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

Steve Gibbard scg at
Sun Jan 21 20:50:51 UTC 2007

On Sun, 21 Jan 2007, Joe Abley wrote:

> Remember though that the dynamics of the system need to assume that 
> individual clients will be selfish, and even though it might be in the 
> interests of the network as a whole to choose local peers, if you can get 
> faster *throughput* (not round-trip response) from a remote peer, it's a 
> necessary assumption that the peer will do so.

It seems like if there's an issue here it's that different parties have 
different self-interests, and those whose interests aren't being served 
aren't passing on the costs to the decision makers.  The users' 
performance interests are served by getting the fastest downloads 
possible.  The ISP's financial interests would be served by their flat 
rate customers getting their data from somewhere close by.  If it becomes 
enough of a problem that the ISPs are motivated to deal with it, one 
approach would be to get the customers' financial interests better 
aligned with their own, with differentiated billing for local and long 
distance traffic.

Perth, on the West Coast of Australia, claims to be the world's most 
isolated "capitol" city (for some definition of capitol).  Next closest is 
probably Adelaide, at 1300 miles.  Jakarta and Sydney are both 2,000 miles 
away.  Getting stuff, including data, in and out is expensive.  Like 
Seattle, Perth has many of its ISPs in the same downtown sky scraper, and 
a very active exchange point in the building.  It is much cheaper for ISPs 
to hand off local traffic to each other than to hand off long distance 
traffic to their far away transit providers.  Like ISPs in a lot of 
similar places, the ISPs in Perth charge their customers different rates 
for cheap local bandwidth than for expensive long distance bandwidth.

When I was in Perth a couple of years ago, I asked my usual questions 
about what effect this billing arrangement was having on user behavior. 
I was told about a Perth-only file sharing network.  Using the same file 
sharing networks as the rest of the world was expensive, as they would end 
up hauling lots of data over the expensive long distance links and users 
didn't want to pay for that.  Instead, they'd put together their own, 
which only allowed local users and thus guaranteed that uploads and 
downloads would happen at cheap local rates.

Googling for more information just now, what I found were lots of stories 
about police raids, so I'm not sure if it's still operational.  Legal 
problems seem to be an issue for file sharing networks regardless of 
geographic focus, so that's probably not relevant to this particular 

In the US and Western Europe, there's still enough fiber between cities 
that high volumes of long distance traffic don't seem to be causing 
issues, and pricing is becoming less distance sensitive.  The parts of the 
world with shortages of external connectivity pay to get to us, so we 
don't see those costs either.  If that changes, I suspect we'll see it 
reflected in the pricing models and user self-interests will change.  The 
software that users will be using will change accordingly, as it did in 


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