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P2P Bandwidth Battle

torrent-freak-logo.jpgNew reports on the Torrent Freak site suggest that Comcast is inhibiting certain P2P activities with traffic-shaping technology. I don’t find this terribly surprising, but it does make me wonder when we’ll hit the tipping point where access to P2P applications becomes a large enough consumer issue that ISPs have to address the issue publicly. (More publicly than they have to date.)

Interestingly, I can compare some quotes from ISPs from the Torrent Freak article with quotes I ferreted out a while ago from one analyst and one P2P vendor. (Read quotes after the jump) From the ISP side, it sounds like an outright war is going on. From the P2P side, it sounds like everyone’s at the negotiating table.

Once again, the whole dilemma centers on bandwidth. Given that bandwidth is limited, operators have three options: find ways to expand it (ex. lay fiber), make it work harder (ex. channel bonding) or control it (ex. traffic shaping). The cost/benefit analysis goes on daily behind closed operator doors, and the factors that go into that analysis – like the popularity of P2P applications – are continually shifting.

ISP Quotes from Torrent Freak Post:

“The fact is, P2P is (from my point of view) a plague – a cancer, that will consume all the bandwidth that I can provide. It’s an insatiable appetite.”

“P2P applications can cripple a network, they’re like leaches. Just because you pay 49.99 for a 1.5-3.0mbps connection doesn’t mean your entitled to use whatever protocols you wish on your ISP’s network without them provisioning it to make the network experience good for all users involved.”

Quotes from the P2P Side:

“I think Joost wants to be a good neighbor — another reason the Volpi appointment is useful. [Mike Volpi, former Cisco exec] If Joost can find a way to allow those who have made a large investment in last-mile access to participate, I think that makes them an even better service and able to grow faster. If Joost wants to get preferential transport, Mike can call people up and make things happen. -In-Stat analyst Gerry Kaufhold, Screenplays Magazine article

At a Cable IPTV conference, Sanjay Desai of Brightcove said that partnerships with network operators are critical, precisely because of the bandwidth issue. I believe he also mentioned something about being a “good neighbor”.

One Response

  1. […] August 29th, 2007 · No Comments Cable operators face a catch-22. To attract premium subscribers they have to sell broadband service on the merits of the rich, multimedia experiences that a high-speed connection provides. Unfortunately, to support those rich experiences, they have to hope that most people won’t be overzealous in using them. […]

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