Peer pressure: A report released this week found a sharp decline in peer-to-peer Internet traffic over the last two years. This graph shows that decline.
Schulze thinks that peer-to-peer’s slower growth is partly the result of crackdowns on copyright infringement, particularly in Europe. However, he says peer-to-peer has also taken a hit in regions where there is no significant effort to stop illegal downloads. In those cases, he says, peer-to-peer may be growing more slowly because other platforms are easier to use. For example, Schulze says, some platforms stream full, high-definition video over ordinary Internet protocols.
Schulze doesn’t think the change in traffic patterns necessarily means that people are switching to legal methods of obtaining media content. “It’s hard to say, with no numbers to prove it,” he says. But he notes that many of the streaming and direct-download sites he has encountered also host copyrighted material.
However users are getting their video, most experts agree that the trend is for more and more of it to be flowing through the Internet. Atul Bhatnagar, CEO of Ixia, a company that tests Internet infrastructure, says, “In the future, the Internet is going increasingly real time and multimedia.” He notes that consumers are getting more video online not only because of an increase in bandwidth and streaming sites, but because consumer hardware is now making it easier to access content on the Internet.
Devices such as Internet-connected DVD players “could have a tremendous effect on traffic,” Bhatnagar says.