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

Stephen Sprunk stephen at
Fri Jan 12 06:03:17 UTC 2007

Thus spake "Marshall Eubanks" <tme at>
> On Jan 10, 2007, at 11:19 PM, Thomas Leavitt wrote:
>> I don't think consumers are going to accept having to wait for a 
>> "scheduled broadcast" of whatever piece of video content they want 
>> to view - at least if the alternative is being able to download and 
>> watch it nearly
> That's the pull model. The push model will also exist. Both will make 
> money.

There's a severe Layer 8 problem, though, because most businesses seem 
to pursue only one delivery strategy, instead of viewing them as 
complementary and using _all_ of them as appropriate.

When IP STBs start appearing, most of them _should_ have some sort of 
feature to subscribe to certain programs.  That means when a program is 
released for distribution, there will be millions of people waiting for 
it.  Push it out via mcast or P2P at 3am and it'll be waiting for them 
when they wake up (or 3pm, ready when they come home from work).  Folks 
who want older programs would need to select a show and the STB would 
grab it via P2P or pull methods.

Mcast has the advantage that STBs could opportunistically cache all 
"recent" content in case the user wants to browse the latest programs 
they haven't subscribed to, aka channel surfing.  This doesn't make 
sense with P2P due to the the waste of bandwidth, and it's not very 
effective with pull content because most folks still can't get a high 
enough bitrate from some distant colo into their homes to pull content 
as fast as they consume it.

The TV pirates have figured most of this out.  Most BitTorrent clients 
these days support RSS feeds, and there are dozens of sites that will 
give you a feed for particular shows (at least those popular enough to 
be pirated) so that your client will start pulling it as soon as it hits 
the 'net; shows like "24" will have _tens of thousands_ of clients 
downloading a new episode within minutes.  Likewise, the same sites 
offer catalogs going back several years so that you can pick nearly any 
episode and watch it within a couple hours.  Mcast is the one piece 
missing, but perhaps if it's not being used that's just yet another sign 
it's a solution in search of a problem, as critics have been saying for 
the last decade?

There is no technical challenge here; what the pirates are already doing 
works pretty well, and with a little UI work it'd even be ready for the 
mass market.  The challenges are figuring out how to pay for the pipes 
needed to deliver all these bits at consumer rates, and how to collect 
revenue from all the viewers to fairly compensate the producers -- both 
business problems, though for different folks.  Interesting problems to 
solve, but NANOG probably isn't the appropriate forum.


Stephen Sprunk         "God does not play dice."  --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723         "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS        dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking 

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