties properties, but
create issues in a few cases. cases they can
The first case is when someone leaves a multi-party session and one
wants to ensure that the party that left can no longer access the RTP
streams. This requires that everyone re-keys rekey without disclosing the
new keys to the excluded party.
A second case is when using security is used as an enforcing mechanism for
stream access differentiation between different receivers. Take Take, for
example, a scalable layer or a high quality high-quality simulcast version that
only users paying a premium are allowed to access. The mechanism
preventing a receiver from getting the high quality high-quality stream can be
based on the stream being encrypted with a key that user users can't
access without paying a premium, using the key-management mechanism
to limit access to the key.
SRTP [RFC3711] as
As specified in [RFC3711], SRTP uses per SSRC unique keys, however keys per SSRC; however,
the original assumption was a single session single-session master key from which SSRC
SSRC-specific RTP and RTCP keys where were derived. However, that
assumption was proven incorrect, as the application usage and the
mamangement key-management mechanisms have chosen many different
methods for ensuring SSRC unique keys. keys per SSRC. The key-management
functions have different capabilities abilities to establish different sets of
keys, normally on a per-endpoint basis. For example, DTLS-SRTP
[RFC5764] and Security Descriptions [RFC4568] establish different
keys for outgoing and incoming traffic from an endpoint. This key
usage has to be written into the cryptographic context, possibly
associated with different SSRCs. Thus, limitations do exist exist,
depending on the chosen key-
management key-management method and due to the
integration of particular implementations of the key-management
method and SRTP.
4.3.2. Key Management for Multi-party Sessions
The capabilities of the key-management method combined with the RTP
multiplexing choices affects affect the resulting security properties,
control over the secured media, and who have has access to it.
Multi-party sessions contain at least one RTP stream from each active
participant. Depending on the multi-party topology [RFC7667], each
participant can both send and receive multiple RTP streams.
Transport translator-based sessions (Topo-Trn-Translator) and
multicast sessions (Topo-ASM), (Topo-ASM) can neither use neither Security Description Descriptions
[RFC4568] nor DTLS-SRTP [RFC5764] without an extension as extension, because each
endpoint provides its own set of keys. In centralised centralized conferences,
signalling signaling counterpart is a conference server, and the transport
translator is the media plane media-plane unicast counterpart (to which DTLS
messages would be sent). Thus, an extension like Encrypted Key
Transport [I-D.ietf-perc-srtp-ekt-diet] [RFC8870] or a MIKEY [RFC3830] based solution based on Multimedia Internet KEYing
(MIKEY) [RFC3830] that allows for keying all session participants
with the same master key is needed.
Privacy-Enhanced RTP Conferencing (PERC) also enables a different
trust model with semi-trusted media switching media-switching RTP middleboxes
4.3.3. Complexity Implications
The usage of security functions
There can surface complexity implications
from be complex interactions between the choice of multiplexing
and topology. topology and the security functions. This becomes especially
evident in RTP topologies having any type of middlebox that processes
or modifies RTP/RTCP packets. While there is very
small the overhead for of an RTP
translator or mixer to rewrite rewriting an SSRC value in the RTP packet of an
unencrypted session, session is low, the cost is higher when using
cryptographic security functions. For example, if using SRTP
[RFC3711], the actual security context and exact crypto key are
determined by the SSRC field value. If one changes SSRC, the SSRC value,
the encryption and authentication must use another key. Thus,
changing the SSRC value implies a decryption using the old SSRC and
its security context, followed by an encryption using the new one.
5. RTP Multiplexing Design Choices
This section discusses how some RTP multiplexing design choices can
be used in applications to achieve certain goals, goals and a summary of summarizes the
implications of such choices. For each design there is
discussion of The benefits and downsides. downsides of each
design are also discussed.
5.1. Multiple Media Types in One Session
This design uses a single RTP session for multiple different media
types, like audio and video, and possibly also transport robustness
mechanisms like FEC or retransmission. An endpoint can send zero,
one, or more multiple media sources per media type, resulting in a number
of RTP streams of various media types for both source and redundancy
1. Only a single RTP session is used, which implies:
* Minimal need to keep NAT/FW state.
* Minimal NAT/FW-traversal NAT/FW traversal cost.
* Fate-sharing for all media flows.
* Minimal overhead for security association establishment.
2. Dynamic allocation of RTP streams can be handled almost entirely
at the RTP level. How localized The extent to which this allocation can be
kept to at the RTP level depends on the application's needs for an
explicit indication of the stream usage and in how timely a fashion
that information can be signalled.
1. It is less suitable for interworking with other applications that
use individual RTP sessions per media type or multiple sessions
for a single media type, due to the risk of SSRC collision collisions and
thus a potential need for SSRC translation.
2. Negotiation of individual bandwidths for the different media
types is currently only possible in SDP when using RID
3. It is not suitable for Split Component Terminal split component terminals (see
Section 3.10 of [RFC7667]).
4. Flow-based QoS cannot be used to provide separate treatment of
RTP streams compared to others in the single RTP session.
5. If there is significant asymmetry between the RTP streams' RTCP
reporting needs, there are some challenges in related to
configuration and usage to avoid wasting RTCP reporting on the
RTP stream that does not need that such frequent reporting.
6. It is not suitable for applications where some receivers like to
receive only a subset of the RTP streams, especially if multicast
or a transport translator is being used.
7. There is are some additional concern with concerns regarding legacy
implementations that do not support the RTP specification fully
when it comes to handling multiple SSRC SSRCs per endpoint, as
multiple simultaneous media types are sent as separate SSRC SSRCs in
the same RTP session.
8. If the applications need finer control over which session
participants are included in different sets of security
associations, most key-management mechanisms will have
difficulties establishing such a session.
5.2. Multiple SSRCs of the Same Media Type
In this design, each RTP session serves only a single media type.
The RTP session can contain multiple RTP streams, either from either a
single endpoint or from multiple endpoints. This commonly creates a low
number of RTP sessions, typically only one for audio and one for
video, with a corresponding need for two listening ports when using
RTP/RTCP multiplexing [RFC5761].
1. It works well with Split Component Terminal split component terminals (see Section 3.10 of
[RFC7667]) where the split is per media type.
2. It enables flow-based QoS with different prioritisation prioritization levels
between media types.
3. For applications with dynamic usage of RTP streams, i.e. streams (i.e., streams
are frequently added and removed, removed), having much of the state
associated with the RTP session rather than per individual SSRC
can avoid the need for in-session signalling signaling of meta-information
about each SSRC. In the simple cases cases, this allows for unsignalled unsignaled RTP
streams where session level session-level information and an RTCP SDES item (e.g.
(e.g., CNAME) are suffient. sufficient. In the more complex cases where
more source-specific metadata needs to be signalled signaled, the SSRC can
be associated with an intermediate identifier, e.g. e.g., the MID
conveyed as an SDES item as defined in Section 15 of
4. There is low The overhead for of security association establishment.
a. There are a establishment is low.
1. A slightly higher number of RTP sessions needed are needed, compared to Multiple Media Types
multiple media types in one Session Section 5.1. session (Section 5.1). This implies: implies
* More NAT/FW state is needed.
* There The cost of NAT/FW traversal is increased NAT/FW-traversal cost in terms of both
processing and delay.
2. There is some potential for concern with regarding legacy
implementations that don't support the RTP specification fully
when it comes to handling multiple SSRC SSRCs per endpoint.
3. It is not possible to control security association associations for sets of
RTP streams within the same media type with today's key-
management mechanisms, unless these are split into different RTP
sessions (Section 5.3).
For RTP applications where all RTP streams of the same media type
share the same usage, this structure provides efficiency gains in the
amount of network state used and provides more fate sharing fate-sharing with
other media flows of the same type. At the same time, it is still maintaining
maintains almost all functionalities for the negotiation signaling of
properties per individual media type, type and also enables flow based flow-based QoS
prioritization between media types. It handles multi-party sessions
well, independently of multicast or centralised centralized transport
distribution, as additional sources can dynamically enter and leave
5.3. Multiple Sessions for One Media Type
This design goes one step further than above (Section 5.2) the design discussed in
Section 5.2 by also using multiple RTP sessions also for a single media
type. The main reason for going in this direction is that the RTP
application needs separation of the RTP streams due according to their
usage, such as e.g. as, for example, scalability over multicast, simulcast,
the need for extended QoS
prioritisation, prioritization, or the need for fine-grained signalling fine-
grained signaling using RTP session-focused signalling signaling tools.
1. This design is more suitable for multicast usage where receivers
can individually select which RTP sessions they want to
participate in, assuming that each RTP session has its own
2. The When multiple different usages exist, the application can
indicate its usage of the RTP streams on at the RTP session level, when multiple different usages exist. level.
3. There is less need for SSRC-specific explicit signalling signaling for each
media stream and thus a reduced need for explicit and timely
signaling when RTP streams are added or removed.
4. It enables detailed QoS prioritisation prioritization for flow-based mechanisms.
5. It works well with Split Component Terminal split component terminals (see Section 3.10 of
6. The scope for who is included in a security association can be
structured around the different RTP sessions, thus enabling such
functionality with existing key-management.
The key-management mechanisms.
