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Forward Erasure Correction (FEC) Coding and Congestion Control in Transport
RFC 9265

Document Type RFC - Informational (July 2022)
Authors Nicolas Kuhn , Emmanuel Lochin , François Michel , Michael Welzl
Last updated 2022-07-26
Replaces draft-kuhn-coding-congestion-transport
Stream Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)
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Send notices to vincent.roca@inria.fr
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RFC 9265


Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)                              N. Kuhn
Request for Comments: 9265                                          CNES
Category: Informational                                        E. Lochin
ISSN: 2070-1721                                                     ENAC
                                                               F. Michel
                                                               UCLouvain
                                                                M. Welzl
                                                      University of Oslo
                                                               July 2022

   Forward Erasure Correction (FEC) Coding and Congestion Control in
                               Transport

Abstract

   Forward Erasure Correction (FEC) is a reliability mechanism that is
   distinct and separate from the retransmission logic in reliable
   transfer protocols such as TCP.  FEC coding can help deal with losses
   at the end of transfers or with networks having non-congestion
   losses.  However, FEC coding mechanisms should not hide congestion
   signals.  This memo offers a discussion of how FEC coding and
   congestion control can coexist.  Another objective is to encourage
   the research community to also consider congestion control aspects
   when proposing and comparing FEC coding solutions in communication
   systems.

   This document is the product of the Coding for Efficient Network
   Communications Research Group (NWCRG).  The scope of the document is
   end-to-end communications; FEC coding for tunnels is out of the scope
   of the document.

Status of This Memo

   This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
   published for informational purposes.

   This document is a product of the Internet Research Task Force
   (IRTF).  The IRTF publishes the results of Internet-related research
   and development activities.  These results might not be suitable for
   deployment.  This RFC represents the consensus of the Network Coding
   for Efficient Network Communications Research Group of the Internet
   Research Task Force (IRTF).  Documents approved for publication by
   the IRSG are not candidates for any level of Internet Standard; see
   Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
   https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc9265.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2022 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
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction
   2.  Context
     2.1.  Fairness, Quantifying and Limiting Harm, and Policy
           Concerns
     2.2.  Separate Channels, Separate Entities
     2.3.  Relation between Transport Layer and Application
           Requirements
     2.4.  Scope of the Document Concerning Transport Multipath and
           Multistream Applications
     2.5.  Types of Coding
   3.  FEC above the Transport
     3.1.  Fairness and Impact on Non-coded Flows
     3.2.  Congestion Control and Recovered Symbols
     3.3.  Interactions between Congestion Control and Coding Rates
     3.4.  On Useless Repair Symbols
     3.5.  On Partial Ordering at FEC Level
     3.6.  On Partial Reliability at FEC Level
     3.7.  On Multipath Transport and FEC Mechanism
   4.  FEC within the Transport
     4.1.  Fairness and Impact on Non-coded Flows
     4.2.  Interactions between Congestion Control and Coding Rates
     4.3.  On Useless Repair Symbols
     4.4.  On Partial Ordering at FEC and/or Transport Level
     4.5.  On Partial Reliability at FEC Level
     4.6.  On Transport Multipath and Subpath FEC Coding Rate
   5.  FEC below the Transport
     5.1.  Fairness and Impact on Non-coded Flows
     5.2.  Congestion Control and Recovered Symbols
     5.3.  Interactions between Congestion Control and Coding Rates
     5.4.  On Useless Repair Symbols
     5.5.  On Partial Ordering at FEC Level with In-Order Delivery
           Transport
     5.6.  On Partial Reliability at FEC Level
     5.7.  FEC Not Aware of Transport Multipath
   6.  Research Recommendations and Questions
     6.1.  Activities Related to Congestion Control and Coding
     6.2.  Open Research Questions
       6.2.1.  Parameter Derivation
       6.2.2.  New Signaling Methods and Fairness
     6.3.  Recommendations and Advice for Evaluating Coding Mechanisms
   7.  IANA Considerations
   8.  Security Considerations
   9.  Informative References
   Acknowledgements
   Authors' Addresses

1.  Introduction

   There are cases where deploying FEC coding improves the performance
   of a transmission.  As an example, it may take time for a sender to
   detect transfer tail losses (losses that occur at the end of a
   transfer where, e.g., TCP obtains no more ACKs that would enable it
   to quickly repair the loss via retransmission).  Allowing the
   receiver to recover such losses instead of having to rely on a
   retransmission could improve the experience of applications using
   short flows.  Another example is a network where non-congestion
   losses are persistent and prevent a sender from exploiting the link
   capacity.

   Coding and the loss detection of congestion controls are two distinct
   and separate reliability mechanisms.  Since FEC coding repairs
   losses, blindly applying FEC may easily lead to an implementation
   that also hides a congestion signal from the sender.  It is important
   to ensure that such hiding of information does not occur, because
   loss may be the only congestion signal available to the sender (e.g.,
   TCP [RFC5681]).

   FEC coding and congestion control can be seen as two separate
   channels.  In practice, implementations may mix the signals that are
   exchanged on these channels.  This memo offers a discussion of how
   FEC coding and congestion control coexist.  Another objective is to
   encourage the research community to also consider congestion control
   aspects when proposing and comparing FEC coding solutions in
   communication systems.  This document does not aim to propose
   guidelines for characterizing FEC coding solutions.

