BitTorrent vs. the Typical User

It turns out the war between P2P programs like BitTorrent and the typical network user is much larger than the current spat between the bandwidth hogs and Comcast. There’s an entire Wiki article on ways to avoid traffic shaping.

It includes a list of world-wide ISPs who try to keep the weeds out of the garden, and it’s long.

Despite the fact that P2P has some legitimate uses, such as distributing Freeware such as Linux, the fact remains that its primary uses are illegitimate, and even if they weren’t, the bandwidth it sucks out of cable modem networks inherently makes them less responsive for typical users. The answer to the load P2P puts on cable isn’t just “add more bandwidth” because the design of these networks is inherently asymmetrical. Adding massive amounts of new bandwidth is enormously expensive. Cable networks were designed on the assumption that the typical user does more downloading than uploading, but P2P violates that assumption.

So the only practical means of ensuring that P2P doesn’t drown out the typical user is to employ traffic shaping, and that gets the P2P freaks hopping mad. But there’s no free lunch, boys and girls, and somebody has to pay if everybody’s going to play.

10 thoughts on “BitTorrent vs. the Typical User”

  1. not sure how the networks are setup down south, but up here in Canada on our broadband cable we have less upload speed than download.

    Meaning, we had a solution for this before it even came up. Not only do we have sufficient infrastructure to SUPPORT broadband across our country, but even if we ‘hogged’ our bandwidth we are still only scratching the surface of our digital ceiling.

    I can understand people that can’t/won’t use the technology having a problem with figuring on why ‘so much’ bandwidth is required for a single user…but someone like yourself? On a blog? Wow do you ever even receive any email? I do, as in say 150 a day or so, some spam, some not…newer technologies require faster connections to online resources…

    Can you honestly cut these guys slack for cutting back on a service as they continue, I would assume, to charge the same price??

  2. what I was getting at, is as you must be aware, the technology IS the same (at its roots).

    Anyway you never answered the real point. In the instance that an internet provider touts to a prospective customer an internet package to be ‘unlimited downloads’ and marketing the idea of ’10Mb/s’, I have 3 questions to understand your stance properly:

    1. Do you honestly believe any average PC/mac user actually uses that type of bandwidth? So much so that the user crosses the line into what might be their neighbours’ bandwidth?

    2. Are ISPs in your opinion selling something they are not accurately providing?

    3. How can you take all of this so lightly? Don’t you understand that if net neutrality, as it has been understood since the internet’s inception, is reconstituted by the corporations it is yet another attempt by your government to close your country’s competitive edge down in the face of international progress made? Do you realize that you country may have the slowest internet connection per capita in the developing world?

  3. Here’s what Comcast actually claims for their service, right on the web site:

    Comcast speed tiers range from 4.0 to 16.0 Mbps download speed (maximum upload speed from 384Kbps to 768Kbps respectively). The speed tier received and pricing will vary depending upon the speed tier selected and the level of Comcast video service and/or digital telephone service (if any) received. Speed comparisons are for downloads only and are compared to (as applicable, to 56K dial-up, 768Kbps, 1.5Mbps or 3.0Mbps DSL). Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. Many factors affect speed.

    There’s nothing in that about “unlimited speed” or the ability to operate a server.

    “Net Neutrality” is roughly the principle that all companies who put wires in the ground are evil, and I don’t accept the claim that it’s been part of the Internet from its inception. It’s a new idea that was devised by regulators and regulator wannabes in the last few months.

    Incidentally, your third question has three questions in it.

    The bottom line on this incident is simple: Comcast is doing nothing wrong, but the Net Neutrality advocates are exploiting the public’s ignorance of the Internet’s operational characteristics for their own gain. You can download just fine all over Comcast, and they don’t care what you’re doing until you try to serve files upstream. Their method of regulating upstream transfers is the same technique used in open-source firewalls, not just in Communist China. There’s really nothing to see here other than a massive failure of Comcast’s Public Relations people to combat what amounts to slander and defamation.

  4. Net neutrality from a stance I am operating from, taken from here:

    ‘…Precise definitions vary, but a broadband network free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment that may be attached and the modes of communication allowed, and where communication was not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams would be considered neutral by most advocates.

    The principle of net neutrality and regulations designed to support the neutrality of the Internet have been subject to fierce debate in various forums. Since the early 2000s, advocates of net neutrality rules have warned of the danger that broadband providers will use their power over the “last mile” to block applications they oppose, and also to discriminate between content providers (e.g. websites, services, protocols), particularly competitors…’

    The idea here is traffic shaping is a no-go from the start. The very definition of offering ‘internet access’ (at least the flavour you folks may soon be viewing) is at stake here, not Comcast’s worries on if they are popular or not.

    You don’t by chance have an office here do you 🙂 :

  5. Actually, I wrote the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article you’re quoting to me, and no, it doesn’t follow that traffic-shaping is illegitimate.

    There has never been a neutral network of any kind, and there never will be, because each network is tailored to the needs of a particular type of traffic.

    There’s nothing new about traffic-shaping at Internet connection points.

  6. I feel like I’m chatting with Colbert 🙂

    I realize you are not going to ‘get’ that paying for an internet connection based on a set of assumptions, then for for the same fee, to have the terms reconstituted to consist of differing terms is wrong. Incidentally, I am allowed to operate a sever as you mentioned earlier, I just choose not to.

    I am also thinking that if the world got a whole lot smaller in a very short period of time it would be very easy for you to understand (you may yet be in luck). I submit that faster more robust internet connections are the future; while stagnant, closed networks are a dead end. Only the strong nations will survive- and prosper.

  7. We often make assumptions that turn out not to be correct, and that can be annoying. And companies often have to change their sales pitches because conditions change, often adjusting their prices in the process. And yes, companies sometimes mislead, as do individuals.

    Net neutrality laws are not going to change any of this, they’re simply going to discourage companies from improving their network services. If you want faster and cheaper Internet connections (who doesn’t?), don’t hamper telecom companies with needless regulations.

  8. ‘hampering’ ISPs with regulations, at least within a free and democratic environment, allows for an even playing field.

    If you leave the providers alone, they may close the doors on the globe and simply create a ‘global’ intranet for the sheep to follow. After long the masses may even forget they could surf to a website overseas…if you care about that sort of thing of course…

    It seems painfully obvious to me that if they are crying they can’t keep up with the demand NOW, what guarantees can be provided that if left unchecked, that they will EVER keep up with the technology?

    -improving their network services? I quote: ‘…Don’t take this the wrong way, but American broadband service is really a bit of a joke. Entry-level DSL provides 768Kbps for downloads and only 128Kbps upstream–less than a tenth of what passes for broadband in Asia. Even cable access, with access rates around 6Mbps (and 385Kbps upstream) are not much more than half the rates you can get in Japan and Korea….’

    I rest my case. By the way, 18Mb/s here on cable with 1Mb up

  9. The judge will throw it out of court for lack of relevance. I said we don’t want any “needless” regulations, which is practically a tautology, and you argued that we do.

    American broadband speeds are not dictated by regulation, and in fact they can’t be. They’re dictated by a judgment about how to make money, and different carriers do the math in different ways. Verizon believes they can do well with a 100+ Mb/s service, part of it dedicated to TV and some 30 Mb/s dedicated to Internet access in each direction. Talk of NN regulations dries up the market for the kind of capital it takes to make the kind of investment they’ve made, which is part of the reason AT&T is slow to follow suit.

    We’re a long way from over with the broadband build-out.

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