ISPs Complaining about P2P

Recently this issue came up on the linux-il mailing list. Apparently one of the bigger Israeli ISPs started enforcing a bandwidth cap clause in their Terms of Service after they realized that their lines were overloaded. A couple people pulled out the following statistic:

P2P still represented 60% of Internet traffic at the end of 2004- http://www.cachelogic.com/research/2005_slide07.php

I’ve seen this and similar statistics before but why people are surprised by it, I never understand. The fact is meaningless but, for some reason, everyone thinks it proves that the ISPs are right.

The truth is that even if 95% of the Internet users only used the Internet for email, P2P could still theoretically take up 60% of the bandwidth because it is inheirintly a very high bandwidth application.

Let’s assume for the sake of arguement that there are 100 users on the Internet.

  • 25 of the users are using only P2P and 75 of the users are using only Email.
  • All users have a 1M connection.
  • The P2P users download 24/7 giving them 24M bandwidth usage per day.

Even if each email user downloads 5.33M of email each day, the P2P users still used 60% of the bandwidth.

5.33*75=400
24*25=600
------------
Total: 1000

In reality P2P users will probably have higher speed connections than Email users which will give them an even more disproportionate share of the bandwidth.

Once we’ve decided that P2P will always have a huge share of the bandwidth regardless of what percentage of people are actually using it, the real questions become:

  1. Maybe P2P is accounts for 60% of what’s being used, but how much isn’t being used?
  2. Isn’t this fact, that some people are using more bandwidth than others, the same reason that ISPs can overbook their lines and make a profit?
  3. If an ISP does a crummy job of planning their “overbooking” should the customers pay the price?

Imagine if an ISP would secretly give every new customer 5M lines for a month and a half- then all of a sudden the speed drops to 1.5M.

Joe schmoe doesn’t know what’s hit him and when he calls customer service, the rep tells him “Oh I’m sorry – we accidentally gave you a 5M line and only just corrected the mistake but don’t worry we won’t charge
you for it- BTW are you interested in our new special on 5M lines?”

It’s the same here- for months/years they didn’t say anything. Now when people are used to it- they come and ask for money. It is their own fault that they overbook the lines- they should deal with it and if they want to limit new customers- gei gezunt.

I have to say that I’m pretty sure I fall into the category of the Email users and I don’t use the ISP in question but if I were in the place of their newly “capped” customers, I would switch to another ISP the same day.

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