   We consider three architectures for end-to-end unicast data transfer:

   *  with FEC coding in the application (above the transport)
      (Section 3),

   *  within the transport (Section 4), or

   *  directly below the transport (Section 5).

   A typical scenario for the considerations in this document is a
   client browsing the Web or watching a live video.

   This document represents the collaborative work and consensus of the
   Coding for Efficient Network Communications Research Group (NWCRG);
   it is not an IETF product nor a standard.  The document follows the
   terminology proposed in the taxonomy document [RFC8406].

2.  Context

2.1.  Fairness, Quantifying and Limiting Harm, and Policy Concerns

   Traffic from or to different end users may share various types of
   bottlenecks.  When such a shared bottleneck does not implement some
   form of flow protection, the share of the available capacity between
   single flows can help assess when one flow starves the other.

   As one example, for residential accesses, the data rate can be
   guaranteed for the customer premises equipment but not necessarily
   for the end user.  The quality of service that guarantees fairness
   between the different clients can be seen as a policy concern
   [FLOW-RATE-FAIRNESS].

   While past efforts have focused on achieving fairness, quantifying
   and limiting harm caused by new algorithms (or algorithms with
   coding) is more practical [BEYONDJAIN].  This document considers
   fairness as the impact of the addition of coded flows on non-coded
   flows when they share the same bottleneck.  It is assumed that the
   non-coded flows respond to congestion signals from the network.  This
   document does not contribute to the definition of fairness at a wider
   scale.

2.2.  Separate Channels, Separate Entities

   Figures 1 and 2 present the notations that will be used in this
   document and introduce the Forward Erasure Correction (FEC) and
   Congestion Control (CC) channels.  The FEC channel carries repair
   symbols (from the sender to the receiver) and information from the
   receiver to the sender (e.g., signaling which symbols have been
   recovered, loss rate prior and/or after decoding, etc.).  The CC
   channel carries network packets from a sender to a receiver and
   packets signaling information about the network (number of packets
   received vs. lost, Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) marks
   [RFC3168], etc.) from the receiver to the sender.  The network
   packets that are sent by the CC channel may be composed of source
   packets and/or repair symbols.

    SENDER                                RECEIVER

   +------+                               +------+
   |      | -----   network packets  ---->|      |
   |  CC  |                               |  CC  |
   |      | <---  network information  ---|      |
   +------+                               +------+

                 Figure 1: Congestion Control (CC) Channel

    SENDER                                RECEIVER

   +------+                               +------+
   |      |           source and/or       |      |
   |      | -----    repair symbols  ---->|      |
   | FEC  |                               | FEC  |
   |      |           signaling           |      |
   |      | <---   recovered symbols  ----|      |
   +------+                               +------+

             Figure 2: Forward Erasure Correction (FEC) Channel

   Inside a host, the CC and FEC entities can be regarded as
   conceptually separate:

     |            ^             |             ^
     | source     | coding      |packets      | sending
     | packets    | rate        |requirements | rate (or
     v            |             v             | window)
   +---------------+source     +-----------------+
   |    FEC        |and/or     |    CC           |
   |               |repair     |                 |network
   |               |symbols    |                 |packets
   +---------------+==>        +-----------------+==>
     ^                                       ^
     | signaling                             | network
     | recovered symbols                     | information

                 Figure 3: Separate Entities (Sender-Side)

     |                                 |
     | source and/or                   | network
     | repair symbols                  | packets
     v                                 v
   +---------------+              +-----------------+
   |    FEC        |signaling     |    CC           |
   |               |recovered     |                 |network
   |               |symbols       |                 |information
   +---------------+==>           +-----------------+==>

                Figure 4: Separate Entities (Receiver-Side)

   Figures 3 and 4 provide more details than Figures 1 and 2.  Some
   elements are introduced:

   'network information' (input control plane for the transport
   including CC):
      refers not only to the network information that is explicitly
      signaled from the receiver but all the information a congestion
      control obtains from a network.

   'requirements' (input control plane for the transport including
   CC):
      refers to application requirements such as upper/lower rate
      bounds, periods of quiescence, or a priority.

   'sending rate (or window)' (output control plane for the transport
   including CC):
      refers to the rate at which a congestion control decides to
      transmit packets based on 'network information'.

   'signaling recovered symbols' (input control plane for the FEC):
      refers to the information a FEC sender can obtain from a FEC
      receiver about the performance of the FEC solution as seen by the
      receiver.

   'coding rate' (output control plane for the FEC):
      refers to the coding rate that is used by the FEC solution (i.e.,
      proportion of transmitted symbols that carry useful data).

   'network packets' (output data plane for the CC):
      refers to the data that is transmitted by a CC sender to a CC
      receiver.  The network packets may contain source and/or repair
      symbols.

   'source and/or repair symbols' (data plane for the FEC):
      refers to the data that is transmitted by a FEC sender to a FEC
      receiver.  The sender can decide to send source symbols only
      (meaning that the coding rate is 0), repair symbols only (if the
      solution decides not to send the original source symbols), or a
      mix of both.

