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Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - December 25th, ’21
December 25th, 2021
Fresh Blow for Kim Dotcom in US Extradition Fight
New Zealand's top court rejected Kim Dotcom's latest bid to avoid extradition to the United States on Tuesday, in a fresh blow to the tech entrepreneur's decade-long battle against online piracy charges.
Dotcom, who is accused of netting millions from his Megaupload file-sharing service, faces charges of racketeering, fraud and money laundering in the United States, carrying jail terms of up to 20 years.
The Supreme Court in Wellington ruled the German national and two co-defendants could not appeal aspects of an earlier judgement, dismissing their argument that they were facing a miscarriage of justice.
"We do not consider there is anything more the court needs to do in relation to the proposed appeals, given our conclusion that no miscarriage has arisen," a panel of three judges concluded.
The case began when New Zealand police raided Dotcom's Auckland mansion in January 2012 at the behest of the FBI, triggering numerous court hearings and appeals.
In the decade since, Dotcom has attempted to enter New Zealand politics, sparred verbally at a parliamentary committee with former prime minister John Key and vociferously protested his innocence.
The 47-year-old gave an indifferent response on social media to his latest legal setback.
"Unfazed. I'll start live streaming in January," he tweeted, referring to his latest online venture.
"Join me. 2022 will be fun. Enjoy your holidays."
The FBI accuses Dotcom of industrial-scale online piracy via Megaupload, which US authorities shut down when the raid took place.
They allege the file-sharing service netted more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners US$500 million-plus by offering pirated content, including films and music.
Dotcom and his co-accused -- Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk -- deny any wrongdoing, saying Megaupload was targeted because established interests were threatened by online innovation.
The website was an early example of cloud storage, allowing users to upload large files onto a server so others could easily download them without clogging up their email systems.
At its height in 2011, Megaupload claimed to have 50 million daily users and accounted for four percent of the world's internet traffic.
Starlink Expands but Q3 2021 Performance Flattens in Some Areas
Satellite internet is making headlines across the globe as Starlink continues to launch service in new countries and Viasat plans to acquire Inmarsat. We’re here to check in on our ongoing series on satellite internet performance around the globe with fresh data from Q3 2021 to see if Starlink’s performance is holding up and how satellite internet compares to fixed broadband in 12 countries.
United States: Starlink fastest, speeds decreasing
Consumers in the U.S. looking to use satellite service to connect to the internet will find that performance was mostly flat when comparing Q3 2021 to Q2 2021. Starlink’s median download speed decreased from 97.23 Mbps during Q2 2021 to 87.25 Mbps in Q3 2021, which could be a function of adding more customers. HughesNet followed distantly at 19.30 Mbps (comparable to the 19.73 Mbps we saw in Q2 2021) and Viasat third at 18.75 Mbps (18.13 Mbps in Q2 2021). For comparison, the median download speed for all fixed broadband providers in the U.S. during Q3 2021 was 119.84 Mbps (115.22 Mbps in Q2 2021).
Starlink’s median upload speed of 13.54 Mbps (down from 13.89 Mbps in Q2 2021) was much closer to that on all fixed broadband (18.03 Mbps in Q3 2021 and 17.18 Mbps in Q2 2021). Viasat and HughesNet followed at 2.96 Mbps (3.38 Mbps in Q2 2021) and 2.54 Mbps (2.43 Mbps in Q2 2021), respectively.
As we saw last quarter, Starlink, which uses low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, was the only satellite internet provider with a median latency anywhere near that seen on fixed broadband in Q3 2021 (44 ms and 15 ms, respectively). Viasat and HughesNet, which both utilize higher “geosynchronous” orbits, had median latencies of 629 ms and 744 ms, respectively.
Starlink performance varies at the county level
We saw sufficient samples during Q3 2021 to analyze Starlink performance in 304 counties in the U.S. While there was about a 100 Mbps range in performance between the county with the fastest median download speed (Santa Fe County, New Mexico at 146.58 Mbps) and the county with the slowest median download speed (Drummond Township, Michigan at 46.63 Mbps), even the lower-end speeds are well above the FCC’s Baseline performance tier of at least a 25 Mbps download speed.
