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Bittorrent To Cause Internet Meltdown 872

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the packet-schmacket dept.
Gimble writes "Richard Bennett has an article at the Register claiming that a recent uTorrent decision to use UDP for file transfers to avoid ISP 'traffic management' restrictions will cause a meltdown of the internet reducing everybody's bandwidth to a quarter of their current value. Other folks have also expressed concern that this may not be the best thing for the internet."
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Bittorrent To Cause Internet Meltdown

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  • 98% (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:16AM (#25944393)
    Plz seed
  • fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:18AM (#25944449) Homepage

    If you're going to transfer files over UDP then you need to build some TCP-like protocol on top of it. The article doesn't say exactly how BT works in this respect, but he's probably right. There's no way that BT's protocol could be as sophisticated as TCP, given its 30+ years of development.

    Most people don't appreciate how amazingly well TCP's flow control works in terms of maximizing link utilization in a way that is fair to all network users. We really don't need is an arms race of new, greedier protocols.

    However, one thing to realize about P2P is that because there are often dozens of active TCP connections transmitting from one machine, fairness goes pretty much out the window anyway. An alternate protocol could conceivably improve on this by applying flow control to the aggregate throughput for the whole "bundle" of connections, rather than each connection individually. This would improve fairness and also increase efficiency because you wouldn't have a bunch of TCP streams individually trying to grow their windows, causing packet losses.

    • Re:fairness (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:23AM (#25944557) Homepage

      If you're going to transfer files over UDP then you need to build some TCP-like protocol on top of it.

      Not really. You would need that if you were transferring a file from one computer to another. But Bittorrent scrapes together little bits of file from lots of other computers. If a packet is lost here and there, that bit of file is naturally requested again, probably from a different machine. That's just a consequence of the way Bittorrent works.

      However, one thing to realize about P2P is that because there are often dozens of active TCP connections transmitting from one machine, fairness goes pretty much out the window anyway.

      There's no reason in principle for this to be the case; obviously, metering of bandwidth should be by subscriber according to money paid, not by some arbitrary and easily manipulated value like number of open TCP connections.

      • Re:fairness (Score:4, Insightful)

        by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:35AM (#25944787) Homepage

        Not really. You would need that if you were transferring a file from one computer to another. But Bittorrent scrapes together little bits of file from lots of other computers. If a packet is lost here and there, that bit of file is naturally requested again, probably from a different machine. That's just a consequence of the way Bittorrent works.

        That behavior needs to be driven by some timing and retry logic. Also, hosts need to determine how fast they can fire these UDP packets at each other. Those are the most basic fundamentals of transmitting bulk data over a packet network. You really would be reinventing some subset of TCP.

        obviously, metering of bandwidth should be by subscriber according to money paid, not by some arbitrary and easily manipulated value like number of open TCP connections.

        It's not just about metering. What about where many users share a connection to the internet, such as at a business or school? Or even in a household? What if there's a bottleneck caused by a malfunction out on the backbone? You can't have good performance in these situations unless users agree on "equally aggressive" protocols.

        • Re:fairness (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Adam Hazzlebank (970369) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:50AM (#25945125)

          Not really. You would need that if you were transferring a file from one computer to another. But Bittorrent scrapes together little bits of file from lots of other computers. If a packet is lost here and there, that bit of file is naturally requested again, probably from a different machine. That's just a consequence of the way Bittorrent works.

          That behavior needs to be driven by some timing and retry logic. Also, hosts need to determine how fast they can fire these UDP packets at each other. Those are the most basic fundamentals of transmitting bulk data over a packet network. You really would be reinventing some subset of TCP.

          I think what he's trying to say is the TCP connection often gets dropped completely, for example the host just goes offline, or is bogus and transmitting false data. Bittorrent needs to account for this anyway by re-requesting packets from the network, so they have implement the retry logic differently that TCP anyway.

