RFC 8838

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                           E. Ivov
Request for Comments: 8838                                   8x8 / Jitsi
Category: Standards Track                                      J. Uberti
ISSN: 2070-1721                                                   Google
                                                          P. Saint-Andre
                                                            January 2021

Trickle ICE: Incremental Provisioning of Candidates for the Interactive
               Connectivity Establishment (ICE) Protocol


   This document describes "Trickle ICE", an extension to the
   Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) protocol that enables
   ICE agents to begin connectivity checks while they are still
   gathering candidates, by incrementally exchanging candidates over
   time instead of all at once.  This method can considerably accelerate
   the process of establishing a communication session.

Status of This Memo

   This is an Internet Standards Track document.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Further information on
   Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2021 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction
   2.  Terminology
   3.  Determining Support for Trickle ICE
   4.  Generating the Initial ICE Description
   5.  Handling the Initial ICE Description and Generating the Initial
           ICE Response
   6.  Handling the Initial ICE Response
   7.  Forming Checklists
   8.  Performing Connectivity Checks
   9.  Gathering and Conveying Newly Gathered Local Candidates
   10. Pairing Newly Gathered Local Candidates
   11. Receiving Trickled Candidates
   12. Inserting Trickled Candidate Pairs into a Checklist
   13. Generating an End-of-Candidates Indication
   14. Receiving an End-of-Candidates Indication
   15. Subsequent Exchanges and ICE Restarts
   16. Half Trickle
   17. Preserving Candidate Order While Trickling
   18. Requirements for Using Protocols
   19. IANA Considerations
   20. Security Considerations
   21. References
     21.1.  Normative References
     21.2.  Informative References
   Appendix A.  Interaction with Regular ICE
   Appendix B.  Interaction with ICE-Lite

   Authors' Addresses

1.  Introduction

   The Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) protocol [RFC8445]
   describes how an ICE agent gathers candidates, exchanges candidates
   with a peer ICE agent, and creates candidate pairs.  Once the pairs
   have been gathered, the ICE agent will perform connectivity checks
   and eventually nominate and select pairs that will be used for
   sending and receiving data within a communication session.

   Following the procedures in [RFC8445] can lead to somewhat lengthy
   establishment times for communication sessions, because candidate
   gathering often involves querying Session Traversal Utilities for NAT
   (STUN) servers [RFC5389] and allocating relayed candidates on
   Traversal Using Relay NAT (TURN) servers [RFC5766].  Although many
   ICE procedures can be completed in parallel, the pacing requirements
   from [RFC8445] still need to be followed.

   This document defines "Trickle ICE", a supplementary mode of ICE
   operation in which candidates can be exchanged incrementally as soon
   as they become available (and simultaneously with the gathering of
   other candidates).  Connectivity checks can also start as soon as
   candidate pairs have been created.  Because Trickle ICE enables
   candidate gathering and connectivity checks to be done in parallel,
   the method can considerably accelerate the process of establishing a
   communication session.

   This document also defines how to discover support for Trickle ICE,
   how the procedures in [RFC8445] are modified or supplemented when
   using Trickle ICE, and how a Trickle ICE agent can interoperate with
   an ICE agent compliant to [RFC8445].

   This document does not define any protocol-specific usage of Trickle
   ICE.  Instead, protocol-specific details for Trickle ICE are defined
   in separate usage documents.  Examples of such documents are
   [RFC8840] (which defines usage with the Session Initiation Protocol
   (SIP) [RFC3261] and the Session Description Protocol (SDP) [RFC4566])
   and [XEP-0176] (which defines usage with the Extensible Messaging and
   Presence Protocol (XMPP) [RFC6120]).  However, some of the examples
   in the document use SDP and the Offer/Answer model [RFC3264] to
   explain the underlying concepts.

   The following diagram illustrates a successful Trickle ICE exchange
   with a using protocol that follows the Offer/Answer model:

           Alice                                            Bob
             |                     Offer                     |
             |            Additional Candidates              |
             |                     Answer                    |
             |            Additional Candidates              |
             | Additional Candidates and Connectivity Checks |
             |<========== CONNECTION ESTABLISHED ===========>|

                               Figure 1: Flow

   The main body of this document is structured to describe the behavior
   of Trickle ICE agents in roughly the order of operations and
   interactions during an ICE session:

   1.  Determining support for Trickle ICE

   2.  Generating the initial ICE description

   3.  Handling the initial ICE description and generating the initial
       ICE response

   4.  Handling the initial ICE response

   5.  Forming checklists, pruning candidates, performing connectivity
       checks, etc.

   6.  Gathering and conveying candidates after the initial ICE
       description and response

   7.  Handling inbound trickled candidates

   8.  Generating and handling the end-of-candidates indication

   9.  Handling ICE restarts

   There is quite a bit of operational experience with the technique
   behind Trickle ICE, going back as far as 2005 (when the XMPP Jingle
   extension defined a "dribble mode" as specified in [XEP-0176]); this
   document incorporates feedback from those who have implemented and
   deployed the technique over the years.

2.  Terminology

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP
   14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all
   capitals, as shown here.

   This specification makes use of all terminology defined for
   Interactive Connectivity Establishment in [RFC8445].  In addition, it
   defines the following terms:

   Empty Checklist:  A checklist that initially does not contain any
      candidate pairs because they will be incrementally added as they
      are trickled.  (This scenario does not arise with a regular ICE
      agent, because all candidate pairs are known when the agent
      creates the checklist set.)

