Whenever you have to share digital files, think of the Internet: do it locally. Researchers at the University of Washington and Yale University have found that sharing files through peer-to-peer networking with neighbor computers instead of with far-away machines relieves pressure on the Internet-service provider by as much as five times and speeds up the transfer by 20 percent.
Besides being widely used for murky purposes, P2P is used by several media outlets to deliver legal video content and movies. Around 50 percent to 80 percent of all Internet traffic is generated by bandwidth-greedy P2P exchanges, and it is expected to grow, putting strain on Internet-service providers.
To solve this problem, the researchers propose a system they have dubbed P4P, which consists of sharing files preferentially with nearby computers. The researchers calculated that the average P2P data packet travels 1,000 miles and takes 5.5 connections through major hubs. The new system allows data to travel 160 miles on average and make only 0.89 connections, which reduces Web traffic on connections between cities, where there are more frequent bottlenecks.
A working group consisting of 80 members, including representatives from Internet-service providers and content-supplying companies has been exploring P4P since last year. The research team is presenting a paper on their system this week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications meeting in Seattle. —Maria José Viñas