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The Internet Media

P2P Set-top Boxes To Revolutionize Internet 134

An anonymous reader writes "The European Commissions 7th Framework Program (FP7) is working on a project called Nano Data Centers (NADA) as part of the its future Internet initiative. NADA will seek to build an Internet architecture that delivers data from the edge of the Internet using set top boxes and Peer-to-Peer technology, instead of the network-centric architecture that stores and delivers content from data centers via Internet backbones. NADA is proposing a network of hundreds of thousands of set top boxes, hugely popular in Europe, to be essentially split into two — one side is the user interface side, the other a virtualised Peer-to-Peer storage client that stores and sends media in the same way a data center would. Ideally there would be millions of these boxes each acting as a mini data center — hence the Nano Data Center moniker. The NADA project is convincing enough to have attracted some of Europe's largest telecommunications companies. Set top box manufacturer, Thomson SA, and European ISP, Telefonica, are among nine contributing partners to the NADA project. NADA could see a dramatic reduction in the size and frequency of data centers that serve all kinds of media over the Internet."
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P2P Set-top Boxes To Revolutionize Internet

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  • Hugely popular? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have never even seen a single set top box for Internet access here in Europe. Of course we use them for Cable TV but I doubt that's what they are referring to here.
    • by beakerMeep ( 716990 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:53AM (#24215197)
      I gather Cable + movies (maybe eventually games) is what they are after here. It seems as though the idea is to be able to deliver content faster and with less stress on a centralized data center than we have now for things like digital cable et al.

      The thing I am wondering though is how would they maintain quality with such an uncontrollable system. Basically it seems that it will, of course, benefit the content delivery company in reducing bandwidth overhead. But where is the benefit to the user? What happens when a particular "torrent" is less popular? Will it be able to stream fast enough for the end user to see the video in reasonably close to real-time? Or, would they be distributing every file equally? essentially consuming the user's bandwidth and hard drive space for files they don't use/need/watch?
      • I believe the benefit would be in having the title selection of the mail-order Netflix, but all on the internet. Because there would be P2P and they would have to maintain fewer servers to stream content, Netflix could afford to sell the service for a lower price. Currently Netflix on Demand doesn't have many titles, let alone newer releases worth watching.

      • Basically it seems that it will, of course, benefit the content delivery company in reducing bandwidth overhead. But where is the benefit to the user?

        If there's any competition then the benefit to the user is (potentially) reduced prices.

        What happens when a particular "torrent" is less popular? Will it be able to stream fast enough for the end user to see the video in reasonably close to real-time? Or, would they be distributing every file equally? essentially consuming the user's bandwidth and hard drive space for files they don't use/need/watch?

        Cable modem systems are regularly capable of delivering more bandwidth than you are allocated. Why not use it? Especially when you're not uploading.

        Further, it won't be the user's hard drive space; the user isn't buying a STB, they're renting it. They're buying access to a service.

      • I think its more the case that you've got a dedicated seeder with some base capability for sending out most of its content and that has a copy of all the content, and then uses the P2P system for load. If everyone is watching a popular program, the seeder doesn't have to do anything. When someone wants an obscure item, the seeder steps in and the connection drops to traditional client-server like YouTube or NetFlix. You can meet a huge demand this way as well as offer a wider selection because you don't

      • by kesuki ( 321456 )

        "The thing I am wondering though is how would they maintain quality with such an uncontrollable system."

        the same way any bittorent maintains quality, by hashing the sums of data, before writing to disc, even if you have 12 'poison' seeders, who give you corrupt data every time, the client eventually learns to blacklist poison seeders, by their ips, the only downside, is it takes longer to download when a chunk of data gets barfed in transit. hey, bittorrent is easy to specify downloading from the start firs

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
      "I have never even seen a single set top box for Internet access here in Europe. Of course we use them for Cable TV but I doubt that's what they are referring to here."

      I just can't stand settop boxes. I've yet to have ever seen one from the cable company that is responsive or as capable as anything homebrewed. I loved my old tivo, but, I gotta say, newerones that I've seen...seem to be slower than the old ones?

