ITU hosted a Workshop on Multimedia in Next Generation Networks (NGN), 10-11 September 2007, to discuss future multimedia services and applications. Among many presentations, Peer-to-peer (P2P) telecom solutions, by Ning Zong, research engineer at Huawei Technologies (China), considered the use P2P technology in the field of person-to-person communications.
It is only recently with the increased popularity of video sharing that P2P traffic has lost premier position in Internet use statistics to HTTP – web – traffic. Traffic generated by P2P applications now accounts for 37 per cent of Internet traffic.
Perhaps best known as the technology which enabled music file sharing, P2P technology can also enable applications such as video or voice over IP. The technology is deployed by Skype, which claims some 198 million registered users worldwide.
In contrast to the traditional centralized client-server approach, which requires a high level of investment in servers and bandwidth, P2P networks exploit connectivity between the individual participants of a network. Users (peers) virtually deploy their own network, and this can assist with scalability and roll out in developing countries.
One example of an application that exploits the potential of P2P to establish so-called ad hoc networks includes the One Laptop Per Child initiative which was launched during the Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in November 2005. Another example comes from the Swedish company TerraNet, which has the vision of using real-time P2P technology to provide mobile communication without a regular mobile network by modifying users’ handsets to become base station antennae. TerraNet has launched field tests in Tanzania and Ecuador This model of deployment could represent an important advantage of P2P enabled VoIP over mobiles – especially in developing countries, where cost savings are a major drive for deploying NGN.