Friday, November 23, 2007

P2P to throttle or not.

P2P to throttle or not. That my dear friends is the question facing ISP's the world over (apologies for the bastardised quote).

With P2P traffic gobbling up bandwidth, bandwidth owned by the ISP, well even they purchase it but for this blog post we'll put up with the consideration that they own their part of it, and purchased legally by you the customer, there are those who are seeking to kill off all P2P traffic. For that there is no justification whatsoever.

ISP's, mostly, are throttling P2P traffic. Some more than others but throttling it nonetheless.

Those that seek to kill or throttle P2P traffic seem to miss one simple point in all this and that is that the customer pays for their connection and therefore have a legal right, within the ISP's T&C's and/or FUP, to use that connection as they see fit.

Sure, there are those that use P2P to download illegal content and they should be targeted in an effort to stop them, but for the rest of us downloading free content like Linux ISO's, free applications, free video content etc etc why should we suffer these restrictions?

A lot of ISP's use self learning throttling applications that seek to level out customer usage by looking at signatures which give the application some idea what the user is actively doing. ISP's and the creators of this application claim that the self learning nature of this software allows it to differentiate between legal and none legal traffic so why can they not distinguish between those customers that download illegal stuff from those of us who want to download, via P2P, legal content?

I will tell you why. It does not matter to them if you are downloading legal content or not. They do not like the fact that P2P uses a distributed model for downloading, and uploading, which means that the bandwidth you legally purchased from your ISP is used. There can be hundreds if not thousands of distributed bits of a file or video dotted all over the world taking up bandwidth legally purchased.

There are many legitimate uses for P2P, like Linux ISO's. The idea that the only people to benefit from P2P are those who distribute ilegal content is quite simply wrong. Further, if I have the option of downloading from a distant server or from a torrent with hundreds or thousands of users, I will go for the torrent everytime quite simply because usually the torrent download will be faster even with misconfigured ISP throttling in place. Added to this is the fact that BitTorrent software is quite adept at managing large downloads. There are times I may want to throttle my torrent download because I am playing a game.

I have yet to have it explained to me why downloading via P2P is any worse bandwidth wise than downloading via a single host. I fail to see how this differs in bandwidth used. Unless of course it is easier for ISP's to throttle single downloads.

Throttling or killing of P2P is wrong. For many reasons.

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