Can P4P Solve Bandwidth Bloat?

Researchers at The University of Washington and Yale University will present a paper today on a developing Internet protocol that could lessen bandwidth demands from video and other large files. The peer-4-peer protocol is being touted by Pando Networks and a handful of ISPs as a way to solve some of the traffic problems caused by peer-to-peer file-sharing services such as BitTorrent.

Compressing or managing data more efficiently is becoming increasingly important, as providers attempt to clamp down on large amounts of traffic and as consumers and corporations demand ever more bandwidth-intensive applications.

Like P2P, the P4P protocol breaks files up into smaller packets, sends those around the Internet and then reassembles them at a destination, but P4P tracks the most efficient point in the networks from which to swap those files. This involves the ISPs handing over information about their network topology and knowing where a file swapper sits on the network. P4P makes it possible to know these things without exposing the data to either side. In tests with Verizon, Pando showed that by using P4P it could increase delivery speeds by up to 235 percent on U.S. cable networks and reduce intra-network traffic by 34 percent.

On their own, such protocols can help, but they won’t stave off the need to build out more network capacity or make existing protocols more efficient. However, as carriers cry uncle under the supposedly heavy loads that file-sharing and P2P services put on their networks, seeking tiered services, bandwidth caps and other practices to handle the bandwidth hogs, an industry-blessed protocol may be welcomed.

image courtesy of Pando Networks