The Curious Case of Caps and Congestion

If you are interested in data caps and network congestion challenges, GigaOm graciously allowed me to share my thoughts today in a guest post (full version available here).

In a nutshell, I believe data caps will do nothing to solve the congestion challenges. ISP bottlenecks almost exclusively occur at peak times. Even if your monthly usage is capped, will you stop using the Internet during the Internet’s rush hour? Of course not. You’re more likely to save your GBs for peak times.

I also proposed two ideas that together would significantly help ISPs. The first is voluntary traffic management on behalf of applications and software service providers. For example, thanks to BitTorrent’s µTP protocol released last year, our traffic doesn’t contribute to network congestion. Why? Because µTP can sense bottlenecks and self-regulates to avoid contributing to congestion. uTP yields to priority traffic, much like traffic on the freeway yields to emergency vehicles. 

The second idea is congestion-based pricing. If we are truly trying to solve is peak hour congestion (and by relation preserving ISP fixed-cost network economics), then congestion-based pricing is one idea with enough merit to pursue, though it implies widespread changes. The IETF’s CONEX working group is looking at ways to expose congestion to the endpoints and intermediate service providers, which would be an necessary building block for congestion based pricing on the Internet. Like London toll roads that kick in during rush hour, peak hour pricing would give consumers and application providers incentive to use heavy-bandwidth services during off-peak hours. For example, rather than running your data back-up continuously, you might schedule it for late night.

A big thanks to GigaOm for giving me a platform to share my thoughts, and I welcome your feedback and ideas as well. BitTorrent’s in a unique position to understand global traffic patterns, and our goal is to be a part of the solution for a healthy Internet.

Eric Klinker, CEO


  1. Butch30
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink | Reply

    I would like to ask you for your help!
    I spend my laptop down to the movies!
    The Upload is very slow! (2 kb / s)
    2.0.0 The I use utorrentet 17,920!
    What size Utorrentet download?
    To set that up?
    If possible, I would like to ask for more detailed help on setup! Step to step!

    Sincerely, Csaba Red

  2. Zarggg
    Posted March 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The second idea is kind of a slippery slope. It would create a precedent for the concept of charging for “out of band” services and a justification for refusing to upgrade essential infrastructure that would give the United States a faster, more reliable Internet. As a proponent of net neutrality, I cannot support this idea.

    @”Csaba Red”: This is the WRONG website for such thing. This is not a support site. You also pretty much just admitted to piracy on a public blog.

  3. NotBot
    Posted April 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As demand grows, infrastructure must be upgraded. Increased demand during peak hours is a reality that must be accepted and not discriminated against. By decreasing congestion we are decreasing the incentive for governments and internet service providers to upgrade the infrastructure.

  4. Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:03 am | Permalink | Reply

    there are latest versions of u Torrent so u come fast and get it thank U ……

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