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

Gian Constantine constantinegi at
Tue Jan 9 03:26:30 UTC 2007

My contention is simple. The content providers will not allow P2P  
video as a legal commercial service anytime in the near future.  
Furthermore, most ISPs are going to side with the content providers  
on this one. Therefore, discussing it at this point in time is purely  
academic, or more so, diversionary.

Personally, I am not one for throttling high use subscribers. Outside  
of the fine print, which no one reads, they were sold a service of  
Xkbps down and Ykbps up. I could not care less how, when, or how  
often they use it. If you paid for it, burn it up.

I have questions as to whether or not P2P video is really a smart  
distribution method for service provider who controls the access  
medium. Outside of being a service provider, I think the economic  
model is weak, when there can be little expectation of a large scale  
take rate.

Ultimately, my answer is: we're not there yet. The infrastructure  
isn't there. The content providers aren't there. The market isn't  
there. The product needs a motivator. This discussion has been  
putting the cart before the horse.

A lot of big pictures pieces are completely overlooked. We fail to  
question whether or not P2P sharing is a good method in delivering  
the product. There are a lot of factors which play into this.  
Unfortunately, more interest has been paid to the details of this  
delivery method than has been paid to whether or not the method is  
even worthwhile.

 From a big picture standpoint, I would say P2P distribution is a non- 
starter, too many reluctant parties to appease. From a detail  
standpoint, I would say P2P distribution faces too many hurdles in  
existing network infrastructure to be justified. Simply reference the  
discussion of upstream bandwidth caps and you will have a wonderful  
example of those hurdles.

Gian Anthony Constantine
Senior Network Design Engineer
Earthlink, Inc.

On Jan 8, 2007, at 9:49 PM, Thomas Leavitt wrote:

> So, kind of back to the original question: what is going to be the  
> reaction of your average service provider to the presence of an  
> increasing number of people sucking down massive amounts of video  
> and spitting it back out again... nothing? throttling all traffic  
> of a certain type? shutting down customers who exceed certain  
> thresholds? or just throttling their traffic? massive upgrades of  
> internal network hardware?
> Is it your contention that there's no economic model, given the  
> architecture of current networks, which would would generate enough  
> revenue to offset the cost of traffic generated by P2P video?
> Thomas
> Gian Constantine wrote:
>> 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  
>> <mailto: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 <mailto: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.
> -- 
> Thomas Leavitt - thomas at - 831-295-3917 (cell)
> *** Independent Systems and Network Consultant, Santa Cruz, CA ***
> <thomas.vcf>

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