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Summary:

Bram Cohen has been working two years on a new P2P live streaming solution. He started from scratch instead of building upon and optimizing BitTorrent code. One of the reasons: The BitTorrent protocol is based on TCP, and that introduces too much of a delay.

bram cohen at newteevee live

BitTorrent mastermind Bram Cohen knows the strengths and weaknesses of the P2P protocol he invented more than eight years ago, and he’s not ashamed to point out one particular downside: BitTorrent is the wrong approach for live streaming. During an interview at NewTeeVee Live recently, he explained to me that BitTorrent just has too much latency to be viable for such applications. “Just the fact that it’s using TCP makes that completely impossible,” he said.

Watch the entire interview here:

Cohen has been working on his own live streaming solution for the last two years, and he said it has only recently become close to releasable. His new approach to P2P live streaming is being developed as a product of BitTorrent Inc., but the company has so far kept mum about what the product will eventually look like.

However, Cohen hinted at the possibility that BitTorrent will compete with live streaming sites like Ustream and Justin.tv. Asked whether this technology is for networks like ABC or a guy in his basement, he said: “ABC can afford to pay for whatever they want to do right now.” Users just starting out, on the other hand, often don’t have the infrastructure available to deal with possibly overnight success. “Peer to peer is really a democratizing technology,” he said.

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