When it comes to peer-to-peer file sharing, there’s always been a kind of love-hate relationship between the technology world and systems such as BitTorrent and the like. Content owners tentatively like them, since they can get content out to people without incurring the entire costs of hardware, hosting and bandwidth resources, and consumers obviously love them as they can download a host of music, video, games and software fast and “for free.”

Internet service providers, on the other hand, hate peer-to-peer traffic and have in some cases blocked or slowed it in an effort to keep the flood of content from clogging up their networks. But Verizon is taking the road less traveled by announcing plans to help its users share files faster (at least those who do it legally) while simultaneously lightening the load on its own network.

Under the banner of the P4P Research Group, the research has focused on making a protocol that saves transit time by only serving file parts from other Verizon customer in the same city to reduce hops and the company’s cost of carrying the traffic. According to Verizon, some of their broadband subscribers saw as much as a 6x improvement in download speeds when the P4P protocol was used, all while reducing the load that P2P transfers put on the network by 50%.