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There is an increasing demand for supporting real-time audiovisual services over next-generation wired and wireless networks. Various link/network characteristics make the deployment of such demanding services more challenging than traditional data applications like e-mail and the Web. These audiovisual applications are bandwidth adaptive but have stringent delay, jitter, and packet loss requirements. Consequently, one of the major requirements for the successful and wide deployment of such services is the efficient transmission of sensitive content (audio, video, image) over a broad range of bandwidth-constrained access networks. These media will be typically compressed according to the emerging ISO/IEC MPEG-4 standard to achieve high bandwidth efficiency and content-based interactivity. MPEG-4 provides an integrated object-oriented representation and coding of natural and synthetic audiovisual content for its manipulation and transport over a broad range of communication infrastructures. In This work, we leverage the characteristics of MPEG-4 and Internet protocol (IP) differentiated service frameworks, to propose an innovative cross-layer content delivery architecture that is capable of receiving information from the network and adaptively tune transport parameters, bit rates, and QoS mechanisms according to the underlying network conditions. This service-aware IP transport architecture is composed of: 1) an automatic content-level audiovisual object classification model; 2) a reliable application level framing protocol with fine-grained TCP-Friendly rate control and adaptive unequal error protection; and 3) a service-level QoS matching/packet tagging algorithm for seamless IP differentiated service delivery. The obtained results demonstrate, that breaking the OSI protocol layer isolation paradigm and injecting content-level semantic and service-level requirements within the transport and traffic control protocols, lead to intelligent and efficient support of multimedia services over complex network architectures.