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UPD Virgin Media is Official UK Broadband ISP Partner for Sonys PS4 Launch

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 (7:41 am) - Score 2,473
sony playstation 4

Sony has announced that its forthcoming PlayStation 4 (PS4) video games console, which is officially confirmed to arrive in the United Kingdom on 29th November 2013, has chosen broadband provider Virgin Media to be its main ISP partner. Rumours of a new 200Mbps product are also floating around.

The cable operator, which isn’t always the first choice for multiplayer fans due to some variable issues with latency (ping) performance (though it’s usually still good enough), has promised “loads of exciting benefits for our customers“. But unfortunately Virgin also wants to “keep the details under wraps for the time being“.. booo!

In the meantime, Virgin Media has said that anybody who wants to give the PS4 an early try via one of their business grade 1Gbps (1000Mbps) ultrafast broadband connections can do so by visiting the Eurogamer Expo between 26-29th September 2013 in London’s Earls Court (assuming you can get a ticket in time).

The console itself is expected to cost around £350, which is significantly less than Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox One at around £429; this is also due to launch sometime in November and will come with the Kinect2 motion capture system included. So what about the launch games?

Sony’s PS4 Launch Games

* Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (Ubisoft)
* Battlefield 4 (EA)
* Call of Duty: Ghosts (Activision)
* Driveclub (SCE)
* FIFA 14 (EA)
* Killzone: Shadow Fall (SCE)
* Knack (SCE)
* Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft)
* LEGO Marvel Superheroes (Warner Bros.)
* Madden 25 (EA)
* NBA 2K14 (2K Games)
* NBA Live (EA)
* Need for Speed: Rivals (EA)
* Skylanders: Swap Force (Activision)
* Watch Dogs (Ubisoft)
* Outlast (due just after launch – before Xmas)

As above we don’t yet know what Virgin Media has planned to help support Sony’s console but it’s a fair bet that they’ll leverage some of their prowess in TV content and related media services in order to hopefully take good advantage of the new hardware. Special offers or bundles for new broadband customers are also a distinct possibility and Sony itself has separately hinted a special offer

The PS4 is known to have extensive video streaming, media and internet capabilities (here), such as video sharing, real-time video game streaming (remotely play games that you haven’t downloaded), an ability to remotely control your friends game and the possibility to start playing your game while it’s being downloaded. As a result it makes sense for them to team-up with a big broadband and media giant.

It should be said that Microsoft’s Xbox One will also launch with an almost identical batch of games, although they’re likely to have some different exclusives (details have yet to be unveiled). We also suspect that BT or Sky Broadband might now end up being Microsoft’s chosen partner for their XBox One launch, assuming they partner with anybody.

UPDATE 8:51am

Here’s the full list of “launch window” games for the online PSN service. Not all of these will be out on launch day but most should follow by the end of this year or early 2014.

PlayStation Network – PS4 Launch Window Games:

◾Basement Crawl
◾Pool Nation Extreme
◾Contrast
◾Warframe
◾Pinball Arcade
◾War Thunder
◾N++
◾Minecraft
◾DC Universe Online
◾Planetside 2
◾Counterspy
◾ResoGun
◾Flower
◾Doki-Doki Universe
◾Hohokum
◾Tiny Brains
◾Super Motherload
◾Blacklight Retribution

UPDATE 10:03am

Sony has reportedly suggested that Virgin Media’s gamer exclusive broadband bundles might offer download speeds of up to 200Mbps (Megabits per second), which is a product that the cable operator has run under trial before.

It’s now nearly three years since Virgin first hinted at a late-2012 launch for the 200Mbps package, although it also warned that this would depend upon demand and obviously that date has subsequently passed.

As it stands Virgin are remaining tight-lipped but they certainly have the ability to offer a 200Mbps service, although realistically there wouldn’t be much benefit to having that above their 120Mbps option. Certainly games would download faster (assuming Sony’s servers can keep pace) but most other internet services still can’t take full advantage of 100Mbps+ connectivity.

