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OFC 2007 – Carriers Speak Out On Peer to Peer

I’ve got 9 pages of notes from yesterday’s OSA Executive Forum that I will distill and distribute this evening. Craig Matsumoto from Lightreading captured and blogged my fastball question to the Carrier panel composed of BT, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. My question was:

There has been a lot of discussion today about Video and the explosion of bandwidth needed to carry it but Peer to Peer traffic is now the largest consumer of bandwidth on your networks. Do you view P2P technology as an opportunity or threat and why?

All four took me to task and indicated P2P, let alone P2P video, was not the biggest consumer of traffic, which would be a direct contradiction with several independent studies. Their responses tell you a lot about how the nature of their networks. (Text borrowed from Lightreading)

  • “It is probably the portion of our video traffic that is growing at the fastest clip… The pressure on the upstream network is why we are paying a lot of attention to it.” — Ernie Carey, VP advanced network technologies, AT&T (T )
  • “We don’t see a huge amount at the moment, but that’s going to be the major growth, and we’ve got to have the network to handle it.” — Dave Payne, manager of broadband architectures and optical networks, British Telecom (BT)
  • “Yes, upstream is going up, but downstream is going up as well… [The ratio of 1:4 download:upload amounts] hasn’t significantly changed over the last three years; there is a slope to that curve, but it’s not significant.” — Vik Saxena, senior director of network architecture, Comcast (CMCSA)
  • “If you can find enough uplink speed, which is what we’ve done with fiber-to-the-home, then that [question] goes away.” — Glenn Wellbrock, director of backbone network design, Verizon (VZ)


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  1. The guy from Verizon obviously didn’t understand your question, or chose to dodge it with a marketing parry. First off, “speed” is is a measure of distance/time. Last I checked, nobody cares how *far* a bit goes, only how many bits per second can be moved. If he wants to be taken seriously he should have said “uplink capacity” not “speed.”

    But more to the point, your question was about the percentages of traffic, and more importantly what *content* was contained within that percentage. None of them seemed to see your question of threat as anything other than a capacity problem.

    These guys are still fighting the last war.


    Posted by chuck goolsbee | March 27, 2007, 4:36 PM
  2. Great article “who will pay for online video boom”. Your comments might suggest AKAM is a short here. Despite the tremendous growth the company has consistently put up in the last few years, there is now LLNW coming public and pricing at major discount to AKAM. It’s a love fest on the buyside with AKAM, and where analysts are in print at 35% growth in 07, they will tell you 50% … hard to beat without plenty of acquisitions.

    Any thoughts?

    Posted by J-MAC | March 28, 2007, 5:40 AM
  3. I am a mere engineer. My understanding is that AKAM holds 2 critical patents, which twist DNS entry to redirect stream destination. Without these key tech, it is hard for other competitors to reach same level of efficiency. And AKAM has a very well distributed system to host contents.

    I know Vital Steam system residing on 2 DC center in CA. Don’t know how they implement it.

    Limelight network set their infrastructure on top of Level 3 network, as Level 3 becomes its competitor after accquiring Savvis’s CDN assets.

    Level 3 could be a serious competitor because they have a solid network across NA.

    Maybe I am wrong about above infomation. Like to know your opinions.

    Posted by solomon.yang | March 28, 2007, 4:59 PM
  4. Back to the first comment for this blog entry Andrew, the guy from Comcast is being disingenuous – Comcast has a fairly sophisticated p2p b/w throttling solution in place. Based on the throttling, yes, maybe the ratio has not changed.

    And the AT&T and BT guys are basically saying that traffic carried over these ‘overlay’ p2p networks – video – is the growth area. Ducked the aspect, if theya re able to monetize it or simply ferry bits across their networks.


    Posted by knujlla | April 1, 2007, 1:49 AM