Crowd Control for P2P?

Peer-to-peer traffic is overwhelming university nets; ISPs say they aren't worried - yet

As university networks gear up to combat a new semester of peer-to-peer applications, some network watchers now see todays P2P as only a preview of the bandwidth problems that will accompany more advanced technologies that will begin to filter into the mainstream Internet.

Market watcher Webnoize reports that last month alone, more than 3 billion files were exchanged across the four largest P2P systems. The largest P2P force is now FastTrack, which accounted for 970 million exchanges.

FastTracks numbers still dont compare with those of Napster, which was responsible for 2.79 billion file exchanges in the month of February alone. But Matt Bailey, a senior analyst at Webnoize, expects P2P to reach new highs in file exchanges as early as next month.

Internet service providers say theyre up for the challenge of supplying enough bandwidth to meet this demand, but the apparent inability of university networks to keep pace may curb their optimism.

Colleges and universities stumbled while carrying the burden of Napster users last spring, and independent analyst Kelly Truelove says the new systems pose an even bigger threat. The new P2P offerings allow users to download bulky video files that can take up more than five times the bandwidth needed for a music file.