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Google Set Final Broadband Requirements and UK Price for Stadia

Friday, June 7th, 2019 (8:21 am) - Score 7,429
google_stadia_controller

Internet giant Google has today announced that their new cloud-based online video gaming service, Stadia, will launch into the UK market from November 2019 and it will come both with and without (free) a monthly subscription service (£8.99 per month). We also now know exactly what broadband speed you’ll need to run it.

The idea of a cloud based video gaming service, where you remote play video / computer games that are streamed to you online live from a huge data centre (usually to almost any device with a good display – smartphones, laptops, tablets, desktop PCs etc.), is nothing new (e.g. OnLive) but crucially Google’s attempt is launching at a time when most consumers may actually be able to run it properly.

At present around 96% of premises across the United Kingdom should be able to order a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) ISP capable connection and nearly 60% are within reach of “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) speeds, while Gigabit capable “full fibre” (FTTP) networks currently only cover 7% but they’re rising fast.

Not to mention that 4G (LTE) based mobile broadband speeds can often also deliver “superfast” or considerable better performance. Latency times are also generally much improved by modern connections, which is an important consideration for any remote-play service.

What do you need for Stadia?

Google’s announcement confirms that Stadia will work at its best (i.e. 4K HDR resolution at 60 frames per second with 5.1 surround sound) across connections that deliver a stable 35Mbps download speed, although it can also function down to a “recommended minimum” of 10Mbps (same level as the UK Government’s new Universal Service Obligation [USO]) but you’ll obviously end up playing at a lower HD resolution of 720p.

google_stadia_broadband_speeds

We consider that features like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 5.1 surround sound are far from essential and when you remove those then a speed of 30Mbps should be fine for 60fps gaming in 4K. However we will need to see how all of this works in the real-world for ourselves before judging what it’s actually like, particularly in terms of the latency (ping time) impact (depends upon the quality of your local network setup, broadband technology, your ISPs peering / routing arrangements and the remote servers themselves etc.).

According to Google, “Any user within 40ms round-trip-time of a Stadia Point of Presence will have a great experience.” Plus there are plans for 8K quality streaming in the future, which will obviously increase the connection demands significantly and probably give your ISP more of a headache with capacity, but that’s assuming any of this is actually appealing to consumers. Speaking of which..

So what do you actually get?

At launch Google are offering a Founder’s Edition, which for £119 (one-off) will bundle 3 months of free Stadia Pro access (normally £8.99 per month) and 3 months of Stadia Pro to give away to a friend (Buddy Pass). The bundle also includes the exclusive Night Blue Stadia Controller, a Google Chromecast Ultra device for streaming to your TV and a Founder’s Stadia Name.

We should add that the Stadia Pro subscription will give you all of the best video quality, discounts on games you can buy (yes you’ll still have to buy some, which seems to remove one of the advantages of a subscription based gaming service!) and access to a bunch of “free” games (currently only Destine 2 at launch but more are coming).

In 2020 Google will also launch a free (no subscription) Stadia Base package, although this will only support HD resolution (1080p at 60fps with stereo sound). You’ll still be able buy games whenever you want on Stadia Base, but you won’t have access to any of the “free” games that come with Stadia Pro and you won’t benefit from any discounts on other non-free games.

Personally speaking, I still prefer to own and download the games I play and enjoy having full visual quality without any streaming involved, but others may take a different view, particularly given the high price of new AAA games today and the hefty storage space requirements.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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40 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    Seems a bit meh, I’d like to see Steam offer a service to stream any game in your library.

    • Avatar Adam

      Why meh? I don’t get your reasoning.

    • Avatar Beeejay

      Steam already do offer a streaming service. Look it up.

    • Avatar Mike

      @Adam

      If it requires an upfront cost of £120 I can’t see it catching on.

    • Avatar Mike

      @Beeejay

      In-home streaming?

    • Avatar Adam

      @Mike

      Ah, i get you now. They will offer a free service some time next year though. Won’t be investing in the hardware, but will certainly give it a go when they offer that service. That’s if they allow you to use your own hardware. Keyboard/mouse, controllers etc…

    • Avatar Mike

      @Adam

      I can see it working if they do that, especially for people with low budget laptops/pcs.