      In the past...I'd opted for just plain analog cable...just to avoid the stupid settop box, the

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mitgib ( 1156957 )

        I love my Hauppauge MediaPVR hooked to my SageTV server. But yes, you are 100% correct, for HD and home brew, I see nothing other than OTA options, and I get terrible reception so I currently have no option to do it myself legally. I would pay the fee for the HD content from my local cable company if I could hook it to my media server. Like yourself, I am not interested in sharing it to the world, or even the next door neighbor, just personal time shifting as I never watch when programmers want me to wat

        • "I love my Hauppauge MediaPVR hooked to my SageTV server. But yes, you are 100% correct, for HD and home brew, I see nothing other than OTA options, and I get terrible reception so I currently have no option to do it myself legally. I would pay the fee for the HD content from my local cable company if I could hook it to my media server. Like yourself, I am not interested in sharing it to the world, or even the next door neighbor, just personal time shifting as I never watch when programmers want me to watch
      • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

        Does anyone out there in the US actually LIKE the set top boxes they have? Would you not rather have different choices?

        I certainly don't care for the STBs Time Warner Cable has been subjecting us. They can't even serve their primary purpose reliably ever since they put their "mystro" software on the Scientific American hardware. You can't change channels at scheduled programming start times reliably anymore. It may fail to change channels, change to the wrong channel due to digits being thrown out, or even crash and restart but not power on. They've effectively sabotaged it against control by a TiVo.

        So I don't think I'd

      • Sky make pretty good boxes. We had one years ago (probably around 10 years ago that we got it), and it was web enabled via dial up over the phone line. I recently used Sky+ at a relative's house and they are using basically the same system we had back then, but they can choose to record shows too. The only thing I don't like (and that I don't see why they haven't fixed by now) is that when you surf what's on other channels with the arrow keys, when you press 'information' it doesn't give you the information

    • by treuf ( 99331 )

      In France, they are more than popular, they are the standard.
      Most internet plans are now sold with a set top box, even for basic internet access (the client can then choose to activate an option).

      We have the livebox from Orange, Freebox from Free (they were the first non cable provider to make a box), 9box from 9telecom, and so on ...

      What's regularly in the plan (some include everything, some make those options) :
      * numeric TV, sometime HD, with extra channels from all arround the world (the usual stuff), pl

    • They are not uncommon in France. Orange provides an internet TV service as, I believe, do others.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:36AM (#24214837)

    in Spanish.

  • by slifox ( 605302 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:36AM (#24214853)

    In unrelated news, RIAA sues Europe

    "But your honor, its not a bittorrent client, its just my nano data center..."

  • by Daryen ( 1138567 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:37AM (#24214863)
    ... oh wait.
  • by It doesn't come easy ( 695416 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:38AM (#24214877) Journal
    Develop an application that can inject whatever you want to share (porn, movies, music, pictures, computer software, stolen identity data, the list is endless) and you would have instant and free worldwide delivery. All you would have to do is insert the data at a public box (one not tied to your house or account) and there's no way to track it back to you.
  • by Iphtashu Fitz ( 263795 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:42AM (#24214971)

    P2P is vile and evil. The RIAA and MPAA told me so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:43AM (#24214987)

    I'm sure that the ISPs will not be happy about this idea - I see that none are on the partners list.

  • This development was inevitable. P2P just WORKS better than a centralized topography. I just makes sense. I think that eventually, the internet will be exclusivly p2p.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by harshmanrob ( 955287 )

      YEAH....you know...I could go quite a ways with this one...but we'll leave it at "the guy who made this comment is full of shit".

  • That would allow a highly redundant network to add support to existing wired infrastructure where available and would extend reach of existing networks where necessary.

    Of course it opens things up wide to MITM attacks, but any sensitive communication would be signed anyway. In addition, you could develop a system to mark bad nodes and avoid them when routing.

  • Liability (Score:4, Insightful)

    by azzuth ( 1177007 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:46AM (#24215047)
    How responsable would you be for the content stored on your Nano Data Center... I can see tons and tons of lawsuits.