Satellite internet performance elsewhere in the world
We examined satellite internet performance in countries with an established market share to see how well their speeds compare to local fixed broadband. We’re excited to add analysis on satellite performance in Australia and Belgium this quarter.
Australia: Starlink outperformed Viasat and fixed broadband average
Starlink radically outperformed Viasat in Australia during Q3 2021 with a median download speed of 138.12 Mbps to Viasat’s 15.60 Mbps. Starlink also outpaced Viasat for median upload speed at 22.63 Mbps and 1.04 Mbps, respectively. Compared to the median download speed over all fixed broadband of 51.17 Mbps, Starlink could be an attractive alternative to traditional fixed broadband on all levels except latency where Starlink showed 42 ms vs. 10 ms for all fixed broadband combined.
Belgium: Starlink dramatically faster than fixed broadband
Starlink’s median download speed of 127.46 Mbps during Q3 2021 was dramatically faster than the country’s median download for all fixed broadband of 72.90 Mbps. At 16.73 Mbps, Starlink’s median upload speed was only slightly slower than the overall median of 17.98 Mbps. However, Starlink’s 49 ms latency was higher than the country’s average of 13 ms. Starlink was the only satellite internet provider with adequate samples to analyze in Belgium during Q3 2021.
Brazil: Viasat close to national average
Viasat’s median download speed in Brazil improved to 66.32 Mbps during Q3 2021 (up from 60.30 Mbps in Q2 2021. This was close to the national median for fixed broadband of 71.50 Mbps. Viasat’s median upload speed (1.06 Mbps) was much slower, however, than that on fixed broadband (36.37 Mbps), and Viasat’s latency was much higher (615 ms vs 6 ms).
Canada: Starlink performance relatively flat
Our previous article showed that Starlink’s median download speed exceeded that of fixed broadband in Canada during Q2 2021 (86.92 Mbps vs. 84.24 Mbps). In Q3 2021, Starlink’s median download speed decreased slightly to 84.55 Mbps while that over all fixed broadband increased to 90.67 Mbps. This is in line with what we expect to see on new technologies as additional users are added to a system. Starlink’s median upload speed was slower than fixed broadband (13.87 Mbps vs. 20.67 Mbps). Latency on Starlink was much higher (56 ms vs. 12 ms). Starlink is still a viable alternative to fixed broadband in Canada, especially for consumers without access to other options.
Starlink faster than overall fixed broadband in 5 provinces
Starlink showed enough samples to analyze performance in nine out of 10 provinces in Canada during Q3 2021. Starlink’s Q3 2021 median download speed was faster than the median for all fixed broadband in five provinces: Manitoba (81.04 Mbps vs. 65.91 Mbps), Nova Scotia (109.60 Mbps vs. 99.82 Mbps), Prince Edward Island (118.02 Mbps vs. 46.86 Mbps), Quebec (92.59 Mbps vs. 72.07 Mbps) and Saskatchewan (97.67 Mbps vs. 57.59 Mbps). Download speeds were comparable between Starlink and overall fixed broadband in New Brunswick (104.56 Mbps vs. 104.28 Mbps), and overall fixed broadband was faster than Starlink in Alberta (92.65 Mbps vs. 82.48 Mbps), British Columbia (111.36 Mbps vs. 87.34 Mbps) and Ontario (86.26 Mbps vs. 79.54 Mbps).
Chile: HughesNet slower than fixed broadband average
HughesNet was hard pressed to compete with Chile’s fixed broadband, which ranked fourth in the world during October 2021. HughesNet showed a 15.21 Mbps median download speed compared during Q3 2021 with the country’s fixed broadband average of 133.81 Mbps during the same period. Median upload speeds also showed a wide gap (3.50 Mbps for HughesNet to 62.18 Mbps on fixed broadband), and HughesNet’s latency was very high (626 ms vs. 8 ms).
Colombia: HughesNet slow but improving
HughesNet’s median download speed increased in Q3 2021 to 12.12 Mbps (up from 9.28 Mbps during Q2 2021), compared with Colombia’s 46.08 Mbps for fixed broadband overall (35.90 Mbps in Q2 2021). Median upload speed was also slower using the satellite internet provider (3.05 Mbps) than fixed broadband (10.50 Mbps), and latency was much higher on satellite (753 ms vs. 15 ms).
