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G.729.1 RTP Payload Format Update: Discontinuous Transmission (DTX) Support
RFC 5459

Document Type RFC - Proposed Standard (January 2009)
Updates RFC 4749
Author Aurelien Sollaud
Last updated 2015-10-14
Replaces draft-sollaud-avt-rfc4749-dtx-update
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state RFC 5459 (Proposed Standard)
Action Holders
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Cullen Fluffy Jennings
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RFC 5459
Network Working Group                                         A. Sollaud
Request for Comments: 5459                                France Telecom
Updates: 4749                                               January 2009
Category: Standards Track

                   G.729.1 RTP Payload Format Update:
                Discontinuous Transmission (DTX) Support

Status of This Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2009 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect to this document.


   This document updates the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) payload
   format to be used for the International Telecommunication Union
   (ITU-T) Recommendation G.729.1 audio codec.  It adds Discontinuous
   Transmission (DTX) support to the RFC 4749 specification, in a
   backward-compatible way.  An updated media type registration is
   included for this payload format.

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RFC 5459               G.729.1 DTX Support in RTP           January 2009

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................2
   2. Background ......................................................2
   3. RTP Header Usage ................................................3
   4. Payload Format ..................................................3
   5. Payload Format Parameters .......................................4
      5.1. Media Type Registration Update .............................4
      5.2. Mapping to SDP Parameters ..................................5
           5.2.1. DTX Offer-Answer Model Considerations ...............5
           5.2.2. DTX Declarative SDP Considerations ..................6
   6. Congestion Control ..............................................6
   7. Security Considerations .........................................6
   8. IANA Considerations .............................................6
   9. References ......................................................6
      9.1. Normative References .......................................6
      9.2. Informative References .....................................7

1.  Introduction

   The International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) Recommendation
   G.729.1 [ITU-G.729.1] is a scalable and wideband extension of the
   Recommendation G.729 [ITU-G.729] audio codec.  [RFC4749] specifies
   the payload format for packetization of G.729.1-encoded audio signals
   into the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) [RFC3550].

   Annex C of G.729.1 [ITU-G.729.1-C] adds Discontinuous Transmission
   (DTX) support to G.729.1.  This document updates the RTP payload
   format to allow usage of this Annex.

   Only changes or additions to [RFC4749] will be described in the
   following sections.

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

2.  Background

   G.729.1 supports Discontinuous Transmission (DTX), a.k.a. "silence
   suppression".  It means that the coder includes a Voice Activity
   Detection (VAD) algorithm to determine if an audio frame contains
   silence or actual audio.  During silence periods, the coder may
   significantly decrease the transmitted bit rate by sending a small
   frame called a Silence Insertion Descriptor (SID) and then stop
   transmission.  The receiver's decoder will generate comfort noise
   (CNG) according to the parameters contained in the SID.  This DTX/CNG
   scheme is specified in [ITU-G.729.1-C].

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RFC 5459               G.729.1 DTX Support in RTP           January 2009

   The G.729.1 SID has an embedded structure.  The core SID is the same
   as the legacy G.729 SID [ITU-G.729-B].  The first enhancement layer
   adds some parameters for narrowband comfort noise, while a second
   enhancement layer adds wideband information.  The G.729.1 SID can be
   2, 3, or 6 octets long.

3.  RTP Header Usage

   The fields of the RTP header must be used as described in [RFC4749],
   except for the Marker (M) bit.

   If DTX is used, the first packet of a talkspurt -- that is, the first
   packet after a silence period during which packets have not been
   transmitted contiguously -- MUST be distinguished by setting the M
   bit in the RTP data header to 1.  The M bit in all other packets MUST
   be set to 0.  The beginning of a talkspurt MAY be used to adjust the
   playout delay to reflect changing network delays.

   If DTX is not used, the M bit MUST be set to 0 in all packets.

4.  Payload Format

   The payload format is the same as in [RFC4749], with the option to
   add a SID at the end.

