Speed boost for file-sharing nets

Monday August 7 2006 - BBC NEWS

File-sharing networks are being drafted in by a UK technology firm launching a high-speed video download service.

CacheLogic will use the fast transfer speeds of existing file-sharing systems to deliver movies and TV shows to paying customers.

The software behind the download service is already included in some widely used peer-to-peer programs.

The company hopes its technology will start to wean people off illegal use of file-sharing networks.

Andrew Parker, co-founder and chief technology officer at CacheLogic, said video was already hugely popular among users of file-sharing systems such as BitTorrent. This is despite the fact, he said, that many of these files are of relatively low quality.

Analysis by CacheLogic showed that 60% of the peer-to-peer traffic on the net was video - be it a TV show or a movie. On average, across the world, these files are 1GB in size.

Mr Parker said that although many commercial video download services were starting, many restricted the quality of the video available and charged a high price for it.

They also faced problems in using basic net technology to deliver video to users, said Mr Parker, because of the incremental cost of serving big files to every new user.

Peer-to-peer networks which draw on a pool of users were a much better way of getting large files to people, said Mr Parker.

CacheLogic was planning to use such networks for its Velocix video-sharing service which it hopes will prove popular with TV makers and studios keen to get their creations to users.

Content makers would buy access to the Velocix network and use that to serve video to customers.

Mr Parker said the software behind Velocix was already built into two file-sharing programs - BitTorrent and RawFlow. He said early tests suggested that very large files sent over the Velocix network can be delivered at consistently high-speeds - far more reliably than with existing peer-to-peer systems.

Jonathan Arber, an analyst at Ovum, said Velocix could prove attractive to net service firms as it reduced the amount of bandwidth they had to pay for.

But, said Mr Arber, the market for video download services was in its "infancy".

"The question is if there's enough traffic over these services to warrant such a solution," he said.

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