The Economics of Peer-to-Peer Multimedia Delivery

Posted By saint on May 09 2009 12:00 AM
Internet multimedia distributors must make technical preparations for the quantity of content to be delivered and for the projected audience size.  This planning is necessary to ensure there are adequate network resources available for the content distribution. The resource requirements for distribution can be determined by using the following formula: the number of concurrent audience participants expected to receive the data multiplied by the quantity of the data to be delivered equals the bandwidth needed for the distribution of the content.

Bandwidth is the measurement of the quantity of data that can travel between two points in a specified time.  It is a resource that is not infinite and is controlled by several factors that include technical and hardware limitations that can restrict it's availability.  These limitations are due to the design and implementation of the network data transfer infrastructure.

Lower bandwidth costs can provide greater network resources for content distribution, however, large amounts are still required to distribute high quality multimedia content to large numbers of people.  Smaller amounts can be allocated for content distribution for cost savings, which would result in the reduction of either the quality of the multimedia being delivered or limiting the number of people that can receive the content.  Large network resource requirements limit the ability of content distributors to provide a low cost solution to distribute content to a large audience size.

Peer-to-Peer content delivery allows the distribution of data without the need for large amounts of network resources and specialized hardware.  Bandwidth is saved by sharing network resources among audience participants that receive the multimedia.  This allows the data to be distributed to large numbers of audience participants, which lowers the distribution cost of the content.  

Peer-to-Peer data transfer is designed to accommodate very large numbers of participants in a distribution network.  The only limitations for this method of content distribution are the proper configuration of the client software and taking into account the average available bandwidth within the distribution network.  This content delivery method can be used for both live or on demand multimedia content.

The server / client distribution model is very inefficient and resource intensive. Centralized data distribution requires dedicated bandwidth for each audience participant receiving the content.  A content provider cannot exceed the bandwidth limitations of the network server used for content distribution without degrading the quality of the multimedia content.  Groups of network servers can be configured to adjust the bandwidth flow necessary for distributing content to large numbers of audience participants. A major issue with load balancing groups of servers is the additional expense for more hardware and network resources.

Another economic factor is security issues.  Network servers are subject to such problems as denial of service attacks or data filtering.  Denial of service attacks can overload servers and render them unstable and unable to properly function.  Content or IP filtering can allow groups / institutions or governments to prevent audience members from accessing content deemed unsuitable, similar to the deliberate jamming of radio and television stations during the Cold War.

The cost per listener will never substantially decrease with the server / client model, as opposed to the Peer-To-Peer content delivery model.  The Peer-To-Peer distribution model can easily accommodate unlimited numbers of people and allow them to receive the multimedia content;  which will significantly lower the cost of multimedia distribution through the conservation of network resources.  Eliminating the need for network servers also reduces the overall cost per audience member by reducing the hardware requirements for content distribution.



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