   The inputs to FEC (incoming data packets without repair symbols and
   signaling from the receiver about losses and/or recovered symbols)
   are distinct from the inputs to CC.  The latter calculates a sending
   rate or window from network information, and it takes the packet to
   send as input, sometimes along with application requirements such as
   upper/lower rate bounds, periods of quiescence, or a priority.  It is
   not clear that the ACK signals feeding into a congestion control
   algorithm are useful to FEC in their raw form, and vice versa;
   information about recovered blocks may be quite irrelevant to a CC
   algorithm.

2.3.  Relation between Transport Layer and Application Requirements

   The choice of the adequate transport layer may be related to
   application requirements and the services offered by a transport
   protocol [RFC8095]:

      The transport layer may implement a retransmission mechanism to
      guarantee the reliability of a data transfer (e.g., TCP).
      Depending on how the FEC and CC functions are scheduled (FEC above
      CC (Section 3), FEC in CC (Section 4), and FEC below CC
      (Section 5)), the impact of reliable transport on the FEC
      reliability mechanisms is different.

   The transport layer may provide an unreliable transport service
   (e.g., UDP or the Datagram Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP)
   [RFC4340]) or a partially reliable transport service (e.g., the
   Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) with the partial
   reliability extension [RFC3758] or QUIC with the unreliable datagram
   extension [RFC9221]).  Depending on the amount of redundancy and
   network conditions, there could be cases where it becomes impossible
   to carry traffic.  This is further discussed in Section 3 where a
   "FEC above CC" case is assessed and in Sections 4 and 5 where "FEC in
   CC" and "FEC below CC" are assessed, respectively.

2.4.  Scope of the Document Concerning Transport Multipath and
      Multistream Applications

   The application layer can be composed of several streams above FEC
   and transport-layer instances.  The transport layer can exploit a
   multipath mechanism.  The different streams could exploit different
   paths between the sender and the receiver.  Moreover, a single-stream
   application could also exploit a multipath transport mechanism.  This
   section describes what is in the scope of this document with regard
   to multistream applications and multipath transport protocols.

   The different combinations between multistream applications and
   multipath transport are the following: (1) one application-layer
   stream as input packets above a combination of FEC and multipath
   (Mpath) transport layers (Figure 5) and (2) multiple application-
   layer streams as input packets above a combination of FEC and
   multipath (Mpath) or single path (Spath) transport layers (Figure 6).
   This document further details cases I (in Section 3.7), II (in
   Section 4.6), and III (in Section 5.7) as illustrated in Figure 5.
   Cases IV, V, and VI of Figure 6 are related to how multiple streams
   are managed by a single transport or FEC layer; this does not
   directly concern the interaction between FEC and the transport and is
   out of the scope of this document.

         CASE I             CASE II            CASE III
    +---------------+  +---------------+  +---------------+
    |    Stream 1   |  |    Stream 2   |  |    Stream 3   |
    +---------------+  +---------------+  +---------------+

    +---------------+  +---------------+  +---------------+
    |      FEC      |  |      FEC      |  |Mpath Transport|
    +---------------+  |      in       |  +---------------+
                       |Mpath Transport|
    +---------------+  |               |  +-----+   +-----+
    |Mpath Transport|  |               |  |Flow1|...|FlowM|
    +---------------+  +---------------+  +-----+   +-----+

    +-----+   +-----+  +-----+   +-----+  +-----+   +-----+
    |Flow1|...|FlowM|  |Flow1|...|FlowM|  | FEC |...| FEC |
    +-----+   +-----+  +-----+   +-----+  +-----+   +-----+

     Figure 5: Transport Multipath and Single-Stream Applications - in
                         the Scope of the Document

         CASE IV                CASE  V                CASE VI
   +-------+   +-------+  +-------+   +-------+  +-------+   +-------+
   |Stream1|...|StreamM|  |Stream1|...|StreamM|  |Stream1|...|StreamM|
   +-------+   +-------+  +-------+   +-------+  +-------+   +-------+

   +-------------------+  +-------------------+  +-------------------+
   |                   |  |        FEC        |  |  Mpath Transport  |
   |        FEC        |  +-------------------+  +-------------------+
   |  above/in/below   |
   |  Spath Transport  |  +-------------------+  +-------------------+
   |                   |  |  Mpath Transport  |  |        FEC        |
   +-------------------+  +-------------------+  +-------------------+

   +-------------------+  +-----+       +-----+  +-----+       +-----+
   |        Flow       |  |Flow1|  ...  |FlowM|  |Flow1|  ...  |FlowM|
   +-------------------+  +-----+       +-----+  +-----+       +-----+

   Figure 6: Transport Single Path, Transport Multipath, and Multistream
              Applications - out of the Scope of the Document

2.5.  Types of Coding

   [RFC8406] summarizes recommended terminology for Network Coding
   concepts and constructs.  In particular, the document identifies the
   following coding types (among many others):

   Block Coding:  Coding technique where the input Flow must first be
      segmented into a sequence of blocks; FEC encoding and decoding are
      performed independently on a per-block basis.

   Sliding Window Coding:  General class of coding techniques that rely
      on a sliding encoding window.

   The decoding scheme may not be able to decode all the symbols.  The
   chance of decoding the erased packets depends on the size of the
   encoding window, the coding rate, and the distribution of erasure in
   the transmission channel.  The FEC channel may let the client
   transmit information related to the need of supplementary symbols to
   adapt the level of reliability.  Partial and full reliability could
   be envisioned.

