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Re: Network end users to pull down 2 gigabytes a day, continuously?
On Sun, 21 Jan 2007, Joe Abley wrote:
Remember though that the dynamics of the system need to assume that individual clients will be selfish, and even though it might be in the interests of the network as a whole to choose local peers, if you can get faster *throughput* (not round-trip response) from a remote peer, it's a necessary assumption that the peer will do so.
It seems like if there's an issue here it's that different parties have different self-interests, and those whose interests aren't being served aren't passing on the costs to the decision makers. The users' performance interests are served by getting the fastest downloads possible. The ISP's financial interests would be served by their flat rate customers getting their data from somewhere close by. If it becomes enough of a problem that the ISPs are motivated to deal with it, one approach would be to get the customers' financial interests better aligned with their own, with differentiated billing for local and long distance traffic.
Perth, on the West Coast of Australia, claims to be the world's most isolated "capitol" city (for some definition of capitol). Next closest is probably Adelaide, at 1300 miles. Jakarta and Sydney are both 2,000 miles away. Getting stuff, including data, in and out is expensive. Like Seattle, Perth has many of its ISPs in the same downtown sky scraper, and a very active exchange point in the building. It is much cheaper for ISPs to hand off local traffic to each other than to hand off long distance traffic to their far away transit providers. Like ISPs in a lot of similar places, the ISPs in Perth charge their customers different rates for cheap local bandwidth than for expensive long distance bandwidth.
When I was in Perth a couple of years ago, I asked my usual questions about what effect this billing arrangement was having on user behavior. I was told about a Perth-only file sharing network. Using the same file sharing networks as the rest of the world was expensive, as they would end up hauling lots of data over the expensive long distance links and users didn't want to pay for that. Instead, they'd put together their own, which only allowed local users and thus guaranteed that uploads and downloads would happen at cheap local rates.
Googling for more information just now, what I found were lots of stories about police raids, so I'm not sure if it's still operational. Legal problems seem to be an issue for file sharing networks regardless of geographic focus, so that's probably not relevant to this particular point.
In the US and Western Europe, there's still enough fiber between cities that high volumes of long distance traffic don't seem to be causing issues, and pricing is becoming less distance sensitive. The parts of the world with shortages of external connectivity pay to get to us, so we don't see those costs either. If that changes, I suspect we'll see it reflected in the pricing models and user self-interests will change. The software that users will be using will change accordingly, as it did in Perth.