updated 09:30 am EDT, Fri March 14, 2008
Verizon today revealed that it has found a way to at once improve the speed of peer-to-peer Internet sharing services while simultaneously lightening the load on its own network. Nicknamed "P4P," the technique has the software look primarily for download sources from the user's own Internet provider rather than just performing a search. By prioritizing nearby connections, the optimization speeds up connections by about 60 percent; it also eliminates a major bottleneck for the provider itself. As Verizon or other companies can often keep this P2P traffic to its local network, it can avoid paying for the extra bandwidth needed to reach an Internet backbone.
P4P is primarily intended for peer networks where the content is primarily known to be legitimate, says Verizon, such as Pando. The service plans to offer free NBC TV shows in April and may help offset some of the content costs by reducing the bandwidth use. It's not known whether other legitimate but more open services, such as Vuze, will receive similar treatment. Services known to harbor large amounts of illegal content are unlikely to receive any help, according to the telecoms firm.
The approach represents a sharp contrast to Comcast, which has admitted that it deliberately throttles traffic for BitTorrent and a handful of other peer to peer services in an attempt to reduce the overall load on its network. Verizon argues that it sees better results through cooperation rather than using punishment.