Forbes.com’s “Bad Vudu” Hit Piece
A guy that is no stranger to internet/blogger controversy, Lee Gomes has published his latest Hit Piece story in which he calls out Vudu. The whole article is based on his claim that Vudu is hiding from its users the fact that the service is based on P2P technology. He thinks that Vudu is stealing his bandwidth, and makes these dubious claims:
Users of peer-to-peer software like BitTorrent will be alarmed by this hijacking, because 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.
And this gem:
The big problem is that the company doesn’t clearly tell customers that it’s doing this. I haven’t found a word about this forced downloading on the box I bought or on the company’s Web site. My bandwidth is my property, in much the same was my living room or front yard is mine, and I don’t take to people using it without telling me.
Since when is bandwidth your property? Does Microsoft warn you about the bandwidth Windows uses while downloading automatic updates? The real deal is that the Vudu never even hits an upload speed over 350kb/s, He even admits it never degraded his network performance . The Bandwidth chart below is from my SNMP enabled router, and it shows the bandwidth usage of my Vudu box.
The other thing is that the P2P nature of the Device was a major headline when Vudu announced their product in early 2007. In fact, if you search for “Vudu P2P” on google you get 51,000 results. I think our friend Lee Gomes was one of the last people in the world to find out that the Vudu was a P2P based service.
He also mentions that the only place that mentioned the P2P aspect of the Vudu, was in the TOS. Since the TOS was one of only two pieces of paper that came in the box with my Vudu. It might have been hard to find for him, even though the P2P is mentioned in the first column on the first page of the TOS.
Here is what Vudu’s CTO had to say about the issue:
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.)
I know what some people will say, “What about bandwidth caps like what Comcast is planning?” Well just yesterday, Comcast launched a new 50Mb/s download speed package in the Seattle area ($150 a month) as well as doubling the speeds on the lower tiers. Does it really sound like they are having a capacity issue?