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Network Working Group                                       L-E. Jonsson
INTERNET-DRAFT                                                  Ericsson
Expires: March 2005                                   September 14, 2004

               Requirements on ROHC TCP/IP Header Compression

Status of this memo

   By submitting this Internet-Draft, I (we) certify that any applicable
   patent or other IPR claims of which I am (we are) aware have been
   disclosed, and any of which I (we) become aware will be disclosed, in
   accordance with RFC 3668 (BCP 79).

   By submitting this Internet-Draft, I (we) accept the provisions of
   Section 3 of RFC 3667 (BCP 78).

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   This document is a submission of the IETF ROHC WG. Comments should be
   directed to the ROHC WG mailing list, rohc@ietf.org.


   This document contains requirements on the TCP/IP header compression
   scheme (profile) to be developed by the ROHC WG. The document
   discusses the scope of TCP compression, performance considerations,
   assumptions on the surrounding environment, as well as IPR concerns.
   The structure of this document is inherited from the document
   defining RTP/UDP/IP requirements [5] for ROHC.

Jonsson                                                         [Page 1]

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Table of Contents

   1. Introduction.....................................................2
   2. Header Compression Requirements..................................2
      2.1. Impact on Internet Infrastructure...........................3
      2.2. Supported Headers and Kinds of TCP Streams..................3
      2.3. Performance Issues..........................................4
      2.4. Requirements Related to Link Layer Characteristics..........6
      2.5. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)..........................7
   3. Security Consideration...........................................7
   4. IANA Considerations..............................................7
   5. Acknowledgments..................................................7
   6. Authors' Address.................................................7
   7. Informative References...........................................8

1. Introduction

   The goal of the ROHC WG is to develop header compression schemes that
   perform well over links with high error rates and long link roundtrip
   times. The schemes must perform well for cellular links, using
   technologies such as WCDMA, EDGE, and CDMA-2000. However, the schemes
   should also be applicable to other link technologies with high loss
   and long roundtrip times.

   The main objective for ROHC has been robust compression of
   IP/UDP/RTP, but the WG is also chartered to develop new header
   compression solutions for IP/TCP [1], [2]. Since TCP traffic, in
   contrast to RTP, has usually been sent over reliable links, existing
   schemes for TCP, [3] and [4], have not experienced the same
   robustness problems as RTP compression. However, there are still many
   scenarios where TCP header compression will be implemented over less
   reliable links [11], [12], making robustness an important objective
   also for the new TCP compression scheme. Other, equally important,
   objectives for ROHC TCP compression are: improved compression
   efficiency, enhanced capabilities for compression of header fields
   including TCP options, and finally incorporation of TCP compression
   into the ROHC framework [6].

2. Header Compression Requirements

   The following requirements have, more or less arbitrarily, been
   divided into five groups. The first group deals with requirements
   concerning the impact of a header compression scheme on the rest of
   the Internet infrastructure. The second group defines what kind of
   headers must be compressed efficiently, while the third and fourth
   groups concern performance requirements and capability requirements
   that stem from the properties of link technologies where ROHC TCP is
   expected to be used. Finally, the fifth section discusses
   Intellectual Property Rights related to ROHC TCP compression.

Jonsson                                                         [Page 2]

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2.1. Impact on Internet Infrastructure

   1. Transparency: When a header is compressed and then decompressed,
      the resulting header must be semantically identical to the
      original header. If this cannot be achieved, the packet containing
      the erroneous header must be discarded.

      Justification: The header compression process must not produce
      headers that might cause problems for any current or future part
      of the Internet infrastructure.

      Note: The ROHC WG has not found a case where "semantically
      identical" is not the same as "bitwise identical".

   2. Ubiquity: Must not require modifications to existing IP (v4 or
      v6) or TCP implementations.

      Justification: Ease of deployment.

      Note: The ROHC WG may recommend changes that would increase the
      compression efficiency for the TCP streams emitted by
      implementations. However, ROHC cannot rely on such recommendations
      being followed.

      Note: Several TCP variants are currently in use on the Internet.
      This requirement implies that the header compression scheme must
      work efficiently and correctly for all expected TCP variants.

2.2. Supported Headers and Kinds of TCP Streams

   1. IPv4 and IPv6: Must support both IPv4 and IPv6. This means that
      all expected changes in the IP header fields must be handled by
      the compression scheme, and commonly changing fields should be
      compressed efficiently. Compression must still be possible when
      IPv6 Extensions are present in the header. When designing the
      compression scheme, the usage of Explicit Congestion Notification
      (ECN) [10] should be considered as a common behavior. Therefore,
      the scheme must compress efficiently also in the case when the ECN
      bits are used.

      Justification: IPv4 and IPv6 will both be around for the
      foreseeable future, and Options/Extensions are expected to be more
      commonly used. ECN is expected to have a breakthrough and be
      widely deployed, especially in combination with TCP.

   2. Mobile IP: The kinds of headers used by Mobile IP{v4,v6} must be
      supported and should be compressed efficiently. For IPv4 these
      include headers of tunneled packets. For IPv6 they include headers
      containing the Routing Header, and the Home Address Option.

Jonsson                                                         [Page 3]

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      Justification: It is very likely that Mobile IP will be used by
      cellular devices.

   3. Generality: Must handle all headers from arbitrary TCP streams.

      Justification: There must be a generic scheme which can compress
      reasonably well for any TCP traffic pattern. This does not
      preclude optimizations for certain traffic patterns.

   4. IPSEC: The scheme should be able to compress headers containing
      IPSEC sub-headers where the NULL encryption algorithm is used.

      Justification: IPSEC is expected to be used to provide necessary
      end-to-end security.

      Note: It is not possible to compress the encrypted part of an ESP
      header, nor the cryptographic data in an AH header.

   5. TCP: All fields supported by [4] should be handled with efficient
      compression, and so also the cases when the SYN, FIN or TCP ECN
      [10] bits are set.

      Justification: These bits are expected to be commonly used.

   6. TCP options: The scheme must support compression of packets with
      any TCP option present, even if the option itself is not
      compressed. Further, for some commonly used options the scheme
      should provide compression mechanisms also for the options.

      Justification: Since various TCP options are commonly used,
      applicability of the compression scheme would be significantly
      reduced if packets with options could not be compressed.

      Note: Options that should be compressed are:
            - Selective Acknowledgement (SACK), [8], [9]
            - Timestamp, [7]

2.3. Performance Issues

   1. Performance/Spectral Efficiency: The scheme must provide low
      relative overhead under expected operating conditions; compression
      efficiency should be better than for RFC 2507 [4] under equivalent
      operating conditions.

      Justification: Spectrum efficiency is a primary goal.

      Note: The relative overhead is the average header overhead
      relative to the payload. Any auxiliary (e.g., control or feedback)
      channels used by the scheme should be taken into account when
      calculating the header overhead.

Jonsson                                                         [Page 4]

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   2. Losses between compressor and decompressor: The scheme should make
      sure losses between compressor and decompressor do not result in
      losses of subsequent packets, or cause damage to the context that
      result in incorrect decompression of subsequent packet headers.

      Justification: Even though link layer retransmission in most cases
      is expected to almost eliminate losses between compressor and
      decompressor, there are still many scenarios where TCP header
      compression will be implemented over less reliable links [11],
      [12]. In such cases, loss propagation due to header compression
      could affect certain TCP mechanisms that are capable of handling
      some losses, and have a negative impact on the performance of TCP
      loss recovery.

   3. Residual errors in compressed headers: Residual errors in
      compressed headers may result in delivery of incorrectly
      decompressed headers not only for the damaged packet itself, but
      also for subsequent packets, since errors may be saved in the
      context state. For TCP, the compression scheme is not required to
      implement explicit mechanisms for residual error detection, but
      the compression scheme must not affect TCP's end-to-end mechanisms
      for error detection.

      Justification: For links carrying TCP traffic, the residual error
      rate is expected to be insignificant. However, residual errors may
      still occur, especially in the end-to-end path, and therefore it
      is crucial that TCP is not prevented from handling these.

      Note: This requirement implies that the TCP checksum must be
      carried unmodified in all compressed headers.

      Note: The error detection mechanism in TCP may be able to detect
      residual bit errors, but the mechanism is not designed for this
      purpose, and might actually provide a rather weak protection.
      Therefore, although it is not a requirement on the compression
      scheme, it should be possible for the decompressor to detect
      residual errors and discard such packets.

   4. Short-lived TCP transfers: The scheme should provide mechanisms
      for efficient compression of short-lived TCP transfers, minimizing
      the size of context initiation headers.

      Justification: Many TCP transfers are short-lived. This may lead
      to a low gain for header compression schemes that, for each new
      packet stream, require full headers to be sent initially and allow
      small compressed headers only after the initialization phase.

      Note: This requirement implies that mechanisms for building new
      contexts based on information from previous contexts or for
      concurrent packet streams to share context information should be

Jonsson                                                         [Page 5]

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   5a. Moderate Packet Misordering: The scheme should efficiently handle
      moderate misordering (2-3 packets) in the packet stream reaching
      the compressor.

      Justification: This kind of misordering is common.

   5b. Packet Misordering: The scheme must be able to correctly handle
      and preferably compress also when there are misordered packets in
      the TCP stream reaching the compressor.

      Justification: Misordering happens regularly in the Internet.
      However, since the Internet is engineered to run TCP reasonably
      well, excessive misordering will not be common and need not be
      handled with optimum efficiency.

   6. Processing delay: The scheme should not contribute significantly
      to the system delay budget.

2.4. Requirements Related to Link Layer Characteristics

   1. Unidirectional links: Must be possible to implement (possibly with
      less efficiency) without explicit feedback messages from
      decompressor to compressor.