1. There is an increased amount of session configuration state
compared to Multiple multiple SSRCs of the Same Media Type, same media type (Section 5.2),
due to the increased amount of RTP sessions.
2. For RTP streams that are part of scalability, simulcast simulcast, or
transport robustness, a method to bind for binding sources across
multiple RTP sessions is needed.
3. There is some potential for concern with regarding legacy
implementations that don't support the RTP specification fully
when it comes to handling multiple SSRC SSRCs per endpoint.
d. There is higher
4. The overhead for of security association establishment, establishment is higher, due
to the increased number of RTP sessions.
5. If the applications need more fine-grained finer control than per RTP
session over which participants that in
a given RTP session are included in different sets of security
associations, most of today's key-management mechanisms will have
difficulties establishing such a session.
For more complex more-complex RTP applications that have several different usages
for RTP streams of the same media type, type or uses that use scalability or
simulcast, this solution can enable those functions functions, at the cost of
increased overhead associated with the additional sessions. This
type of structure is suitable for more advanced more-advanced applications as well
as multicast-based applications requiring differentiation to
5.4. Single SSRC per Endpoint
In this design design, each endpoint in a point-to-point session has only a
single SSRC, thus SSRC; thus, the RTP session contains only two SSRCs, SSRCs -- one
local and one remote. This session can be used both unidirectional, i.e.
only a single either
unidirectionally (i.e., one SSRC sends an RTP stream, stream that is received
by the other SSRC) or bi-directional, i.e. bidirectionally (i.e., the two SSRCs both endpoints have
an RTP stream and receive the RTP stream each. sent by the other endpoint).
If the application needs additional media flows between the
endpoints, it will have to establish additional RTP sessions.
1. This design has great legacy interoperability potential for interoperability with legacy
applications, as it will not tax any RTP stack implementations.
2. The signalling has good possibilities signaling system makes it possible to negotiate and describe
the exact formats and bitrates for each RTP stream, especially
using today's tools in SDP.
3. It is possible to control security association associations per RTP stream
with current key-management, key-management functions, since each RTP stream is
directly related to an RTP session, session and the most commonly used
operates operate on a per-session basis.
a. There is a linear growth of the
1. The amount of NAT/FW state grows linearly with the number of RTP
b. There is increased
2. NAT/FW traversal increases delay and resource consumption from NAT/FW-
3. There are likely larger signalling more signaling message and signalling signaling processing
requirements due to the increased amount of session-
4. There is higher potential for a single RTP stream to fail during
transport between the endpoints, due to the need for a separate
NAT/FW traversal for every RTP stream stream, since there is only one
stream per session.
5. The amount of explicit state for relating RTP streams grows,
depending on how the application relates RTP streams.
f. The port
6. Port consumption might become a problem for centralised centralized services,
where the central node's port or 5-tuple filter consumption grows
rapidly with the number of sessions.
7. For applications where the RTP stream usage is highly dynamic,
i.e. entering i.e.,
entities frequently enter and leaving, leave sessions, the amount of signalling
signaling can become high. Issues can also arise from the need
for timely establishment of additional RTP sessions.
8. If, against the recommendation, the recommendation in [RFC3550], the same SSRC value
is reused in multiple RTP sessions rather than being randomly
chosen, interworking with applications that use a different
multiplexing structure will require SSRC translation.
RTP applications with a strong need to interwork with legacy RTP
applications can potentially benefit from this structure. However, a
large number of media descriptions in SDP can also run into issues
with existing implementations. For any application needing a larger
number of media flows, the overhead can become very significant.
This structure is also not suitable for non-mixed multi-party
sessions, as any given RTP stream from each participant, although
having the same usage in the application, needs its own RTP session.
In addition, the dynamic behaviour behavior that can arise in multi-party
applications can tax the signalling signaling system and make timely media
establishment more difficult.
Both the "Single "single SSRC per Endpoint" endpoint" (Section 5.4) and the "Multiple Media Types "multiple media
One Session" are one session" (Section 5.1) cases that require full explicit signalling
signaling of the media stream relations. relationships. However, they operate
on two different
levels levels, where the first primarily enables session session-
level binding, binding and the second needs SSRC level SSRC-level binding. From another
perspective, the two solutions are the two extreme points extremes when it comes to
the number of RTP sessions needed.
The two other designs, "Multiple designs -- multiple SSRCs of the Same Media Type" same media type
(Section 5.2) and
"Multiple Sessions multiple sessions for One Media Type", one media type (Section 5.3)
-- are two examples that primarily allows allow for some implicit mapping of
the role or usage of the RTP streams based on which RTP session they
appear in. It thus Thus, they potentially allows allow for less signalling and signaling and, in particular reduces
particular, reduce the need for real-time signalling signaling in sessions with
a dynamically changing number of RTP streams. They also represent
points in-between between the first two designs when it comes to the amount of
RTP sessions established, i.e. representing i.e., they represent an attempt to balance
the amount of RTP sessions with the functionality the communication
session provides at both on the network level and on signalling the signaling level.
