Twice As Nice
It isn’t just the content creators who are bothered about piracy — our poor ISPs, too, must deal with the strain we’re putting on their networks. Bandwidth costs money, and ISPs in the US are now coming face to face with the monster they created (“6 Mbps Unlimited for just $33 (Rs 1,500)? What were we thinking?”). So Comcast, one of the nation’s biggest ISPs, decided to introduce a term we love to hate — the download limit. Comcast subscribers will now be limited to downloading only 250 GB a month.
Obviously, most people won’t hit that limit — even at 6 Mbps — so it doesn’t really matter. But that also means that piracy is still straining Comcast’s networks. So instead of throttling P2P traffic like they originally planned, they’ve given P4P a try, and the results are amazing.
P4P — Proactive network Provider Participation for P2P — uses a technology called iTracker to find you as many peers on the ISP’s network as possible. It’s great for you, because if your ISP is using P4P, you will download at speeds that are around 80 per cent faster. And it’s great for the ISP, because it doesn’t increase their costs. Every time you download data from an international server (which you usually are), you’re accessing your ISP’s international link, and that access costs them money and hence costs you money. If you stick to downloading from servers that are in India, you’re using local bandwidth, which your ISP pays much less for. If the server is on the ISP’s own network, they pay almost nothing and in turn you pay almost nothing.
We may need to wait a while before we have Indian mirrors for the sites we access every day, but if our ISPs implement P4P, there will be little to separate us from our pirated (and some legal) content, and they can’t whine about how much we’re costing them. Now, we just have to get rid of that download limit.