Comcast invests in P2P

Comcast, which has been criticized of late for apparently trying to throttle peer to peer (P2P) file sharing traffic, seems to be shifting focus by investing in a P2P business start up. This is a good sign. As I and others have argued for a long time, we need to shift away from the "bucket of bits" model of broadband and move toward a service-oriented business and network model. P2P file sharing is just another service. It is not inherently bad, and in fact, can be used very efficiently to move large files (like TV programs and movies) around various parts of the Internet.

While some of the content providers simply want to outlaw P2P software because it is sometimes mis-used, that's also silly. It would be equivalent to outlawing cars because they are sometimes used to commit bank robberies. P2P, as a service, has real value, and if used to deliver licensed and legitimate content, it can be a service that people are willing to pay for. But the key is to have networks designed to deliver services, not just a bucket of bits. And that means changing not just the technology that manages network (relatively straightforward), but also changing the business models of broadband companies--that is also straightforward, if the company culture is willing to change--that is the tougher challenge.

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