Bandwidth Usage and Management: A UK Case Study
Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), 2011
22 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2012
Date Written: August 15, 2011
As broadband internet service took hold in the mid-2000’s, network operators all over the world were wrestling with the increasing pressure that the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic was placing on their networks. As a result, some operators adopted traffic management strategies specifically aimed at shifting P2P traffic to off-peak hours, reducing congestion associated with it, or otherwise reducing the impact and cost of P2P on the network. But the rise of video traffic as the core driver of traffic growth in recent years raises questions about the continuing effectiveness of these strategies. This paper provides empirical analysis of network usage from a major UK residential broadband provider that has been using P2P traffic management at peak times for several years. In analyzing network trends, we find video to be the main contributor to traffic growth at peak times throughout the day, and among the network’s heaviest users. We also report the results of an experiment in which the existing P2P traffic controls were temporarily lifted for a subset of users finding that in the short term P2P traffic management appears to effectively time-shift traffic demand without suppressing it from current levels. We conclude that although the traffic management successfully moves P2P traffic off-peak, the rise in demand for time-inelastic video services will cause the utility of P2P traffic management to diminish over time. Together with a potentially hostile policy climate, this trend provides cause To reevaluate the benefits and drawbacks of explicitly managing P2P traffic at the network level.
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