Leave a Comment
33 Responses
  1. Avatar sam

    200mbps yet they still haven’t doubled everyone’s upload speed yet. 3Mbps upload on a 60mb connection is embarrassing, bt offer 10Mbps and 20Mbps upload speeds on their 38/76Mbps tiers. They also keep worsening their fair use limits by reducing the amount before the speed decrease kicks in.

  2. Avatar Ignitionnet

    I would suggest gamers would prefer higher upstream priority on the VM network to ensure their latency remains stable rather than having a higher downstream.

    If VM delivered a 20Mb upstream with the 200Mb downstream and priority access to upstream resources they could get somewhere with this. Would have to be a fair bit more expensive than the existing deals though.

    If it’s just an e-penis enlargement exercise it’s largely pointless beyond for those who measure their sexual prowess by their Internet connection.

    • Avatar Phil

      That would be £52 a month (standalone) please for 200/20 say virgin media

    • Avatar NameStar

      20mb upload – I’m getting that for £9.99 a month (20u/70d), increasing to £19.99.

      A lot less than £52/month

    • Avatar Justerthought

      Yes very true. Showing off fast speeds is an easy sell to ignorant punters, but I want to see far lower consistent latency before any further speed increases. Gamers need low latency not high speed. What’s the point in rapidly downloading a boat load of expensive 50GB PS4 games if the multiplayer plays like crap due to poor latency. Sony would be smiling for taking your money faster but the consumer is left unhappy with a sub par product.

      Virgin Media need to realise this if they are planning a PS4 package for gamers, but I suspect is will be the old speed increase trick and some TV channels thrown in that gamers don’t want. Virgin need to target the market more precisely. They seem to be stuck in the bigger penis model for every one of their customers (more speed, more TV channels).

  3. Avatar FibreFred

    They’ve chosen the most jittery, high latency superfast network with the slowest uploads speeds to partner with, good move 🙂

    • Avatar DanielM

      Most jittery? i get 0 jitter. usually 1 or 2 on a busy day. Latency of 15 – for most uk servers. and 10Mbps uploads.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      According to the Ofcom reports over the last two years or so… that’s great news for you but according to Ofcom they are the worst.

  4. Avatar What?

    Virgin? Which has only 50%(?) coverage of the UK? Terrible throttling/shaping and upload speeds? Picked a real winner there Sony.

    • Avatar Roberto

      That is a good point Virgin does only cover around 50% of the UK. I wonder why a multi billion company like Sony picked that over FTTC.

      Lets see, i may be wrong in saying this but does FTTC currently reach less than 50%?

      I thought FTTC goal was due to reach something like 66% without additional funding and 90% with all additional funding like BDUK. BUT that 90% is for the the end of something like 2017.

      In console terms 4 years is a lot, normally (present gen excluded which have or seemed to lasted ages) around half its life, so they actually probably picked the right tech for their particular product right now.

      If it were coming out in ten years time and Virgin had not moved on then yeah agree FTTC would had made more sense. Right now though availability of both products must be similar at around 50% availability.

    • Avatar What?

      Virgin have barely done any expansion in the last 3-4 years, so BT’s FTTC coverage will far surpass Virgin’s cable in 2 years time.

    • Avatar Roberto

      Quite possibly but that is in 2 years, Sony is not interested in 2 years time they are interested in November this year when they release the thing. Just like any console the release is when it will cost its most for consumers, not 2 years time when the price has come down on the item.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      I’m sure I remember an article stating that BT’s FTTC passed the Cable footprint quite a few months back?

    • Avatar Roberto

      Interesting i wonder how BT even know how many premises VM cable is available to?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Its publicly available in their financial reports:-

      http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9MTk2MjQ0fENoaWxkSUQ9LTF8VHlwZT0z&t=1

      It currently stands at 12,490,200

    • Avatar Roberto

      Thank you fred i had not previously seen that information, very good find. Does indeed look like the BT FTTC is available to more people from page 2 of that Virgin report. I stand 100% corrected on availability figures.