   Full reliability:  The receiver may hold symbols until the decoding
      of source symbols is possible.  In particular, if the codec does
      not enable a subset of the system to be inverted, the receiver
      would have to wait for a certain minimum amount of repair packets
      before it can recover all the source symbols.

   Partial reliability:  The receiver cannot deliver source symbols that
      could not have been decoded to the upper layer.  For a fixed size
      of encoding window (for Sliding Window Coding) or of blocks (for
      Block Coding) containing the source symbols, increasing the amount
      of repair symbols would increase the chances of recovering the
      erased symbols.  However, this would have an impact on memory
      requirements, the cost of encoding and decoding processes, and the
      network overhead.

3.  FEC above the Transport

    | source                               ^ source
    | packets                              | packets
    v                                      |
   +-------------+                      +-------------+
   |FEC          |             signaling|FEC          |
   |             |             recovered|             |
   |             |               symbols|             |
   |             |                   <==|             |
   +-------------+                      +-------------+
    | source  ^                            ^ source
    | and/or  | sending                    | and/or
    | repair  | rate                       | repair
    | symbols | (or window)                | symbols
    v         |                            |
   +-------------+                      +-------------+
   |Transport    |               network|Transport    |
   |(incl. CC)   |           information|             |
   |             |network            <==|             |
   |             |packets               |             |
   +-------------+==>                   +-------------+

       SENDER                               RECEIVER

                     Figure 7: FEC above the Transport

   Figure 7 presents an architecture where FEC operates on top of the
   transport.

   The advantage of this approach is that the FEC overhead does not
   contribute to congestion in the network when congestion control is
   implemented at the transport layer, because the repair symbols are
   sent following the congestion window or rate determined by the CC
   mechanism.  This can result in an improved quality of experience for
   latency-sensitive applications such as Voice over IP (VoIP) or any
   not-fully reliable services.

   This approach requires that the transport protocol does not implement
   a fully reliable in-order data transfer service (e.g., like TCP).
   QUIC with the unreliable datagram extension [RFC9221] is an example
   of a protocol for which this is relevant.  In cases where the
   partially reliable transport is blocked and a fallback to a reliable
   transport is proposed, there is a risk for bad interactions between
   reliability at the transport level and coding schemes.  For reliable
   transfers, coding usage does not guarantee better performance;
   instead, it would mainly reduce goodput.

3.1.  Fairness and Impact on Non-coded Flows

   The addition of coding within the flow does not influence the
   interaction between coded and non-coded flows.  This interaction
   would mainly depend on the congestion controls associated with each
   flow.

3.2.  Congestion Control and Recovered Symbols

   The congestion control mechanism receives network packets and may not
   be able to differentiate repair symbols from actual source ones.
   This differentiation requires a transport protocol to provide more
   than the services described in [RFC8095], such as specifically
   indicating what information has been repaired.  The relevance of
   adding coding at the application layer is related to the needs of the
   application.  For real-time applications using an unreliable or
   partially reliable transport, this approach may reduce the number of
   losses perceived by the application.

3.3.  Interactions between Congestion Control and Coding Rates

   The coding rate applied at the application layer mainly depends on
   the available rate or congestion window given by the congestion
   control underneath.  The coding rate could be adapted to avoid adding
   overhead when the minimum required data rate of the application is
   not provided by the congestion control underneath.  When the
   congestion control allows sending faster than the application needs,
   adding coding can reduce packet losses and improve the quality of
   experience (provided that an unreliable or partially reliable
   transport is used).

3.4.  On Useless Repair Symbols

   The only case where adding useless repair symbols does not obviously
   result in reduced goodput is when the application rate is limited
   (e.g., VoIP traffic).  In this case, useless repair symbols would
   only impact the amount of data generated in the network.  Extra data
   in the network can, however, increase the likelihood of increasing
   delay and/or packet loss, which could provoke a congestion control
   reaction that would degrade goodput.

3.5.  On Partial Ordering at FEC Level

   Irrespective of the transport protocol, a FEC mechanism does not
   require implementing a reordering mechanism if the application does
   not need it.  However, if the application needs in-order delivery of
   packets, a reordering mechanism at the receiver is required.

3.6.  On Partial Reliability at FEC Level

   The application may require partial reliability.  In this case, the
   coding rate of a FEC mechanism could be adapted based on inputs from
   the application and the trade-off between latency and packet loss.
   Partial reliability impacts the type of FEC and type of codec that
   can be used, such as discussed in Section 2.5.

3.7.  On Multipath Transport and FEC Mechanism

   Whether the transport protocol exploits multiple paths or not does
   not have an impact on the FEC mechanism.

4.  FEC within the Transport

    | source                               ^ source
    | packets                              | packets
    v                                      |
   +------------+                      +------------+
   | Transport  |                      | Transport  |
   |            |                      |            |
   | +---+ +--+ |             signaling| +---+ +--+ |
   | |FEC| |CC| |             recovered| |FEC| |CC| |
   | +---+ +--+ |               symbols| +---+ +--+ |
   |            |                   <==|            |
   |            |network        network|            |
   |            |packets    information|            |
   +------------+ ==>               <==+------------+

       SENDER                              RECEIVER

                       Figure 8: FEC in the Transport

   Figure 8 presents an architecture where FEC operates within the
   transport.  The repair symbols are sent within what the congestion
   window or calculated rate allows, such as in [CTCP].

