Forbes.com reporter, Lee Gomes, is shedding light on an interesting fact that many of VUDU’s customers are probably not aware of. The problem Gomes points out is that VUDU is not being totally transparent that their video on-demand boxes function as peer-to-peer nodes downloading and sharing bits of digital information with other users throughout the day in order to give everyone an “instant” viewing experience. He argues: “these protocols are notorious bandwidth hogs. They easily use up so much of the network that simple tasks like e-mail or browsing can slow to a crawl.” While I’m sure VUDU’s backend technology is not setup to leech off the network to that extent, passive background data exchange is a legitimate issue – especially in these days of bandwidth caps set by our providers (see: Comcast). In regards to disclosure, I agree with Gomes that the peer-to-peer aspect of the offering should be stated up front on the product page as well as on the packaging (not just in the Terms of Service or Support FAQ) so people aren’t under the impression that video is being provided directly and on-demand from VUDU’s company servers.
Any VUDU owners like to share their positive or negative experience in regard to their box’s passive bandwidth usage? Has it been an issue for you?
UPDATE: As I was writing this post the VUDU CTO left a comment on Forbes.com stating:
1. Vudu’s usage of upstream bandwidth is capped at a value designed to not interfere with other in-home activities.
2. Vudu dynamically auto-detects other use of upstream bandwidth and throttles itself down in those cases.
3. The user can manually throttle down Vudu bandwidth usage in the Settings page to throttle down upstream usage if they aren’t happy with their network performance.
4. Bandwidth usage per user actually declines as the Vudu network gets larger, so there’s no reason to be concerned that things are ok now but will get worse over time. (If anything, available upstream bandwidth will go up over time.)
Tags: Broadband, P2P, Peer-to-Peer, VUDU
Filed in: Content Providers, Industry Buzz, Streaming Media Devices