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MPEG-2 video communications over ATM networks is one of the most active research areas in the field of computer communications. In the transmission process of a variable bit rate video signal over an ATM network, cells are inevitably exposed to delays, errors, and losses due to the statistical multiplexing used in these networks. These phenomena affect the quality of the video signal, and without adequate measures to control the propagation of the impairments, the quality of the service may fall below acceptable levels. In this paper, we study the impact of cell losses on the quality of an MPEG-2 video sequence encoded in a variable bit rate mode. We introduce a set of control mechanisms at different levels of the protocol architecture to be used in MPEG-2-based video communications systems using ATM networks as their underlying transmission mechanism. Our results (using different video sequences) show the effectiveness to improve the video quality by using a structured set of control mechanisms to overcome for the loss of cells carrying VBR MPEG-2 video streams. We argue that in order to be able to create video systems able to cope with cell losses encountered in computer communications systems, a structured set of error-resilient protocol mechanisms is needed.