Israeli company aims to speed up the Internet

PeerApp uses a new technology, which enables Internet service providers to take the heavy burden of downloading pages off their network.

computers 88 (photo credit: )
computers 88
(photo credit: )
Everyone who surfs the Internet knows about slow connections. We have all waited at some time or another for a page to open, only to get a message saying there's a loading problem. But that's life, right? Not anymore. Israeli start-up PeerApp believes it has the answer - a new technology, UltraBand, which enables Internet service providers to take the heavy burden of downloading pages off their network and onto a video cache server, which operates very much like a traditional Web cache server. Instead of making direct connections to servers across the globe to download pages, Web browsers fetch cached copies of updated Web pages from third-party cache servers. Cache servers provide the same services as the direct server, but help reduce network traffic and speed up users' Internet connections. According to PeerApp CFO Yossi Hazan, the company can pull off the same trick for video downloads. "Today, about 60 percent of ISP traffic is dedicated to video streaming and downloading, including from sources like YouTube, file sharing and streaming personal or professional proprietary video," he told ISRAEL21c. "With PeerApp, the downloading of heavy files is diffused, and customers can download cached files off the main network," Hazan said. "This way, traffic flows more smoothly and customers are able to download video files more quickly. A file that usually takes over six hours to download to your PC will arrive in six minutes - a factor of 60 times faster." Hazan said UltraBand also offers other benefits: the quality of streaming video is better, as there are far fewer "gaps" interrupting the flow of the video due to slow downloading of segments; content owners have reason to support UltraBand, since the technology improves the video quality and helps lower bandwidth costs; and PeerApp ensures that any digital rights are preserved for the content owner. "What is unique about PeerApp is that we keep a live link between the customer's computer and the content owners," he said. "In order to access a file on a network where PeerApp is installed, a customer must agree to the terms of service for the originating Web site." Another benefit, Hazan said, is that UltraBand enables content owners to make use of what may be the most efficient means of file downloading - peer-to-peer connections, where users on a network access packets of a file from others on the network, decreasing Web traffic and expediting the download process. PeerApp developed UltraBand in 2006 to help meet the needs of both ISP's and users. With significant increases in Web trafficking over the past few years and ever-greater demand for downloads, ISPs now compete to deliver the fastest Internet connections to users all over the world. PeerApp began sales in 2006 to smaller ISPs in Israel, Asia and Latin America. "We wanted to start small and test the market before expanding our reach," Hazan said. Recent successes, which include providing UltraBand to Internet Gold, a major Israeli communications group, and helping to double the company's Internet subscribers, have made Hazan confident that PeerApp is ready for the big time. "Obviously, our target customers are the large ISPs in the United States and Europe," Hazan said. PeerApp is now exploring working relationships with major ISPs like AT&T and Verizon, he said. PeerApp has also connected with Pando, the delivery technology responsible for handling downloads of streaming video on the Web site. Viewers watching episodes on the site now get to see them with almost zero network interference. With a viable product to market and secure financial investment from venture capital firms like Cedar Green, Pilot House Ventures and Evergreen, PeerApp is on the up. "The future lies in improving the current product's technology and in applying our knowledge to the consumers' needs," Hazan said. "The key is being a step ahead, in being able to foresee where the market is headed. I think we have done a good job staying a step ahead so far. Hopefully, we'll also be ready for tomorrow." (