BitTorrent Inc. has open sourced uTP, the BitTorrent protocol powering the latest release of uTorrent, in the hope that other BitTorrent clients will soon adopt it. UTP promises less congestion for ISPs and end users without degrading overall download speeds. Thus far, however, many BitTorrent developers outside the BitTorrent Inc. team are skeptical about the new protocol.
One of the most discussed changes in uTorrent 2.0 is uTP, short for the ‘micro transfer protocol’. UTP is a new and improved implementation of the BitTorrent protocol which is designed to be more network-friendly than its predecessor.
They have created an open source implementation of the protocol in the hope of extending its adoption within the BitTorrent ecosystem and possibly beyond. This code has been posted here on Github, a popular collaborative software development environment, so that others may get the benefits from this technology as well as contribute back to the code on an ongoing basis.
As advertised, uTP does indeed sound like a much-improved version of BitTorrent, but the reality is more nuanced. Over the past month there have been a lot of complaints from users who have seen their speeds decrease dramatically due to the implementation of the new protocol and not all developers are that exited either.
Increased overhead compared to the older protocol is cited as one of the reasons for the speed issues and some ‘fixes’ have been suggested on the uTorrent forums. There is a great upgrade guide submitted by community member Rafi which tries to solve these issues, but in the end uTorrent should address these concerns themselves. By default, uTP should perform equally well or better than its predecessor.
One of the reasons uTP has been developed is to make traffic shaping and BitTorrent throttling by ISPs obsolete. Unfortunately there has not been any feedback from major ISPs on these issues, so the magnitude of uTP’s effect on their networks remain unknown.
“We have not received any formal feedback from ISPs. Informally, several technical insiders have confirmed a noticeable shift in traffic from TCP to uTP, and they seem generally positive about the deployment thus far. Universally, they commend the spirit of cooperation in helping manage congestion on the network,” Broughton told.
Although it’s widely appreciated that uTP is now Open Source, developers of other clients are not all that eager to implement it yet. Vuze, one of uTorrent’s major competitors, told that they will keep an eye on how it evolves before they make any decisions. Others have pointed out that uTP still has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream.
They Said,”We continue to be polish and optimize µTP, but we’re very encouraged by the results that we have seen so far. We believe that open sourcing our implementation is a critical next step in ensuring adoption, compatibility and the best experience for all BitTorrent users”.