This section contains a number of multi-stream guidelines for
implementers, system designers, or and specification writers.
Do not require the use of the same SSRC value across RTP sessions:
As discussed in Section 3.4.3 3.4.3, there exist drawbacks in are downsides to using the
same SSRC in multiple RTP sessions as a mechanism to bind related
RTP streams together. It is instead recommended to use a
mechanism to explicitly signal the relation, either relationship, in either
in the signalling signaling mechanism used to establish the RTP
Use additional RTP streams for additional media sources:
In the cases where an RTP endpoint needs to transmit additional
RTP streams of the same media type in the application, with the
same processing requirements at the network and RTP layers, it is
suggested to send them in the same RTP session. For example example, in
the case of a telepresence room where there are three cameras, cameras and
each camera captures 2 two persons sitting at the table, sending we suggest
that each camera as send its own RTP stream within a single RTP session is suggested.
Use additional RTP sessions for streams with different
When RTP streams have different processing requirements from the
network or the RTP layer at the endpoints, it is suggested that
the different types of streams are be put in different RTP sessions.
This includes the case where different participants want different
subsets of the set of RTP streams.
Use grouping when using multiple RTP sessions, use grouping: sessions:
When using multiple RTP session solutions, it is suggested to
explicitly group the involved RTP sessions when needed using a signalling mechanism,
signaling mechanism -- for example The example, see "The Session Description
Protocol (SDP) Grouping
Framework [RFC5888], Framework" [RFC5888] -- using some
appropriate grouping semantics.
Ensure that RTP/RTCP Extensions Support Multiple extensions support multiple RTP Streams streams as Well
well as Multiple multiple RTP Sessions: sessions:
When defining an RTP or RTCP extension, the creator needs to
consider if this extension is applicable to for use with additional
SSRCs and multiple RTP sessions. Any extension intended to be
generic must support both. Extensions that are not as generally
applicable will have to consider if whether interoperability is
better served by defining a single solution or providing both
Provide adequate extensions for Transport Support: transport support:
When defining new RTP/RTCP extensions intended for transport
support, like the retransmission or FEC mechanisms, they must
include support for both multiple RTP streams in the same RTP
session and multiple RTP sessions, such that application
developers can choose freely from the set of mechanisms without
concerning themselves with which of the multiplexing choices a
particular solution supports.
7. IANA Considerations
This document makes has no request of IANA.
Note to RFC Editor: this section can be removed on publication as an
RFC. IANA actions.
8. Security Considerations
The security considerations of the RTP specification [RFC3550], any
applicable RTP profile [RFC3551],[RFC4585],[RFC3711], and the
extensions for sending multiple media types in a single RTP session
[I-D.ietf-mmusic-sdp-bundle-negotiation], [RFC5760], [RFC5761], apply
if selected and thus need to be considered in the evaluation.
There is discussion of the security implications of choosing multiple
SSRC vs multiple RTP sessions in Section 4.3.
Hui Zheng (Marvin) contributed to WG draft versions -04 and -05 of
The Authors like to acknowledge and thank Cullen Jennings, Dale R
Worley, Huang Yihong (Rachel), Benjamin Kaduk, Mirja Kuehlewind, and
Vijay Gurbani for review and comments.
11.1. Normative References
Westerlund, M., Perkins, C., and J. Lennox, "Sending
Multiple Types of Media in a Single RTP Session", draft-
ietf-avtcore-multi-media-rtp-session-13 (work in
progress), December 2015.
Roach, A., "RTP Payload Format Restrictions", draft-ietf-
mmusic-rid-15 (work in progress), May 2018.
Holmberg, C., Alvestrand, H., considerations discussed in the RTP specification
[RFC3550]; any applicable RTP profile [RFC3551] [RFC4585] [RFC3711];
and C. Jennings,
"Negotiating Media Multiplexing Using the Session
Description Protocol (SDP)", draft-ietf-mmusic-sdp-bundle-
negotiation-54 (work extensions for sending multiple media types in progress), December 2018.
Jennings, C., Mattsson, J., McGrew, D., Wing, D., a single RTP
session [RFC8860], RID [RFC8851], BUNDLE [RFC8843], [RFC5760], and F.