  2. Avatar Paul

    Looking forward to it

  3. Avatar Kevin

    That’s allot of sustained usage for an ISP to cope with… This is also real time streaming, you won’t have the same luxury of buffering you’d get with video services like Netflix and Amazon, so any momentary drops in data rate could be felt more.

    I think the biggest pressure will be on BT WBC / WBMC ISPs with their high wholesale per Mb pricing, could we return to a point where congestion in the evenings becomes normal practice again? Will BT respond by reducing the per Mb pricing?

    • Avatar Mike

      I remember years ago when ADSL was widespread people here were saying we didn’t need VDSL and now…

    • Avatar CarlT

      Depends how popular it is. A fair few ISPs have cretins using them who download a bunch of content they’re unlikely to ever use simply because they can.

      ISPs expect load to increase substantially and are able to largely soak it up on their core networks. Wholesale are going to have to get those prices down soon, though, they may struggle to justify them in the not too distant.

  4. Avatar Mike

    I’m delighted to be on a maximum speed of 9Mb/s in a capital city. If not for that I might have been interested in trying this as I do not have a PC or laptop and my Nvidia Shield K1 tablet is getting old.

    • Avatar Mike

      If your on 9Mbps in a capital city that’s your choice.

      Both EE and Three offer higher speeds at reasonable prices.

  5. Avatar ash

    So if i buy a game (£50) i can only play it in 1080p, and if i want to play in 4k i have to pay £108 a year? That’s very expensive, they won’t be taking over gaming anytime soon with that price…

  6. Avatar Gary HILTON

    Hurray, Big round of applause for loading the available bandwidth permanently rather than just while games are downloaded or patched. I may be mean spirited but I hope the ISP’s just throttle traffic from Googles servers, unless Google are paying for upgrades.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Customers pay ISPs and expect them to provide the service paid for. If they can’t handle unlimited traffic they had best stop selling it or charge more. ISPs are expecting 40%+ CAGR for the foreseeable anyway, with or without Google.

    • Avatar NotForMe

      Or they could just throttle whatever it is you do online to meet the demand for those that want to use google services instead. Im sure you will approve as you seem to be in favour of throttles to meet network demands.

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      May be that’s what we’ll see then Carl, the end of all you can eat data packages, or a general increase in cost or just crappy throughput during peak hours, Unless your package guarantees it.

      Notforme, It wasn’t intended as a what I want or someone else wants to do as users, more that Company A launches a product and charges for it but unless I’m mistaken (and please correct me if so) other companies ISP, Openreach etc As carl says have the responsibility of carrying the increased data.

      I don’t know how these guys charge or buy bandwidth, It just seems like high data content services like streaming TV movies and now gaming essentially have their delivery funded by others, I’m not bitching or moaning just wondering IF its sustainable given the constant drive for cheaper connectivity.

    • Avatar CarlT

      To be honest most ISPs aren’t paying a penny for connection to Google. For obvious reasons they connect settlement free.

      The same argument you’re making about content providers profiting at the expense of ISPs was made about iPlayer and Netflix.

      Would you prefer the US model where ISPs intentionally degrade their own services in order to obtain money from content providers or where we are now?

      If Ofcom, etc, got over the obsession with pricing and ISPs focused more on making money than undercutting others at a loss to build market share things would be different.

      Due to advertising standards ISPs have to be good, basically zero visible contention, which precludes cheap and fast at the same time.

    • Avatar Spurple

      It’s a feedback loop. Content and services exist that make me pay for an Internet connection. If the ISPs want to continue getting my custom, they had better make sure I can actually get what I paid for. Otherwise there’s no point getting anything but the cheapest, slowest package they sell.

    • Avatar useless

      “Notforme, It wasn’t intended as a what I want or someone else wants to do as users, more that Company A launches a product and charges for it but unless I’m mistaken (and please correct me if so) other companies ISP, Openreach etc As carl says have the responsibility of carrying the increased data.

      I don’t know how these guys charge or buy bandwidth, It just seems like high data content services like streaming TV movies and now gaming essentially have their delivery funded by others, I’m not bitching or moaning just wondering IF its sustainable given the constant drive for cheaper connectivity.”

