Bram Cohen, the inventor of the BitTorrent protocol, has been granted a patent for his livestreaming protocol. Since its creation in 2001, BitTorrent has become the most popular protocol for P2P filesharing. In 2009, it was estimated that approximately a third of all Internet traffic went through BitTorrent, although that number has fallen drastically in the intervening years.
With the growing popularity of streaming services, Cohen began his efforts developing a BitTorent Live protocol. It would be heavily based on the BitTorrent P2P protocol, but specifically optimized for livestreaming. After years of work, Cohen was awarded a patent for his new protocol, last week.
Cohen believes his protocol solves the problem with existing streaming services, which suffer from high latency. In some cases it can take over a minute for a stream to reach its audience, as I’m sure any viewers of TechRaptor’s Twitch channel have realized. This protocol greatly reduces the latency while also spreading the bandwidth cost among the users, making it cheaper to stream to an audience of millions.
2 years ago, BitTorrent inc. demoed an early version of the protocol through a web-based player, but the project has been discontinued. They are now working on a mobile app to show off their new protocol. Cohen has observed that mobile streaming has exploded with the recent release of Periscope and Meerkat and believes they would both make good partners for BitTorrent Live.
BitTorrent Live is at its best when many people are watching the same thing at the same time, such as major sporting events. Because of its advantages, Cohen believes that all live broadcasts will eventually be done over the Internet. With P2P streaming protocols it will be much cheaper to broadcast over the internet than through cable TV.
Do you think P2P is the future of streaming? Leave your comments below.