Andreasen, "Encrypted Key Transport for DTLS
[RFC5761] apply if selected and Secure
RTP", draft-ietf-perc-srtp-ekt-diet-11 (work thus need to be considered in progress),
January 2020. the
Section 4.3 discusses the security implications of choosing multiple
SSRCs vs. multiple RTP sessions.
9.1. Normative References
[RFC3550] Schulzrinne, H., Casner, S., Frederick, R., and V.
Jacobson, "RTP: A Transport Protocol for Real-Time
Applications", STD 64, RFC 3550, DOI 10.17487/RFC3550,
July 2003, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc3550>.
[RFC3551] Schulzrinne, H. and S. Casner, "RTP Profile for Audio and
Video Conferences with Minimal Control", STD 65, RFC 3551,
DOI 10.17487/RFC3551, July 2003,
[RFC3711] Baugher, M., McGrew, D., Naslund, M., Carrara, E., and K.
Norrman, "The Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP)",
RFC 3711, DOI 10.17487/RFC3711, March 2004,
[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,
DOI 10.17487/RFC4585, July 2006,
[RFC5576] Lennox, J., Ott, J., and T. Schierl, "Source-Specific
Media Attributes in the Session Description Protocol
(SDP)", RFC 5576, DOI 10.17487/RFC5576, June 2009,
[RFC5760] Ott, J., Chesterfield, J., and E. Schooler, "RTP Control
Protocol (RTCP) Extensions for Single-Source Multicast
Sessions with Unicast Feedback", RFC 5760,
DOI 10.17487/RFC5760, February 2010,
[RFC5761] Perkins, C. and M. Westerlund, "Multiplexing RTP Data and
Control Packets on a Single Port", RFC 5761,
DOI 10.17487/RFC5761, April 2010,
[RFC7656] Lennox, J., Gross, K., Nandakumar, S., Salgueiro, G., and
B. Burman, Ed., "A Taxonomy of Semantics and Mechanisms
for Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) Sources", RFC 7656,
DOI 10.17487/RFC7656, November 2015,
[RFC7667] Westerlund, M. and S. Wenger, "RTP Topologies", RFC 7667,
DOI 10.17487/RFC7667, November 2015,
11.2. Informative References
[RFC8843] Holmberg, C., Alvestrand, H., and C. Jennings,
"Negotiating Media Multiplexing Using the Session
Description Protocol (SDP)", RFC 8843,
DOI 10.17487/RFC8843, September 2020,
[RFC8851] Roach, A., A.B., Ed., "RTP Payload Format Restrictions",
RFC 8851, DOI 10.17487/RFC8851, September 2020,
[RFC8852] Roach, A.B., Nandakumar, S., and P. Thatcher, "RTP Stream
Identifier Source Description (SDES)", draft-ietf-avtext-
rid-09 (work in progress), October 2016.
Jones, P., Benham, D., RFC 8852,
DOI 10.17487/RFC8852, September 2020,
[RFC8860] Westerlund, M., Perkins, C., and C. Groves, "A Solution
Framework for Private J. Lennox, "Sending
Multiple Types of Media in Privacy Enhanced a Single RTP
Conferencing (PERC)", draft-ietf-perc-private-media-
framework-12 (work in progress), June 2019. Session",
RFC 8860, DOI 10.17487/RFC8860, September 2020,
[RFC8870] Jennings, C., Mattsson, J., McGrew, D., Wing, D., and F.
Andreasen, "Encrypted Key Transport for DTLS and Secure
RTP", RFC 8870, DOI 10.17487/RFC8870, September 2020,
9.2. Informative References
[JINGLE] Ludwig, S., Beda, J., Saint-Andre, P., McQueen, R., Egan,
S., and J. Hildebrand, "XEP-0166: Jingle", XMPP.org
https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0166.html, September 2018. 2018,
[RFC2198] Perkins, C., Kouvelas, I., Hodson, O., Hardman, V.,
Handley, M., Bolot, J., J.C., Vega-Garcia, A., and S. Fosse-
Parisis, "RTP Payload for Redundant Audio Data", RFC 2198,
DOI 10.17487/RFC2198, September 1997,
[RFC2205] Braden, R., Ed., Zhang, L., Berson, S., Herzog, S., and S.
Jamin, "Resource ReSerVation Protocol (RSVP) -- Version 1
Functional Specification", RFC 2205, DOI 10.17487/RFC2205,
September 1997, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2205>.
[RFC2474] Nichols, K., Blake, S., Baker, F., and D. Black,
"Definition of the Differentiated Services Field (DS
Field) in the IPv4 and IPv6 Headers", RFC 2474,
DOI 10.17487/RFC2474, December 1998,
[RFC2974] Handley, M., Perkins, C., and E. Whelan, "Session
Announcement Protocol", RFC 2974, DOI 10.17487/RFC2974,
October 2000, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2974>.
