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The conventional network layers are mainly designed for fixed networks and are not suitable to cope the challenges offered by the modern wireless networks. Moreover, certain functionalities can be implemented simultaneously in more than one layer. For example, unequal error protection (UEP) can be performed at the application layer, using forward error correction (FEC), but it is bandwidth inefficient. On the other hand, UEP can also be performed at the physical layer using hierarchical modulation to protect higher priority bits more strongly without any additional bandwidth, but at the cost of increased errors in the lower priority bits. The authors propose a cross-layer UEP approach to enhance reliability of scalable video by combining adaptive FEC at the application layer and hierarchical quadrature amplitude modulation (HQAM) at the physical layer. The idea is to slightly reduce the FEC protection of higher priority bits and increase the FEC protection of low-priority bits in such a fashion that the overall data rate at the application layer remains unchanged. The higher priority bits are additionally protected using HQAM at the physical layer. Simulation results show significant improvements in performance when the proposed scheme is used.