A dubious article from Reuters and carried on ZDNET claims that P2P services consume "up to 60 percent of data traffic zipping around their networks is in the form of large music, movies and software files."
I'm not sure that I agree, and I'm certainly not sure that it is nearly as large of a problem as they attempt to extrapolate it to.
The concern that I have is that the initial data is coming from a single ISP (at least that's all the article mentions) and then being extrapolated for all other ISPs to reach the claims of "1.3Billion in 2003".
While some of these claims may be true for consumer ISPs providing broadband connections, it is dubious to believe that it is true for corporate ISPs and insane to believe for dial-up ISPs.
Of course, the other problem with this article is that the ISPs (and the RIAA/MPAA) benefit from persuading their customers that usage of the "scarce network resources" is a bad thing. This allows them to increase their revenues by charging customers additional per-byte charges on top of the already high prices for broadband without the users complaining too loudly.
Now, as somebody who pays an order of magnitude more for my internet access as most cable internet customers, I'm not entirely disturbed by the prospect of getting people to pay something closer to what I'm paying, but in truth they just aren't getting the service that I get. For my money, I get 3MB of upload/download to my nearest POP (which I own) and then I have interconnections with other ISPs at the 10-100MBPS level with multiple upstream providers and reasonable rates for my bandwidth. This is a lot more upstream bandwidth and reliability than most people have access to, and it's a compelling solution for me.
However, for most customers, even $50 for a monthly cable fee for people whose general use is probably less than a couple hundred megabytes is high. To put this in perspective, it is easy to find pure bandwidth for well under $500/month. This is both directions at 1MBPS, or 2541GB uploaded + 2541GB downloaded per month if you were running full-tilt-boogie.
Now, if you look at some of the "reasonable charges" being proposed, let's take an example or the 5GB+1GB that one user gets for free with $2.50/additional GB. That same $500/month 1MBps will provide the ISP with $12,690.
Doesn't that seem fair? Maybe if you're an ISP.
Perhaps if they want to charge per byte they should drop the monthly fee. That way, at $2.50/gb, your average user would be paying somewhere in the neighborhood of one dollar per month.
In all seriousness, don't let the companies lure you in to this idea that bandwidth is expensive. We've got so much unlit fiber in this country that we could significantly increase the flow of data without digging new trenches. And that is assuming we don't start replacing or augmenting the existing equipment with higher capacity transmission/reception equipment, which seems to still be developed at a breakneck pace.
My vote is that if they want to charge me per-byte then I should be able to pay them for infrastructure and pay the backhaul providers to move my bits on and off of the network. This would be more like today's long distance telephone model, or recent power-production/delivery splits. By deregulating the long-haul data carriers from the short-haul carriers, you could choose the quality and billing plan for your network usage and still be afforded some level of competition.
Of course, the cable companies will hate this idea, because it would start to provide them with direct competition in the one area that they perceive they have an advantage over both the satellite and local telephone providers, but they are a monopoly, and those are the breaks. Monopolies can only be allowed to exist insofar as they benefit the public. Once they work against the public, they need to be modified.
I can just see it now, $14.95 for basic internet service from your cable company and $35 for 128KBps from your favorite provider. Same service as today (maybe better depending on how your provider is set up), but you'll get 324GB+324GB of bandwidth.. better than paying $1500...