[RFC3261] Rosenberg, J., Schulzrinne, H., Camarillo, G., Johnston,
A., Peterson, J., Sparks, R., Handley, M., and E.
Schooler, "SIP: Session Initiation Protocol", RFC 3261,
DOI 10.17487/RFC3261, June 2002,
[RFC3264] Rosenberg, J. and H. Schulzrinne, "An Offer/Answer Model
with Session Description Protocol (SDP)", RFC 3264,
DOI 10.17487/RFC3264, June 2002,
[RFC3389] Zopf, R., "Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) Payload for
Comfort Noise (CN)", RFC 3389, DOI 10.17487/RFC3389,
September 2002, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc3389>.
[RFC3830] Arkko, J., Carrara, E., Lindholm, F., Naslund, M., and K.
Norrman, "MIKEY: Multimedia Internet KEYing", RFC 3830,
DOI 10.17487/RFC3830, August 2004,
[RFC4103] Hellstrom, G. and P. Jones, "RTP Payload for Text
Conversation", RFC 4103, DOI 10.17487/RFC4103, June 2005,
[RFC4383] Baugher, M. and E. Carrara, "The Use of Timed Efficient
Stream Loss-Tolerant Authentication (TESLA) in the Secure
Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP)", RFC 4383,
DOI 10.17487/RFC4383, February 2006,
[RFC4566] Handley, M., Jacobson, V., and C. Perkins, "SDP: Session
Description Protocol", RFC 4566, DOI 10.17487/RFC4566,
July 2006, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc4566>.
[RFC4568] Andreasen, F., Baugher, M., and D. Wing, "Session
Description Protocol (SDP) Security Descriptions for Media
Streams", RFC 4568, DOI 10.17487/RFC4568, July 2006,
[RFC4588] Rey, J., Leon, D., Miyazaki, A., Varsa, V., and R.
Hakenberg, "RTP Retransmission Payload Format", RFC 4588,
DOI 10.17487/RFC4588, July 2006,
[RFC5104] Wenger, S., Chandra, U., Westerlund, M., and B. Burman,
"Codec Control Messages in the RTP Audio-Visual Profile
with Feedback (AVPF)", RFC 5104, DOI 10.17487/RFC5104,
February 2008, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5104>.
[RFC5109] Li, A., Ed., "RTP Payload Format for Generic Forward Error
Correction", RFC 5109, DOI 10.17487/RFC5109, December
[RFC5389] Rosenberg, J., Mahy, R., Matthews, P., and D. Wing,
"Session Traversal Utilities for NAT (STUN)", RFC 5389,
DOI 10.17487/RFC5389, October 2008,
[RFC5764] McGrew, D. and E. Rescorla, "Datagram Transport Layer
Security (DTLS) Extension to Establish Keys for the Secure
Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP)", RFC 5764,
DOI 10.17487/RFC5764, May 2010,
[RFC5888] Camarillo, G. and H. Schulzrinne, "The Session Description
Protocol (SDP) Grouping Framework", RFC 5888,
DOI 10.17487/RFC5888, June 2010,
[RFC6465] Ivov, E., Ed., Marocco, E., Ed., and J. Lennox, "A Real-
time Transport Protocol (RTP) Header Extension for Mixer-
to-Client Audio Level Indication", RFC 6465,
DOI 10.17487/RFC6465, December 2011,
[RFC7201] Westerlund, M. and C. Perkins, "Options for Securing RTP
Sessions", RFC 7201, DOI 10.17487/RFC7201, April 2014,
[RFC7657] Black, D., Ed. and P. Jones, "Differentiated Services
(Diffserv) and Real-Time Communication", RFC 7657,
DOI 10.17487/RFC7657, November 2015,
[RFC7826] Schulzrinne, H., Rao, A., Lanphier, R., Westerlund, M.,
and M. Stiemerling, Ed., "Real-Time Streaming Protocol
Version 2.0", RFC 7826, DOI 10.17487/RFC7826, December
[RFC7983] Petit-Huguenin, M. and G. Salgueiro, "Multiplexing Scheme
Updates for Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP)
Extension for Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS)",
RFC 7983, DOI 10.17487/RFC7983, September 2016,
[RFC8088] Westerlund, M., "How to Write an RTP Payload Format",
RFC 8088, DOI 10.17487/RFC8088, May 2017,
[RFC8108] Lennox, J., Westerlund, M., Wu, Q., and C. Perkins,
"Sending Multiple RTP Streams in a Single RTP Session",
RFC 8108, DOI 10.17487/RFC8108, March 2017,
[RFC8445] Keranen, A., Holmberg, C., and J. Rosenberg, "Interactive
Connectivity Establishment (ICE): A Protocol for Network
Address Translator (NAT) Traversal", RFC 8445,
DOI 10.17487/RFC8445, July 2018,
[RFC8871] Jones, P., Benham, D., and C. Groves, "A Solution
Framework for Private Media in Privacy-Enhanced RTP
Conferencing (PERC)", RFC 8871, DOI 10.17487/RFC8871,
September 2020, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8871>.