France: Starlink speeds decreasing, remains faster than fixed broadband average
Starlink users in France saw a median download speed of 102.15 Mbps in Q3 2021 (down from 139.39 Mbps in Q2 2021, likely due to increased usage). Starlink’s download speed easily beat the country-wide median for fixed broadband of 75.47 Mbps (up from 70.81 Mbps in Q2 2021). Starlink’s upload speed during Q3 2021 was slower than the fixed broadband median (19.84 Mbps vs. 56.66 Mbps), and Starlink’s latency was higher (54 ms vs. 13 ms).
Germany: Starlink faster than country average for fixed broadband
Starlink’s median download speed in Germany of 95.40 Mbps was much faster than the country median of 60.99 Mbps during Q3 2021. Starlink was slightly slower for upload speed than overall fixed broadband (17.63 Mbps vs. 21.05 Mbps) and Starlink showed a higher latency (45 ms vs. 15 ms).
Mexico: Viasat faster than HughesNet for downloads
Viasat, with a median download speed of 14.94 Mbps during Q3 2021 (up from 13.95 Mbps in Q2 2021), was faster than HughesNet (10.64 Mbps in Q3 2021, down from 11.92 Mbps in Q2 2021) but slower than the country’s median for fixed broadband (33.14 Mbps in Q3 2021, 29.99 Mbps in Q2 2021). HughesNet was slightly faster than Viasat for upload speed during Q3 2021 (3.21 Mbps vs. 2.03 Mbps). While Viasat’s latency was high (675 ms vs 12 ms for fixed broadband), it was lower than HughesNet’s (748 ms).
New Zealand: Starlink slowed slightly, remained faster than fixed broadband average
Starlink’s Q3 2021 median download speed (120.10 Mbps, down from 127.02 Mbps in Q2 2021, likely due to increased usage) was much faster than New Zealand’s median fixed broadband download speed (84.98 in Q3 2021 up from 78.85 Mbps in Q2 2021). Starlink was slower than New Zealand’s overall fixed broadband for Q3 2021 upload speed (16.87 Mbps vs. 23.62 Mbps). While Starlink’s median latency improved from 101 ms in Q2 2021 to 81 ms in Q3 2021, it was still slower than New Zealand’s median for all fixed broadband of 7 ms during Q3 2021.
United Kingdom: Starlink nearly twice as fast as fixed broadband average
Starlink showed a much faster median download speed in the U.K. during Q3 2021 (111.66 Mbps, up from 108.30 Mbps in Q2 2021) than the country’s median for fixed broadband (53.16 Mbps in Q3 2021, up from 50.14 Mbps in Q2 2021). Starlink’s upload speed was comparable to the median for all fixed broadband in the U.K. (16.02 Mbps vs. 15.77 Mbps), and the latency was pretty good, given the distance traveled (37 ms vs. 15 ms).
We look forward to updating this data again next quarter with new locations as satellite internet continues to become a more viable option for many. If you’re using satellite internet, take a Speedtest to help us provide an accurate picture of real-world performance.
Jack Dorsey Stirs Uproar by Dismissing Web3 as a Venture Capitalists’ Plaything
Fresh off relinquishing the chief executive reins of Twitter Inc., Bitcoin enthusiast Jack Dorsey has taken to the service he co-founded to voice his displeasure with so-called Web3 technology and the involvement of venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz.
Web3, the still hazy term for blockchain-based, decentralized systems and tech that are meant to replace the internet as we know it, has garnered much attention and funding this year, with Andreessen Horowitz being among its loudest cheerleaders. Trading of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, on the Ethereum and Solana blockchains has been the most visible manifestation, with many companies now investing in the development of decentralized apps as well as games for those platforms.
“You don’t own ‘web3’,” tweeted Dorsey. “The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives.”
The post drew more than 16,000 likes and thousands of retweets. Many pushed back with comments like “highly disagree” and “dead wrong,” though many others chimed in with support.
Tesla Inc. chief Elon Musk got in on the discussion by asking if anyone has seen Web3, to which Dorsey replied “it’s somewhere between a and z,” hinting that it’s held under the control of the VC firm founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, commonly contracted to a16z.
