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Alto Protocol Could Improve Peer-to-Peer Networks

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The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is developing Application-Layer Traffic Optimization (ALTO), a peer-to-peer system designed to improve the performance of client applications and help resolve disputes between Internet service providers (ISPs). ALTO will provide metadata to different peers, describing maximum bandwidth, minimum cross-domain traffic, lowest cost to the user, and other information.

Georgetown University professor Eric Burger says ALTO provides more information for peer selection, which can improve peer-to-peer performance, lower ISP costs, and help solve disputes between peering companies. "When your client decides to grab content from someone else's network that excess traffic is going to cost an ISP money," Burger says.

The IETF wants computer industry leaders to advance ALTO's development. "Our results show that a surprisingly high number of commercial ISPs suffer from poor latency to the local DNS resolver," according to Technical University of Berlin researchers. "Our findings also reveal that third-party DNS resolvers do not manage to redirect the users toward content available within the ISP, contrary to the local DNS ones."

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