   Full Trickle:  The typical mode of operation for Trickle ICE agents,
      in which the initial ICE description can include any number of
      candidates (even zero candidates) and does not need to include a
      full generation of candidates as in half trickle.

   Generation:  All of the candidates conveyed within an ICE session
      (correlated with a particular Username Fragment and Password

   Half Trickle:  A Trickle ICE mode of operation in which the initiator
      gathers a full generation of candidates strictly before creating
      and conveying the initial ICE description.  Once conveyed, this
      candidate information can be processed by regular ICE agents,
      which do not require support for Trickle ICE.  It also allows
      Trickle-ICE-capable responders to still gather candidates and
      perform connectivity checks in a non-blocking way, thus providing
      roughly "half" the advantages of Trickle ICE.  The half-trickle
      mechanism is mostly meant for use when the responder's support for
      Trickle ICE cannot be confirmed prior to conveying the initial ICE

   ICE Description:  Any attributes related to the ICE session (other
      than candidates) required to configure an ICE agent.  These
      include but are not limited to the Username Fragment, the
      Password, and other attributes.

   Trickled Candidates:  Candidates that a Trickle ICE agent conveys
      after conveying or responding to the initial ICE description, but
      within the same ICE session.  Trickled candidates can be conveyed
      in parallel with candidate gathering and connectivity checks.

   Trickling:  The act of incrementally conveying trickled candidates.

3.  Determining Support for Trickle ICE

   To fully support Trickle ICE, using protocols SHOULD incorporate one
   of the following mechanisms so that implementations can determine
   whether Trickle ICE is supported:

   1.  Provide a capabilities discovery method so that agents can verify
       support of Trickle ICE prior to initiating a session (XMPP's
       Service Discovery [XEP-0030] is one such mechanism).

   2.  Make support for Trickle ICE mandatory so that user agents can
       assume support.

   If a using protocol does not provide a method of determining ahead of
   time whether Trickle ICE is supported, agents can make use of the
   half-trickle procedure described in Section 16.

   Prior to conveying the initial ICE description, agents that implement
   using protocols that support capabilities discovery can attempt to
   verify whether or not the remote party supports Trickle ICE.  If an
   agent determines that the remote party does not support Trickle ICE,
   it MUST fall back to using regular ICE or abandon the entire session.

   Even if a using protocol does not include a capabilities discovery
   method, a user agent can provide an indication within the ICE
   description that it supports Trickle ICE by communicating an ICE
   option of 'trickle'.  This token MUST be provided either at the
   session level or, if at the data stream level, for every data stream
   (an agent MUST NOT specify Trickle ICE support for some data streams
   but not others).  Note: The encoding of the 'trickle' ICE option, and
   the message(s) used to carry it to the peer, are protocol specific;
   for instance, the encoding for SDP [RFC4566] is defined in [RFC8840].

   Dedicated discovery semantics and half trickle are needed only prior
   to initiation of an ICE session.  After an ICE session is established
   and Trickle ICE support is confirmed for both parties, either agent
   can use full trickle for subsequent exchanges (see also Section 15).

4.  Generating the Initial ICE Description

   An ICE agent can start gathering candidates as soon as it has an
   indication that communication is imminent (e.g., a user-interface cue
   or an explicit request to initiate a communication session).  Unlike
   in regular ICE, in Trickle ICE implementations do not need to gather
   candidates in a blocking manner.  Therefore, unless half trickle is
   being used, the user experience is improved if the initiating agent
   generates and transmits its initial ICE description as early as
   possible (thus enabling the remote party to start gathering and
   trickling candidates).

   An initiator MAY include any mix of candidates when conveying the
   initial ICE description.  This includes the possibility of conveying
   all the candidates the initiator plans to use (as in half trickle),
   conveying only a publicly reachable IP address (e.g., a candidate at
   a data relay that is known to not be behind a firewall), or conveying
   no candidates at all (in which case the initiator can obtain the
   responder's initial candidate list sooner, and the responder can
   begin candidate gathering more quickly).

   For candidates included in the initial ICE description, the methods
   for calculating priorities and foundations, determining redundancy of
   candidates, and the like work just as in regular ICE [RFC8445].

5.  Handling the Initial ICE Description and Generating the Initial ICE

   When a responder receives the initial ICE description, it will first
   check if the ICE description or initiator indicates support for
   Trickle ICE as explained in Section 3.  If not, the responder MUST
   process the initial ICE description according to regular ICE
   procedures [RFC8445] (or, if no ICE support is detected at all,
   according to relevant processing rules for the using protocol, such
   as Offer/Answer processing rules [RFC3264]).  However, if support for
   Trickle ICE is confirmed, a responder will automatically assume
   support for regular ICE as well.

   If the initial ICE description indicates support for Trickle ICE, the
   responder will determine its role and start gathering and
   prioritizing candidates; while doing so, it will also respond by
   conveying an initial ICE response, so that both the initiator and the
   responder can form checklists and begin connectivity checks.

   A responder can respond to the initial ICE description at any point
   while gathering candidates.  The initial ICE response MAY contain any
   set of candidates, including all candidates or no candidates.  (The
   benefit of including no candidates is to convey the initial ICE
   response as quickly as possible, so that both parties can consider
   the ICE session to be under active negotiation as soon as possible.)

   As noted in Section 3, in using protocols that use SDP, the initial
   ICE response can indicate support for Trickle ICE by including a
   token of 'trickle' in the ice-options attribute.

