The peer-to-peer industry continues to talk up the progress it’s making with Internet service providers, which is nice. But until the P2P business can also convince content providers that it is a better way to distribute their goods, it won’t matter much.
Today’s press release: NY-based P2P content distribution firm Pando released more stats from tests it’s conducting with ISPs like Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T), and Comcast (CMCSA). The results: Using P2P is good!
Specifically, Pando says that, when working hand-in-hand with Internet providers, it can boost P2P download speeds “up to 235%” on U.S. cable networks and “up to 898%” on International networks. It also says it can make P2P traffic more efficient for ISPs, which could cut down on network congestion and potentially save broadband providers some money on bandwidth.
This is certainly good news — the P2P industry should do everything it can to sweeten its shaky relationship with Internet providers. But it probably won’t help them win much more business from big media. As we’ve said before, there are still major limitations to P2P content delivery, which, until solved, will throttle their success.
Ease of use: P2P transfers require a separate software download/installation. They don’t just play video directly in the browser the way Flash video streams do. And have fun asking your IT department to let you install P2P software at work.
Reliability: P2P relies on individuals’ computers to power others’ downloads. That’s a lot iffier than a professional server hooked up to a dedicated pipe. And U.S. broadband connections send files a lot slower than they can download them, so the distribution model doesn’t scale.
Annoyance: Not everyone wants to use their bandwidth/computer resources to power someone else’s download — especially if there’s no benefit to them, like when they’re supplying someone else’s video stream but not watching anything themselves.
Selection: P2P doesn’t support as many video types as other content distribution methods do.
Security/Rights: Some content owners, used to streaming their media, haven’t yet embraced the idea of trusting people to keep a copy of their movie/TV episode on their computer.
Existing business relationships: Most big media companies have huge, long-term deals with big content delivery networks like Akamai (AKAM) and Limelight (LLNW), and don’t have a good enough reason to disrupt them. (Cheaper prices alone aren’t swaying anyone yet.) And Akamai already has its own P2P platform that it can roll out if it’s ever necessary.
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