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Crypto traffic conundrum challenges ISPs

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Encrypted P2P networks will soon make bandwidth management based on deep packet inspection obsolete, says Staselog, a Finnish appliance outfit.

Around 80 per cent of all traffic in the Internet is already P2P. This traffic will increase 1,000-fold in the next five years and most of it will be encrypted P2P, according to a study by Staselog and researchers at Finnish Universities.

Such predictions are notoriously difficult to get right; and even after speaking to Jarkko Niittylahti, the managing director of Staselog, we're unconvinced these figures will prove accurate.

However, Niittylahti's general point seems reasonable enough, namely that the desire for greater anonymity among those illicitly trading music and film files on the net increase the flow of encrypted traffic.

Along with next generation file trading networks featuring the use of encryption - so-called darknets - scrambled VoIP traffic will also to the load service provider networks have to support. Staselog's sales pitch is that current approaches to bandwidth management, based on deep packet inspection to detect and throttle P2P, will be unable to cope when most traffic is encrypted - hence the need to introduce different traffic prioritisation techniques.

Staselog offers so-called next-generation bandwidth management appliances, so this is a little self-serving. But that doesn't mean that it is necessarily wrong about the shortcoming of current bandwidth-management techniques.

"P2P reduction is a poor policy anyway," says Niittylahti. "There will be lots of legal and popular services available running on P2P technology. People are willing to pay for the content and the required high quality transfer. There is an urgent need for the broadband operators to reconsider their P2P policy." ®

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