6.  Handling the Initial ICE Response

   When processing the initial ICE response, the initiator follows
   regular ICE procedures to determine its role, after which it forms
   checklists (Section 7) and performs connectivity checks (Section 8).

7.  Forming Checklists

   According to regular ICE procedures [RFC8445], in order for candidate
   pairing to be possible and for redundant candidates to be pruned, the
   candidates would need to be provided in the initial ICE description
   and initial ICE response.  By contrast, under Trickle ICE, checklists
   can be empty until candidates are conveyed or received.  Therefore, a
   Trickle ICE agent handles checklist formation and candidate pairing
   in a slightly different way than a regular ICE agent: the agent still
   forms the checklists, but it populates a given checklist only after
   it actually has candidate pairs for that checklist.  Every checklist
   is initially placed in the Running state, even if the checklist is
   empty (this is consistent with Section of [RFC8445]).

8.  Performing Connectivity Checks

   As specified in [RFC8445], whenever timer Ta fires, only checklists
   in the Running state will be picked when scheduling connectivity
   checks for candidate pairs.  Therefore, a Trickle ICE agent MUST keep
   each checklist in the Running state as long as it expects candidate
   pairs to be incrementally added to the checklist.  After that, the
   checklist state is set according to the procedures in [RFC8445].

   Whenever timer Ta fires and an empty checklist is picked, no action
   is performed for the list.  Without waiting for timer Ta to expire
   again, the agent selects the next checklist in the Running state, in
   accordance with Section of [RFC8445].

   Section of [RFC8445] requires that agents update checklists
   and timer states upon completing a connectivity check transaction.
   During such an update, regular ICE agents would set the state of a
   checklist to Failed if both of the following two conditions are

   *  all of the pairs in the checklist are in either the Failed state
      or the Succeeded state; and

   *  there is not a pair in the valid list for each component of the
      data stream.

   With Trickle ICE, the above situation would often occur when
   candidate gathering and trickling are still in progress, even though
   it is quite possible that future checks will succeed.  For this
   reason, Trickle ICE agents add the following conditions to the above

   *  all candidate gathering has completed, and the agent is not
      expecting to discover any new local candidates; and

   *  the remote agent has conveyed an end-of-candidates indication for
      that checklist as described in Section 13.

9.  Gathering and Conveying Newly Gathered Local Candidates

   After Trickle ICE agents have conveyed initial ICE descriptions and
   initial ICE responses, they will most likely continue gathering new
   local candidates as STUN, TURN, and other non-host candidate
   gathering mechanisms begin to yield results.  Whenever an agent
   discovers such a new candidate, it will compute its priority, type,
   foundation, and component ID according to regular ICE procedures.

   The new candidate is then checked for redundancy against the existing
   list of local candidates.  If its transport address and base match
   those of an existing candidate, it will be considered redundant and
   will be ignored.  This would often happen for server-reflexive
   candidates that match the host addresses they were obtained from
   (e.g., when the latter are public IPv4 addresses).  Contrary to
   regular ICE, Trickle ICE agents will consider the new candidate
   redundant regardless of its priority.

   Next, the agent "trickles" the newly discovered candidate(s) to the
   remote agent.  The actual delivery of the new candidates is handled
   by a using protocol such as SIP or XMPP.  Trickle ICE imposes no
   restrictions on the way this is done (e.g., some using protocols
   might choose not to trickle updates for server-reflexive candidates
   and instead rely on the discovery of peer-reflexive ones).

   When candidates are trickled, the using protocol MUST deliver each
   candidate (and any end-of-candidates indication as described in
   Section 13) to the receiving Trickle ICE implementation exactly once
   and in the same order it was conveyed.  If the using protocol
   provides any candidate retransmissions, they need to be hidden from
   the ICE implementation.

   Also, candidate trickling needs to be correlated to a specific ICE
   session, so that if there is an ICE restart, any delayed updates for
   a previous session can be recognized as such and ignored by the
   receiving party.  For example, using protocols that signal candidates
   via SDP might include a Username Fragment value in the corresponding
   a=candidate line, such as:

     a=candidate:1 1 UDP 2130706431 2001:db8::1 5000 typ host ufrag 8hhY

   Or, as another example, WebRTC implementations might include a
   Username Fragment in the JavaScript objects that represent

   Note: The using protocol needs to provide a mechanism for both
   parties to indicate and agree on the ICE session in force (as
   identified by the Username Fragment and Password combination), so
   that they have a consistent view of which candidates are to be
   paired.  This is especially important in the case of ICE restarts
   (see Section 15).

   Note: A using protocol might prefer not to trickle server-reflexive
   candidates to entities that are known to be publicly accessible and
   where sending a direct STUN binding request is likely to reach the
   destination faster than the trickle update that travels through the
   signaling path.

10.  Pairing Newly Gathered Local Candidates

   As a Trickle ICE agent gathers local candidates, it needs to form
   candidate pairs; this works as described in the ICE specification
   [RFC8445], with the following provisos:

   1.  A Trickle ICE agent MUST NOT pair a local candidate until it has
       been trickled to the remote party.

   2.  Once the agent has conveyed the local candidate to the remote
       party, the agent checks if any remote candidates are currently
       known for this same stream and component.  If not, the agent
       merely adds the new candidate to the list of local candidates
       (without pairing it).

   3.  Otherwise, if the agent has already learned of one or more remote
       candidates for this stream and component, it attempts to pair the
       new local candidate as described in the ICE specification

   4.  If a newly formed pair has a local candidate whose type is
       server-reflexive, the agent MUST replace the local candidate with
       its base before completing the relevant redundancy tests.

