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A key feature of wireless mesh networks is that multiple independent paths through the network are available. Multiple descriptions coding is often suggested as a source coding scheme to take advantage of this path diversity. We compare multiple description (MD) coding with path diversity (PD) against a full-rate single description (SD) coder without PD, and two simple PD methods of 1) repeating a half-rate SD coder over both paths and 2) repeating the full-rate parent SD coder over the two paths. We first present a theoretical analysis comparing the average distortion per symbol in packetized communication using the above mentioned MD and PD methods to transmit a memoryless Gaussian source over additive white Gaussian noise channels. Next, using two new MD speech coders with balanced side descriptions derived from the AMR-WB and G.729 standards, we evaluate delivered voice quality using PESQ-MOS and compare MD coding against the PD methods for random and bursty packet losses. Both the theoretical analyses and the speech coding experiments show that with packet overheads, the simple PD methods may be preferable to MD coding. A new performance measure that incorporates both quality and bit rate is shown to account for the tradeoffs more explicitly.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2007