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Optical/IP

BitTorrent Video Store Delayed

BitTorrent , the famous peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing service, has hit delays launching its online video store -- delays that will stall the store's launch until sometime next year.

In March, BitTorrent said its store would launch by the end of 2006. But the process of signing up content owners to sell their video via a legitimate P2P network has taken longer than expected. BitTorrent spokeswoman Lily Lin says the launch will take place in "early 2007." (See BitTorrent to Open Video Store.)

BitTorrent signed a major content deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group this summer, but has yet to sign up the other major studios. A Warner Brothers spokesman said his company signed up after becoming convinced that BitTorrent would provide the same level of content security it requires of other broadband distribution channels like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes. BitTorrent uses Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows digital rights management (DRM) software to protect video content.

The studios' content security concerns aren't too surprising since BitTorrent P2P file distribution was previously a preferred method of distributing pirated content. BitTorrent went to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) last year with a promise that it would remove copyright-protected content from its P2P search engine results.

The company's image makeover went so far that it doesn't even use the term P2P anymore. It calls its distribution method "peer-assisted."

Tom Blaisdell, a partner at DCM - Doll Capital Management , one of the companies funding BitTorrent, says the content security concerns of the studios are not slowing down licensing talks. Blaisdell says the studios are already satisfied with BitTorrent's content protection measures. At the current stage, he says, "it's more about getting the right economic deal and getting the right titles."

Blaisdell adds that the timing of BitTorrent's video debut is not as important as the size and quality of the offering. "We're not concerned that we are going to be able to launch in time for the holiday season -- that's not relevant. This is a lifestyle product; we want to launch with thousands of titles, not hundreds."

BitTorrent's Lin says her company intends to sell both low-demand video content (like TV reruns) and more mainstream content (like new Hollywood movies).

BitTorrent delivers video files using a method known as "swarming." Small pieces of the file are gathered from the PCs of users who already have the content, then quickly reassembled on the downloader's PC. Swarming is far faster than a linear download from a central server somewhere.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

Mark Seery 12/5/2012 | 3:34:24 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Mr. Zippy,

have not read the paper in detail....seems like an interesting idea (if it works as advertised and does not confuse other TCP processes)....but wonder if in a competitive P2P market, P2P suppliers would be willing to restrain their throughput in this way.

seems to me that the biggest challenge with a commons is not creating best practices, but getting a very diverse population of people to use them.
mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 3:34:25 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed http://www-ece.rice.edu/networ...

Service prioritization among different traffic classes is an important goal for the future Internet. Conventional approaches to solving this problem consider the existing best-effort class as the low-priority class, and attempt to develop mechanisms that provide ``better-than-best-effort" service. We explore the opposite approach, and devise a new distributed algorithm to realize a low-priority service (as compared to the existing best effort) from the network endpoints. To this end, we develop TCP Low Priority (TCP-LP), a distributed algorithm whose goal is to utilize only the excess network bandwidth as compared to the ``fair share" of bandwidth as targeted by TCP. The key mechanisms unique to TCP-LP congestion control are the use of one-way packet delays for congestion indications and a TCP-transparent congestion avoidance policy.
mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 3:34:26 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed One thing I haven't got around to looking into, and I'm curious if others happen to know, do common P2P apps/protocols use closest peers ? Assuming these protocols are using TCP, that information is fairly easily obtainable, because TCP is constantly measuring round trip times. I must admit I don't know where the congestion P2P is supposedly creating is occurring (note, I work for a smaller SP (>10 000 customers), we don't implement P2P throttling and the only issue we seem to have is transit congestion periodically), however I'd think that P2P protocols trying their hardest to localise traffic by selecting close peers would go somewhat help deal with some of these issues. One of the places we tend to have relatively cheap and excessive bandwidth capacity is within our DSL PoPs, located at the local CO/Exchange (12 DSL subs are connected to a 100Mbps FE port, we can split that down to 6 per FE port if necessary. Our average ADSL2+ subscriber would be getting no more than about 10Mbps line sync). Isolating the majority of P2P traffic to there would be beneficial, with the customers link becoming the bottleneck.
chook0 12/5/2012 | 3:34:33 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed "As service providers move up the content food chain, you can expect the "open internet" to get choked off, as it competes with service provider content services."

Maybe that should be "If the SPs move up the content food chain......."