      I can only assume now Sony have picked Virgin fibre due to the amount of internet subscribers 4,306,400 right now rather than availability. I am assuming that figure is higher than FTTC subscribers, the last time i read the figures for actual FTTC subscribers it was something like 1.6 Million, feel free to correct that if i am way off. It was more than a few months back.

      I am not sure if i agree with Sonys decision. On the one hand they have access to a subscriber base which is larger than what FTTC currently stands at, on the other hand FTTC take up could get very near to that figure within a couple of years.

      I obviously had my availability figures wrong but it does still look like Sony concentrated on the here and now, only with regards in in place subscribers rather than potential new ones.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Yep, if the decision was most superfast customers available now/November its a no brainer, Virgin all the way.

      I’m not sure what these “exciting features” will turn out to be but for me its little more than saying “PS4… we recommend Virgin Media” just like washing machine manufacturers recommend detergent.

      PS4 will obviously work with other networks, in anything the PS4/Xbox One could push more people to take up Superfast services.

    • Avatar Roberto

      Well if Virgin and Sony have any sense between them they will either offer a certain amount of months free broadband when you buy a PS4. Or given the PS4 can record as you play games it could probably act as a PVR also.

      They could perhaps in theory do an offer where you take Virgin TV at a discounted price and rather than a Tivo the PS4 acts as your cable box. At the least they could have Virgins PPV stuff available on it if you are with Virgin, a bit like BT have done where you can watch BT Sports online if you are a BT customer.

      Of course that is all just speculative, but it is things like that they could consider. It will be interesting what they come up with and if there is any advantage in being a Virgin user and PS4 owner.

  5. Avatar Bodincus

    Fact is, for Virgin to supply a 100 Mbps symmetric service would only mean to just decide to do so, as DOCSIS3 specs supports up to 160 Mbps downstream and 120 Mbps upstream PER CHANNEL, without channel bonding. And 1.5 Gbps trials have been successfully ran.
    Let’s see these speeds on FTTC – VDSL.

    As far as the signal is in the correct level range, a cable connection is not “up to”, but delivers 100% of the speeds it is contracted to do, irrespective of the distance from the street cabinet.
    Let’s see that on FTTC-VDSL.

    Not adding that the contention ratio of a cable connection is maximum 50:1 for residential connections, and max 10:1 on business grade. Typical ratios are 30:1 and 5:1 respectively.
    Again, let’s see that matched by all other copper-based providers on a real world, competitive commercial offer.

    Latency on cable is often not attributable to the network technology itself, but rather to specific problems on some CMTS or nodes that have an historic problem with oversubscribing made by the previous providers. Sadly, given that money needs to be spent in that geographic area to remedy the problem, but there are obviously no margins to squeeze better profits from that same area, upgrades have to be subsidized from profits coming from other areas of the country – or other sectors of the business, meaning that the malpractice and profiteering made by the previous reckless companies is now a burden for all users.

    On the other hand, latency on copper-based broadband will become a problem, due to the signal processing required by the many different technologies layered one upon the other to eke out the last Kbps from wires that were supposed to carry human voice in the 300-3000 Hz range.

    In some cities in northern Italy (like Milan) there is a provider offering true FTTP connectivity to businesses, but a 100Mbps symmetric connection costs the equivalent of £120+ per month, and is available only in a very small number of locations.

    For Virgin to convert users to full FTTP/H will just mean replacing the coax cable going to the premises with fibre in their own conduits at the first available occasion (a contract refresh, a service upgrade, etc), when the coax has aged too much to carry the speeds they’ll be pushing down that year, doing away with coax cable cards in the local cabinet and replacing the cable modems with fibre-to-ethernet converters (dirt cheap stuff) and a cable router.
    I’m not delving in too much detail here, but you get the gist.

    So, who do you think has the most future-proof infrastructure (technical and physical) to deliver the services we will need in 10, 20 and 50 years?
    The traditional copper-based providers, or Virgin Media?

