Blogger Richard Bennett from the register is issuing a grave warning for all to hear, Bit Torrent has declared war on VoIP and Gamers . Recent policy changes to bandwidth distribution techniques at Bell Canada have the uTorrent developers looking for alternative ways to keep P2P screaming along. The solution they are allegedly pursuing is a shift in the default protocol used from TCP to UDP. Even though uTorrent isn’t the only P2P application, it is widely considered the standard by which other torrent applications are modeled. Changes to it would likely filter down into other Torrent applications sooner rather than later. Should this change come to pass, ISP’s may find themselves unable to effectively manage each user’s bandwidth since only TCP has the proper controls to handle and throttle network congestion evenly.
According to recent estimates, P2P activity accounts for almost 50% of modern internet traffic. According to Bennett, if P2P suddenly becomes immune to congestion control it could cut the bandwidth available to TCP traffic by as much as 75%. As he so plainly points out 25% of the bandwidth for 95% users hardly seems fair. Flooding the net with UDP traffic would, in theory, have an even larger impact on VoIP services and online gaming since it is largely dependent on the use of UDP.
User Datagram Protocol was originally designed for real time transfers of small amounts of data with a low tolerance for delay. Currently the protocol represents only about 2% of all the internet traffic, but uTorrent’s changes could have a dramatic impact on this number. According to Bennett, ISP’s have the ability to monitor and separate P2P UDP traffic, but would require the use of controversial technologies such as Deep Packet Inspection. Since lawmakers and consumers are pushing for the concept of network neutrality, he points out that it becomes even more likely that ISP’s will be forced to implement more aggressive bandwidth caps as a possible solution.