Service providers have been trying to move up the content food chain for a long time - I can remember attempts back as far as the 1980s. But the attempts have been largely unsucessful. Service providers are good at moving bits but they are not very good at providing services.

The service provider financial model is geared to the utility model - high debt, low risk, low cost of capital. ROE is kept up by high leverage rather than high profits compared to total investment.

Going into the whole dotcom thing raises risk level and with it the rates at which they can borrow money. Cheap money will always beat expensive money.

Long may it continue.

--chook
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:34:35 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed
There is this fallacy that you have access to an open internet connection today.

Today, these pipes are oversubscribed 100 times or more. It is only the fact that the bulk of users are surfing which allows this oversubscription to work. The moment any significant quantity of machine to machine traffic occurs (like P2P) the oversubscription model is screwed.

This would mean a significant increase in bandwidth in the metro and the backbone of the network as these are the points of maximum oversubscription. The problem is there is no billing model that supports this. So, there is little to no value to a carrier to improve their ability to carry purely Internet traffic (as opposed to corporate VPNs or some walled garden services).

Your solutions:

1 - Create SLAs that are billed for

2 - Regulate and then expect price increases

3 - Charge on usage

Any of those can work, but people seem to be greatly against the change that getting a higher percentage of line utilization is going to have to be reflected in higher prices. Alternately, a AT&T can connect its residential customers to the Internet with a 56K modem. There is certainly no economic reason for them to put in even a T-1, unless people start using this a reason to disconnect service.

seven
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:34:37 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Yes, broadband service providers *could* go brain dead and architect their networks and QoS-based service offerings so that the "open Internet" experience is degraded. That would be in everyone's worst interest. If they do, regulate them mercilessly. On the other hand, if they act as reasonable Internet citizens by employing QoS intelligently and equitably, why get government involved?

BTW, why is this discussion always about MSOs and DSL providers? Should there not also be alarmist rhetoric about "walled garden" mobile services? Maybe IMS stands for Internet Made Superfluous?

ozip 12/5/2012 | 3:34:40 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed The MSOs are not spending new money.... As you say, they are paying to deploy DPI to manage excessive P2P bandwidth usage.

Who do you think is going to pay for the development of the new fancy and complicated inspection applications that can detect non-pirated content?

Also, not sure that the DPI guys would agree that their role is limited to detection, however I do.....

OZIP
ozip 12/5/2012 | 3:34:40 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed mgirl,

>That is the dangerous precident. If service >providers are vertically integrated from Layer one >into content, they are financially motivated to >block others from making money on "their" pipes.


Actually, I dont agree with this at all. There is no way that an operator (MSO or Carrier) can provide all the content that their customers have come to expect from the Internet. In addition, selling the consumer pipe has proven profitable. That doesnt mean that operators wont offer other services using the converged network that are differentated from the services available from other sources using the broadband Internet pipe.

Any operator who attempts to be at either pole will be doomed to failure.

OZIP
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:34:43 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Heh heh heh. Good stuff. -M
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:34:43 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed To insure access to the "open internet" we need common carriage regulation, IMHO. This vertical integration is going to choke off innovation, stuff horrible service provider-designed "services" down our throats, and generally further our economic decline.
optodoofus 12/5/2012 | 3:34:44 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed > Oh, and if I own stock in those providers, then
> I don't want them giving anything away for free.

That depends on whether this behavior achieves the desired goal of actually increasing revenues. Suppose Service Provider 1 decides to start charging for QOS, and each QOS customer starts paying 10% more for QOS. But meanwhile, the public is outraged and 50% of their data customers move to Service Provider 2. Service Provider 1 sees a 45% decrease in data revenues. As a stockholder, I doubt that you would applaud. In fact, you would likely be calling for someone's head.

In a world where there is real competition for access bandwidth business, this would be a very real scenario. Given the duopoly we have in the US, I'm not sure how realistic this outcome would be. It's just as likely that the Telco and MSO would collude and both charge QOS fees.

optodoofus
desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 3:34:45 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed "What else -- other than regulation -- might ensure that a certain (reasonable) amount of "best effort" Internet service remains available to those who can't afford to pay megabucks for some level of guarenteed bandwidth?"

I dunno. Probably the same altruism that allows the opportunity to buy a Mercedes S500 for those who can't afford the megabucks for one?