   5.  The agent prunes redundant pairs by following the rules in
       Section of [RFC8445] but checks existing pairs only if
       they have a state of Waiting or Frozen; this avoids removal of
       pairs for which connectivity checks are in flight (a state of
       In-Progress) or for which connectivity checks have already
       yielded a definitive result (a state of Succeeded or Failed).

   6.  If, after completing the relevant redundancy tests, the checklist
       where the pair is to be added already contains the maximum number
       of candidate pairs (100 by default as per [RFC8445]), the agent
       SHOULD discard any pairs in the Failed state to make room for the
       new pair.  If there are no such pairs, the agent SHOULD discard a
       pair with a lower priority than the new pair in order to make
       room for the new pair, until the number of pairs is equal to the
       maximum number of pairs.  This processing is consistent with
       Section of [RFC8445].

11.  Receiving Trickled Candidates

   At any time during an ICE session, a Trickle ICE agent might receive
   new candidates from the remote agent, from which it will attempt to
   form a candidate pair; this works as described in the ICE
   specification [RFC8445], with the following provisos:

   1.  The agent checks if any local candidates are currently known for
       this same stream and component.  If not, the agent merely adds
       the new candidate to the list of remote candidates (without
       pairing it).

   2.  Otherwise, if the agent has already gathered one or more local
       candidates for this stream and component, it attempts to pair the
       new remote candidate as described in the ICE specification

   3.  If a newly formed pair has a local candidate whose type is
       server-reflexive, the agent MUST replace the local candidate with
       its base before completing the redundancy check in the next step.

   4.  The agent prunes redundant pairs as described below but checks
       existing pairs only if they have a state of Waiting or Frozen;
       this avoids removal of pairs for which connectivity checks are in
       flight (a state of In-Progress) or for which connectivity checks
       have already yielded a definitive result (a state of Succeeded or

       A.  If the agent finds a redundancy between two pairs and one of
           those pairs contains a newly received remote candidate whose
           type is peer-reflexive, the agent SHOULD discard the pair
           containing that candidate, set the priority of the existing
           pair to the priority of the discarded pair, and re-sort the
           checklist.  (This policy helps to eliminate problems with
           remote peer-reflexive candidates for which a STUN Binding
           request is received before signaling of the candidate is
           trickled to the receiving agent, such as a different view of
           pair priorities between the local agent and the remote agent,
           because the same candidate could be perceived as peer-
           reflexive by one agent and as server-reflexive by the other

       B.  The agent then applies the rules defined in Section
           of [RFC8445].

   5.  If, after completing the relevant redundancy tests, the checklist
       where the pair is to be added already contains the maximum number
       of candidate pairs (100 by default as per [RFC8445]), the agent
       SHOULD discard any pairs in the Failed state to make room for the
       new pair.  If there are no such pairs, the agent SHOULD discard a
       pair with a lower priority than the new pair in order to make
       room for the new pair, until the number of pairs is equal to the
       maximum number of pairs.  This processing is consistent with
       Section of [RFC8445].

12.  Inserting Trickled Candidate Pairs into a Checklist

   After a local agent has trickled a candidate and formed a candidate
   pair from that local candidate (Section 9), or after a remote agent
   has received a trickled candidate and formed a candidate pair from
   that remote candidate (Section 11), a Trickle ICE agent adds the new
   candidate pair to a checklist as defined in this section.

   As an aid to understanding the procedures defined in this section,
   consider the following tabular representation of all checklists in an
   agent (note that initially for one of the foundations, i.e., f5,
   there are no candidate pairs):

               |                 | f1 | f2 | f3 | f4 | f5 |
               | s1 (Audio.RTP)  | F  | F  | F  |    |    |
               | s2 (Audio.RTCP) | F  | F  | F  | F  |    |
               | s3 (Video.RTP)  | F  |    |    |    |    |
               | s4 (Video.RTCP) | F  |    |    |    |    |

                   Table 1: Example of Checklist State

   Each row in the table represents a component for a given data stream
   (e.g., s1 and s2 might be the RTP and RTP Control Protocol (RTCP)
   components for audio) and thus a single checklist in the checklist
   set.  Each column represents one foundation.  Each cell represents
   one candidate pair.  In the tables shown in this section, "F" stands
   for "frozen", "W" stands for "waiting", and "S" stands for
   "succeeded"; in addition, "^^" is used to notate newly added
   candidate pairs.

   When an agent commences ICE processing, in accordance with
   Section of [RFC8445], for each foundation it will unfreeze
   the pair with the lowest component ID and, if the component IDs are
   equal, with the highest priority (this is the topmost candidate pair
   in every column).  This initial state is shown in the following

               |                 | f1 | f2 | f3 | f4 | f5 |
               | s1 (Audio.RTP)  | W  | W  | W  |    |    |
               | s2 (Audio.RTCP) | F  | F  | F  | W  |    |
               | s3 (Video.RTP)  | F  |    |    |    |    |
               | s4 (Video.RTCP) | F  |    |    |    |    |

                     Table 2: Initial Checklist State

   Then, as the checks proceed (see Section of [RFC8445]), for
   each pair that enters the Succeeded state (denoted here by "S"), the
   agent will unfreeze all pairs for all data streams with the same
   foundation (e.g., if the pair in column 1, row 1 succeeds then the
   agent will unfreeze the pairs in column 1, rows 2, 3, and 4).

               |                 | f1 | f2 | f3 | f4 | f5 |
               | s1 (Audio.RTP)  | S  | W  | W  |    |    |
               | s2 (Audio.RTCP) | W  | F  | F  | W  |    |
               | s3 (Video.RTP)  | W  |    |    |    |    |
               | s4 (Video.RTCP) | W  |    |    |    |    |

                 Table 3: Checklist State with Succeeded
                              Candidate Pair

   Trickle ICE preserves all of these rules as they apply to "static"
   checklist sets.  This implies that if a Trickle ICE agent were to
   begin connectivity checks with all of its pairs already present, the
   way that pair states change is indistinguishable from that of a
   regular ICE agent.

