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Good Broadband May Help UK Get Sony Cloud Gaming Service Before EU

Monday, June 16th, 2014 (8:51 am) - Score 326

Sony’s Internet data hungry PlayStation Now (PS Now) service, which uses Gaikai’s video streaming technology to help gamers remote-play video games without having to download them (similar to OnLive), is likely to launch in the United Kingdom first because of its “best in Europe” broadband ISP infrastructure and “strong gaming market“.

Readers might recall that PS Now was soft launched in January 2014 with a full commercial roll-out expected this summer 2014 (here) but, much to the relief of UK-based Internet Service Providers, it was delayed for Europe because of concerns over the continents patchy broadband quality.

During OnLive’s similar attempt to break into the UK market in 2011 several ISPs reported to ISPreview.co.uk that some users went from modest data consumption (20-40GB per month) to eating up many hundreds of GigaBytes. This sort of change on a large scale can be very difficult to manage, especially if you’re more of a budget ISP with an “unlimited” usage model.

Never the less many feel that the United Kingdom, at least those parts with access to good connectivity, could now cope with a service like PS Now and indeed HD video streaming is already a fairly normal occurrence. As a result the PS Now service, which is said to require a minimum connection speed of at least 5Mbps to get a “good experience” (though it can scale up to 15Mbps or more), should be do-able and it seems Sony is in agreement.

Fergal Gara, Sony’s UK MD, told DigitalSpy:

In the short term, we definitely want to bring it to Europe, and definitely to the UK. I think the UK will be one of the first European territories to launch in for two good reasons.

The first is, it has a very strong gaming market and secondly the broadband infrastructure is up there with the best in Europe, or in the top end. Not all markets are in as strong [a] position in terms of broadband infrastructure.”

So when might UK ISPs have to start worrying about the impact on their capacity? Gara is “hopeful” that it will launch during the first half of 2015, which would be about 6-12 months behind the USA. Meanwhile an open-beta phase is due to start in Canada and the USA during July 2014.

It’s worth remembering that Sony already has a close relationship with Virgin Media, which would make them a logical partner for helping to launch the new service. However many non-Virgin customers also own PlayStation consoles and they too would still be able to play, so long as your broadband is fast enough. It will be interesting to see how popular the service becomes and what impact it has.

The UK currently hopes to make fixed line superfast broadband speeds (25Mbps+) available to 95% of the population by 2017 and most can already receive such a service, although many (especially those in rural areas) are still having to wait for a solution.

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