      Justification: There are links that do not provide a feedback
      channel or where feedback is not desirable for other reasons.

   2. Link delay: Must operate under all expected link delay conditions.

   3. Header compression coexistence: The scheme must fit into the ROHC
      framework together with other ROHC profiles (e.g. [6]).

   4. Note on misordering between compressor and decompressor:

      When compression is applied over tunnels, misordering often cannot
      be completely avoided. The header compression scheme should not
      prohibit misordering between compressor and decompressor, as it
      would therefore not be applicable in many tunneling scenarios.
      However, in the case of tunneling, it is usually possible to get
      misordering indications. Therefore, the compression scheme does
      not have to support detection of misordering, but can assume that
      such information is available from lower layers when misordering
      can occur.

Jonsson                                                         [Page 6]

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2.5. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

   The ROHC WG must spend effort to achieve a high degree of confidence
   that there are no known IPR that covers a final compression solution
   for TCP.

   Justification: Currently there is no TCP header compression scheme
   available that can efficiently compress the packet headers of modern
   TCP, e.g. with SACK, ECN, etc. ROHC is expected to fill this gap by
   providing a ROHC TCP scheme that is applicable in the wide area
   Internet, not only over error-prone radio links. It must thus attempt
   to be as future-proof as possible, and only unencumbered solutions
   will be acceptable to the Internet at large.

3. Security Consideration

   A protocol specified to meet these requirements must be able to
   compress packets containing IPSEC headers according to the IPSEC
   requirement, 2.2.4. There may be other security aspects to consider
   in such protocols.  This document by itself, however, does not add
   any security risks.

4. IANA Considerations

   A protocol that meets these requirements will require the IANA to
   assign various numbers. This document by itself, however, does not
   require any IANA involvement.

5. Acknowledgments

   This document has evolved through fruitful discussions with and input
   from Gorry Fairhurst, Carsten Bormann, Mikael Degermark, Mark West,
   Jan Kullander, Qian Zhang, Richard Price, and Aaron Falk. The
   document quality was significantly improved thanks to Peter Eriksson,
   who made a thorough linguistic review.

   Last, but not least, Ghyslain Pelletier and Kristofer Sandlund served
   as committed working group document reviewers.

6. Authors' Address

   Lars-Erik Jonsson              Phone: +46 8 404 29 61
   Ericsson AB                    Fax:   +46 920 996 21
   Box 920
   SE-971 28 Lulea
   Sweden                         EMail: lars-erik.jonsson@ericsson.com

Jonsson                                                         [Page 7]

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7. Informative References

   [1]  Jon Postel, Internet Protocol, RFC 791, September 1981.

   [2]  Jon Postel, Transport Control Protocol, RFC 793, September 1981.

   [3]  Van Jacobson, "Compressing TCP/IP Headers for Low-Speed Serial
        Links", RFC 1144, February 1990.

   [4]  Mikael Degermark, Bjorn Nordgren, Stephen Pink, "IP Header
        Compression", RFC 2507, February 1999.

   [5]  Mikael Degermark, "Requirements for IP/UDP/RTP header
        compression", RFC 3096, July 2001.

   [6]  Carsten Bormann, et. al., "Robust Header Compression (ROHC)",
        RFC 3095, July 2001.

   [7]  Van Jacobson, Bob Braden, Dave Borman, "TCP Extensions for High
        Performance", RFC 1323, May 1992.

   [8]  Matt Mathis, Jamshid Mahdavi, Sally Floyd, Allyn Romanow, "TCP
        Selective Acknowledgement Option", RFC 2018, October 1996.

   [9]  Sally Floyd, Jamshid Mahdavi, Matt Mathis, Matthew Podolsky, "An
        Extension to the Selective Acknowledgement (SACK) Option for
        TCP", RFC 2883, July 2000.

   [10] K. K. Ramakrishnan, Sally Floyd, David L. Black, "The Addition
        of Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) to IP", RFC 3168,
        September 2001.

   [11] Spencer Dawkins, Gabriel Montenegro, Markku Kojo, Vincent
        Magret, "End-to-end Performance Implications of Slow Links", RFC
        3150, July 2001.

   [12] Gorry Fairhurst, Lloyd Wood, "Advice to link designers on link
        Automatic Repeat reQuest (ARQ)", RFC 3366, August 2002.

Jonsson                                                         [Page 8]

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Intellectual Property Statement

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   specification can be obtained from the IETF on-line IPR repository at

   The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any
   copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary
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   this standard. Please address the information to the IETF at ietf-

Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004). This document is subject
   to the rights, licenses and restrictions contained in BCP 78, and
   except as set forth therein, the authors retain all their rights.

Disclaimer of Validity

   This document and the information contained herein are provided on an

This Internet-Draft expires March 14, 2005.

Jonsson                                                         [Page 9]

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