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 P4P Remodels The Internet

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Date posted: 17/11/2009

"Peer-to-peer" (P2P) is synonymous with piracy and bandwidth hogging on the Internet. But now, Internet service providers and content companies are taking advantage of technology designed to speed the delivery of content through P2P networks. Meanwhile, standards bodies are working to codify the technology into the Internet's basic protocols.

Rather than sending files to users from a central server, P2P file-sharing networks distribute pieces of a file among thousands of computers and help users find and download this data directly from one another. This is a highly efficient way to distribute data, resistant to the bottlenecks that can plague centralized distribution systems, but it uses large amounts of bandwidth. Even as P2P traffic slowly declines as a percentage of overall Internet traffic, it is still growing in volume. In June, Cisco estimated that P2P file-sharing networks transferred 3.3 exabytes (or 3.3 billion trillion bytes) of data per month.

While a PhD student at Yale University in 2006, Haiyong Xie came up with the idea of "provider portal for peer-to-peer," or P4P, as a way to ease the strain placed on networking companies by P2P. This system reduces file-trading traffic by having ISPs share specially encoded information about their networks with peer-to-peer "trackers"--servers that are used to locate files for downloading. Trackers can then make file sharing more efficient by preferentially connecting computers that are closer and reducing the amount of data shared between different ISPs.

During its meetings last week in Japan, the Internet Engineering Task Force, which develops Internet standards, continued work on building P4P into standard Internet protocols. However, Xie believes that those efforts will take two or three more years to come to fruition. In the meantime, he says, many P2P application makers and Internet carriers are already implementing their own versions of P4P.

See the full Story via external site: www.technologyreview.com



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