    Another thought, how much redundancy would be required to protect the data should Joe-Six-Pack accidently wipe his data. Or get his set top infected while surfing for porn.

    This could be a good way to distribute malware, being that we'd (presumably) have access to someone else's data within our datacenter. What would stop me from replacing the content of the datacenter side of my box. Physical access is a bad idea.

    There is also a privacy issue. If we know what is on our datacenter, we could track incoming requests and build a database of users/ips that like whatever content we are serving.
    • How responsable would you be for the content stored on your Nano Data Center... I can see tons and tons of lawsuits.

      This is why freenet encrypts. I do not see how a network like this could get around that with current copyright laws.

      This could be a good way to distribute malware, being that we'd (presumably) have access to someone else's data within our datacenter. What would stop me from replacing the content of the datacenter side of my box. Physical access is a bad idea.

      Of course, getting a random untrusted party to distribute your data for you is a bad idea. The solutions include (1) using a big semi-trusted party like is common now (YouTube, Flickr, etc.), (2) only having trusted parties host your data (doesn't help much because the person viewing your data does not know who you trust and if they did you could just use option (3)), (3) sign the data. By si

    • Re:Liability (Score:4, Insightful)

      by diggitzz ( 615742 ) <diggitz@DEBIANgmail.com minus distro> on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @12:32PM (#24215775) Homepage
      This isn't really too much different from Freenet or many Grid Computing initiatives that have come and changed.

      Presumably, the data on the Nano Data Center will be encrypted and essentially stripe raid-ed across the network. This is how modern wide-area data distribution networks are currently being implemented privately, and the technology itself circumvents most of the problems you mention.

      Responsibility: It's hard to argue that a user is responsible for encrypted content on his/her node, given that it just isn't accessible for review in the first place.

      Redundancy: Files can be kept in pieces, with info (like checksums, etc) available elsewhere on the net to reconstruct the data in the case of loss.

      Malware: This problem will probably be avoided along with the redundancy problem, by checking checksums of file parts and reconstructing the files if the check goes bad.

      Overall, a distributed network is much more difficult to attack than a centralized one, since the missing pieces can easily be rebuilt or reconstructed if a node goes down or goes haywire.

      But that's just my opinion ;)
    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Look at it this way, we know ISPs are on side with people such as MPAA and RIAA but oppose p2p because they don't want to pay for what they have sold to the consumer.

      Why would they support this P2P system?

      Something is missing from this picture.

      • No the ISP's over here are not on the same side as the AA's, neither are they against P2P yet.

        Another reason to support this would be because the European Union tells you to, EU is not afraid of regulating something they think isn't working as it should, things like roaming costs which they are in the process of mandating lower costs on for traffic inside EU.
  • Bittorrent, inc. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ossifer ( 703813 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:47AM (#24215061)
    While their video sales business is DOA, this is what they're up to: http://www.bittorrent.com/devices/ [bittorrent.com]
  • It's making better use of what we already have. Truth is it has been beta tested to hell and back via torrent users. I guess my first question is tracking, ie your a media delivery site you want to track your downloads. How would you do this with a distributed system and how much overhead would be dedicated to data tracking and security.

  • by wild_quinine ( 998562 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:47AM (#24215075) Homepage
    Although it is a stupid business practice, ISPs have for years been selling 'unlimited' or otherwise cut price service to end users whom they expect will barely use those internet connections. A small percentage of users eat up bandwidth like they were doritos and dip, but the ISPs take the hit. Us heavy users are their loss leaders, realistically.

    That's been changing. People are now more aware of applications they can use to get the most out of their broadband. That's why we saw questions asked recently of the BBC's iPlayer. Who will foot the bill for the increase in bandwidth, we were asked. The ISPs? Or the BBC, who have 'caused' such an increase in traffic?

    The answer is the ISPs, obviously. That's what they get paid for, by the customer - and usually the customer has already paid more than once, without realising it. In many cases an ISP's infrastructure has been HUGELY subsidised by public funds, and many have frittered away a lot of money they could have spent preparing for some kind of a high-bandwidth revolution.