        • Re:fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

          by anothy (83176) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:20PM (#25945817) Homepage
          it's true that the protocol stack would need to have some method of regulating retransmission, but i think the GP's point is that it's already there, in the BT applications. sure, it's not at the layer we tend to think it belongs, but when you're dealing with untrusted sources (as anonymous seeders inherently are), you've got to do that work anyway.
          also, even if you ended up recreating a "subset" of TCP, that could still be fine. TCP is huge compared to UDP, and if you use UDP as a base for adding what you need, you can still come up with something much simpler than TCP; see, for example, RUDP. TCP's benefit is its ubiquity, but if you have the combination of a constrained enough environment and wide enough client distribution, that's less of a big deal. BT and uTorrent likely satisfy those requirements.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cbiltcliffe (186293)

          It's not just about metering. What about where many users share a connection to the internet, such as at a business or school?

          Then the business or school should have usage policies. If they don't, it's not up to their ISP to regulate things for them.

          Or even in a household?

          Follow Russell Peters' advice. "White people. You need to beat your kids."

          What if there's a bottleneck caused by a malfunction out on the backbone?

          Then fix the damned backbone! Surely it takes less time to replace a screwed up router than to develop all these bandwidth restriction methods that only get circumvented anyway.

      • Re:fairness (Score:5, Informative)

        by nmg196 (184961) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:56AM (#25945279)

        Not really. You would need that if you were transferring a file from one computer to another. But Bittorrent scrapes together little bits of file from lots of other computers. If a packet is lost here and there, that bit of file is naturally requested again, probably from a different machine.

        No... you're getting confused between network packets (a kilobyte or two) and bittorrent's blocks (many kilobytes). Each bittorrent chunk is transferred using many network packets. If you're going to transfer those chunks using UDP, you need to sort out the packet order and do all the missing-packet checks and retries etc yourself. So you still DO need to build some kind of TCP-like protocol on top - even just for the error checking.

      • Its true for now that most links are sold purely by bandwidth, so your statement about getting what you've paid for is valid -- unless what you're paying for includes by contract a cap on total use or continuous use, or something else. Most home network access contracts contain those use case caps.

        What really caught my attention as I read your note is that comment about the number of open tcp connections. As I read it, I'm surprised that hasn't been used as a valid limit on use by contract.

        If you think of

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aladrin (926209)

        Not true, actually. BitTorrent doesn't ask for data in packet-sized blocks. If a single packet is missing from the block, it doesn't (currently) have a way to ask for just that packet. You'd basically be re-implemented TCP to do that.

    • Re:fairness (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:26AM (#25944619)

      There's no way that BT's protocol could be as sophisticated as TCP, given its 30+ years of development. Most people don't appreciate how amazingly well TCP's flow control works in terms of maximizing link utilization in a way that is fair to all network users. We really don't need is an arms race of new, greedier protocols.

      TCP gets a lot of credit it doesn't deserve. It enforces bad design -- most client/server applications should be either stateless or session-based, rather than connection-oriented. Anything that even vaguely resembles a streaming application shouldn't even consider TCP. Finally, TCP's connection model is almost guaranteed to be suboptimal for any application that does require one.

      What are the odds that HTTP, FTP, SMTP, and BitTorrent will all work optimally over TCP? Slim to none, and none is still waiting for Nagle.

      • It enforces bad design -- most client/server applications should be either stateless or session-based, rather than connection-oriented.

        What? Why? Why is a connection based application "bad design"?

        A "session" is just a hack to give you connection-like qualities over a connectionless protocol, such as HTTP. If you want connection-like behavior, and you're free to design your own protocol, why not just use connections? Why make your life more complicated?

        There are plenty of advantages to connection-based applications; no need to re-authenticate on every message, for one. Clear indications of when a client is done talking to you for anot

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          What? Why? Why is a connection based application "bad design"?

          Because connection maintenance is a very high-level task that should not be delegated to the very bowels of the application, much less to someone else's opaque API.

          A "session" is just a hack to give you connection-like qualities over a connectionless protocol, such as HTTP. If you want connection-like behavior, and you're free to design your own protocol, why not just use connections? Why make your life more complicated?

          The complication comes in

    • Re:fairness (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zappepcs (820751) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:32AM (#25944727) Journal

      That is addressing the problem from an ISP's point of view, or perhaps the "**AA's talking points for ISPs" point of view.