   Of course, the major difference with Trickle ICE is that checklist
   sets can be dynamically updated because candidates can arrive after
   connectivity checks have started.  When this happens, an agent sets
   the state of the newly formed pair as described below.

   Rule 1: If the newly formed pair has the lowest component ID and, if
   the component IDs are equal, the highest priority of any candidate
   pair for this foundation (i.e., if it is the topmost pair in the
   column), set the state to Waiting.  For example, this would be the
   case if the newly formed pair were placed in column 5, row 1.  This
   rule is consistent with Section of [RFC8445].

               |                 | f1 | f2 | f3 | f4 | f5  |
               | s1 (Audio.RTP)  | S  | W  | W  |    | ^W^ |
               | s2 (Audio.RTCP) | W  | F  | F  | W  |     |
               | s3 (Video.RTP)  | W  |    |    |    |     |
               | s4 (Video.RTCP) | W  |    |    |    |     |

                    Table 4: Checklist State with Newly
                            Formed Pair, Rule 1

   Rule 2: If there is at least one pair in the Succeeded state for this
   foundation, set the state to Waiting.  For example, this would be the
   case if the pair in column 5, row 1 succeeded and the newly formed
   pair were placed in column 5, row 2.  This rule is consistent with
   Section of [RFC8445].

               |                 | f1 | f2 | f3 | f4 | f5  |
               | s1 (Audio.RTP)  | S  | W  | W  |    | S   |
               | s2 (Audio.RTCP) | W  | F  | F  | W  | ^W^ |
               | s3 (Video.RTP)  | W  |    |    |    |     |
               | s4 (Video.RTCP) | W  |    |    |    |     |

                    Table 5: Checklist State with Newly
                            Formed Pair, Rule 2

   Rule 3: In all other cases, set the state to Frozen.  For example,
   this would be the case if the newly formed pair were placed in column
   3, row 3.

               |                 | f1 | f2 | f3  | f4 | f5 |
               | s1 (Audio.RTP)  | S  | W  | W   |    | S  |
               | s2 (Audio.RTCP) | W  | F  | F   | W  | W  |
               | s3 (Video.RTP)  | W  |    | ^F^ |    |    |
               | s4 (Video.RTCP) | W  |    |     |    |    |

                    Table 6: Checklist State with Newly
                            Formed Pair, Rule 3

13.  Generating an End-of-Candidates Indication

   Once all candidate gathering is completed or expires for an ICE
   session associated with a specific data stream, the agent will
   generate an "end-of-candidates" indication for that session and
   convey it to the remote agent via the signaling channel.  Although
   the exact form of the indication depends on the using protocol, the
   indication MUST specify the generation (Username Fragment and
   Password combination), so that an agent can correlate the end-of-
   candidates indication with a particular ICE session.  The indication
   can be conveyed in the following ways:

   *  As part of an initiation request (which would typically be the
      case with the initial ICE description for half trickle)

   *  Along with the last candidate an agent can send for a stream

   *  As a standalone notification (e.g., after STUN Binding requests or
      TURN Allocate requests to a server time out and the agent is no
      longer actively gathering candidates)

   Conveying an end-of-candidates indication in a timely manner is
   important in order to avoid ambiguities and speed up the conclusion
   of ICE processing.  In particular:

   *  A controlled Trickle ICE agent SHOULD convey an end-of-candidates
      indication after it has completed gathering for a data stream,
      unless ICE processing terminates before the agent has had a chance
      to complete gathering.

   *  A controlling agent MAY conclude ICE processing prior to conveying
      end-of-candidates indications for all streams.  However, it is
      RECOMMENDED for a controlling agent to convey end-of-candidates
      indications whenever possible for the sake of consistency and to
      keep middleboxes and controlled agents up-to-date on the state of
      ICE processing.

   When conveying an end-of-candidates indication during trickling
   (rather than as a part of the initial ICE description or a response
   thereto), it is the responsibility of the using protocol to define
   methods for associating the indication with one or more specific data

   An agent MAY also choose to generate an end-of-candidates indication
   before candidate gathering has actually completed, if the agent
   determines that gathering has continued for more than an acceptable
   period of time.  However, an agent MUST NOT convey any more
   candidates after it has conveyed an end-of-candidates indication.

   When performing half trickle, an agent SHOULD convey an end-of-
   candidates indication together with its initial ICE description
   unless it is planning to potentially trickle additional candidates
   (e.g., in case the remote party turns out to support Trickle ICE).

   After an agent conveys the end-of-candidates indication, it will
   update the state of the corresponding checklist as explained in
   Section 8.  Past that point, an agent MUST NOT trickle any new
   candidates within this ICE session.  Therefore, adding new candidates
   to the negotiation is possible only through an ICE restart (see
   Section 15).