    Genuinely, do you think it’s worth spending £billions in deploying FTTC-VDSL services on a network where the last mile still runs through copper cables hung up from a wooden pole in the middle of a street to the gutter of your house? A thing that vibrates with every bus and lorry passing the street, swings in the wind, expands and shrinks with every change of temperature, so has billions of micro-fractures in the wires severely affecting high frequency signals? How naïve are we all?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      I can’t remember who the resident expert is on the Virgin network is it you Ignitionnet? Whoever it is I do remember them talking about higher upstream and how large changes would be required to implement it a lot of re-segmenting, its not just a case of flicking a switch and be able to meet the DOCSIS standard.

      I’m sure it was mentioned that on average a collection of 500 Virgin media provided homes would all share something like 30Mbps upstream, please don’t quote me on those figures I just remember it was something similar.

    • Avatar Roberto

      DOCSIS has a max upload of 30.72Mb per upload channel. EuroDOCSIS which i imagine is what Virgin use (i am not sure) in theory i think can do a little more than that.

      A 200Mb down (150Mb would be even easier) and 20Mb up product should be possible quite easily. With no negative bandwidth restrictions to users. Virgins uprates at the moment are effectively capped compare to what is possible with their current infrastructure.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOCSIS

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Yeah I think doing this would rely on re-segmentation and making smaller mac domains, I’m sure it was Ignition that mentioned this in the past I’m sure he’ll bring clarity at some point.

    • Avatar Roberto

      There is nothing to clarify, i am not sure what you mean Fred. Virgin like any provider that uses DOCSIS or any provider that uses any other system such as VDSL follows laid down ITU specifications.

      30.72Mb upload per channel is what DOCSIS is capable of. Ergo that is what Virgins system must be capable of.

      If Virgin or any provider were not capable of following ITU spec i doubt communications regulators would be happy.

      Their system must be capable of laid down specifications, no different to BT or any other provider anywhere choosing a ITU specification and being able to operate within the ITU requirements of it.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      No I don’t mean the standard Roberto I mean how the Virgin network is carved up, physically built, the pinch points. I don’t believe 30Mbps upload is nailed up end to end for each customer, there are aggregation points, I’m sure he mentioned a figure of so many customers (500) all sharing a slice of a shared 30+upload

    • Avatar Roberto

      I do not see how that could be the case Fred. I suppose it is possible but that would mean from what i can understand they are sharing single upload channels across multiple users. Or the system does not operate to specification or how it should be operating would it not.

      If they were doing that i do not think they could offer the download speeds they do either could they? Im also pretty sure that would be some weird mangled system that would fall outside of specification and get them in trouble with Ofcom or whoever is responsible here in the UK for things like that, would it not?.

      In future they will probably also go to DOCSIS 3.1 which is capable of even more, though freely admit that is just speculative potential.

  6. Avatar Roberto

    1. Why does the story link to an out of date Ofcom report from May 2012???

    Could the author correct that and the statement about measurement to the 2013 report. May 2013 report here…
    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/broadband-research/may2013/Fixed_bb_speeds_May_2013.pdf
    as mentioned on this site here
    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/08/uk-fixed-line-home-broadband-isp-speeds-hit-14_7mbps-says-ofcom.html

    2. If measures are being based on that 2012 report it is incorrect as that news item. Virgin in the 2013 for downstream jitter are better.

    3. 200Mb down 20Mb upload from Virgin is Coming by November been rumoured for sometime and this to me all but confirms it (console launch around the same time and a content partner). Liberty Globals first move perhaps? If it runs at 200Mb like most Virgin packages run at or above their top speed that will put it around 3 times faster than FTTC.

    4. Downstream speed will be critical. The next gen consoles will be more media based with things like Netflix, other TV, Music and Video services. Sony have a 4k movie delivery platform already. The PS4 if online is also constantly downloading as you can watch back the last few minutes of your actual gameplay at any time. Many game purchases will actually be made online rather than buying a physical disc. Slow (below 100Mb) Variable speed xDSL services wont cut it for a 40 Gig game.