   The advantage of this approach is that it allows a joint optimization
   of CC and FEC.  Moreover, the transmission of repair symbols does not
   add congestion in potentially congested networks but helps repair
   lost packets (such as tail losses).  This joint optimization is the
   key to prevent flows to consume the whole available capacity.  The
   amount of repair traffic injected should not lead to congestion.  As
   denoted in [FEC-CONGESTION-CONTROL], an increase of the repair ratio
   should be done conjointly with a decrease of the source sending rate.

   The drawback of this approach is that it may require specific
   signaling and transport services that may not be described in
   [RFC8095].  Therefore, development and maintenance may require
   specific efforts at both the transport and the coding levels, and the
   design of the solution may end up being complex to suit different
   deployment needs.

   For reliable transfers, including redundancy reduces goodput for long
   transfers, but the amount of repair symbols can be adapted, e.g.,
   depending on the congestion window size.  There is a trade-off
   between 1) the capacity that could have been exploited by application
   data instead of transmitting source packets and 2) the benefits
   derived from transmitting repair symbols (e.g., unlocking the receive
   buffer if it is limiting).  The coding ratio needs to be carefully
   designed.  For small files, sending repair symbols when there is no
   more data to transmit could help to reduce the transfer time.
   Sending repair symbols can avoid the silence period between the
   transmission of the last packet in the send buffer and 1) firing a
   retransmission of lost packets or 2) the transmission of new packets.

   Examples of the solution could be to add a given percentage of the
   congestion window or rate as supplementary symbols or to send a fixed
   amount of repair symbols at a fixed rate.  The redundancy flow can be
   decorrelated from the congestion control that manages source packets;
   a separate congestion control entity could be introduced to manage
   the amount of recovered symbols to transmit on the FEC channel.  The
   separate congestion control instances could be made to work together
   while adhering to priorities, as in coupled congestion control for
   RTP media [RFC8699] in case all traffic can be assumed to take the
   same path, or otherwise with a multipath congestion window coupling
   mechanism as in Multipath TCP [RFC6356].  Another possibility would
   be to exploit a lower-than-best-effort congestion control [RFC6297]
   for repair symbols.

4.1.  Fairness and Impact on Non-coded Flows

   Specific interaction between congestion controls and coding schemes
   can be proposed (see Sections 4.2 and 4.3).  If no specific
   interaction is introduced, the coding scheme may hide congestion
   losses from the congestion controller, and the description of
   Section 5 may apply.

4.2.  Interactions between Congestion Control and Coding Rates

   The receiver can differentiate between source packets and repair
   symbols.  The receiver may indicate both the number of source packets
   received and the repair symbols that were actually useful in the
   recovery process of packets.  The congestion control at the sender
   can then exploit this information to tune congestion control
   behavior.

   There is an important flexibility in the trade-off, inherent to the
   use of coding, between (1) reducing goodput when useless repair
   symbols are transmitted and (2) helping to recover from losses
   earlier than with retransmissions.  The receiver may indicate to the
   sender the number of packets that have been received or recovered.
   The sender may use this information to tune the coding ratio.  For
   example, coupling an increased transmission rate with an increasing
   or decreasing coding rate could be envisioned.  A server may use a
   decreasing coding rate as a probe of the channel capacity and adapt
   the congestion control transmission rate.

4.3.  On Useless Repair Symbols

   The sender may exploit the information given by the receiver to
   reduce the number of useless repair symbols and improve goodput.

4.4.  On Partial Ordering at FEC and/or Transport Level

   The application may require in-order delivery of packets.  In this
   case, both FEC and transport-layer mechanisms should guarantee that
   packets are delivered in order.  If partial ordering is requested by
   the application, both the FEC and transport could relax the
   constraints related to in-order delivery; partial ordering impacts
   both the congestion control and the type of FEC and type of codec
   that can be used.

4.5.  On Partial Reliability at FEC Level

   The application may require partial reliability.  The reliability
   offered by FEC may be sufficient with no retransmission required.
   This depends on application needs and the trade-off between latency
   and loss.  Partial reliability impacts the type of FEC and type of
   codec that can be used, such as discussed in Section 2.5.

4.6.  On Transport Multipath and Subpath FEC Coding Rate

   The sender may adapt the coding rate of each of the single subpaths
   whether the congestion control is coupled or not.  There is an
   important flexibility on how the coding rate is tuned depending on
   the characteristics of each subpath.