   So the complete payload consists of a payload header of 1 octet (MBS
   (maximum bit rate supported) and FT (frame type) fields), followed by
   zero or more consecutive audio frames at the same bit rate, followed
   by zero or one SID.

      Note that this is consistent with the payload format of G.729
      described in section 4.5.6 of [RFC3551].

   To be able to transport a SID alone -- that is, without actual audio
   frames -- we assign the FT value 14 to the SID.  When using FT=14,
   only a single SID frame SHALL be included in the payload.  The actual
   SID size (2, 3, or 6 octets) is inferred from the payload size: it is
   the size of what is left after the payload header.

   When a SID is appended to actual audio frames, the FT value remains
   the one describing the encoding rate of the audio frames.  Since the
   SID is much smaller than any other frame, it can be easily detected
   at the receiver side, and it will not hinder the calculation of the
   number of frames.  The actual SID size is inferred from the payload
   size: it is the size of what is left after the audio frames.

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RFC 5459               G.729.1 DTX Support in RTP           January 2009

   Section 5.4 of [RFC4749] mandates to ignore the remaining bytes after
   complete frames.  This document overrides that statement: the
   receiver of the payload must consider these remaining bytes as a SID
   frame.  If the size of this remainder is not a valid SID frame size
   (2, 3, or 6 octets), the receiver MUST ignore these bytes.

   The full FT table is given for convenience:

               |   FT  | encoding rate |     frame size    |
               |   0   |     8 kbps    |     20 octets     |
               |   1   |    12 kbps    |     30 octets     |
               |   2   |    14 kbps    |     35 octets     |
               |   3   |    16 kbps    |     40 octets     |
               |   4   |    18 kbps    |     45 octets     |
               |   5   |    20 kbps    |     50 octets     |
               |   6   |    22 kbps    |     55 octets     |
               |   7   |    24 kbps    |     60 octets     |
               |   8   |    26 kbps    |     65 octets     |
               |   9   |    28 kbps    |     70 octets     |
               |   10  |    30 kbps    |     75 octets     |
               |   11  |    32 kbps    |     80 octets     |
               | 12-13 |   (reserved)  |         -         |
               |   14  |      SID      | 2, 3, or 6 octets |
               |   15  |    NO_DATA    |         0         |

   DTX has no impact on the MBS definition and use.

5.  Payload Format Parameters

   Parameters defined in [RFC4749] are not modified.  We add a new
   optional parameter to configure DTX.

5.1.  Media Type Registration Update

   We add a new optional parameter to the audio/G7291 media subtype:

   dtx: indicates that Discontinuous Transmission (DTX) is used or
      preferred.  Permissible values are 0 and 1. 0 means no DTX. 1
      means DTX support, as described in Annex C of ITU-T Recommendation
      G.729.1. 0 is implied if this parameter is omitted.

   When DTX is turned off, the RTP payload MUST NOT contain a SID, and
   the FT value 14 MUST NOT be used.

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RFC 5459               G.729.1 DTX Support in RTP           January 2009

5.2.  Mapping to SDP Parameters

   The information carried in the media type specification has a
   specific mapping to fields in the Session Description Protocol (SDP)
   [RFC4566], which is commonly used to describe RTP sessions.

   The mapping described in [RFC4749] remains unchanged.

   The "dtx" parameter goes in the SDP "a=fmtp" attribute.

   Some example partial SDP session descriptions utilizing G.729.1
   encodings follow.

   Example 1: default parameters (DTX off)

      m=audio 57586 RTP/AVP 96
      a=rtpmap:96 G7291/16000

   Example 2: recommended packet duration of 40 ms (=2 frames), maximum
   bit rate is 20 kbps, DTX supported and preferred.

      m=audio 49987 RTP/AVP 97
      a=rtpmap:97 G7291/16000
      a=fmtp:97 maxbitrate=20000; dtx=1

5.2.1.  DTX Offer-Answer Model Considerations

   The offer-answer model considerations of [RFC4749] fully apply.  In
   this section, we only define the management of the "dtx" parameter.

