BitTorrent wants to help make ISPs’ networks better
BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker, recently spoke at the Broadband World Forum to talk about something that could potentially help ISPs decongest their networks. The company’s Micro Transport Protocol (μTP) technology, currently built into their client software, can increase network efficiency and manage network congestion.
Klinker made one simple statement at the Broadband World Forum that nicely tied up his goals at the event, “I’m actually here to help.” BitTorrent’s μTP is open source and Klinker is interested in using it for more than just allowing BitTorrent users to more efficiently pull down massive amounts of data.
Currently most data sent over the web leverages the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). TCP constantly keeps track of packets to determine when they fail to arrive at their destination. Klinker made an interesting statement about the efficiency of TCP saying,
“TCP detects congestion based on lost packets. This is a lot like driving your car through a school zone and only slowing down after you’ve struck your first pedestrian.”
Klinker describes how μTP works byfollowing the same analogy but the basic idea is that when it detects congestion happening it gets out of the way. The idea is that while TCP actually produces more messages when congestion starts to happen (because of large numbers of dropped packets), μTP will actually send less messages.
“It was designed in its philosophy to yield to traffic,” Klinker said. “μTP will no longer be the cause of any congestion on the Internet because of these mechanisms.”
The idea of tackling network congestion for ISPs actually makes a great deal of sense. Reducing congestion on the network can mean reducing ISP costs which could translate to the consumer. The fact of the matter is that this congestion idea is only going to get worse. As streaming video services become more and more popular, larger files will be shuffled around the web more frequently.
Klinker wants to see BitTorrent help with all of this data moving around.
“You’ll see us roll out applications that help liberate media from those devices and share it with family and friends,” he said. “The content has no value until it’s shared and seen. That’s hard for today’s networks. The devices at the edge of the network seem to miraculously increase in capability, but the networks don’t seem to change.”
Hopefully ISPs at least consider adopting something like this μTP technology to get network congestion under control. I agree with Klinker that controlling the congestion can help control ISP costs and help prepare themfor a world where almost all video content is consumed via the web.
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