5.  FEC below the Transport

    | source                               ^ source
    | packets                              | packets
    v                                      |
   +--------------+                      +--------------+
   |Transport     |               network|Transport     |
   |(including CC)|           information|              |
   |              |                   <==|              |
   +--------------+                      +--------------+
    | network packets                      ^ network packets
    v                                      |
   +--------------+                      +--------------+
   | FEC          |source                |  FEC         |
   |              |and/or       signaling|              |
   |              |repair       recovered|              |
   |              |symbols        symbols|              |
   |              |==>                <==|              |
   +--------------+                      +--------------+

       SENDER                                RECEIVER

                     Figure 9: FEC below the Transport

   Figure 9 presents an architecture where FEC is applied end to end
   below the transport layer but above the link layer.  Note that it is
   common to apply FEC at the link layer on one or more of the links
   that make up the end-to-end path.  The application of FEC at the link
   layer contributes to the total capacity that a link exposes to upper
   layers, but it may not be visible to either the end-to-end sender or
   the receiver, if the end-to-end sender and receiver are separated by
   more than one link; this is therefore out of scope for this document.
   This includes the use of FEC on top of a link layer in scenarios
   where the link is known by configuration.  In the scenario considered
   here, the repair symbols are not visible to the end-to-end congestion
   controller and may be sent on top of what is allowed by the
   congestion control.

   Including redundancy adds traffic without reducing goodput but incurs
   potential fairness issues.  The effective bit rate is higher than the
   CC's computed fair share due to the transmission of repair symbols,
   and losses are hidden from the transport.  This may cause a problem
   for loss-based congestion detection, but it is not a problem for
   delay-based congestion detection.

   The advantage of this approach is that it can result in performance
   gains when there are persistent transmission losses along the path.

   The drawback of this approach is that it can induce congestion in
   already congested networks.  The coding ratio needs to be carefully
   designed.

   Examples of the solution could be to add a given percentage of the
   congestion window or rate as supplementary symbols or to send a fixed
   amount of repair symbols at a fixed rate.  The redundancy flow can be
   decorrelated from the congestion control that manages source packets;
   a separate congestion control entity could be introduced to manage
   the amount of recovered symbols to transmit on the FEC channel.  The
   separate congestion control instances could be made to work together
   while adhering to priorities, as in coupled congestion control for
   RTP media [RFC8699] in case all traffic can be assumed to take the
   same path, or otherwise with a multipath congestion window coupling
   mechanism as in Multipath TCP [RFC6356].  Another possibility would
   be to exploit a lower-than-best-effort congestion control [RFC6297]
   for repair symbols.

5.1.  Fairness and Impact on Non-coded Flows

   The coding scheme may hide congestion losses from the congestion
   controller.  There are cases where this can drastically reduce the
   goodput of non-coded flows.  Depending on the congestion control, it
   may be possible to signal to the congestion control mechanism that
   there was congestion (loss) even when a packet has been recovered,
   e.g., using ECN, to reduce the impact on the non-coded flows (see
   Section 5.2 and [TENTET]).

5.2.  Congestion Control and Recovered Symbols

   The congestion control may not be aware of the existence of a coding
   scheme underneath it.  The congestion control may behave as if no
   coding scheme had been introduced.  The only way for a coding channel
   to indicate that symbols have been lost but recovered is to exploit
   existing signaling that is understood by the congestion control
   mechanism.  An example would be to indicate to a TCP sender that a
   packet has been received, yet congestion has occurred, by using ECN
   signaling [TENTET].

5.3.  Interactions between Congestion Control and Coding Rates

   The coding rate can be tuned depending on the number of recovered
   symbols and the rate at which the sender transmits data.  If the
   coding scheme is not aware of the congestion control implementation,
   it is hard for the coding scheme to apply the relevant coding rate.

5.4.  On Useless Repair Symbols

   Useless repair symbols only impact the load on the network without
   actual gain for the coded flow.  Using feedback signaling, FEC
   mechanisms can measure the ratio between the number of symbols that
   were actually used and the number of symbols that were useless, and
   adjust the coding rate.

5.5.  On Partial Ordering at FEC Level with In-Order Delivery Transport

   The transport above the FEC channel may support out-of-order delivery
   of packets; reordering mechanisms at the receiver may not be
   necessary.  In cases where the transport requires in-order delivery,
   the FEC channel may need to implement a reordering mechanism.
   Otherwise, spurious retransmissions may occur at the transport level.

5.6.  On Partial Reliability at FEC Level

   The transport or application layer above the FEC channel may require
   partial reliability only.  FEC may provide an unnecessary service
   unless it is aware of the reliability requirements.  Partial
   reliability impacts the type of FEC and codec that can be used, such
   as discussed in Section 2.5.

5.7.  FEC Not Aware of Transport Multipath

   The transport may exploit multiple paths without the FEC channel
   being aware of it.  If FEC is aware that multiple paths are in use,
   FEC can be applied to all subflows as an aggregate, or to each of the
   subflows individually.  If FEC is not aware that multiple paths are
   in use, FEC can only be applied to each subflow individually.  When
   FEC is applied to all the flows as an aggregate, the varying
   characteristics of the individual paths may lead to a risk for the
   coding rate to be inadequate for the characteristics of the
   individual paths.

6.  Research Recommendations and Questions

   This section provides a short state-of-the art overview of activities
   related to congestion control and coding.  The objective is to
   identify open research questions and contribute to advice when
   evaluating coding mechanisms.

