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P2P uses up between 40-60% of all Internet bandwidth?

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P2P uses up between 40-60% of all Internet bandwidth?

Old 09-12-02, 01:14 AM
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P2P uses up between 40-60% of all Internet bandwidth?


How to blow your bandwidth

Globe and Mail Update

What's the fastest way to eat up bandwidth? Do absolutely nothing with your computer, it seems as long as you keep running a peer-to-peer file-sharing program.

All you have to do to blow your monthly download limit with Sympatico or Videotron is to leave your computer running with a P2P file-sharing program turned on and some files to share. Don't surf, don't pick up e-mail and don't download a single file. You'll exceed Sympatico's 5-gigabyte limit within two or three weeks.

So says Marc Morin in a paper released the other day called The Effects of P2P on Service Provider Networks. Mr. Morin is chief technology officer at Sandvine Inc., a network-equipment maker based in Waterloo, Ont. His company has measured exactly how much P2P technology is influencing the Internet.

We were all wrong, he says, when we tried to calculate P2P traffic by adding up the size of the MP3 files we were swapping.

The real problem is the peer-to-peer software itself: The two main P2P networks, Kazaa and Gnutella, now make up an astonishing proportion of all Internet traffic, Mr. Morin says about 40 to 60 per cent.

It doesn't look that bad from the user's point of view; most people fire up Kazaa or Morpheus, look for a couple of songs, download them, then shut the program down, perhaps waiting politely until they have finished uploading something to some other user. Three songs adding up to maybe 10 megabytes what's the big deal?

The big deal is that we haven't been measuring the right things when it comes to bandwidth use. P2P networks, it turns out, are very messy. They have to find and then connect to four or more other computers directly, constantly send out repeated "I'm alive" messages to all of them, and send out and process search requests. In the other direction, they have to field connection requests from other computers, offer up search results of your shared folders, and generate other computer communication best described as "network chatter." The traffic increases geometrically for those who have programmed their software to act as a "supernode."

And if people are using the advertising-supported versions of those programs, there is even more traffic generated as the ads are "pushed" at the user.

The effects are felt mostly at the service provider's level. ISPs buy space on Internet "backbones," or Internet trunk lines, from an Inter-Exchange Carrier (IXC), and the rates are based on the total bandwidth used (never mind how much "dark fibre" is out there, bandwidth can be pricey). This is a variable rate called the Internet transit charge in essence, it means the more subscribers do on the Internet, the more it costs the ISP.

P2P can generate as little as 5 kilobits per second in traffic, and as much as 150 kilobits per second for each single computer sharing a bunch of MP3s over a peer-to-peer service. At the high end, this means more than 1MB per minute, or 1.6GB per day. Consider that Sympatico allows 5GB in downloads and 5GB in uploads per month before new charges kick in, and you can see how quickly you can run up your bill.

Mr. Morin says there are dramatic variables in all this, including how often the software connects to other computers, the time of day, the number of searches and files being shared, and so on.

But also bear in mind that at any given moment, millions of other computers are using Kazaa or Gnutella. A quick check recently revealed more than four million Kazaa users, each one searching all the other machines. Pump "Britney Spears" into Kazaa's search engine, and try to imagine the chatter you generate as you check millions of shared directories.

One thing Mr. Morin knows for sure: Only in very rare cases do clients of the same ISP connect to each other say, two Cogeco customers both running Kazaa. If they did, the chatter and downloading would be restricted to the ISP's own system, and not go out over the Internet backbone. But that's rare.

Until Sandvine measured the traffic, no one really separated it into file transfers and computer natter. ISPs counted all the traffic and called P2P users "bandwidth hogs"; Kazaa fans counted just the number of megabytes downloaded and called the ISPs liars.

Mr. Morin says that at first he and Sandvine doubted ISP complaints about P2P. But then they started checking subscribers' open ports, and wrote some basic software that maps entire networks. A survey of some 16,000 residential subscribers on several ISPs revealed that 15 to 30 per cent of them were using Kazaa or Gnutella clients at one time or another.

The resulting traffic is in fact so great, Mr. Morin says, that it's understandable why ISPs must react.

And P2P is going mainstream too, as manufacturers begin to use it for on-line data storage and distributed, or grid, computing. So far, Kazaa and Gnutella account for 90 per cent of all P2P traffic, but soon business applications will start swapping data files instead of MP3s already, chip giant Intel Corp. uses P2P technology internally on its intranet, and claims to be saving millions of dollars with this tool by pooling the processing power of idle desktops and servers.

Sandvine has created its own traffic-taming network box, called the Sandvine Peer-To-Peer Element, which redirects P2P searches so that subscribers connect first to other P2P users on their own service provider's network.

But that's not enough.

So the major ISPs are testing out bit caps, tiered speed systems, per-use billing and various other pricing schemes to remain profitable.

Maybe the ISPs were right after all: There are many bandwidth hogs out there. They just didn't know it.
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Old 09-12-02, 08:00 AM
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I think the people on Videotron and Sympatico know now to keep their P2P software on; my good friend is on Sympatico, was a huge Kazaa fan, but not anymore. He used to run through 5gb in 3 days, now he's cut down his downloading to 10%. As much as I hate to say it, bandwidth limits do help to cut down P2P. But don't tell anyone else that.....
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