Mobile Technology

P2P file-sharing coming to mobile phones

P2P file-sharing coming to mobile phones
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November 29, 2004 Music, video and other multimedia may soon be able to be swapped from your mobile phone using peer-to-peer (P2P) file-trading technologies being developed by phone maker Nokia. The latest developments from Lorant Farkas and colleagues at the Nokia Research Center in Budapest threaten to eclipse existing file-trading on computers by making P2P networking a feature of the ubiquitous mobile phone.

Existing Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software connects computers in a network, allowing them to act as both client and server to relay messages and trade files without a central server. The immense popularity of file-trading programs like Napster, Gnutella and Kazaa has allowed users to search other hard drives in a network for music or video files which they can then download for free. Lawsuits by music and movie companies have seen increased pressure to criminalise file-trading and stop the sharing of copyrighted material.

The latest developments may eventually compound the problem for copyright holders: global mobile phone usage is estimated at 1.5 billion according to research company CellularOnline.

Several design challenges exist in converting file-trading technologies to the mobile phone. Nokia's system uses GPRS networks where users are charged for the data they receive and send, not how long they stay connected. This system is less resilient than the internet itself, and mobile phones have a built-in limitation when it comes to bandwidth, processing power, storage and battery life.

The prototype network runs on the Nokia 6600 phone and currently supports the file-sharing of images and text, with future versions expanding content that can be shared to multi-media like MP3s.

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