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Video Usage Creates Traffic Jam Worries 257

An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet has an article talking about worries over the increase in video downloads in the last year. Free video hosting and the popularity of iTunes is blamed for this phenomenon." From the article: "This is far from an academic issue. Whether the new companies can deliver on their promises could have a profound effect on how the Internet operates--and it could hit consumers in the pocketbook. Business and entertainment content worth billions of dollars now flows over ordinary ISP networks. Internet voice calls, which can be garbled by any network congestion, are increasingly common. Serious online hiccups could be as irritating, and potentially economically damaging, as persistent L.A. traffic jams."
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Video Usage Creates Traffic Jam Worries

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  • Cache server (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MacGod ( 320762 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:10PM (#14785190)
    One of the ways thsi could potentially be alleviated is through the intelligent use of a cache/proxy server. I know of one small ISP back in the day (admittedly long before downloadable video was at all common) that elected to invest in just such a server, rather than significantly upgrading their bandwidth. They analysed their traffic and found that there were large swaths of data that were requested by many people (for example today that might be the most popular 20 Google videos, or the images on the Slashdot front page or whatever). By caching these locally, they were able to dramatically cut down on their bandwidth usage to their data provider. The ISP-to-user bandwidth was much cheaper, so this was a great way for them to increase their effective bandwidth without having to pay for massive data pipe upgrades.
  • Networks and roads (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bpbond ( 246836 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:13PM (#14785238) Homepage
    Serious online hiccups could be as irritating, and potentially economically damaging, as persistent L.A. traffic jams."

    That's a really interesting analogy. It's taken us (the U.S.) fifty years to figure out that if you build more, and higher-capacity, roads, it alleviates congestion temporarily but ultimately results in...more traffic and more congestion. Does something similar apply to networks? Adding more bandwidth may be expensive, but unlike roads, (i) usage is easy to monitor and thus charge for, increasing companies' incentive to invest, and (ii) the many damaging externalities (i.e., costs like air pollution that traditionally aren't factored into the "price" of roads and cars) seem to be absent for computer networks.
  • Podcasts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Plocmstart ( 718110 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:14PM (#14785242)
    Very popular audio podcasts can cause some issues for small ISPs also. I own one such ISP that hosts a website with a podcast that has become very popular. Being able to deliver that much content to so many people hasn't yet maxed out our bandwidth, but it definately is using a majority of the total that we see right now.
  • The press is stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:30PM (#14785403)
    Oh no, a problem! We're the press. We don't know anything about anything. How can this problem possibly be fixed! What's to be done!? Are we all doomed?

    People who solve problems instead of hyping them understand that if there's a shortage of something (bandwidth, or QoS in this case), you go get more of it. And the problem is solved.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:44PM (#14785550) Homepage Journal

    i am skeptical, especially since they cap so many people's speed. I have friends with the verizon fios service. They have a fiber optic line comning into their house, and they only are slightly faster than broadband. They are not using their networks to capacity by a long shot. So you expect me to beleive that the rest of thier network is taxed out?

    This is a specious argument. This is possibly because you don't know how the system works, so I'm willing to give you both the benefit of the doubt and a [very] short explanation. The fiber going to the door is not a contiguous piece with the fiber leaving the POP. In addition, fiber is typically shared between multiple subscribers. They only have so much bandwidth available to the POP, and it costs them money to get more. Plus, they have to throttle people to avoid segment oversaturation. The system can handle whatever speed, sure, but they only give you a piece of it, so that other people can have a piece, too. (It would be nice to see a more intelligent system that would let you have more bandwidth when no one else is using it, though.)

  • by numbski ( 515011 ) * <> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:51PM (#14785621) Homepage Journal
    I've been using asterisk for nearly 6 months now, doing all voip. My only grip is that even though my upstream provider will allow IAX2 termination, they will only let me use ulaw codec, rather than gsm or speex, which would significantly reduce the throughput needed.

    I'm in the process of getting some IAX2 servers in place in our data center so I can use some leaner codecs, the trick here is that in practice this is all transcoding...I'm doing the equivalent of wav -> mp3 on all of that audio in real-time, which is the reason my upstream provider won't allow it, and I can't realy blame them in that regard.

    If you work with someone that knows their stuff, gives you a properly prioritized connection, and you minimize latency to them, VOIP will just beat the living tar out of POTS. The problem is that companies like Comcast won't give you that kind of personalized attention. If I want to provide cheap sip or iax2 termination, I can do it, but I can't support you that well. If you're willing to wrestle with it yourself, absolutely.

    We're heading into an area where high tech must be supportable, and not just throw out there.
  • Re:Cache server (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TeamSPAM ( 166583 ) <> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @01:04PM (#14785727) Homepage

    I agree that proxy use is smart on the part of the ISP to manage their bandwidth usage. Unfortunately, I don't think a proxy server will solve for the bandwidth issue this time. The entertainment companies want their content protected (ala DRM) meaning that each video will be a unique file and serves no purpose being cached on a proxy server. These requirements are at odds with easing network traffic by using cache servers.

  • The business way (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teslatug ( 543527 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @02:23PM (#14786471)
    Watch the ISP's start to throttle people ala Netflix.

    "Sure you can have unlimited rentals for $14.99, as long as you limit it to less than 5 a month, otherwise we'll throttle you to a limit of our choosing."

    "Sure you can have 1Mbps up/down, as long as you don't try to use it, otherwise it will be 128Kbps."

    How do they keep getting away with this. If I were to say, "sure I'll agree to pay you $14.99/mo for the service as long as it's only for one month, otherwise I'll just pay you $1.99/mo" I'd get service interrupted and a big splap on my credit history. We need consumer unions to protect ourselves. When one person drops the service, they'll be glad as it's just someone using the service to the advertised terms (instead of much lower than that), but if a thousand subscribers do it at once they'd notice.

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.