P4P: faster, smarter P2P

P4P: faster, smarter P2P

Summary: The P4P working group demo'd higher P2P download speeds with 1/6th the inter-metro hops that soak up expensive, long-distance network bandwidth. P4P is designed to enable better ISP and P2P coexistence with a win/win solution: better performance for users and less network overhead for the ISP.

SHARE:
20

The P4P working group demo'd higher P2P download speeds with 1/6th the inter-metro hops that soak up expensive, long-distance network bandwidth. P4P is designed to enable better ISP and P2P coexistence with a win/win solution: better performance for users and less network overhead for the ISP.

P4P speeds up P2P downloads by localizing network traffic. Standard P2P traffic gets spread all over the globe, so a single packet may go through a half-dozen costly high-end routers and thousands of miles of scarce ocean-floor fiber on its way to your PC. Metro-area routing is both cheaper for ISPs and faster for the users.

CDN vs P2P vs P4P [graphic courtesy of the P4PWG]

Traditional P2P Today's P2P is network oblivious: peers are selected without regard to network topology. One stream may be coming from Flagstaff while the next is coming from Cape Town.

pTracker and iTracker P4P is an open standard for delivering network awareness to P2P networks. One way it can work - and there is more than one, but the tech papers aren't available yet on the web - is to add a peer-tracker (pTracker) and an Internet-tracker (iTracker).

The peer queries the pTracker for nearby peers. If the pTracker knows where the right bytes are in the local metro area, it returns that info to the peer. But if the inventory isn't locally available, the pTracker could then go to the iTracker for peering suggestions that take into account network topology and costs.

The pTracker then selects a set of active peers and returns that list to the peer that initiated the request.

The pTracker is run by the P2P system - say BitTorrent or Pando - while the iTracker can be run by trusted 3rd parties, P2P networks or ISPs.

The Storage Bits take As the volume of video content rises, the demand for P2P will only grow. With P4P it appears a substantial portion of the ISP community will make its peace with P2P content distribution. This is a Very Good Thing.

Which leaves Comcast - who isn't a P4PWG member - facing their original problem: they under-provision their network in order to maximize profit. As long as customers are passive receptacles that works, but once they start distributing content through P2P Comcast has a problem.

Comcast wants to make their problem your problem. Rather than saying they can't compete with DSL or fixing the problem through protocol or equipment upgrades, they've been fighting the common-carrier law.

That's just wrong. Common carrier status for telecom is over 160 years old. It has stood the test of time for very good reasons. Comcast needs to get with the program: either get competitive with the telcos or get out.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Networking, Browser, Telcos

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

20 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Nice write-up!

    This is a great explanation of P4P!

    Comcast recently joined the P4P Working Group, and we look
    forward to working with them to explore ways to optimize
    p2p traffic over their infrastructure.
    laird1
  • Comcast

    P4P would not help Comcast, Wireless providers
    or any other Cable provider. Unlike DSL, the
    consumer side is shared among the customers, so
    P4P would not work on DOCSIS (sp?) based
    networks or even Wireless.

    George Ou had a good write up on this last week
    in his blog.
    doug16
    • I actually got quoted in Larry's blog, but thanks.

      nt
      georgeou
    • Right, and Comcast wants to make THEIR network arcitecture problems OUR

      problem. Sorry, I do not buy it. Better switch to a company that provides what is in the contract.
      DonnieBoy
  • P4P does NOT alleviate last-mile congestion

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=8229

    "P4P technology, or network-aware and network-optimized P2P (Peer to Peer) technology, is a huge step forward for P2P. It not only improves performance of P2P technology, but it also alleviates congestion on the distribution and core layer of the Internet because peers will more intelligently select the shortest paths instead of the more random approach that P2P takes now.

    What P4P can???t do however is alleviate last-mile congestion on shared medium last-mile networks. That means cable broadband and wireless broadband technology will not benefit from the innovations of the P4P working group and therefore must not be confused as a possible solution for Comcast. On a DOCSIS 1.1 cable broadband network, there is only 10 Mbps of shared upstream capacity amongst an average of 200 to 400 customers. Even DOCSIS 3.0 cable broadband can only support 120 Mbps of upstream capacity shared between 200 and 400 customers."
    georgeou
    • Repost here, need to fix characters

      As I pointed out on Larry Dignan's blog last week: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=8229

      "P4P technology, or network-aware and network-optimized P2P (Peer to Peer) technology, is a huge step forward for P2P. It not only improves performance of P2P technology, but it also alleviates congestion on the distribution and core layer of the Internet because peers will more intelligently select the shortest paths instead of the more random approach that P2P takes now.

