Dutch academic Dr. Johan Pouwelse knows BitTorrent well, having spent a year of his life examining its inner workings. Now, as the scientific director of the EU-funded P2P-Next team, Pouwelse and his researchers have been entrusted with â‚¬19 million from the EU and various partners, and what they want in return is nothing less than a “4th-generation” peer-to-peer system that will one day be tasked with replacing over-the-air television broadcasts.
P2P-Next is the largest publicly-funded team in the world working on such technology (though plenty of researchers at Microsoft, IBM, and countless tiny startups are also racing to deliver a better P2P experience), and today the team launched a trial program designed to test its progress to date.
What sets the project apart from the traditional BitTorrent architecture is its focus not on downloadable video, but on live streaming. Current BitTorrent implementations, focused as they are on offering easy access to downloadable content, aren’t well suited to delivering live streaming TV across the Internet, but Pouwelse is convinced that this is the future. There’s “no doubt that TV will come through the Internet in a few years,” he told Ars earlier this week. Obviously, deployment of such a system depends on consumer electronics firms and broadcasters, but Pouwelse’s job is to make sure that the technology is ready when they are.
P2P has a lot of issues and problems as a delivery vehicle for live TV, so I don’t think this is a good approach, but a system that caches popular content in numerous places has the potential to distribute large and popular files with little redundant delivery. The important feature of such a system is its caching capability, however, not its “peer-to-peerness.”
See Torrent Freak for many more details.