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Summary:

Napster, the first easy-to-share P2P file sharing network, was all the rage in the late 1990s before the record industry cracked down and drove it into bankruptcy. While the morality of Napster system is still topic of big debate, it role in the proliferation of broadband […]

Napster, the first easy-to-share P2P file sharing network, was all the rage in the late 1990s before the record industry cracked down and drove it into bankruptcy. While the morality of Napster system is still topic of big debate, it role in the proliferation of broadband cannot be denied. Consumer, tired of downloading files switched en masse to arguably faster cable and DSL connections. Thank you, Shawn Fanning, for helping the carriers come out of their financial doldrums. Napster, legal issues aside, was the first application that showed the consumers what was possible with broadband.

Napster’s legacy will be that it taught AOLers how to consume digital media. That it was okay to download music (and eventually video) instead of going to record stores or renting movies at local Blockbuster. The illegality of the service put an end to the business, but not the habit of digital consumption. Since then quite a few variants have come to market – Kazaa, Audio Galaxy, Earth Station, Bit Torrent – and they all have only reinforced the message. I had a chance to catch up Andrew Parker, chief technology officer of Cambridge, UK-based CacheLogic. The company studies traffic patterns on the Internet, and has often come-up with interesting data.

Parker was in town promoting his report on the state of P2P nation, and a new service called Streamsight monitoring network, that would be an array of CacheLogic appliances spread worldwide, that will collect information on the type of network traffic, which will then be available to carriers worldwide to get a better idea about what’s flowing on their pipes. Parker, a reserved Englishman on best of days was sluggish because of a pesky wisdom tooth that has been taking its time coming out of hiding. Despite the pain, we got into a spirited discussion, and came to a not-so-pleasant conclusion: P2P is driving consumer broadband demand….. and broadband is driving P2P uptake.

p2ptraffic

The symbiotic relationship between the two is reflected in this accompanying network traffic pattern graphic. It leads me to a few conclusions

+ The service providers have a little or no reason to block P2P traffic in the near terms, because it drives growth. And since most service providers are in growth mode, well, you know…. ehm!

+ In the long term, however P2P traffic if not managed properly is going to become a big problem.

+ The explosion in P2P traffic is going to have an impact on the people who don’t use the P2P services as well.

+ Due to P2P’s symmetrical nature on average 80% of upstream capacity is consumed by P2P

Parker told me that many television and old line television companies are experimenting with P2P technologies for video distribution. BBC and Sky are the most public about their plans, but there are others who are looking to use P2P to get more viewers for their content. I think on a more longer term, this is an interesting situation and brings up some niggling questions about Silicon Valley’s concept of the moment: The Long Tail. I guess, as niche content finds it footing, one has to wonder who is really footing the bill for the distribution.

I mean be it P2P or iTunes or Rhapsody, we are simply shifting to cost of distribution over to the “pipe owners” who are (whether they like it or not,) being reduced to “mere conduits,” or utilities. For instance the distribution costs of a record used to be printing the CDs, and getting them into the stores, which the record label paid for. Now, if you take a song, put it on a server, and start selling it, the distribution cost is really the “IP transit,” which someone has to pay for.

And as the debate continues, one thing which is becoming increasingly certain: P2P has become the driver of broadband, and for now there is nothing which can even come close.

  1. Symbiotic Not Parasitic

    Om has a great post this morning on how p2p is driving broadband adoption and vice-versa. I am very excited about this post because it supports a premise that I have written about before and that is that VoIP is…

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  2. The Killer App for Broadband

    Om Malik has a wise commentary today on how peer-to-peer services (p2p) is the killer app for broadband. He offers a Cachelogic chart showing how p2p services (but more specifically eDonkey) are driving total Internet traffic. In fact, more than…

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  3. [...] ue to P2P’s symmetrical nature on average 80% of upstream capacity is consumed by P2P Full Post Entry Filed under: Technology, Web 2.0, Busi [...]

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  4. Symmetrical P2P Drives Demand on Asymmetrical Networks

    Reuters reports that “[a]bout 60 percent of the Internet’s total bandwidth consists of P2P traffic, according to [a] CacheLogic study, while Om Malik estimates that “[d]ue to P2P’s symmetrical nature on average 80% of upstream capac…

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  5. Happy(3108)Blog Day.I have recommended ur blog in my blogpage as a part of blogday celebs(http://blogday.wikispaces.org/)

    U maintain a wonderful blog.keep it up.

    Smiles etc.,

    Smyta

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  6. I agree wholeheartedly Om, furthermore users, usage, and uses of p2p networks will only grow.
    I say this because the corporate world has largely been shut out of the party: the adult content, the illegal content, and the altered content (and alterability of the content once offered) all present unmitigatable risks to the enterprise, either from a brand perspective or litigation.
    Only when the business community is provided with tools they are able to use will we see wholesale acceptance of the idea that p2p is the only architecture capable of sustaining that growth.
    Interesting times indeed.

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  7. החיים השניים של זכויות היוצרים…

    חוק לא נבחן כאשר לרוב הציבור נֹח להפר אותו. חוק אמיתי, וההסכמה של הציבור לחוק (או לכל נורמה), נבחנת במצבים קשים, במצבים בהם באמת מתקיים הצווי …

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  8. [...] of peer-to-peer networking, painting visions of a network apocalypse brought on by pimply-faced file stealers. And to make their case, naysayers typically present some hard-to-argue-with stats. This week, [...]

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  9. [...] adoption in the US, during the phase of rapid growth between 2001 and 2007, has been widely discussed.  Estimates for P2P use in the US are similarly dicey, but now tend to be much lower than in most [...]

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