      If I pay for 10Mbps download speed, it should not matter to anyone how I use those bits. If you as my ISP cannot handle that traffic, you should NOT have sold it to me in the first place. Every time you throttle or shape my traffic, I want a rebate. It's that simple. I don't think we should have bailed out wall street and I don't think It's my responsibility to support an ISPs bad business model. That is what this problem is all about. Bad business decisions on the part of ISPs. They over sold their networks and now want a bailout. BS!

      If you want regulation, how's this: If you sold me 10Mbps download and can't provide it regardless of protocol, you have committed fraud and I'm allowed to sue. I don't want to hear about your problems, just provide what you sold me.

      If you sell me a parachute I expect it to work in every state, on any day of the week, and from any kind of airplane, no matter what clothes I'm wearing or not wearing. After you sold it to me, it's simply criminal to then say it only works if you are wearing green, or skydiving on a day of the week that begins with a T.

      If you don't want me to use BT, then give me a 50% discount on my bill.

      • Re:fairness (Score:4, Insightful)

        by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:44AM (#25944997) Homepage

        If I pay for 10Mbps download speed, it should not matter to anyone how I use those bits. If you as my ISP cannot handle that traffic, you should NOT have sold it to me in the first place

        You have totally missed the point of my post! I wasn't even addressing ISP billing policy, I am talking about how to share a link. Maybe YOU have a dedicated 10Mbps link all to yourself, but not everyone is so lucky. Imagine a small business where 50 people are sharing a T1 line. For web browsing, this many users could all get decent performance, even if a handful of people are doing big downloads, provided they are all using TCP. But all it takes is one guy hammering the link at full throttle to ruin it for everyone else. For better or worse, the internet is designed on the assumption that applications play nicely in this regard.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by encoderer (1060616)

        You're right. That's the real problem. ISPs are hacking vertically-- all BT traffic -- when they should be hacking horizontally:

        I support a greedy node algorithm. Everyone starts with their burstable line, and the more you utilize, your cap slowly lowers until you reach a guaranteed minimum bandwidth threshold.

        At the end of the day, greedy users will be greedy users. And if BT goes offline, they'll migrate to something else. And if I suck 100gb of crap off usenet in a month it's no different than 100gb of B

      • Re:fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:57AM (#25945303)

        If I pay for 10Mbps download speed

        No, you don't. A dedicated 10 Mbps link would run thousands of dollars a month (a T1, which is 1.5 each way, is ~$300 in the US) and most consumers can't swing that sort of dedicated line. Instead, you paid for a connection that is 10 Mbps maximum and you knew damn well that you would be sharing it with others in your neighborhood. How else could you rationalize paying only $60/month for faster-than-T1 level service?

        Pretending that you don't understand the difference between a dedicated line and a shared line is utterly unconvincing to me.

        • Re:fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:13PM (#25945669)

          Then maybe they should be sold as such.

          Look, all I want is to get what I get sold. If a line is sold as a 10mbit line, I will expect it to be a 10mbit line.

          If I sell you a garage for 2 bucks a month, you might wonder but you will probably take the deal. Then you come around and notice that someone else is already standing in the space I sold you, and I tell you that you're allowed to use that space to park your car but only when it's free. Would you be happy? I guess not.

          People will expect to be able to use what you sell them. And some of them will even use it. They really want to use what they got allegedly sold! How dare they?

          • Re:fairness (Score:4, Informative)

            by AK Marc (707885) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:37PM (#25946199)
            If I sell you a garage for 2 bucks a month, you might wonder but you will probably take the deal. Then you come around and notice that someone else is already standing in the space I sold you, and I tell you that you're allowed to use that space to park your car but only when it's free. Would you be happy? I guess not.

            All utilities use statistical averaging. It's not possible to allow for all users to be using 100% of what is available at the same time. Well, perhaps if the infrastruture of all utilities were completely redone it might be possible. For even 1000 people in close proximity to coordinate use of electricity, they could cause massive damage to the system from nothing other than just using what they had paid for.

