updated 02:50 pm EDT, Thu July 31, 2008
YouTube Reduces P2P Use
Customers with legitimate options for video are triggering a large-scale drop in the amount of peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic, according to a published study of AT&T's network. The DSL Internet provider found that while P2P traffic did ultimately increase in the past year, legal streaming video services such as Hulu and YouTube have largely flattened the growth in demand for P2P versus its rapid growth in recent years. In one circumstance, AT&T's core network saw P2P traffic drop substantially.
"On the Tier 1 AT&T backbone [P2P] actually dropped 20% during a period last year," says analyst Dave Burstein, adding that AT&T Labs vice president Charles Kalmanek directly attributes the drop to a "shift in customer mix" rather than a simple decline in popularity.
Overall traffic is characterized as growing at "more than 50 percent" per year but now sees YouTube and other web media streams accounting for a full third of all of AT&T's traffic where P2P is now approximately one fifth. The shift is said to be a blow to Internet providers hoping to use Comcast's former model of throttling all P2P data. As customers are now accessing wholly legitimate content accessed through the web, broad traffic shaping measures are no longer effective or justifiable by arguing that the content is illegal. "Many of the policy people believe that [P2P] is a ravenous monster that is devouring the Internet," Burstein adds. "The data show[s] that simply isn't true."
AT&T is known to be aware of this and is planning chiefly to avoid problems by increasing the capacity of its network. The provider will soon quadruple its backbone from 10 gigabits per second to 40 gigabits in a way that shouldn't raise its typical expenses and plans to make a similar move to 100 gigabits per second within the next few years.
Sandvine, the creator of the utility Comcast has used to limit P2P traffic, is also unveiling a new technique that would allow Internet providers much finer control over how they throttle traffic. The new implementation would let a service carrier target individual users rather than an entire network as well as limiting the effect only to certain times of the day and to only partial speed reductions. [via BBR]