Should Internet Service Providers Fear Peer-Assisted Content Distribution?

ACM/USENIX Internet Measurement Conference |

Recently, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks have emerged as an attractive solution to enable large-scale content distribution without requiring major infrastructure investments. While such P2P solutions appear highly beneficial for content providers and end-users, there seems to be a growing concern among Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that now need to support the distribution cost. In this work, we explore the potential impact of future P2P file delivery mechanisms as seen from three different perspectives: i) the content provider, i) the ISPs, and iii) individual content consumers. Using a diverse set of measurements including BitTorrent tracker logs and payload packet traces collected at the edge of a 20,000 user access network, we quantify the impact of peer-assisted file delivery on end-user experience and resource consumption. We further compare it with the performance expected from traditional distribution mechanisms based on large server farms and Content Distribution Networks (CDNs).

While existing P2P content distribution solutions may provide significant benefits for content providers and endconsumers in terms of cost and performance, our results demonstrate that they have an adverse impact on ISPs’ costs by shifting the associated capacity requirements from the content providers and CDNs to the ISPs themselves. Further, we highlight how simple “locality-aware” P2P delivery solutions can significantly alleviate the induced cost at the ISPs, while providing an overall performance that approximates that of a perfect world-wide caching infrastructure.