Verizon embraces legal P2P sharing, saves money

VerizonLogoVerizon’s getting set to share the results of a recent study it conducted showing that “when an ISP cooperates with a file-sharing software maker they can speed downloads an average of 60 percent.” Oh, and it saves Verizon a bunch of money, too.

Verizon created the “P4P Working Group” with file-sharing company Pando Networks and developed a system which more or less favors P2P connections between geographically-close users on the Verizon network over connections to random users and networks in far-away lands.

According to the Associated Press,

In a traditional P2P network, if a Verizon customer downloads a file, only 6.3 percent of the data will come from another Verizon customer in the same city, said Doug Pasko, senior technologist at the company. In the “P4P” trial, 58 percent of the data came from nearby Verizon users, vastly reducing the company’s cost of carrying the traffic.

[Pando CEO Robert] Levitan said the technology might be ready for use by next month, when NBC makes available free downloads of its TV shows using Pando’s software. The shows will be financed by advertising, and P2P technology will be an essential way for NBC to cut costs. Distributing an hourlong TV show in high definition using traditional delivery systems would cost the network about $1. With P2P technology, that cost can be cut by 75 to 90 percent.

A big potential shortcoming is the fact that this only works with legal P2P file sharing. Verizon would be crazy to embrace illegal sharing but you’ve gotta wonder how much P2P traffic is sucked up by illegal networks versus legal ones. Secondly, this works well on a network like Verizon’s where users don’t split bandwidth with all their neighbors in the same way as cable-based networks.

A problem the “P4P” system does not address is that file-sharing software makes extensive use of a customer’s connection, both for uploads and downloads. This is not much a problem for phone companies like Verizon, but it is for cable companies, where up to 500 households share capacity on the local coaxial cable.

Still, though, it’s a step in the right direction and shows some forward-thinking on Verizon’s part. It’s capable of saving the company substantial amounts of money while allowing users to enjoy faster downloads.

Verizon Gets Cozy With P2P File-Sharers: Financial News [AP/Yahoo! News]