Appendix A. Dismissing Payload Type Multiplexing
This section documents a number of reasons why using the payload type
as a multiplexing point is unsuitable for most issues related to
multiple RTP streams. Attempting to use Payload payload type multiplexing
beyond its defined usage has well known well-known negative effects on RTP RTP, as
discussed below. To use the payload type as the single discriminator
for multiple streams implies that all the different RTP streams are
being sent with the same SSRC, thus using the same timestamp and
sequence number space. This has The many effects: effects of using payload type
multiplexing are as follows:
1. Putting constraints Constraints are placed on the RTP timestamp rate for the
multiplexed media. For example, RTP streams that use different
RTP timestamp rates cannot be combined, as the timestamp values
need to be consistent across all multiplexed media frames. Thus
Thus, streams are forced to use the same RTP timestamp rate.
When this is not possible, payload type multiplexing cannot be
2. Many RTP payload formats can fragment a media object over
multiple RTP packets, like parts of a video frame. These
payload formats need to determine the order of the fragments to
correctly decode them. Thus, it is important to ensure that all
fragments related to a frame or a similar media object are
transmitted in sequence and without interruptions within the
object. This can relatively simple be solved done relatively easily on the sender side
by ensuring that the fragments of each RTP stream are sent in
3. Some media formats require uninterrupted sequence number space
between media parts. These are media formats where any missing
RTP sequence number will result in decoding failure or invoking
a repair mechanism within a single media context. The text/
payload format [RFC4103] is an example of such a format. These
formats will need a sequence numbering abstraction function
between RTP and the individual RTP stream before being used with
payload type multiplexing.
4. Sending multiple media streams in the same sequence number space
makes it impossible to determine which media stream lost a
packet. This as the payload type that is used for demultiplex
the media stream is not received. Thus, causing Such a scenario causes difficulties, since the receiver
difficulties in determining
cannot determine to which stream to it should apply packet loss packet-loss
concealment or other stream-specific loss mitigation loss-mitigation mechanisms.
5. If RTP Retransmission retransmission [RFC4588] is used and there is a loss, packet loss occurs,
it is possible to ask for the missing packet(s) by SSRC and
sequence number, number -- not by payload type. If only some of the
payload type multiplexed streams are of interest, there is no
way of telling to tell which missing packet(s) packet or packets belong to the interesting
or streams of interest, and all lost packets need to be
requested, wasting bandwidth.
6. The current RTCP feedback mechanisms are built around providing
feedback on RTP streams based on stream ID (SSRC), packet
(sequence numbers) numbers), and time interval (RTP timestamps). There
is almost never a field to indicate which payload type is
reported, so sending feedback for a specific RTP payload type is
difficult without extending existing RTCP reporting.
7. The current RTCP media control messages [RFC5104] specification [RFC5104]
is oriented around controlling particular media flows, i.e. i.e.,
requests are done by addressing a particular SSRC. Such
mechanisms would need to be redefined to support payload type
8. The number of payload types are is inherently limited. Accordingly,
using payload type multiplexing limits the number of streams
that can be multiplexed and does not scale. This limitation is
exacerbated if one uses solutions like RTP and RTCP multiplexing
[RFC5761] where a number of payload types are blocked due to the
overlap between RTP and RTCP.
9. At times, there is a need to group multiplexed streams and this streams. This is
currently possible for RTP sessions and for SSRC, SSRCs, but there is no
defined way to group payload types.
10. It is currently not possible to signal bandwidth requirements
per RTP stream when using payload type multiplexing.
11. Most existing SDP media level media-level attributes cannot be applied on a
per payload type level
per-payload-type basis and would require re-definition redefinition in that
12. A legacy endpoint that does not understand the indication that
different RTP payload types are different RTP streams might be
slightly confused by the large amount of possibly overlapping or
identically defined RTP payload types.
Appendix B. Signalling Signaling Considerations
Signaling is not an architectural consideration for RTP itself, so
this discussion has been moved to an appendix. However, it is
extremely important for anyone building complete applications, so it
is deserving of discussion.
We document salient some issues here that need to be addressed by the WGs
that use when using
some form of signaling to establish RTP sessions. These issues
cannot simply be addressed by simply tweaking, extending, or profiling RTP, but RTP;
rather, they require a dedicated and indepth in-depth look at the signaling
primitives that set up the RTP sessions.