            Phones everywhere in the US were useless on 9/11/2001. Where I worked, they had 2 T-1s for a little over 100 people. The T-1s were full. That's the first time that has ever happened. To have over 50% of people picking up the phone at the same time is unheard of. Sure, we could have bought a dedicated line for each person, but that's not what companies do. I live in Alaska. You have less than a 50% chance of getting a long distance line on Mother's Day. That's right, the entire state is busy. The cell phone systems crash around every large event I've ever been to. The Las Vegas Convention Center is the closest I've been to a large place that worked. It would pop up my voicemails quickly when the person was sent straight to voicemail. For other places that are much more seasonal or random in their use (like state fair grounds) I've seen horrible dial rates. Phone lines all over the US (and the world) were jammed when 9/11 happened, and people were unable to make calls because the utility wasn't able to provide. If there was something that caused similar unusual spikes in demand in any utility, it would crash. No utility designs for 100% utilization by everyone 100% of the time.

            The only way to get what you demand is to design all utilities to do that, and no one does. The only functional difference with Internet and the other utilities is that Internet is designed with more sharing. It's like when you buy a phone line, and you get a party line. Sure, you have a phone line, but you can't use it if your neighbor is on it. You had access for emergencies 100% of the time, and otherwise had to share nicely with others.
        • Re:fairness (Score:5, Informative)

          by Belial6 (794905) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:31PM (#25946075)
          That is just not true. Telephone companies where very clear that you should go with them because you don't have to share a line. That was the benefit they claimed that DSL had over cable internet access.
    • Re:fairness (Score:5, Funny)

      by HardCase (14757) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:33AM (#25944741)

      And all this time I thought that spam was going to cause the Internet to melt down. Maybe we need new terminology. Instead of "melt down", it should be "Global Internet Change".

    • Re:fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:52AM (#25945171)

      Not really, actually.

      TCP enforces and faciliates delivery certainty. You may be sure that a packet arrived. It gives you everything to make sure some packet arrives in time, if it's fragmented and arrives in the wrong order it's reassembled and all the other little bits that are quite useful when you're normally transfering data.

      This doesn't really apply to Bittorrent and the way it works. Bittorrent by its very nature transfers little parts of files. Parts in a size that can easily avoid fragmentation. Parts where it doesn't really matter whether they arrive at all. If they don't, the requesting machine will simply ask for it again. Maybe now, maybe later, maybe even from another source.

      Yes, TCP has its merits and sometimes they are even used sensibly. Don't make me start about all the cases where TCP is used without any reason because neither packet size matters nor certainty of delivery is a criterion, but it's just "easier". But BT can well work on UDP and even generate less overhead and thus actually less traffic than it does today.

      Face it. QoS, Netneutrality and traffic shaping or not: People will find a way around it. And when the choice is encryption and wrapping BT packets in even more overhead (because, say, the provider will only allow HTTP-Packets at full speed) or using UDP, it's a no brainer. For both sides.

      • Re:fairness (Score:4, Informative)

        by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker AT gnu DOT org> on Monday December 01, 2008 @05:13PM (#25951337) Homepage

        But BT can well work on UDP and even generate less overhead and thus actually less traffic than it does today.

        Only if it adds its own layer of TCPness on top.

        Here's the deal. You have one gigabyte of data to download. It's been split into one megabyte chunks, and you know the sha1 hash of every 1-meg chunk.

        You go ask a peer for a 1-meg chunk. You get 1024 little 1k-chunks in return. There are 1024! permutations of them. Please put them in the right order.

        You could, you know, number them. If you want men outside the middle to not be able to spoof a connection from you, you need to start numbering from a random place, and tell the other endpoint from where you start your numbering.

        Presumably, you want to make outgoing connections to several peers at the same time. Hmm... I know, let's number each of the connections, and send the number to the receiving end.

        Boy, this sounds a lot like port and sequence numbers...

        If you do a 20-byte hash (say, sha1) of every 1k block, you end up with a 1-to-50 reduction. For a 1G torrent, the .torrent file is 20 meg. Presumably you could use a somewhat smaller hash function for each packet and then use a bigger hash for a chunk of packets...

        I'm not saying it can't be done. But I don't see what compelling features UDP offers that you can't get almost as effectively with TCP. Care to enlighten me?

