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In this letter, we present a performance comparison between multiple description coding (MDC) and unequal loss protection (ULP) for progressive image transmission over lossy packet networks. Two optimization criteria are considered, i.e., a multi-quality criterion, when N distinct quality levels are guaranteed at the decoder side, and the optimization of the expected quality at the receiver. We resort to both a semi-analytical approach and simulation results. To enable numerical comparisons, we address a specific MDC algorithm suitable for progressive imaging, and a state-of-the-art ULP algorithm based on Reed Solomon codes. The results, although cannot be generalized to any MDC and ULP methods, are useful to put into evidence some general features that can drive the selection of the most proper technique for the application at hand. In fact, they allow to put into evidence the main advantages and drawbacks of either technique.