P2P Causing Mobile Network Congestion as Well
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Mobile data bandwidth usage increased by 30 percent in the second quarter of 2009 and peer-to-peer networks have a lot to do with it. A report by deep packet inspection (DPI) provider Allot also found P2P accounted for congestion in highly utilized nodes.
"We had seen similar report on fixed line bandwidth but nothing specific in the mobile space," Jonathon Gordon, director of marketing for Allot (NASDAQ: ALLT), told InternetNews.com.
Allot's its first-ever Mobile Broadband Traffic report comes as fixed line operators are trying to find a balance between the lower cost per megabit of new equipment and the constant decline in revenue per megabit from existing customers.
When AT&T experienced bandwidth issues due to the volume of new iPhone users earlier this year, Internet commentator and former Bell Labs employee David Isenberg w rote "Normal use, and lots of it, should be the kind of problem a vendor WANTS to have. It shouldn't hose your service. It shouldn't give your PR face a black eye. It shouldn't require all kinds of post-hoc fixes." Isenberg added that AT&T is investing in infrastructure to solve the problem.
Gordon said that until recently, mobile carriers appeared to be oblivious to the potential problem of network congestion. "The mobile market has hotted up for us in the last 6 to 12 months," he said.
Before that, the networks had no congestion problems. "We tried to sell them equipment to deal with congestion and they said, 'our networks won't be fully utilized.' Literally within a few months that picture turned around completely and now the business started chasing us, because they ran into the same problems as their fixed-line counterparts," Gordon said.
For its report, Allot collected anonymous data from 150 million mobile subscribers worldwide, the company said.
It measured usage in congested nodes by comparing the applications used in the top five percent of nodes by usage versus the average node. While 21 percent of bandwidth was used by P2P applications in the average cell, in the top five percent of users, P2P accounted for 42 percent of bandwidth usage.
The report was also able to suggest that just a few P2P users could consume most of the bandwidth. In the nodes accounting for the top five percent of bandwidth usage, the top subscriber tended to consume almost 250 Kbps in P2P bandwidth, the second about half of that, and the third about half again.
"The application breakdown of the average top ten subscribers in the top five percent of cells clearly shows that heavy usage of P2P file sharing by even a few subscribers can cause acute congestion on the cell, negatively impacting the subscriber experience," the report concluded.
"Of course we are in this business trying to sell solutions," Gordon admitted.
But he said that some cellular carrier operators don't understand how congestion occurs in IP networks. "The knowledge needs to catch up," he said.