Bram Cohen

Live P2P streaming protocol could potentially vastly improve audio streaming efficiency

Friday, February 17, 2012 - 10:00am

This week, at the SanFran MusicTech Summit, BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen demonstrated "P2P live streaming," which could potentially enable real-time video and audio streaming to millions of users without the need for a costly and high-performance central infrastructure.

While the focus for the P2P live streaming protocol is to make the heavy data loads of video events managable for Internet streaming, it could also potentially mean enormous savings for pure audio streaming, greatly reducing costs and allowing for higher bit-rate content (thus higher fidelity), more channels (for surround), etc. It should be noted that there have been other technologies that used a peer-to-peer style structure to decrease streaming costs and improve efficiency. But Cohen says he's rebuilt his technology from scratch, so his efforts may indeed the most advanced yet.

As you may know, BitTorrent was invented to make it easier to quickly distribute large files over the Internet. Instead of downloading an entire file from a single server, with BitTorrent, everyone accessing the file becomes (in BitTorrent parlance) a "swarm" of hosts, downloading and uploading fragments of the file from and to each other at the same time, until everyone has the complete file. GigaOm reports that BitTorrent (Cohen's company) is running "field tests" of weekly streaming live music events using the P2P protocol.

Read GigaOm's coverage here.

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