Read more about Web3 as the crypto world’s reinvention of the internet
Earlier in the day, Dorsey, whose Block Inc. company includes Spiral, a project “aimed at making bitcoin the planet’s preferred currency,” tweeted in response to musical artist Cardi B that Bitcoin will replace the U.S. dollar. The series of tweets and responses from the former Twitter boss on Monday stirred disagreement and debate on the service, with a16z General Partner Chris Dixon offering an olive branch by saying he is “a huge fan” of Dorsey and “hoped we can eventually bring him around to ETH and other blockchains.”
“It’s critical we focus our energy on truly secure and resilient technologies owned by the mass of people, not individuals or institutions,” Dorsey responded.
— With assistance by Max Zimmerman
Libraries Enlist States in fight Over eBook Rules
Margaret Harding McGill
Libraries are successfully convincing state legislatures to help them win better terms for ebook licenses from Amazon and other publishers.
Why it matters: Libraries say it is crucial for them to continue to service their communities, especially as digital access to books became even more important during the pandemic.
• "What a tragedy it would be if in a digital context, Americans and American library users have less access to knowledge and information than they did in the analog era," John Bracken, executive director of the Digital Public Library of America, told Axios.
What's happening: A Maryland law set to take effect in January and a similar bill in New York would require publishers that sell ebooks to consumers to also license them to libraries on reasonable terms.
• Libraries pushed for the legislation because they say publishers charge high prices, require re-purchases of licenses, limit the ability to circulate digital copies, and, until recently in Amazon's case, refuse to license some ebooks to libraries at all.
• "We've had enough of this," Alan Inouye, senior director of public policy & government relations for the American Library Association, told Axios. "Libraries really need to have reasonable access."
Details: The Maryland law and New York bill say it is not reasonable to limit the number of ebook licenses libraries can buy at the same date they are available to the general public.
By the numbers: OverDrive, a digital reading platform for libraries and schools, said 2020 was a record-setting year for digital checkouts, and growth continued in 2021, CEO Steve Potash told Axios.
• Total digital book lending will exceed 500 million in 2021, Potash said, up from 430 million in 2020.
• More flexible licensing models — such as allowing simultaneous checkouts of the same digital copy — helped contribute to the increase, Potash said.
The other side: Publishers' trade group the Association of American Publishers (AAP) opposes the measures, and filed a lawsuit this month to overturn Maryland's law.
• AAP says the law violates federal copyright protections by creating a "shadow copyright act" that gives libraries "unprecedented control" over transactions with publishers.
• "It's true that these bills would force more works on more immediate terms at devalued pricing," Maria Pallante, president of AAP and former head of the U.S. Copyright Office, told Axios.
• "Where we disagree is if that's good for the sustainability of the publishing industry, or whether it's lawful."
Between the lines: The publishers' lawsuit in Maryland serves as a warning shot to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has yet to sign the state's bill into law.
A spokesperson for Hochul's office told Axios they are reviewing the legislation, which has already passed the state legislature.
Flashback: The American Library Association voiced its complaints against Amazon and other major publishing firms in 2019 as part of the House Judiciary Committee's digital markets investigation.
• Libraries were frustrated over a Macmillan Publishers policy to restrict ebook sales to libraries during the first weeks of publications, a policy the publisher changed in 2020.
• Additionally, Amazon had refused to make ebooks from its own publishing house available to libraries. Amazon Publishing has since struck a deal with nonprofit distributor Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).
• "Thousands of titles from the Amazon Publishing catalog are available to libraries in ebook through DPLA now, with thousands more coming in the near future," the Amazon spokesperson said.
• An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the state measures.
What's next: Massachusetts and Rhode Island both are considering similar measures, Inouye noted, and more states could pick up the proposals as they convene for their sessions next year.
• "Libraries should have reasonable access to digital books, not for free, to pay the market price," Inouye said. "It goes through pretty easily, because it's kind of commonsense."
The Rise and Rebirth of P2P File Sharing – and Why it Will Matter in 2022
James Thomason, CTO and co-founder of EDJX, discusses how P2P file sharing will disrupt the Fourth Internet in 2022 The rise and rebirth of P2P file sharing – and why it will matter in 2022 image
P2P infrastructure could make a comeback in 2022, providing connectivity between devices in real time.