6.1.  Activities Related to Congestion Control and Coding

   We map activities related to congestion control and coding with the
   organization presented in this document:

   For the FEC above transport case:  [RFC8680]

   For the FEC within transport case:  [CODING-FOR-QUIC], [QUIC-FEC],
      and [RFC5109]

   For the FEC below transport case:  [NCTCP] and [TETRYS]

6.2.  Open Research Questions

   There is a general trade-off, inherent to the use of coding, between
   (1) reducing goodput when useless repair symbols are transmitted and
   (2) helping to recover from transmission and congestion losses.

6.2.1.  Parameter Derivation

   There is a trade-off related to the amount of redundancy to add as a
   function of the transport-layer protocol and application
   requirements.

   [RFC8095] describes the mechanisms provided by existing IETF
   protocols such as TCP, SCTP, or RTP.  [RFC8406] describes the variety
   of coding techniques.  The number of combinations makes the
   determination of an optimum parameters derivation very complex.  This
   depends on application requirements and deployment context.

   Appendix C of [RFC8681] describes how to tune the parameters for a
   target use case.  However, this discussion does not integrate
   congestion-controlled end points.

   Research question 1:  "Is there a way to dynamically adjust the codec
      characteristics depending on the transmission channel, the
      transport protocol, and application requirements?"

   Research question 2:  "Should we apply specific per-stream FEC
      mechanisms when multiple streams with different reliability needs
      are carried out?"

6.2.2.  New Signaling Methods and Fairness

   Recovering lost symbols may hide congestion losses from the
   congestion control.  Disambiguating ACKed packets from rebuilt
   packets would help the sender adapt its sending rate accordingly.
   There are opportunities for introducing interaction between
   congestion control and coding schemes to improve the quality of
   experience while guaranteeing fairness with other flows.

   Some existing solutions already propose to disambiguate ACKed packets
   from rebuilt packets [QUIC-FEC].  New signaling methods and FEC-
   recovery-aware congestion controls could be proposed.  This would
   allow the design of adaptive coding rates.

   Research question 3:  "Should we quantify the harm that a coded flow
      would induce on a non-coded flow?  How can this be reduced while
      still benefiting from advantages brought by FEC?"

   Research question 4:  "If transport and FEC senders are collocated
      and close to the client, and FEC is applied only on the last mile,
      e.g., to ignore losses on a noisy wireless link, would this raise
      fairness issues?"

   Research question 5:  "Should we propose a generic API to allow
      dynamic interactions between a transport protocol and a coding
      scheme?  This should consider existing APIs between application
      and transport layers."

6.3.  Recommendations and Advice for Evaluating Coding Mechanisms

   Research Recommendation 1:  "From a congestion control point of view,
      a recovered packet must be considered as a lost packet.  This does
      not apply to the usage of FEC on a path that is known to be
      lossy."

   Research Recommendation 2:  "New research contributions should be
      mapped following the organization of this document (above, below,
      and in the congestion control) and should consider congestion
      control aspects when proposing and comparing FEC coding solutions
      in communication systems."

   Research Recommendation 3:  "When a research work aims at improving
      throughput by hiding the packet loss signal from congestion
      control (e.g., because the path between the sender and receiver is
      known to consist of a noisy wireless link), the authors should 1)
      discuss the advantages of using the proposed FEC solution compared
      to replacing the congestion control by one that ignores a portion
      of the encountered losses and 2) critically discuss the impact of
      hiding packet loss from the congestion control mechanism."

7.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no IANA actions.

8.  Security Considerations

   FEC and CC schemes can contribute to DoS attacks.  Moreover, the
   transmission of signaling messages from the client to the server
   should be protected and reliable; otherwise, an attacker may
   compromise FEC rate adaptation.  Indeed, an attacker could either
   modify the values indicated by the client or drop signaling messages.

   In case of FEC below the transport, the aggregate rate of source and
   repair packets may exceed the rate at which a congestion control
   mechanism allows an application to send.  This could result in an
   application obtaining more than its fair share of the network
   capacity.

9.  Informative References

   [BEYONDJAIN]
              Ware, R., Mukerjee, M. K., Seshan, S., and J. Sherry,
              "Beyond Jain's Fairness Index: Setting the Bar For The
              Deployment of Congestion Control Algorithms", HotNets '19:
              Proceedings of the 18th ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in
              Networks, DOI 10.1145/3365609.3365855, November 2019,
              <https://doi.org/10.1145/3365609.3365855>.

   [CODING-FOR-QUIC]
              Swett, I., Montpetit, M., Roca, V., and F. Michel, "Coding
              for QUIC", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-swett-
              nwcrg-coding-for-quic-04, 9 March 2020,
              <https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/draft-swett-nwcrg-
              coding-for-quic-04>.

   [CTCP]     Kim, M., Cloud, J., ParandehGheibi, A., Urbina, L., Fouli,
              K., Leith, D., and M. Medard, "Network Coded TCP (CTCP)",
              arXiv: 1212.2291v3, DOI 10.48550/arXiv.1212.2291, April
              2013, <https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.1212.2291>.

   [FEC-CONGESTION-CONTROL]
              Singh, V., Nagy, M., Ott, J., and L. Eggert, "Congestion
              Control Using FEC for Conversational Media", Work in
              Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-singh-rmcat-adaptive-fec-
              03, 20 March 2016, <https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/
              draft-singh-rmcat-adaptive-fec-03>.