    But every time a new trend starts, and a new high bandwidth application becomes easily available to the masses, the situation gets a little worse for our ISPs. They're not nearly as prepared for this as they should be.

    Here's a new application of P2P, one that could very easily replace regular scheduled television, and it's as easy to use as plugging in a box.

    Eventually, the ISPs will have to raise those prices, and not just by a little bit, but by enough to tear up and relay a lot of their infrastructure.

    • by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @12:10PM (#24215443)
      Wait a minute... you're saying that ISPs are complaining because we're taking full-advantage of what we paid for? *gasp* And when their service falls on its face when something is being used that uses the majority of several thousand customer's bandwidth they'll blame the customers instead of their inability to deliver what they promise? **Double gasp!**
      • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

        That's exactly what ISPs are doing in fact comcast and virgin media prevent the user from getting what they paid for by slow the users connection.

      • I was going to mod this as a interesting and leave it be but.... I am REALLY pissed off with my ISP (Virgin Media). The reason for this is that I am suppose to have a 2Mb connection but my average connection is about 10-20 KBps. And this is in the middle of the night! I have to say that the cost for accessing the internet in the UK is an abortion. If that isn't bad enough I had a 20Mb connection that they sell as a 20MB connection in their marketing. Who here thinks that I have a case for marketing standard
        • I will gladly take the opportunity cost of mod points for that rant. You are getting hosed big time. Have you narrowed the probable cause of your anemic connection? I don't know about the laws across the pond and IANAL, but in the United States, if the ISP is to blame, you have a solid case. That is totally not fair advertising if it is as if you say. You're on the European Continent for crying out loud! Your connection speeds should be pwning mine!
    • On the other hand.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TeknoHog ( 164938 )
      If you use P2P instead of centralized server to move the same total amount of data, what's the problem? In fact, it should be beneficial for the ISP if most of the traffic is going within its own network; any decept P2P software should prefer the topologically nearest peers. I thought it's mostly external traffic that the ISPs have to pay for, while their own infrastructure has fixed costs.
      • If you use P2P instead of centralized server to move the same total amount of data, what's the problem?

        The problem for some ISPs is upstream congestion causing light users to complain about VoIP dropouts.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It sounds like part of this plan includes passing on the electrical and cooling costs of the internet across the grid, vs. making the network centers pay for the power. Yes, the article says that the devices are more efficient ("these set top boxes don't consume a lot of energy,) but I'd still have to foot the bill for that energy.

  • It's been coming... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcwidget ( 896077 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:48AM (#24215093)
    This was bound to happen. P2P is very useful technology. The RIAA and friends have approached the copyright issue by (more or less) tarring this technology as either immoral or just plain wrong. Sooner or later, somebody else with a bit of backing was going to leverage P2P to solve a problem and then come face-to-face with the RIAA. This is just another illustration of how the RIAA have approached this whole thing all wrong.

    I'd like to see NADA become commercial to see how this would pan out.
    • This was bound to happen. P2P is very useful technology.

      This was bound to happen, as you say. And has already, in many places - although not so much with streaming media as yet, but there are more than a few well-backed pilots out there. Even video games use P2P. World of Warcraft, although not a lot of people realise this, uses P2P in order to get its patches out. I believe it may actually use the dreaded bittorrent!

      Personally, I remember being slightly irked that they were using my bandwidth to get their patches out when I was paying them a monthly fee. But

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:49AM (#24215109) Homepage

    The problem with putting anything that provides bandwidth to others on the edge is that it is really inefficient from an aggregate cost-of-bandwidth view.

    Bandwidth to a colo facility costs an order of magnitude less than bandwidth to an end-user's location. Thus shifting to a P2P or distributed architecture like this for providing content doesn't actually reduce the costs, instead it substantially increases them. It just shifts the cost from the content provider to the end user or the end user's ISP.