    5. Lets also not forget Virgin have came out on top in the following over the past year…
    Broadband.co.uk Speed Test reports
    Ofcom Speed testing
    Uswitch testing
    Netflix testing

    To name just a few. They are quite clearly better than any BT FTTC product, which has won errr NO awards.

    • Avatar NameStar

      BS, you try downloading 40 Gigabytes from virgin and see what happens (traffic management). All of the speed tests just download a few megabytes and so don’t reflect real world usage, I’ll bet the companies tested during working hours as well, rather than evening when the network is used the most.

      40GB is very large even for a game, but it’d still only take 1hr 20 min’s on my non-virgin connection. It would most likely take several hours with traffic management and congestion on a typical VM connection.

    • Avatar Roberto

      I can only assume you are not a customer.
      http://my.virginmedia.com/traffic-management/traffic-management-policy-thresholds.html

      For their current top product (click where it says XXL120Mb) speeds are reduced but only at specific times. Even when they are reduced the service still runs faster than what many users FTTC connections run at.

      To even speculate what any new product and even if it will be traffic managed would also just be hearsay.

      Also to download 40Gig in 1hr 20mins would require you have a connection that runs at 72Mb. Im guessing you have FTTC.

      If you do the maths with a 120Mb Virgin Package you could download even with traffic management in place far quicker than you do currently. In fact the first 10gig of the file you would get around 1.3 times quicker than you would on your 72Mb. With the rest coming down at around the same pace.

      40gig is also not large for a future systems game. There are titles already on the PS3 PSN store that weigh in at that amount (Heavy Rain i believe is one and one of the uncharteds). Bluray actually holds 45gig i think i am right in saying.

  7. Avatar NameStar

    “reduced but only at specific times”

    Astroturfing much, those times are most of the day and some of the night.

    “In fact the first 10gig of the file”

    And then it gets throttled.

    “To even speculate what any new product and even if it will be traffic managed would also just be hearsay.”

    Oh, because they never did that before, no, wait, they did it everytime.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Its true, each new tier they bring on everyone speculates it won’t have any TM, they don’t say otherwise, a year after launch TM kicks in

    • Avatar Roberto

      Name Star It is only at specific times it is throttled. The first 10gig for the 40gig game example would be delivered quicker, the speed after 2 hours would then be reduced down to 72Mb which is still faster than the 70Mb you state elsewhere in this news item your FTTC runs at Name Star.

      You would therefore even with the restriction in place be able to download that 40gig quicker. From very quick maths on the Virgin product (even once the management kicks in) the total 40gig you would get in just under 1 hour (58 mins by my quick calculation) compared to the 1 hour 20+ mins of your constant 70Mb product.

      To discuss any future product and speculated on its throttling is silly. While i agree it is also likely to have throttles discussing if the throttling would be restrictive is silly.

      BTs FTTC when first released had no throttles, torrents and other stuff then had restrictions applied, another year on and as the product stands now they are removed. We can all hope it will stay like that and it may well do, but none of us know.

      If you want to speculate on what the future holds for any product that is fine, but do not forget its is more than possible based on alterations BT have previously also made that their product can also change and go back to being throttled…… None of us know and that is why discussing how good a product will or will not be in the future is silly.

      I am also guessing from the price you mention you pay Name Star you are with Plusnet for your FTTC. If you want to talk about traffic management and constant tinkering that company has just a bad a record on that front. They have had time restrictions previously, different categories of traffic, outright made certain traffic unusable and just about every other variation you can think of. They have already had 4 different FTTC packages all with varying management within 2 years!

      @Fibrefred
      Oh no i agree with you a new Virgin product is likely to have some kind of restriction. I am no daydreamer. It is just what that restriction may be, just like the wishful thinkers hoping there will be no restriction is silly to speculate and discuss upon. The same goes for any product current or future and what any company may do to their products. I trust we agree on that.

  8. Avatar steve robbins

    its now november 17 2013 is there any news on virgin media broadband and ps4 partnership that isn’t THREE MONTHS OLD ! 😀

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