Home media servers, AUPs, and upstream bandwidth utilization.

Roland Dobbins rdobbins at cisco.com
Mon Dec 25 00:24:26 UTC 2006

I recently purchased a Slingbox Pro, and have set it up so that I can  
remotely access/control my home HDTV DVR and stream video remotely.   
My broadband access SP specifically allow home users to run servers,  
as long as said servers don't cause a problem for the SP  
infrastructure nor for other users or doing anything illegal; as long  
as I'm not breaking the law or making problems for others, they don't  

The Slingbox is pretty cool; when I access it, both the video and  
audio quality are more than acceptable.  It even works well when I  
access it via EVDO; on average, I'm pulling down about 450kb/sec up  
to about 580kb/sec over TCP (my home upstream link is a theoretical  
768kb/sec, minus overhead; I generally get something pretty close to  

What I'm wondering is, do broadband SPs believe that this kind of  
system will become common enough to make a signficant difference in  
traffic paterns, and if so, how do they believe it will affect their  
access infrastructures in terms of capacity, given the typical  
asymmetries seen in upstream vs. downstream capacity in many  
broadband access networks?  If a user isn't doing something like  
breaking the law by illegally redistributing copyrighted content, is  
this sort of activity permitted by your AUPs?  If so, would you  
change your AUPs if you saw a significant shift towards non- 
infringing upstream content streaming by your broadband access  
customers?  If not, would you consider changing your AUPs in order to  
allow this sort of upstream content streaming of non-infringing  
content, with the caveat that users can't caused problems for your  
infrastructure or for other users, and perhaps with a bandwidth cap?

Would you police down this traffic if you could readily classify it,  
as many SPs do with P2P applications?  Would the fact that this type  
of traffic doesn't appear to be illegal or infringing in any way lead  
you to treat it differently than P2P traffic (even though there are  
many legitimate uses for P2P file-sharing systems, the presumption  
always seems to be that the majority of P2P traffic is in illegally- 
redistributed copyrighted content, and thus P2P technologies seem  
to've acquired a taint of distaste from many quarters, rightly or  

Also, have you considered running a service like this yourselves, a  

Vidoeconferencing is somewhat analogous, but in most cases,  
videoconference calls (things like iChat, Skype videoconferencing,  
etc.) generally seem to use a less bandwidth than the Slingox, and it  
seems to me that they will in most cases be of shorter duration than,  
say, a business traveler who wants to keep up with Lost or 24 and so  
sits down to stream video from his home A/V system for 45 minutes to  
an hour at a stretch.

Sorry to ramble, this neat little toy just sparked a few questions,  
and I figured that some of you are dealing with these kinds of issues  
already, or are anticipating doing so in the not-so-distant future.   
Any insight or informed speculation greatly appreciated!

Roland Dobbins <rdobbins at cisco.com> // 408.527.6376 voice

		All battles are perpetual.

     		   -- Milton Friedman

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