   The "dtx" parameter concerns both sending and receiving, so both
   sides of a bi-directional session MUST have the same DTX setting.  If
   one party indicates that it does not support DTX, DTX must be
   deactivated both ways.  In other words, DTX is actually activated if,
   and only if, "dtx=1" in the offer and in the answer.

   A special rule applies for multicast: the "dtx" parameter becomes
   declarative and MUST NOT be negotiated.  This parameter is fixed, and
   a participant MUST use the configuration that is provided for the

   An RTP receiver compliant with only RFC 4749 and not this
   specification will ignore the "dtx" parameter and will not include it
   in its answer, so DTX will not be activated in this case.  As a
   remark, if that happened, this kind of receiver would not be confused
   by an RTP stream with DTX because RFC 4749 requires that the bytes
   that are now used for SID frames be ignored.  But during the silence

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RFC 5459               G.729.1 DTX Support in RTP           January 2009

   period, the receiver would then react using packet loss concealment
   instead of comfort noise generation, leading to bad audio quality.
   This justifies the use of the "dtx" parameter, even if the payload
   format is backward-compatible at the binary level.

5.2.2.  DTX Declarative SDP Considerations

   The "dtx" parameter is declarative and provides the parameter that
   SHALL be used when receiving and/or sending the configured stream.

6.  Congestion Control

   The congestion control considerations of [RFC4749] apply.

   The use of DTX can help congestion control by reducing the number of
   transmitted RTP packets and the average bandwidth of audio streams.

7.  Security Considerations

   The security considerations of [RFC4749] apply.

   By observing the RTP flow with DTX, an attacker could see when and
   for how long people are speaking.  This is a general fact for DTX,
   and G.729.1 DTX introduces no new specific issue.

8.  IANA Considerations

   IANA has assigned a new optional parameter for media subtype (audio/
   G7291); see Section 5.1.

9.  References

9.1.  Normative References

   [ITU-G.729.1]    International Telecommunications Union, "G.729 based
                    Embedded Variable bit-rate coder: An 8-32 kbit/s
                    scalable wideband coder bitstream interoperable with
                    G.729", ITU-T Recommendation G.729.1, May 2006.

   [ITU-G.729.1-C]  International Telecommunications Union, "G.729.1
                    DTX/CNG scheme", ITU-T Recommendation G.729.1 Annex
                    C, May 2008.

   [RFC2119]        Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
                    Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

Sollaud                     Standards Track                     [Page 6]
RFC 5459               G.729.1 DTX Support in RTP           January 2009

   [RFC3550]        Schulzrinne, H., Casner, S., Frederick, R., and V.
                    Jacobson, "RTP: A Transport Protocol for Real-Time
                    Applications", STD 64, RFC 3550, July 2003.

   [RFC4566]        Handley, M., Jacobson, V., and C. Perkins, "SDP:
                    Session Description Protocol", RFC 4566, July 2006.

   [RFC4749]        Sollaud, A., "RTP Payload Format for the G.729.1
                    Audio Codec", RFC 4749, October 2006.

9.2.  Informative References

   [ITU-G.729]      International Telecommunications Union, "Coding of
                    speech at 8 kbit/s using conjugate-structure
                    algebraic-code-excited linear-prediction (CS-
                    ACELP)", ITU-T Recommendation G.729, March 1996.

   [ITU-G.729-B]    International Telecommunications Union, "A silence
                    compression scheme for G.729 optimized for terminals
                    conforming to Recommendation V.70", ITU-T
                    Recommendation G.729 Annex B, October 1996.

   [RFC3551]        Schulzrinne, H. and S. Casner, "RTP Profile for
                    Audio and Video Conferences with Minimal Control",
                    STD 65, RFC 3551, July 2003.

Author's Address

   Aurelien Sollaud
   France Telecom
   2 avenue Pierre Marzin
   Lannion Cedex  22307

   Phone: +33 2 96 05 15 06

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