2021-10-15 23:59:53
AT&T Backbone Sees 20% P2P Drop – Hulu, YouTube and other alternative video ‘taking over’ isps/market data


Industry analyst Dave Burstein has an interesting (but margin blown) post over at the interesting people listserv discussing the reality of congestion (or lack thereof) on AT&T’s network. While many in the industry lobbyists use P2P congestion as a bogeyman to justify all manner of policy, AT&T data suggests P2P is actually declining on AT&T’s network. Upstream P2P on cable networks remains a capacity problem, but it’s one that may be resolved by a migration to DOCSIS 3.0. Burstein suggests the debate over throttling is all but dead:

Easily a third of AT&T’s downstream traffic is now “web audio-video,” far more than p2p and the gap is widening rapidly. Hulu and YouTube are taking over, while p2p is fading away on DSL networks. One likely result is that managing traffic by shaping p2p is of limited and declining use, perhaps buying a network 6 months or a year before needing an upgrade. The p2p traffic shaping debate should be almost over, because it simply won’t work very much longer.

AT&T writes off that decline in P2P use as a statistical anomaly created by a heavy mix of new customers who don’t use P2P. Still, it suggests that P2P isn’t quite the network demon it’s often painted as. AT&T says that as of June, AT&T traffic was about 1/3 Web (non video/audio streams), 1/3 Web video/audio streams, and 1/5 P2P. Most interestingly, Burstein suggests that capacity upgrades should more than handle growth, without throttling or raising capex, while actually lowering AT&T’s per bit cost per user. On upgrades:

AT&T has sensible plans to handle the load without disruption. They are already moving from 10 gig to 40 gig in the core, and planning a transition to 100 gig in a few years. The current projections are they can do these upgrades without raising capex, bringing per bit costs down along a Moore’s Law curve and keeping bandwidth costs per user essentially unchanged.

So if the capacity costs of keeping pace with demand are nominal, does that still make AT&T’s push into metered billing “inevitable?” One gets the feeling that there’s no greater chasm than the one between a lobbyist and network engineer describing the same network.

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