Network end users to pull down 2 gigabytes a day, continuously?

Gian Constantine constantinegi at
Tue Jan 9 02:07:25 UTC 2007

There may have been a disconnect on my part, or at least, a failure  
to disclose my position. I am looking at things from a provider  
standpoint, whether as an ISP or a strict video service provider.

I agree with you. From a consumer standpoint, a trickle or off-peak  
download model is the ideal low-impact solution to content delivery.  
And absolutely, a 500GB drive would almost be overkill on space for  
disposable content encoded in H.264. Excellent SD (480i) content can  
be achieved at ~1200 to 1500kbps, resulting in about a 1GB file for a  
90 minute title. HD is almost out of the question for internet  
download, given good 720p at ~5500kbps, resulting in a 30GB file for  
a 90 minute title.

Service providers wishing to provide this service to their customers  
may see some success where they control the access medium (copper  
loop, coax, FTTH). Offering such a service to customers outside of  
this scope would prove very expensive, and likely, would never see a  
return on the investment without extensive peering arrangements. Even  
then, distribution rights would be very difficult to attain without  
very deep pockets and crippling revenue sharing. The studios really  
dislike the idea of transmission outside of a closed network. Don't  
forget. Even the titles you mentioned are still owned by very large  
companies interested in squeezing every possible dime from their  
assets. They would not be cheap to acquire.

Further, torrent-like distribution is a long long way away from sign  
off by the content providers. They see torrents as the number one  
tool of content piracy. This is a major reason I see the discussion  
of tripping upstream usage limits through content distribution as moot.

I am with you on the vision of massive content libraries at the  
fingertips of all, but I see many roadblocks in the way. And, almost  
none of them are technical in nature.

Gian Anthony Constantine
Senior Network Design Engineer
Earthlink, Inc.
Office: 404-748-6207
Cell: 404-808-4651
Internal Ext: x22007
constantinegi at

On Jan 8, 2007, at 7:51 PM, Bora Akyol wrote:

> Please see my comments inline:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Gian Constantine [mailto:constantinegi at]
>> Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 4:27 PM
>> To: Bora Akyol
>> Cc: nanog at
>> Subject: Re: Network end users to pull down 2 gigabytes a
>> day, continuously?
> <snip>
>> I would also argue storage and distribution costs are not
>> asymptotically zero with scale. Well designed SANs are not
>> cheap. Well designed distribution systems are not cheap.
>> While price does decrease when scaled upwards, the cost of
>> such an operation remains hefty, and increases with additions
>> to the offered content library and a swelling of demand for
>> this content. I believe the graph becomes neither asymptotic,
>> nor anywhere near zero.
> To the end user, there is no cost to downloading videos when they are
> sleeping.
> I would argue that other than sports (and some news) events, there is
> pretty much no content that
> needs to be real time. What the downloading (possibly 24x7) does is to
> stress the ISP network to its max since the assumptions of statistical
> multiplexing
> goes out the window. Think of a Tivo that downloads content off the
> Internet
> 24x7.
> The user is still paying for only what they pay each month, and  
> this is
> "network neutrality 2.0" all over again.
>> You are correct on the long tail nature of music. But music
>> is not consumed in a similar manner as TV and movies.
>> Television and movies involve a little more commitment and
>> attention. Music is more for the moment and the mood. There
>> is an immediacy with music consumption. Movies and television
>> require a slight degree more patience from the consumer. The
>> freshness (debatable :-) ) of new release movies and TV can
>> often command the required patience from the consumer. Older
>> content rarely has the same pull.
> I would argue against your distinction between visual and auditory
> content.
> There is a lot of content out there that a lot of people watch and the
> content
> is 20-40+ years old. Think Brady Bunch, Bonanza, or archived games  
> from
> NFL,
> MLB etc. What about Smurfs (for those of us with kids)?
> This is only the beginning.
> If I can get a 500GB box and download MP4 content, that's a lot of
> essentially free storage.
> Coming back to NANOG content, I think video (not streamed but multi- 
> path
> distributed video) is going to bring the networks down not by sheer
> bandwidth alone but by challenging the assumptions behind the
> engineering of the network. I don't think you need huge SANs per se to
> store the content either, since it is multi-source/multi-sink, the
> reliability is built-in.
> The SPs like Verizon & ATT moving fiber to the home hoping to get  
> in on
> the "value add" action are in for an awakening IMHO.
> Regards
> Bora
> ps. I apologize for the tone of my previous email. That sounded  
> grumpier
> than I usually am.

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