    The only real savings is cooling: at the user's home, they don't have the thermal load so they don't need the AC to cool the end-point node. But OTOH, the end user's cost of electricity is higher, so that may be a wash as well.

    • From the IETF P2PI Meeting are here.

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      But most people don't use all their avalible bandwidth.

      P2P can be used to make use of the users unused bandwidth.

    • How about the fact that bandwidth from one user to another topologically nearby user is often essentially free? If you're sending a large file to ten people on the same ISP in the same neighborhood, it is extremely inefficient to send that same file to each person individually, and extremely efficient to send it once, and have each of those ten people share the pieces they have to the other nine locally.

      This is the concept behind the poorly named "P4P" technology that some ISPs were experimenting with, and

      • by nweaver ( 113078 )

        Actually, it is often THIS bandwidth that is the SCARCEST.

        Its easy to add bandwidth to a trunk: just light a few more wavelengths. Providing more bandwidth to a cable modem, however, is often very expensive if possible at all, short of pulling new wiring.

  • by pryoplasm ( 809342 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:52AM (#24215169)

    What exactly is the edge of the internet? Can you cut with it? Should there be some kind of safety warning?

    And how exactly does a series of tubes have an "edge"?

    • The edge is made from carbon nano-tubes. Basically if you were to drop the internet on its side it would cut through the floor until the wider part gets wedged. Then you have a sideways internet in which all the bits on it fall to your node. If you're not careful, the tubes will burst and cause a massive flood of 0s as they bob on top of the 1s that settle to the bottom.

    • What exactly is the edge of the internet? Can you cut with it? Should there be some kind of safety warning?

      There's the edge, and then there's the bleeding edge. Obviously it's the latter that needs the safety warning.

  • The internet revolts more often than post-colonial Africa.
  • by Amisinthe ( 1308593 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:57AM (#24215243)
    I plan to prove this false once and for all, by sailing around the internet and arriving on east Asian web sites from the other side.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The parent poster is obviously misguided and uninformed. Talking about sailing around the internet and such. Pure rubbish. Everyone knows you don't sail the internet. Everyone I know surfs the internet. Put away the sail and pull out the board, man!

  • Well, NADA (spanish) means NOTHING (english), that's what's all about, hot air, and beatiful and inexpensive bridges.

  • So while this may be fun and neat for content providers or data centers: what incentive does the user have to participate?

    Company: Hi! Try our new box, it passes off our expenses to you by utilizing your personal internet connection and utilities. It's great! Hopefully you won't have to ever use your internet connection for something personal though, because it's our box, and we need your bandwidth. Please kindly pay, and enjoy, any bandwidth overage fees on our behalf.
  • 1. This article is very thin on facts.

    2. How does the consumer benefit? Will my entertainment costs be lower? Communication costs get lower? Doubtful. This is before RIAA members either torpedo it, or use it to raise entertainment costs.

  • "Hundreds of thousands" of these little boxes will surely use more electricity than a proper data center with equal power/capacity.
  • Well it should be obvious by now that local-range P2P is the solution to today's and especially tomorrow's traffic problems; i have a 30MBit/s connection and 100MBit/s over cable is on the verge here.

    On a sidenote it should be noted that most telcos, unlike what most people are telling you, are only interested in throttling BT or other P2P because of the massive traffic load this causes, and not because of legal issues; in fact they couldn't care less whether a file is legal or illegal as long as you pay
  • NADA que ver aqui, por favor pasar ahora a lo largo de

    Well...really - NADA to see here, now please move along...

    Note: sorry about the 'i' instead of "Ã" (i+ascent). For reason /. did not want to put the correct character in, at least during the preview!
  • Apropos (Score:5, Funny)

    by egyptiankarim ( 765774 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @12:11PM (#24215469) Homepage
    Vaporware from an organization called Nada.

    I laughed out loud with that summary.
  • Am I the only person who had a mental image of the Cisco Systems campus breaking out into the Hallelujah Chorus when I read this headline?