Lurking deep inside the crypto froth, hidden between NFTs for mammoth tusks, virtual mega-yachts in the metaverse, and Bitcoin, there is a technology trend so transformative it’s going to usher in the next wave of Decacorn startups – and almost no one is talking about it.
There’s no shortage of buzzword bingo in the crypto space, from proof-of-whatever to ERC20 elypical-ED25515-thingamajig, but there’s one little acronym gluing things together you need to pay attention to. Dust off your Doc Martens and your candy-colored Mac, because we’re about to kick it 1990s old school with a little thing called P2P.
If you’re old enough to remember those glorious days of music piracy, day trading, and khakis, you probably just thought of Napster when I just said P2P. Kids, Napster was an app your mom and I used to trade pirated music files with the entire planet. Get off my lawn.
Shawn Fanning invented Napster when he was a college student. Way back then, one had to purchase a thing known as an album, which did not conveniently play on demand from your handheld all-in-wonder smartphone. Stay with me.
If you wanted to use Steve Jobs’ new iPod, you needed to buy an album, and rip those phat tracks to mp3. College students, then as now, didn’t exactly have a lot of cash to torch off on albums, and Fanning took note his friends were struggling to, uh, “share” MP3s with each other using web and file servers.
Fanning’s idea was a system to stitch together everyone’s personal computers and network connections into one, big, virtual directory for sharing music. The magic of Napster was its peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol, which allowed each independent computer to coordinate with millions of others around the world to serve a common purpose. The community was the cloud.
Then there was an explosion of P2P file sharing apps and protocols, including KazAa, Gnutella, Emule, Limewire, Bearshare, Freenet, Bittorrent, and many more. This led to serious academic research in P2P network architectures, culminating in the development of protocols like Pastry and Chord, which each leveraged Distributed Hash Tables (DHTs).
After a few years and a lot of lawsuits aimed at file sharers, academic interest and P2P development began to wane, right up until Bitcoin and distributed ledger exploded on the scene. This brings us to the present moment, in which DHTs are now a critical part of modern decentralised protocols like Bitcoin, Ethereum, IPFS, and many others.
The Internet itself was designed from the very beginning to be decentralised. The fact that most of our data and computing ended up being centralised on Big Tech’s cloud platforms is something of an evolutionary fluke. To understand why, it is helpful to have some historical context.
We can think of the evolution of the Internet as being divided into four distinct phases. The First Internet (the “Al Gore Internet”) was about connecting computers together over a global network for the first time. The Second Internet was about getting people and businesses online and conducting commerce digitally for the first time. The Third Internet, the one we’re still in now, was all about mobile computing.
The scale challenges created by the sudden demand for smartphones and their apps created intense economic pressure to centralise. Housing millions of similar servers in gigantic data centres was and is more economically efficient, and technically “good enough” for the mobile apps of the day.
Things are about to change in what we call the Fourth Internet, which is about connecting machines to other machines. Imagine a future where human beings are surrounded by millions of connected sensors, autonomous robots, smart vehicles, and other devices which work together to seamlessly improve our quality of life. How will these different devices share and process data, and how will developers write apps that run everywhere?
Building apps for the Fourth Internet presents some unique challenges with the growth of data and the latency between edge devices and the cloud. Apps are moving away from abstract uses like gaming, web browsing, and social media, and into the real world where apps will drive our cars, operate heavy machinery, augment our senses, and make decisions in real time.
In other words, speed matters in the Fourth Internet. Connecting things, sharing data, making decisions – these things have to happen dynamically, between different devices, using different computers, in real time, everywhere. It’s here that P2P will be truly transformative.
For engineers and developers, building distributed systems is extremely complex, and P2P systems are one of the toughest of all. Emerging startup Protocol Labs is advancing the state of the art with open source projects including libp2p and IPFS, making it easier for developers to build P2P apps. If you’ve heard of libp2p outside of developer circles, it’s probably because Polkadot, Ethereum 2.0, and Substrate are all using libp2p to create their own P2P protocols.
I know, you thought the best years of P2P were behind us. Better get out your checkered flannel and sock puppet because we’re going to NFT that stuff, apparently. Don’t just take my word for it though, just take a quick virtual trip to the USPTO patent search or Google Scholar, and you’ll see what I mean.
Until next week,
Current Week In Review
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