BitTorrent gaining more acceptance

April 20, 2006

In the world of the Internet, a new idea can be either an asset or a threat. It depends on your perspective. BitTorrent, the popular peer-to-peer file sharing technology, poses exactly this conundrum to Internet service providers and entertainment firms alike.

The technology, which allows computer users to easily share and distribute files without occupying much of their Internet connection bandwidth, is also responsible for almost one-third of the Internet's traffic flow, according to recent estimates.

Conversely, it's this feature that makes the technology perfect for content distribution, especially in an era when file sizes have become much larger. Video files, having become extremely popular due to increased quality and more widespread prevalence of broadband technologies, can be easily shared without bogging down a single computer, as seen in a traditional Internet server model.

Similar to standard peer to peer sharing programs, BitTorrent allows users to search through trackers to see which files are available on the shared spaces of other computers, and then download them to your shared space. Where the technology becomes different is in the idea of contributed bandwidth.

Once a file has been downloaded, the BitTorrent program shares it out to other users working to download the file by contributing a small part of the computer's bandwidth to help others download the file. A larger number of users downloading the same file will allow for faster speeds given that each user contributes part of their bandwidth to the overall distribution effort.

Despite sharing both legal and illegal files over current Internet connections, BitTorrent has been eyed as an ideal distribution model for the entertainment industry. Peter Jackson's "King Kong," recently released to DVD, has also been offered as a legal online download in the United Kingdom. Other studios have looked into online downloads as a means of increasing retail sales. Once downloaded, digital versions of a movie can be copied to a restricted number of computers depending on the rules of the file's DRM (digital rights management) protocol.

"I think peer-to-peer technologies are starting to become more accepted," said Tim Bajarin, an analyst for Creative Strategies. "Video is a very important part of the Internet and with Internet distribution, they're definitely on the right path. The important factor is to get the content out there, which helps to curb piracy."

Although BitTorrent and online video content distribution may be en route to more widespread acceptance, the data traffic it generates still needs to be managed. In light of the increased network traffic, network managers have had to craft new ways to control, or "shape", the data flow running through their systems. For this task, specially designed software can be programmed to identify the characteristics of outgoing data, which can be grouped into segments called "buckets."

Each bucket, once created, is assigned a priority. The software manages each bucket per the network manager's instructions. Specific data can then be restricted so the network devotes only a certain amount of its bandwidth to each bucket, according to Laura Bowser, a security engineer.

For the home user, popular BitTorrent clients can be controlled via the application's preferences. Simple adjustments such as capping the amount uploaded to a certain percentage of the computer's available bandwidth can make all the difference as well as decrease the amount BitTorrent of data an Internet service provider has to manage on their end.

Once considered the nemesis of the entertainment industry, peer-to-peer file sharing has come a long way since the infamous days of Napster. Now a bona fide content distribution tool, BitTorrent can help push large files across the Internet through a shared effort.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: BitTorrent vulnerability to DRDoS attacks uncovered

Related Stories

BitTorrent vulnerability to DRDoS attacks uncovered

August 18, 2015

A quartet of researchers, two with City University of London and one each with PLUMgrid Inc. and THM Friedberg has released a paper first shown at the recent USENIX Woot '15, detailing what they claim is a major vulnerability ...

BitTorrent embarks on web browser Project Maelstrom

December 11, 2014

On a mission to make the Internet more open, a BitTorrent browser, "Project Maelstrom," is in invite-only alpha. The BitTorrent blog on Wednesday posted "an invite-only Alpha to help build the distributed web." This is to ...

BitTorrent and the digital fingerprints we leave behind

April 10, 2015

The Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Limited piracy court case raises many questions about what sort of trail people leave when they use technology to make illegal copies of movies and other copyrighted material.

Recommended for you

Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

October 9, 2015

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research led by a University of Arizona ...

Scientists paint quantum electronics with beams of light

October 9, 2015

A team of scientists from the University of Chicago and the Pennsylvania State University have accidentally discovered a new way of using light to draw and erase quantum-mechanical circuits in a unique class of materials ...

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...

Could 'The Day After Tomorrow' happen?

October 9, 2015

A researcher from the University of Southampton has produced a scientific study of the climate scenario featured in the disaster movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.