There exist various signalling signaling solutions for establishing RTP
sessions. Many are based on SDP [RFC4566] based, however [RFC4566]; however, SDP
functionality is also dependent on the signalling signaling protocols carrying
the SDP. RTSP The Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) [RFC7826] and SAP the
Session Announcement Protocol (SAP) [RFC2974] both use SDP in a
declarative fashion, while SIP [RFC3261] uses SDP with the additional
definition of Offer/
Answer offer/answer [RFC3264]. The impact on signalling signaling, and
especially SDP on SDP, needs to be considered considered, as it can greatly affect
how to deploy a certain multiplexing point choice.
B.1. Session Oriented Session-Oriented Properties
One aspect of the existing signalling signaling protocols is that it is they are focused
sessions, or sessions or, in the case of SDP, the concept of media description concept.
There are a
descriptions. A number of things that are signalled on signaled at the media
level level, but those are not necessarily strictly bound to an
RTP session and could be of interest to signal specifically for signaling, especially for a
particular RTP stream (SSRC) within the session. The following
properties have been identified as being potentially useful to signal for
signaling, and not only on at the RTP session level:
o Bitrate/Bandwidth exist
* Bitrate and/or bandwidth can be specified today only at as an
aggregate limit, or as a common "any RTP stream" limit, unless
either codec-specific bandwidth limiting or RTCP signalling signaling using TMMBR
Temporary Maximum Media Stream Bit Rate Request (TMMBR) messages
[RFC5104] is used.
* Which SSRC that will use which RTP payload type (this information will
be visible from in the first media packet, packet but is sometimes useful to
have before the packet arrival). arrives).
Some of these issues are clearly SDP's problem rather than RTP
limitations. However, if the aim is to deploy an a solution using
additional SSRCs that uses
several SSRCs and contains several sets of RTP streams with different
properties (encoding/packetization parameter, bit-rate, parameters, bitrate, etc.),
putting each set in a different RTP session would directly enable
negotiation of the parameters for each set. If insisting on
additional SSRC SSRCs only, a number of signalling signaling extensions are needed to
clarify that there are multiple sets of RTP streams with different
properties and that they need in fact need to be kept different, since a
single set will not satisfy the application's requirements.
For some parameters, such as RTP payload type, resolution resolution, and
framerate, a frame
rate, an SSRC-linked mechanism has been proposed in
B.2. SDP Prevents Multiple Media Types
SDP chose to use uses the m= "m=" line both to both delineate an RTP session and to specify
the top level of the MIME top-level media type; type: audio, video, text, image, application.
This media type is used as the top-level media type for identifying
the actual payload format and is bound to a particular payload type
using the rtpmap "a=rtpmap:" attribute. This binding has to be loosened in
order to use SDP to describe RTP sessions containing multiple MIME top top-
level media types.
[RFC8843] describes how to let multiple SDP media descriptions use a
single underlying transport in SDP, which allows to define the definition of
one RTP session with media types having different MIME top level top-level media types.
B.3. Signalling Signaling RTP Stream Usage
RTP streams being transported in RTP have some a particular usage in an
RTP application. This In many applications to date, this usage of the RTP
stream is in many
applications so far implicitly signalled. signaled. For example, an application might
choose to take all incoming audio RTP streams, mix
them them, and play
them out. However, in more advanced more-advanced applications that use multiple
RTP streams streams, there will be more than a single usage or purpose among
the set of RTP streams being sent or received. RTP applications will
need to somehow signal this usage somehow. usage. The signalling signaling that is used will
have to identify the RTP streams affected by their RTP-
identifiers, which means that they have to be identified either by either
their session or by their SSRC + session.
In some applications, the receiver cannot utilise utilize the RTP stream at
all before it has received the signalling signaling message describing the RTP
stream and its usage. In other applications, there exists a default
handling method that is appropriate.
If all RTP streams in an RTP session are to be treated in the same
way, identifying the session is enough. If SSRCs in a session are to
be treated differently, signalling signaling needs to identify both the session
and the SSRC.
If this signalling signaling affects how any RTP central node, like an RTP mixer
or translator that selects, mixes mixes, or processes streams, treats the
streams, the node will also need to receive the same signalling signaling to
know how to treat RTP streams with different usage usages in the right
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Cullen Jennings, Dale
R. Worley, Huang Yihong (Rachel), Benjamin Kaduk, Mirja Kühlewind,
and Vijay Gurbani for review and comments.
Hui Zheng (Marvin) contributed to WG draft versions -04 and -05 of
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Phone: +46 10 714 82 87
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University of Glasgow
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