   This specification does not override regular ICE semantics for
   concluding ICE processing.  Therefore, even if end-of-candidates
   indications are conveyed, an agent will still need to go through pair
   nomination.  Also, if pairs have been nominated for components and
   data streams, ICE processing MAY still conclude even if end-of-
   candidates indications have not been received for all streams.  In
   all cases, an agent MUST NOT trickle any new candidates within an ICE
   session after nomination of a candidate pair as described in
   Section 8.1.1 of [RFC8445].

14.  Receiving an End-of-Candidates Indication

   Receiving an end-of-candidates indication enables an agent to update
   checklist states and, in case valid pairs do not exist for every
   component in every data stream, determine that ICE processing has
   failed.  It also enables an agent to speed up the conclusion of ICE
   processing when a candidate pair has been validated but uses a lower-
   preference transport such as TURN.  In such situations, an
   implementation MAY choose to wait and see if higher-priority
   candidates are received; in this case, the end-of-candidates
   indication provides a notification that such candidates are not

   When an agent receives an end-of-candidates indication for a specific
   data stream, it will update the state of the relevant checklist as
   per Section 8 (which might lead to some checklists being marked as
   Failed).  If the checklist is still in the Running state after the
   update, the agent will note that an end-of-candidates indication has
   been received and take it into account in future updates to the

   After an agent has received an end-of-candidates indication, it MUST
   ignore any newly received candidates for that data stream or data

15.  Subsequent Exchanges and ICE Restarts

   Before conveying an end-of-candidates indication, either agent MAY
   convey subsequent candidate information at any time allowed by the
   using protocol.  When this happens, agents will use semantics from
   [RFC8445] (e.g., checking of the Username Fragment and Password
   combination) to determine whether or not the new candidate
   information requires an ICE restart.

   If an ICE restart occurs, the agents can assume that Trickle ICE is
   still supported if support was determined previously; thus, they can
   engage in Trickle ICE behavior as they would in an initial exchange
   of ICE descriptions where support was determined through a
   capabilities discovery method.

16.  Half Trickle

   In half trickle, the initiator conveys the initial ICE description
   with a usable but not necessarily full generation of candidates.
   This ensures that the ICE description can be processed by a regular
   ICE responder and is mostly meant for use in cases where support for
   Trickle ICE cannot be confirmed prior to conveying the initial ICE
   description.  The initial ICE description indicates support for
   Trickle ICE, so that the responder can respond with something less
   than a full generation of candidates and then trickle the rest.  The
   initial ICE description for half trickle can contain an end-of-
   candidates indication, although this is not mandatory because if
   trickle support is confirmed, then the initiator can choose to
   trickle additional candidates before it conveys an end-of-candidates

   The half-trickle mechanism can be used in cases where there is no way
   for an agent to verify in advance whether a remote party supports
   Trickle ICE.  Because the initial ICE description contains a full
   generation of candidates, it can thus be handled by a regular ICE
   agent, while still allowing a Trickle ICE agent to use the
   optimization defined in this specification.  This prevents
   negotiation from failing in the former case while still giving
   roughly half the Trickle ICE benefits in the latter.

   Use of half trickle is only necessary during an initial exchange of
   ICE descriptions.  After both parties have received an ICE
   description from their peer, they can each reliably determine Trickle
   ICE support and use it for all subsequent exchanges (see Section 15).

   In some instances, using half trickle might bring more than just half
   the improvement in terms of user experience.  This can happen when an
   agent starts gathering candidates upon user-interface cues that the
   user will soon be initiating an interaction, such as activity on a
   keypad or the phone going off hook.  This would mean that some or all
   of the candidate gathering could be completed before the agent
   actually needs to convey the candidate information.  Because the
   responder will be able to trickle candidates, both agents will be
   able to start connectivity checks and complete ICE processing earlier
   than with regular ICE and potentially even as early as with full

   However, such anticipation is not always possible.  For example, a
   multipurpose user agent or a WebRTC web page where communication is a
   non-central feature (e.g., calling a support line in case of a
   problem with the main features) would not necessarily have a way of
   distinguishing between call intentions and other user activity.  In
   such cases, using full trickle is most likely to result in an ideal
   user experience.  Even so, using half trickle would be an improvement
   over regular ICE because it would result in a better experience for

17.  Preserving Candidate Order While Trickling

   One important aspect of regular ICE is that connectivity checks for a
   specific foundation and component are attempted simultaneously by
   both agents, so that any firewalls or NATs fronting the agents would
   whitelist both endpoints and allow all except for the first
   ("suicide") packets to go through.  This is also important to
   unfreezing candidates at the right time.  While not crucial,
   preserving this behavior in Trickle ICE is likely to improve ICE

   To achieve this, when trickling candidates, agents SHOULD respect the
   order of components as reflected by their component IDs; that is,
   candidates for a given component SHOULD NOT be conveyed prior to
   candidates for a component with a lower ID number within the same
   foundation.  In addition, candidates SHOULD be paired, following the
   procedures in Section 12, in the same order they are conveyed.

   For example, the following SDP description contains two components
   (RTP and RTCP) and two foundations (host and server-reflexive):

     o=jdoe 2890844526 2890842807 IN IP4
     c=IN IP4
     t=0 0
     m=audio 5000 RTP/AVP 0
     a=rtpmap:0 PCMU/8000
     a=candidate:1 1 UDP 2130706431 5000 typ host
     a=candidate:1 2 UDP 2130706431 5001 typ host
     a=candidate:2 1 UDP 1694498815 5000 typ srflx
         raddr rport 8998
     a=candidate:2 2 UDP 1694498815 5001 typ srflx
         raddr rport 8998

   For this candidate information, the RTCP host candidate would not be
   conveyed prior to the RTP host candidate.  Similarly, the RTP server-
   reflexive candidate would be conveyed together with or prior to the
   RTCP server-reflexive candidate.

