P2P Dominates Broadband Volume, More Growth Ahead

While broadband adoption is a chief driver of heavy file-sharing, the pipes of several big ISPs are now becoming a bit clogged.

CacheLogic recently pointed to incredibly packed bandwidth levels, with P2P networks hogging up to 70 percent of ISP volume. In a P2P-focused panel Tuesday at the Digital Media Summit, several research groups weighed in on the matter. BigChampagne pointed to a proliferation of heavier files on peer-to-peer networks, with movies, software and games becoming increasingly more common. That is driving bandwidth demands up exponentially, creating some traffic management issues for broadband ISPs.

Joseph Laszlo, research director at Jupiter Research, sees some important changes ahead in the ISP world. More ISPs are starting to analyze the nature of traffic on their pipes, with Laszlo seeing an “evolution from a dumb network to a smart one.” According to Lazslo, that could include throttling heavy users and issuing warnings before the RIAA shows up. While that sort of behavior would shift the adversarial tide between content owners and access providers, meddling with customers could be a stretch for the ISPs. Meanwhile, Yankee Group senior analyst Patrick Mahoney noted that broadband levels would soon eclipse dial-up subscribers in 2006, part of a ever-growing demand for the fat pipe.