  • by Gotung (571984) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:19AM (#25944473)
    In the end this will be a good thing for the internet.

    Forcing ISPs to treat all traffic the same, because they can't tell what is what, will be good for net neutrality.

    You should get the bandwidth you pay for, regardless of what actually travels over it.
    • by michaelhood (667393) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:28AM (#25944647)

      Except that probably isn't what will happen.

      Let's use Comcast as an example.

      Their target customer "surfs the web", and checks their email.

      Their high-maintenance customers, who complain about latency issues, throughput, etc. are the ones who use UDP in any significant volume.

      UDP is used for online gaming, VoIP, etc. They will just start to deprioritize UDP, which is bad. 99% of customers won't notice the difference, but we will.

      • by javilon (99157) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:58PM (#25946671) Homepage

        Everyone here seems to work under the assumption that heavy bittorrent users would be worse off in a world with download caps or metered bandwidth. I don't think so. It would force companies to compete to give good service with clear contracts where they actually tell you what they are really selling. This is bound to increase, not decrease, the availability of real bandwidth per dollar for most users, included us computer geeks.

  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:20AM (#25944499)

    "They" said the same thing about once popular File Service Protocol (http://fsp.sourceforge.net/) way back when the net was young, pre-Napster, and before any massive internet infrastructure investment was made...

    • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:37AM (#25944839)

      They also said the same thing when UDP streaming internet video became a hit-- their servers couldn't keep up.
      They just had to upgrade.

      Hopefully the same thing will happen now.

      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:55AM (#25945253)

        I think this whole thing is just hinging on them upgrading the darned infrastructure. The ISP's have sat fat and lazy for too long just selling you a "faster pipe" as the last mile of cable got faster. All that while though the baseline infrastructure has been receiving upgrades as a snail's pace, while at the same time more and more users are jumping onto the net in droves.

        They pocketed far too much money that should have been allocated to network upgrades to actually support increasing TRUE capacity - not just a theoretical burst speed that you might maybe be able to get for 3 or 4 minutes back home.

        It's like that lazy employee who has 3 months to do 1 week's worth of work. He puts it all off until he has 2 days left, and then starts to moan about how he doesn't have enough time to do all this work. Well, at this point, he's right. It's his own fault though. My boss has a nice poster in her office that I think applies here: "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

  • by myxiplx (906307) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:31AM (#25944711)

    Well, since The Register don't seem to want to print my comment*, I'll repeat it here:

    "I think this is a bit of scaremongering that's missing one vital point:

    When an ISP throttles UDP packets because somebody is using excessive bandwidth, they'll be dropping packets *from that source*.

    So while .torrent moving to UDP is going to affect VOiP and games, the effects of that will be *restricted to the person using excessive bandwidth* via bittorrent. There's no reason it would affect anybody else, and I doubt ISP's are going to be dumb enough to block packets at random.

    Unfortunately that kind of blows the articles entire premise out of the water."

    Myx

    * Posted at 12:40pm, ten minutes after the article appeared, at a point where there were no other comments on the article. 3 hours later there are 37 comments, but no sign of mine. Now it may be that they've just been overwhelmed with comments, but I'm a suspicious soul at times...

  • Total bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Idaho (12907) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:33AM (#25944755)

    UDP does not guarantee delivery. If ISP's want to, they can simply start dropping UDP packets once the total amount exceeds a certain threshold. This should be almost trivial to implement.

    Sure, just blindly dropping all types of UDP packets will also degrade VoIP services etc, but certainly this does not need to impact "the entire speed of the internet".

    Since VoIP and other "normal" uses of UDP do not need terribly high bandwidth, the problem can be easily solved by imposing a maximum UDP throughput per IP and simply dropping any UDP packets past that limit. That way, VoIP will still work just fine but other services "abusing" UDP will just be effectively capped by the unguaranteed delivery.

    I'd love to see lawsuits about this as well, as UDP does not guarantee delivery so you would hardly have a basis to complain when ISP's drop such packets, especially as long as they deliver *most*, but not necessarily all such packets.

  • Adobe Flash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MouseR (3264) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:35AM (#25944797) Homepage

    Is more in cause of the frickin' meltdown of the internet with about half the content of web sites being Flash-based animated and (GAH!) audio adds.

    Flash video is also irreparably defective.

    Disclaimer: did I mention I hate Flash?

  • by papasui (567265) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:41AM (#25944925) Homepage
    ...but nobody wants to pay for it. It's been said many, many, many, times before but the average user doesn't have any concept how much bandwidth costs for the circuit to a carrier alone, much less the hardware required to light it. I work with carrier-level Cisco gear, a single linecard alone is in the 50k price range. A single router I work with has 8 of those. It takes at least 2 of those routers to handle a few small to medium size towns, (30k subscribers). That's just the price to give you a connection back to the local building, of course I'm omitting the cost of the wiring to your home, the equipment required to power it, etc, etc. We haven't even discussed how much the transport out to the internet begins to cost. I think a lot of ISP's are beginning to see that it's probably a failing business model, and because of that they are making some-what drastic changes to try and make it sucessful. Things like bittorrent, youtube, etc are what make the web truely great, but at the same time they very well could be the downfall in the current state of the internet. You of course could always get your own internet circuit but even a T1 will be at least $300 per month + construction costs and appropriate gear to utilize it.
    • by RingDev (879105) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:06PM (#25945535) Homepage Journal

      16 linecards at 50k each, for 800,000. Lets call it a cool mill in asset costs.

      30k subscribers paying $20 each a month. $600,000 a month. $7.2 mill a year.

      Yeah, I can see how the initial sticker value of a 2 router closet is going to a road to ruin for most ISPs.

      I don't think ISPs are cash cows by any means, once you consider opperating expenses and labor. But a $1 million dollar switch station can be easily amorted out over a 5 year loan when the ROI on that million is quite solid.

      -Rick

    • 8 Linecards @ 50,000 ea = $400,000
      2 routers @ $400,000 = $800,000
      $800,000 / 30,000 = $26.67
      12 months * 5 years = 60 months (standard depreciation period for equipment)
      26.67 / 60 months = $0.45 per month per customer for the routers

      I think that when you start throwing large numbers out there to justify cost to the customer, please remember that these costs are amortized over the entire customer base and over time as well.

      Let's say you lease the lines for $50,000 per month for each router:
      50,000 * 2 = 100,000
      100,000 / 30,000 = 3.33 per month per customer

      Let's add in $10,000 per month for power
      10,000 / 30,000 = $0.33 per customer per month

      Add in $100,000 per month for line maintenance, $100,000 per month for repairs
      200,000 / 30,000 = 6.67 per month per customer

      And $100,000 per annum for your salary (being generous for sake of demonstration) and say another $200,000 per annum for overhead expenses and support staff
      $300,000 / 30,000 = $10
      $10 / 12 = $0.83 per customer per month

      So for the equipment (amortized), electric, facilities (as overhead), staff, leased pipes, maintenance, etc. we have a total of $11.61

      Now a low end line goes for ~$24 per month, while a high bandwidth line ~$60...

  • by Thorizdin (456032) <thorizdin@lo[ ]org ['td.' in gap]> on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:42AM (#25944951) Homepage

    ISP's have been managing UDP traffic for years now, this won't change anything. Any of the deep packet inspection boxes (Packeteer, Allot, Sandvine, Ellacoya, etc) can identify the traffic whether it is UDP or TCP as can open source tools like Ntop. Encrypting the traffic can of course disguise what's in the packets, but the overhead hurts transfer speed. In addition, several of the new generation of traffic shapers don't even care what layer 4 protocol you're using, things like Netequalizer just looks at the two IP end points of a given conversation and treats it as a flow regardless.