Ferget it, baby! There is no best-effort internet - just a bunch of "grab that cash with both hands" service providers.

Oh, and if I own stock in those providers, then I don't want them giving anything away for free.

-desi
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:34:45 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed "As service providers move up the content food chain, you can expect the "open internet" to get choked off, as it competes with service provider content services."

What else -- other than regulation -- might ensure that a certain (reasonable) amount of "best effort" Internet service remains available to those who can't afford to pay megabucks for some level of guarenteed bandwidth?
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:34:45 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed It may be possible to bit-rate limit only pirated info, if all other info had some sort of watermark. However, if peer-to-peer loads their networks in any undesirable manner, or if sharing info precludes users from buying it from the service provider, the bit-rate limiting will go on.

Correct. However, if a particular P2P app, say the new Napster or BitTorrent was distributing content legally, then a policy could be implemented to stop rate limiting those specific applications, no?

I dont believe that piracy is the problem broadband operators are hoping to solve with DPI. Its being used to ensure that a small percentage of subscribers dont consume the majority of the bandwidth resources impacting the experience of the majority of subscribers.

Correct. However, the fact that these services are "illegitimate" gives MSOs ground to stand on for rate limiting them. Video apps like YouTube are also bandwidth intensive, as is heavy use of iTunes, but you won't see MSOs rate limit legitimate services like these. That's why customers pay for broadband access.

I cant think of a circumstance that would motivate service providers to spend their money to make sure others make money.

The MSOs are not spending new money. As you say, they are paying to deploy DPI to manage excessive P2P bandwidth usage. Once implemented, MSOs or telcos can choose to implement policies with DPI that rate limit some subscribers or applications, but not others.

In Cable, providers can control the resources used by content services they delivery using PacketCable.

Yes, and no. PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) per se does not provide a means of detecting all applications in use on the cable network. DPI is useful for this. However, once detected, PCMM can be used to enforce policies. In other words, the DPI solution acts as a PCMM application manager, but not a policy server.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:34:46 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed "I cant think of a circumstance that would motivate service providers to spend their money to make sure others make money"

Dear ozip:
That is the dangerous precident. If service providers are vertically integrated from Layer one into content, they are financially motivated to block others from making money on "their" pipes.

If service providers supply "open carriage", they are motivated to move the bits. It is up to their paying user to leverage that pipe as they want.

As service providers move up the content food chain, you can expect the "open internet" to get choked off, as it competes with service provider content services.
ozip 12/5/2012 | 3:34:50 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed >On the DPI question, it is possible for broadband >SPs to rate cap only pirate P2P apps, and not those >legitmately selling copyrighted content.

I dont believe that piracy is the problem broadband operators are hoping to solve with DPI. Its being used to ensure that a small percentage of subscribers dont consume the majority of the bandwidth resources impacting the experience of the majority of subscribers.

I cant think of a circumstance that would motivate service providers to spend their money to make sure others make money.

In Cable, providers can control the resources used by content services they delivery using PacketCable.

OZIP
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:34:51 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed It may be possible to bit-rate limit only pirated info, if all other info had some sort of watermark. However, if peer-to-peer loads their networks in any undesirable manner, or if sharing info precludes users from buying it from the service provider, the bit-rate limiting will go on.
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:34:55 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed The question nicely highlights differences between technology and applications/services. P2P is a cool technology with many uses, like VoIP (Skype) and file distribution (BitTorrent and the like). That said, what made P2P technology a global phenomenon was an application: illegally sharing music and video files. Now that these applications are available legitimately and easily to consumers (think iTunes and Google), P2P is losing its sizzle. On the DPI question, it is possible for broadband SPs to rate cap only pirate P2P apps, and not those legitmately selling copyrighted content.
euler 12/5/2012 | 3:34:56 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Which explains Google's investment in their own fiber infrastructure and purchase of u2ube.
ozip 12/5/2012 | 3:34:57 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Hasnt the benefit of efficent file transfer been negated by broadband providers putting DPI boxes to slow use of Bit Torrent. Bit Torrent is slower than an FTP transfer with my provider. Unless Bit Torrent can finds a way to avoid being impacted by these devices, it could become a wasted innovation.

OZIP
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:34:58 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Will P2P networks ever really be free of their reputation as piracy networks? At the same time, is there a better way to distribute large files without using a content delivery network?
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