By Art Reisman
CTO of APconnections, makers of the plug-and-play bandwidth control and traffic shaping appliance NetEqualizer
I recently returned from a regional NetEqualizer tech seminar with attendees from Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and a few regional ISPs. While having a live look at Eastern Michigan’s p2p footprint, I remarked that it was way down from what we had been seeing in 2007 and 2008. The consensus from everybody in the room was that p2p usage is waning. Obviously this is not a wide data base to draw a conclusion from, but we have seen the same trend at many of our customer installs (3 or 4 a week), so I don’t think it is a fluke. It is kind of ironic, with all the controversy around Net Neutrality and Bit-torrent blocking, that the problem seems to be taking care of itself.
So, what are the reasons behind the decline? In our opinion, there are several reasons:
1) Legal Itunes and other Mp3 downloads are the norm now. They are reasonably priced and well marketed. These downloads still take up bandwidth on the network, but do not clog access points with connections like torrents do.
2) Most music aficionados are well stocked with the classics (bootleg or not) by now and are only grabbing new tracks legally as they come out. The days of downloading an entire collection of music at once seem to be over. Fans have their foundation of digital music and are simply adding to it rather than building it up from nothing as they were several years ago.
3) The RIAA enforcement got its message out there. This, coupled with reason #1 above, pushed users to go legal.
4) Legal, free and unlimited. YouTube videos are more fun than slow music downloads and they’re free and legal. Plus, with the popularity of YouTube, more and more television networks have caught on and are putting their programs online.
Despite the decrease in p2p file sharing, ISPs are still experiencing more pressure on their networks than ever from Internet congestion. YouTube and NetFlix are more than capable of filling in the void left by waning Bit-torrents. So, don’t expect the controversy over traffic shaping and the use of bandwidth controllers to go away just yet.