Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bandwidth shaping, P2P and bittorrent

At least this post is not directly about TalkTalk, my service now appears to be stable and usable but still holding thumbs.

I've had a think about their 'fair usage' policy and how more and more ISPs are proposing or imposing these types of restrictions on their customers.

The problem and clash arises when people are using P2P content delivery ligitimately.

Apple are proposing to build in bit torrent capabilities into their next version of OS X 10.5 to "to help distribute the load of sending out security and software updates, as well as some iTunes content."

Warner bros have just struck a deal to distrbute movies over bit torrent, with same day release as DVD's as reported here by the BBC News.

TalkTalk's current policy will flag and restrict these customers.

Some of newer video podcasts are sharing their HD format on P2P discussed rather nicely on Twit:tv in this podcast.

There is clearly a clash between content distributors using P2P to save their bandwidth bills and ISP trying to reduce their bandwidth bills by restricting P2P.

Ironically, if I want to download a 500Meg HD show, my ISP will pay up for the 500Mb regardless how I get it. The person suffering is the distributor if P2P is not an option since they will have to host the file themselves and pay their ISP for bandwidth everytime it's uploaded. A problem for popular items with say 10,000 hits - you do the math! Ouch!

If that host is in the US and I'm in the UK then my ISP's gonna fork out premium rates for the full 500 Mb on the US/UK backbone.

However, if it's on P2P lets assume 50% of the 500Mb gets downloaded from Europe and 20% of that from within the UK.

The Result: Cheaper cost of bandwidth for my ISP for the same content and I'll probably get it faster.

My ISP wins, the only way they can win further is if their policy deters me from downloading the file at all (if it's only available on P2P). That pisses the customer off and they stand a chance of losing that customer, whose not prepare to wait up until 1am or leave their PC running overnight.

It's not an issue of legality with this policy either, if P2P were deamed to be illegal (and it's not - see next paragragh) then they would have to block P2P outright, not limit it to non-peak times.

P2P cannot be deemed illegal because people choose to share copy right materials, if that were the case the internet itself should be shutdown. Operating systems share files. Networks share files, so does e-mail, ftp, ICQ, IRC, Messengers, browsers, USB keys, CD-RW, DVD-RW, Skype etc etc are all illegal too as they are all capable of file sharing.

Here is a great article high lighting this issue, "When unlimited broadband really means limited"

The only way to police bandwidth hogs is to monitor their usage and warn accordingly.

No comments: