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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 21, 2008

Report: 400 Percent Growth Ahead for P2P Internet Traffic

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Peer-to-peer Internet traffic, despite having grown at a torrid pace for years, will grow almost 400 percent on a compound basis over the next five years, according to researchers at MultiMedia Intelligence. Growing from a level of 1.6 petabytes of Internet traffic per month in 2007, P2P Internet traffic will grow to almost 8 petabytes per month by 2012.
If that seems irrational, consider only that overall global IP traffic is growing about 60 percent a year. If P2P growth merely continues at a comparable rate, one easily could exceed eight petabytes of monthly traffic.
P2P data currently represents 44 percent of all consumer traffic over the Internet and 33.6 percent of North American traffic. Although the base of legitimate P2P traffic is starting quite small, legitimate P2P traffic is expected to grow 10 times as fast as illicit P2P traffic, MultiMedia Intelligence estimates.
Content owner increasingly see P2P as cost effective way to distribute digital entertainment services and content, a belief that suggests demand for upstream bandwidth, more than downstream bandwidth, will be the pinch point for Internet service providers, as delivery of P2P requires use of a viewer's upstream link as a precondition of using the downstream feature.
"The awareness of P2P networking grew from the illicit 'sharing' of music files, much to the chagrin of content holders," said Frank Dickson, MultiMedia Intelligence chief research officer. "Despite the prevailing perceptions of P2P as synonymous with content piracy, P2P is emerging as viable means of distributing legitimate content."
P2P frequently is used by enterprises to distribute software, as well. But it is music that today accounts for the largest number of files transferred. Video growth, though, is explosive, and is expected to rapidly dominate IP bandwidth in the P2P and virtually all other realms as well.
This growth is largely attributable to a transition to higher quality video and growing video demand in less developed markets, Multimedia Intelligence researchers said.
As P2P has evolved, it now represents a clearer alternative to use of content delivery networks, the research group says.  The latest generation of P2P services leverage traffic management techniques including P4P, P2P caching and hybrid solutions, such as CDN/pseudo CDN services with P2P.

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Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Mae Kowalke