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Broadband Headache as Sony Sets UK Launch for PlayStation Now and TV

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 (8:11 am) - Score 1,163

Sony has given broadband ISPs another set of data hogs to worry about after they confirmed that consumers in the United Kingdom would be the first in Europe to beta test their new PlayStation Now streaming service in 2015, while their PlayStation TV product (designed to take on Google Chromecast and NOW TV etc.) is expected to surface this autumn 2014.

The PlayStation Now (PS Now) service, which uses Gaikai’s video streaming tech to help users remote-play Sony’s back catalogue of games and without having to download them (i.e. similar to OnLive), has been a long time coming for Europe due apparently to the continents patchy broadband (here). But Sony later suggested that the UK was likely to be first in line for its service due to the higher quality of local connectivity (here) and this has now been confirmed, although a precise date is still illusive (beta expected during the first half of 2015)

The UK currently hopes to make fixed line superfast broadband speeds (24Mbps+) available to 95% of the population by 2017, while PS Now is said to require a minimum connection speed of at least 5Mbps to get a “good experience” (although it can scale to 15Mbps+ for better quality video streams); the UK’s current average download speed is said to be 17.8Mbps (Ofcom’s report).

In addition, owners of Sony’s PlayStation 4 video games console will soon start to receive a v2.00 firmware update that will include the new Share Play service. This allows owners to share the experience of playing their games with a friend and even allow them to take over, all without either being in the same room (online service).

The appeal of Share Play is likely to be mixed (we’d find it very annoying if a friend took over our gameplay), but it’s another service that could also cause a headache for ISPs; especially if it becomes popular. Upstream bandwidth may, for many people, be a bottleneck with this feature unless you have a superfast top-end cable package, FTTC or FTTH/P/B service. The need for a stable low latency connection is also crucial for both Share Play and PS Now in order to avoid lag (warping and screen jerks in the gameplay).

Finally, Sony’s attempt to break into the streaming TV device market, which is unremarkably called PlayStation TV, will surface in the UK on 14th November 2014 and is expected to cost around £80. But aside from all the usual TV app support, such as for Netflix and many more (it’s unclear whether Amazon Prime or Sky’s NOW TV service will be included), PS TV will also allow owners to Remote Play games on their PS4 console (plus you can stream games from Sony’s older consoles to play too). It’s basically a PS Vita console in a different shell.

It’s clear from all this that Sony are betting big on video streaming technology to make their service and products even more attractive, which will obviously require much better broadband connections than many consumers currently take.

On the one hand this is good news for ISPs because video traffic is big business in the consumer sector and it means that customers will show an even bigger interest in upgrading to a superfast broadband service, assuming they haven’t already got one. But on the flip side ISPs will also need to keep a close eye on the popularity of such products, which with very little effort could easily gobble hundreds of GigaBytes for a single user, and all in a fairly short space of time.

The “killer apps” are finally starting to show up, let’s hope ISPs are prepared to give what they’ve been advertising.

Leave a Comment
1 Response
  1. Avatar Jono says:

    I can’t see the appeal of being able to take over the control, but I can see the appeal of playing a two player game with a friend with only one needing to buy it.

    Im not sure how it works yet though, I have a feeling its not as clever as actually streaming the experience, instead I think both people have to have installed the game which would mean the hit on ISPs will be the actual download rather than continual heavy bandwidth. But I might be wrong.

    Either way it wont work for me until Connecting Cheshire get my cabinet upgraded to FTTC 🙂

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