Customers Vs. Service-providers.

I wanted to take the opportunity to pitch in on the discussion thats presented in this article by Ivan Pepelnjak: with the headline of “P2P traffic is bad for the network”.

I agree with the headline… Somewhat… P2P is bad for the network, in the sense that it causes congestion and because of that, it makes using the net a bad experience for everyone else.

But then again, it seems like theres a real need for P2P traffic (disregarding the entire illegal download discussion). I wish i had some good statistics on how many people actually use

P2P programs. That number would indicate the need for P2P.

However, taking a look at my friends, both technical and non-technical, it appears that the vast majority uses P2P programs, to download some sort of content.

Sometimes, the users dont even know “how” they are downloading this content. It just works.

Lets turn this entire thing around. What is this really about?

Well, its really about the commitment from the SP’s, to deliver the bandwidth that customers have paid for. Ive written a long blog post about this before, which i urge you to take a look at:  .

What really happens is that a SP sells you a 20Mbit connection (download), well aware that you, being a “normal” user, will only use 5% (very high number) of the line capacity at any given time.

This means that one of two things will happen:

1) The SP will “resell” 95% of your line capacity to others.

2) The SP will have no need to provision enough links and bandwidth to honor your bandwidth agreement.

Either way, you using only 5% of your link capacity is a good deal for the SP.

While all this is written down in your SLA, giving your SP a free pass, it still seems a bad deal for the customer.

So whats the technical problem behind all this. Well basically its the fact that P2P, especially Bittorrent will completely saturate your internet connection if you let it. When you start downloading

a file through Bittorrent, your Bittorrent client will try to establish as many connections as possible. It will do this to a “swarm” of hosts, so its a one-to-many sort of connection you are pulling off.

Its not only a download issue though, its an upload issue as well. As a part of the swarm, you are uploading alot of data as well. Share-and-share-alike. In contrary to a normal file download, once a

Bittorrent download has been completed, normal behavior for the clients around, is to keep “seeding”, meaning uploading to others.

Imagine a scenario where you are a small family, having purchased a 20/5Mbit connection, not uncommon here. Your son likes to download stuff (again, disregarding all the legal babble around this). If he

sets up his torrent client to download/upload stuff all night long, he will utilize the entire 20/5Mbit connection. Not many sons around the neighborhood needs to do this in order to take down the bandwidth on the

local POP.

Lets flip the coin once again. If the SP were to provide networks that would not be oversubscribed, the cost of broadband connections would definitely go up. Is that what you want as a consumer?

I am very curious as what this will all lead to. Especially taking into account that more than just downloads, webbrowsing and emailing will take place on a consumers broadband connection. It will carry

video streams to all your tv-sets, it will be constantly hooked up to online games and services, it will provide telephony and . All of these combined will

Anyways, its a tricky problem, thats hard to solve with 100% satisfaction from either side.

What can be concluded, is that no matter what, the request for bandwidth will increase in the comming months and years ahead and that SPs will need to deal with that. This means purchasing alot more equipment. More stuff for us to configure 🙂

Back to work!