  • Excuse me but.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Drgnkght ( 449916 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @12:18PM (#24215537)

    Let me get this straight in my head. You want to charge me for your service and then use my bandwidth and electricity? You want to run bittorrent 24/7 on my internet connection to distribute files that I may not be allowed to view myself? How does this benefit me? (Listens to crickets chripping in the deafening quiet.) That's what I thought...

    • The term will be hidden in the small prints of the Service Agreement and so nobody will complain (well... except the lawyers in where class lawsuits are allowed.) If get sued by such lawyers, pay the lawyers a million bucks and give out a free pay-per-view pass, unless you opt-out. No other benefits for you.
  • I seem to recall an April Fool's prank post from the 80s, in which someone "discovered" that he could store his backups "for free" on other people's systems by uucp'ing it via a circuitous path that would bring it back to him two weeks later. (Sort of like a big, slow ring buffer.)

    For some reason, this scheme reminds me of that...

  • It's like Miro player or Joost, except half a dozen years late and controlled by big European media conglomerates!

  • I guess we were misinformed. Peer to peer transmission of data is wonderful... as long as the Right People are the only ones allowed to use it.

  • No thanks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Exanon ( 1277926 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @12:48PM (#24216061)
    Here is what is going to happen:

    The big media companies are going to have a finger in designing these boxes.
    They are going to lock them down.
    They are going to use YOUR bandwidth to push THEIR content that you may not even have bought or have access to.

    I am not going to let a media company leech off my bandwidth so that they can push content I don't even own, want or can access.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and on day 0 there will be a hack that allows the motivated user to freely access anything on this network or insert anything into this network.

  • NADA (Score:2, Funny)

    by purpleque ( 948533 )
    Move along. Nothing to see here.
  • I have only been explaining this architecture since 1990 or so, "Head in hands shaking it" why doesn't anyone get it when I explain it!
    Worse yet when they do "get it", it's like some new invention as if they never heard it before.

    I have tried 3 times to get set top box companies going to do this since 1994 only to have "money people" not "get it".

    Decentralized is the solution with high demand, high up time services for the internet.

    Like Google for example. It's also worked great for Torrent and Skyp

  • Johnson: Why don't we get the users to use peer to peer software to distribute media to each other?

    ISP CEO: No that's a terrible idea! They'll get sued by the RIAA and MPAA. I have a better idea. Why don't we get the users to use peer to peer *hardware* technology to distribute media to each other?!?!?

    Johnson: Brilliant idea sir! That way we can charge them for the hardware :P

  • FINALLY, IT'S HERE!!!!

    Words can't describe how stoked I am that distributed computing technology is finally being implemented on a large, public scale. So far, I've noticed many /.'ers here concerned about personal security, liability, and energy cost associated with this sort of move, but consider this:

    The boxes will likely be intended to function as a single large data-center cluster, spread out over the entire net, with the "distributedness" of it all being transparent to the user of any particula
  • <hyperbole>

    You want ME to power and host part of YOUR datacenter to distribute data, some of which might be questionable, like CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, for which I can be held liable?
    </hyperbole>

    I don't think so.

    I knew there was a reason I don't watch TV: no need for a set top box that I don't control.

  • In spanish, nada means nothing. That would sound like "AT&T investing in NOTHING".
  • Will direct tv use this for there on demand any time soon?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @01:33PM (#24216961) Journal
    Either this scheme's proponents are hoping to sneak a lot of their costs onto other people's plates, or they have a seriously dubious grasp of the economics of IT.

    In effect, bittorrent's success is not based on its efficiency as a file transfer mechanism(which is actually quite lousy); but on its effectiveness as a download micropayment system(which isn't fantastic; but is better than anything else we have). Bittorrent reduces the cost, to the distributor, of distributing a file by making it easy for downloaders to contribute their own bandwidth. Even more conveniently, for anybody with a fixed-price internet connection, the marginal cost of their bandwidth contribution is near zero. Unfortunately, the total cost of distribution is actually fairly high, since bittorrent uses a lot of "last mile" bandwidth(particularly upstream last mile bandwidth) which is quite limited and expensive compared to bulk datacenter bandwidth. If micropayment were possible, and if individuals paid for bandwidth per-unit-use, rather than fixed rate, it would be cheaper for them to just pay the file distributor's upload costs directly, at bulk rate, rather than "in kind" at retail rates. The exact same argument applies for electricity and disk space. Bittorrent is great because it is an efficient method of aggregating the limited amounts available at zero(ish) marginal cost, not because it is actually efficient per unit.