      What P4P can?t do however is alleviate last-mile congestion on shared medium last-mile networks. That means cable broadband and wireless broadband technology will not benefit from the innovations of the P4P working group and therefore must not be confused as a possible solution for Comcast. On a DOCSIS 1.1 cable broadband network, there is only 10 Mbps of shared upstream capacity amongst an average of 200 to 400 customers. Even DOCSIS 3.0 cable broadband can only support 120 Mbps of upstream capacity shared between 200 and 400 customers."
      georgeou
      • ZDNet just needs to set the character encoding to UTF-8, and the problems

        go away. That is also great for pasting text that has accents, etc. If you go to View-CharacterEncoding-Unicode (UTF-8). The problem is not just you, even ZDNet headlines are broken at times.

        So, ZDNet needs to change one line in the html header for the pages.
        DonnieBoy
    • But, Comcast is selling bandwidth the can NOT deliver. If people actually

      use the bandwidth the are paying for (in whatever way) Comcast network falls apart. The problem is NOT P2P.

      And, YES, P4P does help Comcast. Keeping the traffic local is a big plus, and if customers can not get it by P2P, they will end up downloading it directly, and cause even bigger headaches for Comcast.

      Comcast's network architecture problems are THEIR problem, not OURS.
      DonnieBoy
      • And all other cable providers?

        Comcast is just one of the first to actually do something about their poor service. As I am too lazy to gripe I am sure that many others have already complained to my central office about what a craptastic service my local cable provider is doing. Yet after snooping around on my local loop, I can tell you that the packets that are flooding my network are usually Bit Torrent flags looking for the hook up.

        While if I were one of those who was swapping several movie files, I would probably be ever so upset, but at the same time, I don't much care for not having internet access cut off because the network can't handle the traffic dealt.
        nucrash
        • Ok, but a "fair" method for throttling bandwidth. How about throttling the

          heaviest users. If the heaviest users also happen to be using PTP, OK.
          DonnieBoy
    • George is correct

      Comcast's problem is that they are selling what they don't
      have - the network equivalent of airline overbooking.

      As P2P use continues to grow they will have to figure this out
      or simply tell customers what they really deliver.

      Robin
      R Harris
      • No one in the consumer broadband industry advertises CIR

        No one in the consumer broadband industry advertises CIR (Committed Information Rate). You get CIR information when you order a commercial grade line.

        Now I'm opposed to mandating CIR disclosure in addition to peak rates to the entire broadband industry, but I don't think we should single out Comcast for not advertising their CIR.
        georgeou
  • RE: P4P: faster, smarter P2P

    Win Win situation! Everyone is happy!
    ihfwt
  • Sorry boys and girls, if you

    don't like the service Comcast provides, use somethig else. After all, it is their network and that gives them the right to make the rules.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Yep, And That's Why I Don't Use Comcast

      Aside from techs falling asleep on service calls.

      You must work for them.
      itanalyst2
    • Not ALL the rules

      Common carriers have legal protections that publishers
      don't. If you are deciding what can and can't be carried on
      your network - which AT&T also wants to do - you aren't a
      common carrier.

      Comcast, AT&T - but NOT Verizon - want common carrier
      legal protection without common carrier rules. That's why
      they are and should be getting sued.

      Robin
      R Harris
    • Sorry Comcast, not in my town ...

      It may be their network, but they live under rules, too. Community and Public Utility Boards have the final say about how a franchise provides service, and people are waking up to the fact that the telcos and cable companies have been getting a free ride for many years. That's changing. In our community, debate about the incumbent provider (not Comcast) is changing from channel access to broadband access and quality. Comcast would have been slaughtered if they had been here, so they don't even try ...

      As mentioned in another post, if Comcast or any other provider wants to operate in a quasi-monopoly with regulatory protections, they have to adhere to the rules laid out, or they will pay, bigtime.
      terry flores
  • The **AAs are NOT going to like this!......

    Take a look at the headlines here:

    RIAA - http://www.p2pnet.net/categories/riaa

    MPAA - http://www.p2pnet.net/categories/mpaa
    btljooz
  • Actually, if they followed

    If they followed Japan's lead on banning users (canceling the ISP account for pirating works) the problem pretty much disappears.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • This is great

    I heard of another legal network that was implementing this and my feeling was that as good as the technology was, implementing it in just one legal p2p network wasn't going to cut it. I am very happy to hear that this technology has been released as a open standard, now we can only hope that the other more commonly used networks implement this standard as well so that the true bandwidth saving benefits of this technology can be achieved.

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach