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Peer-to-peer communication: a quick guide on everything you should know

by
Crewdle staff
February 24, 2022
5
min read

Peer-to-peer communication 101: a quick guide to change your life and rock your world

Peer-to-peer communication technology – P2P for those in the know – can be used for all our online communication needs. In recent years, P2P video conferencing has been gaining traction and visibility because it is more affordable, more secure, clearer, and greener than server-based (or cloud-based) video conferencing solutions.

But what does peer-to-peer mean, and how does it impact your online meetings and calls? Impress your peers (and maybe your boss!) with these facts on peer-to-peer video conferencing.

What is peer-to-peer communication?

Let’s break it down from the top. 

Peer-to-peer is a type of computer network often used for the distribution of digital information: files, videos, texts, galore. 

In a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, each computer acts as both a server and a client—supplying and receiving files—with bandwidth and processing distributed among all members of the network. Such a decentralized network uses resources more efficiently than a traditional network and is less vulnerable to systemic failure. P2P networks are used by Bluetooth-powered electronics and Internet-based communication services, but development has largely been driven by online file sharing.” (source: Britannica.com)

You may be old enough to remember Napster? Released in 1999, the file sharing system allowed users to connect directly to each other to exchange music files securely. This first general public usage of the technology was rooted in concepts developed in the late 1960s.

The concept has inspired new structures and philosophies in many areas of human interaction. In such social contexts, peer-to-peer as a meme refers to the egalitarian social networking that has emerged throughout society, enabled by Internet technologies in general”, says Wikipedia, and that is very well put.

How does peer-to-peer communication and video conferencing work?

At the outset, P2P communication was to take place between… two peers. As technology and our needs for online services increased, server-based solutions grew, fed by the companies that are now the biggest players in the game. There was no money to be made in helping people connect directly to each other.

As a result, today, when we go online, we generate data that travels in streams, usually to somewhere in “the cloud.” Although this sounds very light and clean, cloud computing relies on heavy-weight and power-hungry technology gathered in clusters of servers dispersed worldwide. This is true for social media and the big players in the video conferencing world.

So, all streams are directed to the server, which then redirects them to the participants. Even though the big corporations claim that their services are secure, they all work the same way: the streams are not encrypted on their servers. They keep that in the fine print (it’s really there, we checked, but we’re not going to name names, you know who they are).

Platforms using servers (left), Peer-to peer with Crewdle (right)


As such, video streaming servers are major polluters and are responsible for almost all of the carbon emissions of our virtual communications. They produce up to 1kg of CO2 and use up to 12L of freshwater per hour of use per participant, as calculated by a massive Purdue University-led international study in January 2021.

By contrast, P2P meetings are initiated by connecting you directly with others, each computer acting both as a server and a client. The connection is direct, without interference or streams detours. This can be done manually, but only experts and geeks will take the time to do that. Apps and online services exist to do it for you, like Crewdle today or Napster over 20 years ago.

What makes peer-to-peer video conferencing different?

As a result, the streams that allow us to communicate travel the shortest distance possible. This leads to a connection that is more fluid, more performant and also better for our environment.

By removing the servers, the user experience is better. Less interference and lagging. A better quality of sound and image. More affordable business solutions.

By removing servers, end-to-end encryption can be ensured, for maximum security and confidentiality. This means that no third party, human or robot, can listen to your conversations or decrypt them. Your data will not be stolen or sold. Your privacy is respected.

Platform using servers (left), Peer-to-peer with Crewdle (right)


And, bonus, P2P video conferencing is basically free, since they are no servers buy, locate and maintain. Because let’s be real - that’s what you’re paying for when you subscribe to a cloud-based video conferencing service: the right of passage through privately-owned servers. They are an environmental disaster and a security liability! 

Deep down, we can all agree there’s something magical about the Internet and Wi-Fi connexions. To the untrained eye, our daily online routines are expected and we rely on them - from emailing to meetings to calls with our colleagues to connecting with our loved ones, from anywhere to anywhere in the world. For the people making this magic happen, there are a vast array of possibilities and technical decisions to choose from. Each decision helps shape the world we live in.

Here at Crewdle, we take P2P video conferencing the extra mile – without the extra carbon footprint.

We believe that peer-to-peer makes for a virtual revolution and is a true game-changer. Our crew has been working hard to break many boundaries, and we’re proud to say we’ve succeeded. Plus, working entirely within your browser, Crewdle offers a very simple solution. Nothing to download or install on your computer. 

Oh, and did we mention Crewdle is free and will remain free?

Peer-to-peer communication is founded on the intention to connect truly, between humans, using technology as a tool and leverage to make the world a better place. It starts by allowing everybody to enjoy stable video calls and video conferences.

Although we still offer a Pro plan to manage user permissions, cover costs of storing recordings in the cloud , and building custom integrations, everything else is free.

Yes, there is a new way to do video communications. A smarter and greener way. A secure and simple way. It’s the Crewdle way. Try it today and help us save the planet, one conversation at the time!

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Crewdle staff