18.  Requirements for Using Protocols

   In order to fully enable the use of Trickle ICE, this specification
   defines the following requirements for using protocols.

   *  A using protocol SHOULD provide a way for parties to advertise and
      discover support for Trickle ICE before an ICE session begins (see
      Section 3).

   *  A using protocol MUST provide methods for incrementally conveying
      (i.e., "trickling") additional candidates after conveying the
      initial ICE description (see Section 9).

   *  A using protocol MUST deliver each trickled candidate or end-of-
      candidates indication exactly once and in the same order it was
      conveyed (see Section 9).

   *  A using protocol MUST provide a mechanism for both parties to
      indicate and agree on the ICE session in force (see Section 9).

   *  A using protocol MUST provide a way for parties to communicate the
      end-of-candidates indication, which MUST specify the particular
      ICE session to which the indication applies (see Section 13).

19.  IANA Considerations

   IANA has registered the following ICE option in the "ICE Options"
   subregistry of the "Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE)
   registry", following the procedures defined in [RFC6336].

   ICE Option:  trickle

   Contact:  IESG <iesg@ietf.org>

   Change controller:  IESG

   Description:  An ICE option of 'trickle' indicates support for
      incremental communication of ICE candidates.

   Reference:  RFC 8838

20.  Security Considerations

   This specification inherits most of its semantics from [RFC8445], and
   as a result, all security considerations described there apply to
   Trickle ICE.

   If the privacy implications of revealing host addresses on an
   endpoint device are a concern (see, for example, the discussion in
   [RFC8828] and in Section 19 of [RFC8445]), agents can generate ICE
   descriptions that contain no candidates and then only trickle
   candidates that do not reveal host addresses (e.g., relayed

21.  References

21.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

   [RFC8445]  Keranen, A., Holmberg, C., and J. Rosenberg, "Interactive
              Connectivity Establishment (ICE): A Protocol for Network
              Address Translator (NAT) Traversal", RFC 8445,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8445, July 2018,

21.2.  Informative References

   [RFC1918]  Rekhter, Y., Moskowitz, B., Karrenberg, D., de Groot, G.
              J., and E. Lear, "Address Allocation for Private
              Internets", BCP 5, RFC 1918, DOI 10.17487/RFC1918,
              February 1996, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc1918>.

   [RFC3261]  Rosenberg, J., Schulzrinne, H., Camarillo, G., Johnston,
              A., Peterson, J., Sparks, R., Handley, M., and E.
              Schooler, "SIP: Session Initiation Protocol", RFC 3261,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC3261, June 2002,

   [RFC3264]  Rosenberg, J. and H. Schulzrinne, "An Offer/Answer Model
              with Session Description Protocol (SDP)", RFC 3264,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC3264, June 2002,

   [RFC4566]  Handley, M., Jacobson, V., and C. Perkins, "SDP: Session
              Description Protocol", RFC 4566, DOI 10.17487/RFC4566,
              July 2006, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc4566>.

   [RFC4787]  Audet, F., Ed. and C. Jennings, "Network Address
              Translation (NAT) Behavioral Requirements for Unicast
              UDP", BCP 127, RFC 4787, DOI 10.17487/RFC4787, January
              2007, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc4787>.

   [RFC5389]  Rosenberg, J., Mahy, R., Matthews, P., and D. Wing,
              "Session Traversal Utilities for NAT (STUN)", RFC 5389,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5389, October 2008,

   [RFC5766]  Mahy, R., Matthews, P., and J. Rosenberg, "Traversal Using
              Relays around NAT (TURN): Relay Extensions to Session
              Traversal Utilities for NAT (STUN)", RFC 5766,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5766, April 2010,

   [RFC6120]  Saint-Andre, P., "Extensible Messaging and Presence
              Protocol (XMPP): Core", RFC 6120, DOI 10.17487/RFC6120,
              March 2011, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6120>.

   [RFC6336]  Westerlund, M. and C. Perkins, "IANA Registry for
              Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) Options",
              RFC 6336, DOI 10.17487/RFC6336, July 2011,

   [RFC8828]  Uberti, J. and G. Shieh, "WebRTC IP Address Handling
              Requirements", RFC 8828, DOI 10.17487/RFC8828, January
              2021, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8828>.

   [RFC8840]  Ivov, E., Stach, T., Marocco, E., and C. Holmberg, "A
              Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Usage for Incremental
              Provisioning of Candidates for the Interactive
              Connectivity Establishment (Trickle ICE)", RFC 8840,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8840, January 2021,

   [XEP-0030] Hildebrand, J., Millard, P., Eatmon, R., and P. Saint-
              Andre, "XEP-0030: Service Discovery", XMPP Standards
              Foundation, XEP-0030, June 2008.

   [XEP-0176] Beda, J., Ludwig, S., Saint-Andre, P., Hildebrand, J.,
              Egan, S., and R. McQueen, "XEP-0176: Jingle ICE-UDP
              Transport Method", XMPP Standards Foundation, XEP-0176,
              June 2009.