   [FLOW-RATE-FAIRNESS]
              Briscoe, B., "Flow Rate Fairness: Dismantling a Religion",
              Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-briscoe-tsvarea-
              fair-02, 11 July 2007,
              <https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/draft-briscoe-
              tsvarea-fair-02>.

   [NCTCP]    Sundararajan, J., Shah, D., Médard, M., Jakubczak, S.,
              Mitzenmacher, M., and J. Barros, "Network Coding Meets
              TCP: Theory and Implementation", Proceedings of the IEEE
              (Volume: 99, Issue: 3), DOI 10.1109/JPROC.2010.2093850,
              March 2011, <https://doi.org/10.1109/JPROC.2010.2093850>.

   [QUIC-FEC] Michel, F., De Coninck, Q., and O. Bonaventure, "QUIC-FEC:
              Bringing the benefits of Forward Erasure Correction to
              QUIC", DOI 10.23919/IFIPNetworking.2019.8816838, May 2019,
              <https://doi.org/10.23919/IFIPNetworking.2019.8816838>.

   [RFC3168]  Ramakrishnan, K., Floyd, S., and D. Black, "The Addition
              of Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) to IP",
              RFC 3168, DOI 10.17487/RFC3168, September 2001,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc3168>.

   [RFC3758]  Stewart, R., Ramalho, M., Xie, Q., Tuexen, M., and P.
              Conrad, "Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP)
              Partial Reliability Extension", RFC 3758,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC3758, May 2004,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc3758>.

   [RFC4340]  Kohler, E., Handley, M., and S. Floyd, "Datagram
              Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP)", RFC 4340,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4340, March 2006,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc4340>.

   [RFC5109]  Li, A., Ed., "RTP Payload Format for Generic Forward Error
              Correction", RFC 5109, DOI 10.17487/RFC5109, December
              2007, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5109>.

   [RFC5681]  Allman, M., Paxson, V., and E. Blanton, "TCP Congestion
              Control", RFC 5681, DOI 10.17487/RFC5681, September 2009,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5681>.

   [RFC6297]  Welzl, M. and D. Ros, "A Survey of Lower-than-Best-Effort
              Transport Protocols", RFC 6297, DOI 10.17487/RFC6297, June
              2011, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6297>.

   [RFC6356]  Raiciu, C., Handley, M., and D. Wischik, "Coupled
              Congestion Control for Multipath Transport Protocols",
              RFC 6356, DOI 10.17487/RFC6356, October 2011,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6356>.

   [RFC8095]  Fairhurst, G., Ed., Trammell, B., Ed., and M. Kuehlewind,
              Ed., "Services Provided by IETF Transport Protocols and
              Congestion Control Mechanisms", RFC 8095,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8095, March 2017,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8095>.

   [RFC8406]  Adamson, B., Adjih, C., Bilbao, J., Firoiu, V., Fitzek,
              F., Ghanem, S., Lochin, E., Masucci, A., Montpetit, M-J.,
              Pedersen, M., Peralta, G., Roca, V., Ed., Saxena, P., and
              S. Sivakumar, "Taxonomy of Coding Techniques for Efficient
              Network Communications", RFC 8406, DOI 10.17487/RFC8406,
              June 2018, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8406>.

   [RFC8680]  Roca, V. and A. Begen, "Forward Error Correction (FEC)
              Framework Extension to Sliding Window Codes", RFC 8680,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8680, January 2020,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8680>.

   [RFC8681]  Roca, V. and B. Teibi, "Sliding Window Random Linear Code
              (RLC) Forward Erasure Correction (FEC) Schemes for
              FECFRAME", RFC 8681, DOI 10.17487/RFC8681, January 2020,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8681>.

   [RFC8699]  Islam, S., Welzl, M., and S. Gjessing, "Coupled Congestion
              Control for RTP Media", RFC 8699, DOI 10.17487/RFC8699,
              January 2020, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8699>.

   [RFC9221]  Pauly, T., Kinnear, E., and D. Schinazi, "An Unreliable
              Datagram Extension to QUIC", RFC 9221,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC9221, March 2022,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc9221>.

   [TENTET]   Lochin, E., "On the joint use of TCP and Network Coding",
              NWCRG Session, IETF 100, November 2017,
              <https://datatracker.ietf.org/meeting/100/materials/
              slides-100-nwcrg-07-lochin-on-the-joint-use-of-tcp-and-
              network-coding-00>.

   [TETRYS]   Detchart, J., Lochin, E., Lacan, J., and V. Roca, "Tetrys,
              an On-the-Fly Network Coding protocol", Work in Progress,
              Internet-Draft, draft-detchart-nwcrg-tetrys-08, 17 October
              2021, <https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/draft-
              detchart-nwcrg-tetrys-08>.

Acknowledgements

   Many thanks to Spencer Dawkins, Dave Oran, Carsten Bormann, Vincent
   Roca, and Marie-Jose Montpetit for their useful comments that helped
   improve the document.

Authors' Addresses

   Nicolas Kuhn
   CNES
   Email: nicolas.kuhn.ietf@gmail.com

   Emmanuel Lochin
   ENAC
   Email: emmanuel.lochin@enac.fr

   François Michel
   UCLouvain
   Email: francois.michel@uclouvain.be

   Michael Welzl
   University of Oslo
   Email: michawe@ifi.uio.no