On Thursday (May 30), TRON Foundation (“TRON”) announced that BitTorrent Inc. (“BitTorrent”), a San Francisco-based company that is a leader in peer-to-peer file sharing, will be incorporating the BitTorrent File System (BTFS) protocol to “allow users to receive and host storage on their computers with other individuals and businesses.”
TRON acquired BitTorrent on 24 July 2018, and launched the BTT token on Binance Launchpad on January 28. As TRON Founder and CEO Justin Sun explained in an Ask Me anything (AMA) session on February 27, in the few weeks that have gone by since the public sale of BTT tokens took place, TRON has rewarded TRX holders with BTT in one of the largest ever airdrops, as well as managed to get BTT listed “on major exchanges and wallets to make BTT available to most people.”
The BitTorrent Protocol
The BitTorrent protocol is “a communication protocol for peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) which is used to distribute data and electronic files over the Internet.” Sending or receiving files is done via a BitTorrent client, i.e. a program that implements this protocol, that is running on an internet-connected computer.
Here is how Wikipedia describes the BitTorrent protocol, which was designed in 2001 by American computer programmer Bram Cohen:
“The BitTorrent protocol can be used to reduce the server and network impact of distributing large files. Rather than downloading a file from a single source server, the BitTorrent protocol allows users to join a ‘swarm’ of hosts to upload to/download from each other simultaneously. The protocol is an alternative to the older single source, multiple mirror sources technique for distributing data, and can work effectively over networks with lower bandwidth.”
The two most popular BitTorrent clients outside China are “BitTorrent” and “uTorrent”, both of which are currently owned and maintained by San Francisco-based BitTorrent Inc., which was founded in 2004, and acquired last year by TRON Foundation, with Justin Sun confirming this acquisition in a letter to the TRON community published in TRON’s Medium blog on 24 July 2018. Here is what the TRON CEO said in this letter about the BitTorrent Protocol and BitTorrent Inc.:
“It is the first decentralized Internet protocol with large-scale global application. Even today, the BitTorrent protocol retains its status as the world’s largest decentralized protocol, once transmitting 40% of daily Internet traffic. BitTorrent created and shaped the protocol, with 70% of BitTorrent users using the product. The company aims to decentralize the Web by promoting and further developing the BitTorrent protocol…
Through this acquisition, BitTorrent and TRON will combine forces, with the TRON US team merging with the BitTorrent team. BitTorrent possesses world-class technical talent and solid experience in decentralized protocol technology. Combining the robust capabilities of the two teams will take the technology behind the TRON ecosystem to a whole new level.”
The BitTorrent Token (BTT)
“TRON Foundation and BitTorrent Foundation are introducing a new cryptographic token called BTT along with an extended version of the BitTorrent protocol in order to create a token-based economy around the usage of networking, bandwidth and storage on hundreds of millions of computers on the internet.”
Binance’s research report on BTT had this to say:
The project plans to utilize the BTT in more utility cases beyond the current sharing of bandwidth, expanding access to more services including general storage, computation, and resource availability…
The token will initially be used in BitTorrent clients as payment in exchange for requesting upstream bandwidth. Usage will be extended to additional capabilities including purchasing content, tipping live streaming performers, and crowdfunding the creation of new works.”
The BTT whitepaper explains the motivation for finding a way to encourage BitTorrent users to continue making a file available to other users once they have finished downloading it:
“BitTorrent Speed is a feature that will be integrated into future BitTorrent and μTorrent clients and will enable users to advertise their bids within a swarm and trade BTT in exchange for continued prioritized access to seeds. The intended result is that peers will choose to seed for longer, leading to better swarm longevity and faster download speeds for all swarm participants.”
On Thursday (January 17th), BitTorrent Inc. announced that it expected to make BitTorrent Speed “available by summer on the popular µTorrent Classic Windows client.” It also said that “BitTorrent Speed will become available on other BitTorrent clients by late 2019.”
What Is BTFS and What Does TRON Plan to Do With It?
According to the press release shared with CryptoGlobe, BTFS is “both a protocol and network implementation that provides a content-addressable, peer-to-peer mechanism for storing and sharing digital content in a decentralized file system.” Users of BitTorrent Speed will be rewarded with BTT “in exchange for seeding and bandwidth, enabling faster downloads.” This means that users “now have the opportunity to be a part of the tokenized decentralized internet and support content creators all around the world from their torrent clients.”
BTFS, which is a “variant of the open-source InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) protocol,” started internal testing in late May, and in Q3 2019, the BTFS Mainnet will be available for public access; this will “power all TRON decentralized applications that require a decentralized storage network.” The full implementation is expected to be ready by end of Q1 2020.
TRON CEO Justin Sun had this to say about BTFS:
“BTFS is a continuing step in our mission to create a decentralized internet that allows everyone to share in the wealth of web commerce. We’re creating a platform with BTFS, BitTorrent Speed blockchain integration and the BTT utility token to let users quickly and privately interact with each other around the world without a middleman or government intervention.”