15-290 / 19-211 Computers and Society

Homework 5 - due March 30, 2006 (before class)

Read Peer-to-peer traffic - friend or foe? (focus especially on the first section, before “The Solution”)


1.      Is P2P a major problem for Service Providers?  In half a page or less (single spaced), make arguments supporting or refuting this claim.  You are not required to make quantitative arguments; qualitative or high-level arguments are sufficient. 


2.      Should broadband access providers be allowed to limit P2P usage?  Make legal, ethical, or business arguments for or against this; technological arguments can be interwoven into your answer.  (half page max)


3.      Today’s consumer broadband services in the US (except wireless) are mostly flat-rate usage per month.  They are “all you can eat.”  However, some providers limit your ability to use certain services, including running web servers.  We have seen how certain classes of traffic (notably, P2P) consumer a disproportionate share of the traffic.  To make “power users” pay their fair share, some ISPs are considering per-bit (usage based) charges instead of flat-rate.  In half a page (again, single spaced), analyze pros and cons of flat-rate vs. per usage tariffs. 

Question 3 will form the basis for our class debate #5 on March 30. Students will be assigned to argue for and against: ISPs should charge users based on how much they use the network (per bit pricing, instead of flat-rate).   We need 4 student volunteers: (1) ISP for per usage charging; (2) ISP for flat-rate pricing; (3) Consumer for per usage charges; (4) Consumer for flat rate charges.