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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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June 12, 2007 11:32 AM

Impressions from the P2P Summit

Hello from cloudy California! I'm out here attending the P2P Summit put on by the DCIA and the Digital Hollywood Summit, and I'll do my best to keep you all up to date on the happenings of these exciting events.

Yesterday I attended the one-day P2P Summit, which pulls together many of the players in the P2P (aka peer-to-peer) space to talk about where the industry is and what it needs to do to continue moving forward.

While I could go off on one of my long-winded rants about a number of interesting topics that were brought up, instead I want to provide you with a flyby of some of the interesting things that were said throughout:

- When you analyze at the usage trends around the illegal distribution of popular content like first-run TV shows, it looks like an established marketplace, where demand for shows follows regular patterns after the shows first air, where demand for seasons is greater than demand for individual shows, and where a handful of shows draw the majority of the traffic. (Unfortunately, I can't remember who was saying this as I walked in on the middle of his presentation.)

- Eiton Efron from Oversi, a company that enables P2P caching for ISPs, made an interesting observation that while traffic shaping technology has begun to make a lot of noise as a way to reduce the impact of P2P traffic on networks, the advent of P2P streaming technologies like Joost makes this more difficult as users are watching video in real-time, meaning if a network operator were to try and squeeze that traffic down it would create an immediate, noticeable degradation in quality, whereas squeezing P2P downloading traffic simple means it takes longer to download the file.

- In between sessions, I was chatting with Shelly Palmer, an outspoken thought leader in the transition to TV 2.0, and mentioning how my proximity to DC has led to a growing interest in policy issues. His response, and I paraphrase here, "We're all going to be involved in policy soon." It's his belief that there are too many established interests already beginning to fight over Internet regulation, and that if the online industry wants to ensure that we don't end up with federal legislation that hurts the Internet rather than helps that we'll all have to step up and make our voices heard in order to better educate legislators as they navigate these complex issues and make tough decisions.

- On another non-P2P related note, Jonathan Lee from MediaDefender, a provider of anti-piracy services and technology, made the interesting observation that just a few years ago a developer of his commented on how they'd never need more than the T1 line they already had. Today, the same company requires the equivalent of 6000 T1 lines.

- Back to the world of P2P, Katie Mitic from Skyrider, a company focused on helping organize and monetize P2P traffic, highlighted how if you add together the install bases of all the P2P clients in the world, it's bigger than any other application out there. For the most part the different clients don't talk to each other, and I can't confirm her claims about having the biggest overall install base, but even still it's remarkable to think about how what once was a fringe technology has now become relatively mainstream, which strongly suggests P2P traffic isn't going anywhere.

- Along these same lines, another speaker who will remain anonymous due to my shoddy note-taking made the observation that there are 100-150 million searches happening on each of the major P2P networks every day, which is equivalent to a search giant like Yahoo!, further proof of how far P2P has grown.

- Conversely, Michael King, CEO of Abacast, a company that enables live P2P content delivery, discussed how while his company's technology is designed to scale to support huge audiences, he struggles with making this pitch to hesitant customers when his biggest test case topped out at 10,000 simultaneous viewers. That's not to say they haven't tried having bigger events, instead this highlights the challenge in getting a big group of people to show up and do the same thing at the same time on the Internet, especially for a live event which has a distinctly limited window for opportunity for users to join in.

- On the same panel, Chuck Kalmenac, who works in AT&T; Labs on issues related to network performance, showed a graph that highlighted the fascinating reality that while P2P traffic has long been the biggest driver of bandwidth consumption, that the recent rise of video sites like YouTube has just in the last few months pushed HTTP traffic past P2P, and that if the recent growth curves hold true, that that gap may widen in the coming months.

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