  • by foxalopex (522681) on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:45AM (#25945023)
    I find it disappointing that ISPs don't meter usage. It would help cut down on spam and viruses for example if users suddenly realized that something was costing them a lot of money and wasting bandwidth. I mean all our other services are metered. As for myself there are months when I download huge amounts of anime and then there are other months where I download next to nothing yet I still pay the same amount. This fact alone means it's more beneficial for me to download like a nutcase and ruin it for everyone else. Granted the only catch is that ISPs would hopefully charge reasonable rates with a certain flat fee to maintain the line. To folks to believe otherwise, I suspect you're not willing to give up your free lunch to the expense of others. The Internet is a limited resource as some ISPs are learning the hard way. Given the choice between metered usage versus throttled / controlled / broken Internet, I'd pay for metered anyday.
  • Scare Mongering? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concern (819622) * on Monday December 01, 2008 @11:51AM (#25945159) Journal

    This sounds like the basest kind of scare mongering, relying on a basic ignorance of the way networks work.

    UDP is not any less filterable than TCP. To even make this argument, the reasoning is so contorted as to be silly. In either case, one uses a router to inspect packets and decide what to do with them. ISPs will simply go as deep through the envelopes as they like; they already do. With that knowledge they will do whatever is allowed by law. At present, almost anything is. If they abuse that power too foolishly, then it will start to be taken away from them.

    And in the meantime, whoever they filter will tweak to retaliate, and it will always be a race. As far as I can see, this is just the ISPs (or their proxies) stopping at one random lap and crying how unfair it all is.

    Why ignore the real issue here? If you sold a teenager in Topeka unlimited use of a large pipe, but now cannot handle her actual unlimited use of her large pipe, then you just need to start cutting better deals.

    It's as simple as that.

    If the teenager cannot actually use her fat pipe, 100% of the time, then stop lying about what it is you have sold to her. Either charge more or advertise less. It's as simple as that.

    When I as a CEO, and millions of others like me, buy #MB upstream and #MB downstream, and utilize it 100%, 24/7, no one quakes over the calamity of the internet backbone melting down.

    All of this discussion over filtering is really a discussion of pricing. And the fact that we are talking about it in the wrong terms is creepy.

    Believe me, you do not want a bunch of unaccountable telecom bureaucrats playing god with the backbone. You want a free market making these decisions.

  • Ignorant much? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by burris (122191) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:23PM (#25945893)

    The author of this article could have called or emailed Bram Cohen before writing this article, but then he wouldn't have had such sensational tripe to garner page views. If he had, he would have known that he has got it completely wrong. The switch to uTP is actually to make BitTorrent traffic more friendly to Internet traffic. You see, BitTorrent is trying to sell a content delivery service based on their client and the #1 complaint from their customers (businesses with content to deliver) and their customer's customers (end users) is that the BitTorrent DNA client seeding/downloading in the background hurts the performance of other applications. That's unacceptable if you're trying to sell an unobtrusive alternative/complement to traditional CDN.

    Yup, good ol TCP is what is causing the problem. That's because BitTorrent breaks the assumption in TCP that one application needs only one TCP stream to do its work. To solve the problem BitTorrent acquired advanced congestion control techonology and it's inventors from "Plicto." The congestion control technology lets BitTorrent work without causing crazy latency for other applications on the box. BitTorrent is the responsible party here, recognizing the need for congestion control and implementing it in their protocol. Compare that to the author of this article who saw that BT was using UDP and assumed it was a naive attempt to get around ISP blocks.

    The people who work at BitTorrent are smart enough to know that you can't beat your ISP by making a new protocol. The ISP sees all and can control all, even if it may lag behind the changes. That's why BitTorrent has been working to make changes where it can make a lasting difference, in the political layer of the network.

  • IETF ALTO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:26PM (#25945955)

    Both BitTorrent and Comcast are working in the IETF ALTO [ietf.org] working group, which is intended to improve the use of bandwidth and other resources by P2P.

    Having been in these sessions, it is clear to me that BitTorrent has no interest in melting down the Internet and is well aware of the implications of what they are doing. Note that if worse comes to worse, UDP can be blocked too.

    • See http://forum.utorrent.com/viewtopic.php?id=49813 [utorrent.com]

      "What is in 1.9:
      uTP, the micro transport protocol. This UDP-based reliable transport is designed to minimize latency, but still maximize bandwidth when the latency is not excessive. We use this for communication between peers instead of TCP, if both sides support it. In addition, we use information from this transport, if active, to control the transfer rate of TCP connections. This means uTorrent, when using uTP, should not kill your net connection - even

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