    Given this, I find it hard to judge TFA's scheme kindly. Either it is based on a frankly delusional understanding of relative costs, or it is essentially a cynical attempt to shift costs onto end users. This will only get worse if the ISP pressure toward caps and overage fees gets stronger, since the amount of "free" bandwidth will decline, and the impact of shifted costs will become much more direct.
  • by Brett Glass ( 98525 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @01:56PM (#24217351) Homepage
    Internet bandwidth is most expensive at the edges, and latency to other users is the longest. It's the worst place from which to serve up data; you want to do that from servers in the "middle" of the Net. What's more, the most scarce and valuable resource of the Internet is bandwidth near the edges. Put the servers out there, and you'll raise the cost of broadband deployment and exhaust the resources that are already there. Anyone can buy space on a fast, cheap server at a server farm for far less than it costs to serve data from the edge. So, why don't the people who are running this project just do that? There's only one possible reason: they want to get users and ISPs to give them these resources for free. Which just doesn't wash. If use of these devices became widespread it would either drive up the cost of broadband tremendously or be banned from networks outright by businesses and ISPs. And deservedly so. It's a bad idea.
    • Internet bandwidth is most expensive at the edges

      It's also currently massively under-utilised in terms of upload capacity. This capacity is already paid for, so putting it to use should increase efficiencies and reduce costs.

      latency to other users is the longest

      Latency is not an issue for most P2P apps.

      • No; upload capacity at the edges is not underutilized at all. In fact, both cable modem and DSL are designed so that, of the total available bandwidth on the medium, more is devoted to downstream traffic than to upstream traffic so that users receive data most quickly (which is what they want). Also, this capacity is not "already paid for." It was an investment that is still being paid back. As for latency: yes, it is a big issue for P2P, because P2P consists of many small transactions which are latency-se
        • No; upload capacity at the edges is not underutilized at all.

          Even at 4am?

          Also, this capacity is not "already paid for." It was an investment that is still being paid back.

          Sorry, I should have said that it was a sunk cost.

          As for latency: yes, it is a big issue for P2P

          So you claim. And yet BitTorrent works fine using data served at the edge of the network.

          As usual, we see in this case that P2P is a solution looking for a problem. In fact, it is really only good at solving one problem: the one it was invented

          • The Internet is "always on." P2P can cause just as much distress to users when it clogs the pipes at 4 AM than when it does so during the day. And, yes, latency slows down P2P to the point where it's faster to use FTP. But of course, that would mean that the content provider would have to pay for its bandwidth and not try to fob the cost off on the ISP. That is, if the content provider is legal. The vast majority of BitTorrent traffic is still pirated media.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              The Internet is "always on."

              In global terms, some part of the internet is 'always on'. But regionally, usage varies over 24 hrs.

              And, yes, latency slows down P2P to the point where it's faster to use FTP.

              Nobody is trying to argue that P2P is always faster than FTP. Please do not create straw men.

              But of course, that would mean that the content provider would have to pay for its bandwidth and not try to fob the cost off on the ISP.

              With P2P, the content provider still pays for its bandwidth. The only difference

  • P2P rebroadcasting: Like multicast, except with multiple competing and incompatible standards, and no need for skilled network administrators.

  • What would really be cool is adding a mesh network based on Mobile IPv6 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_IPv6 [wikipedia.org] )

    That way if me and the folks in my building all need Vista SP1, it could download to one of our set top boxes over wires and then distribute to the 400 others by means of the local mesh network.

    I could envision bringing my mobile mesh P2P set top box to work where we have an open 100Mb Internet connect & letting the node fill, then I could take it home and everyone in my area with sucky ba

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