Appendix A.  Interaction with Regular ICE

   The ICE protocol was designed to be flexible enough to work in and
   adapt to as many network environments as possible.  Despite that
   flexibility, ICE as specified in [RFC8445] does not by itself support
   Trickle ICE.  This section describes how trickling of candidates
   interacts with ICE.

   [RFC8445] describes the conditions required to update checklists and
   timer states while an ICE agent is in the Running state.  These
   conditions are verified upon transaction completion, and one of them
   stipulates that:

   |  if there is not a valid pair in the valid list for each component
   |  of the data stream associated with the checklist, the state of the
   |  checklist is set to Failed.

   This could be a problem and cause ICE processing to fail prematurely
   in a number of scenarios.  Consider the following case:

   1.  Alice and Bob are both located in different networks with Network
       Address Translation (NAT).  Alice and Bob themselves have
       different addresses, but both networks use the same private
       internet block (e.g., the "20-bit block" 172.16/12 specified in

   2.  Alice conveys to Bob the candidate, which also happens
       to correspond to an existing host on Bob's network.

   3.  Bob creates a candidate pair from his host candidate and, puts this one pair into a checklist, and starts

   4.  These checks reach the host at in Bob's network, which
       responds with an ICMP "port unreachable" error; per [RFC8445],
       Bob marks the transaction as Failed.

   At this point, the checklist only contains a Failed pair, and the
   valid list is empty.  This causes the data stream and potentially all
   ICE processing to fail, even though Trickle ICE agents can
   subsequently convey candidates that could succeed.

   A similar race condition would occur if the initial ICE description
   from Alice contains only candidates that can be determined as
   unreachable from any of the candidates that Bob has gathered (e.g.,
   this would be the case if Bob's candidates only contain IPv4
   addresses and the first candidate that he receives from Alice is an
   IPv6 one).

   Another potential problem could arise when a non-Trickle ICE
   implementation initiates an interaction with a Trickle ICE
   implementation.  Consider the following case:

   1.  Alice's client has a non-Trickle ICE implementation.

   2.  Bob's client has support for Trickle ICE.

   3.  Alice and Bob are behind NATs with address-dependent filtering

   4.  Bob has two STUN servers, but one of them is currently

   After Bob's agent receives Alice's initial ICE description, it would
   immediately start connectivity checks.  It would also start gathering
   candidates, which would take a long time because of the unreachable
   STUN server.  By the time Bob's answer is ready and conveyed to
   Alice, Bob's connectivity checks might have failed: until Alice gets
   Bob's answer, she won't be able to start connectivity checks and
   punch holes in her NAT.  The NAT would hence be filtering Bob's
   checks as originating from an unknown endpoint.

Appendix B.  Interaction with ICE-Lite

   The behavior of ICE-lite agents that are capable of Trickle ICE does
   not require any particular rules other than those already defined in
   this specification and [RFC8445].  This section is hence provided
   only for informational purposes.

   An ICE-lite agent would generate candidate information as per
   [RFC8445] and would indicate support for Trickle ICE.  Given that the
   candidate information will contain a full generation of candidates,
   it would also be accompanied by an end-of-candidates indication.

   When performing full trickle, a full ICE implementation could convey
   the initial ICE description or response thereto with no candidates.
   After receiving a response that identifies the remote agent as an
   ICE-lite implementation, the initiator can choose to not trickle any
   additional candidates.  The same is also true in the case when the
   ICE-lite agent initiates the interaction and the full ICE agent is
   the responder.  In these cases, the connectivity checks would be
   enough for the ICE-lite implementation to discover all potentially
   useful candidates as peer-reflexive.  The following example
   illustrates one such ICE session using SDP syntax:

           ICE-Lite                                          Bob
              |   Offer (a=ice-lite a=ice-options:trickle)    |
              |                                               |no cand
              |         Answer (a=ice-options:trickle)        |trickling
              |              Connectivity Checks              |
     peer rflx|                                               |
    cand disco|                                               |
              |<========== CONNECTION ESTABLISHED ===========>|

                             Figure 2: Example

   In addition to reducing signaling traffic, this approach also removes
   the need to discover STUN Bindings or make TURN allocations, which
   can considerably lighten ICE processing.


   The authors would like to thank Bernard Aboba, Flemming Andreasen,
   Rajmohan Banavi, Taylor Brandstetter, Philipp Hancke, Christer
   Holmberg, Ari Keränen, Paul Kyzivat, Jonathan Lennox, Enrico Marocco,
   Pal Martinsen, Nils Ohlmeier, Thomas Stach, Peter Thatcher, Martin
   Thomson, Brandon Williams, and Dale Worley for their reviews and
   suggestions on improving this document.  Sarah Banks, Roni Even, and
   David Mandelberg completed OPSDIR, GenART, and security reviews,
   respectively.  Thanks also to Ari Keränen and Peter Thatcher in their
   role as chairs and Ben Campbell in his role as responsible Area

Authors' Addresses

   Emil Ivov
   8x8, Inc. / Jitsi
   675 Creekside Way
   Campbell, CA 95008
   United States of America

   Phone: +1 512 420 6968
   Email: emcho@jitsi.org

   Justin Uberti
   747 6th Street S
   Kirkland, WA 98033
   United States of America

   Phone: +1 857 288 8888
   Email: justin@uberti.name

   Peter Saint-Andre
   P.O. Box 787
   Parker, CO 80134
   United States of America

   Phone: +1 720 256 6756
   Email: stpeter@mozilla.com
   URI:   https://www.mozilla.com/