      This is a ridiculous theory based on the past. You can not discriminate on data usage it does not work. You are presenting the old 1% of ‘heavy’ users accounts for the majority of network use which the likes of some ISPs, Openreach etc, which you point to., have tried to peddle before.
      It does not work, if he top 1% are killing a service and lets say that top 1% is/will be Google Stadia users and you get rid of them all it is replaced with is another top 1% that use the majority of the network (be it those that have a marathon binge stream of Netflix, stream music all day for 8 hours while at work on spotify rather than listening to a conventional radio etc etc).
      Get rid of them and its replaced by another 1% (maybe those that are downloading too much from the likes of steam or streaming to twitch or similar too much).
      Get rid of them and the top 1% then becomes the 2 Billion that watch content on youtube each week.
      Get rid of them and it will be something else they blame. The cycle continues until your top 1% are people doing nothing but sending a single email each day which sooner or later if you take the approach you are advocating become the heavy resource hogs at a singular ISP.
      Does not work and never will, you either charge a fixed price for Unlimited or make people pay effectively per Gig of data (no matter what that data is). If ISPs want to flog a product as unlimited they need to accept that is what people will do.

  7. Avatar Adam

    Don’t think i have met someone against net neutrality before. Hmm..

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      While I agree with the nice intentions of Net neutrality, why exactly should ISPs front the costs for huge data heavy profit making by another company.

      Many ‘unlimited’ broadband packages still have ‘fair’ / ‘excessive’ use clauses, which imho shouldn’t be allowed, its either unlimited or not.

      But Net neutrality isn’t really about this, you know that.

    • Avatar Adam

      That is ultimately between the customer and the isp. I’m sure there are many different ways to look at it, but that is my opinion on it. Don’t offer an unlimited service if they are not willing to provide it. Simple as that. If it starts becoming expensive for the isp, then raise the prices of unlimited packages. Also very simple. The future is coming whether they like it or not. Time for them tag along with the rest of us.

    • Avatar Adam

      “I hope the ISP’s just throttle traffic from Googles servers”

      “But Net neutrality isn’t really about this, you know that.”

      It’s very much about net neutrality.

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      Well I guess we’ll see in time, the rules do allow for throttling to preserve network performance as required so long as its correctly implemented, as others say this will be down to the ISP to decide if theyre willing to loose business as a result or to invest in more capacity/charge more.

      I agree with you on the fact that this is ‘progress’ and the ISPs will either adapt invest and charge or Fail.

      My opinion on net neutrality which you seem to disagree with is that the unrestricted access to content (a good ideal) pushes the burden/cost for suppling that content unfairly onto the ISP rather than the ICP. I do accept its a can of worms that has potentially dire consequences if opened.

    • Avatar useless

      “Many ‘unlimited’ broadband packages still have ‘fair’ / ‘excessive’ use clauses, which imho shouldn’t be allowed, its either unlimited or not.”

      Id like to know which ones as that type of nonsense was dealt with years ago…
      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2012/04/uk-isps-react-as-asa-starts-enforcing-new-broadband-advertising-rules.html

      If there are any still trying to pull that stunt they either have not updated their terms or will find thereself in hot water if they boot someone off and they challenge it enough as what happened with…
      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/02/isp-be-broadband-face-unlimited-questions-after-user-cut-off-for-overuse.html
      Which was just the tip of their final demise.

      Your theories on usage and what you think is right or wrong are neigh on a decade outdated.

  8. Avatar NotForMe

    Has the online gaming experience got better over the years?

    I may be getting old but the last console i owned was a PS3 which was more purchased for its media functions at the time and bluray playback at the time. But IMO online gaming on that even when i and the person i actually knew in real life the other end both had a decent ADSL connection of 15Mb or better with low ping (certainly not anything massively different to what my FTTC has now) would experience lag (to the point you press a button and things happened a whole second or two later) along with complete connection drops one end or the other during midplay.

    The last game i actually bothered attempting online with my FTTC (70Mb and pings to most things in the uk 10-20ms) was Streetfighter 30th Aniversary edition on steam via my PC and that again even when the person i actually know in a face to face (so to speak) game the other end with a similar spec connection (IE FTTC or better) would still have issues now and then (connection drops, rather than rage quits and bad lag when things were a frenzy of a fight).

    Since then i have not bothered with online gaming and to be honest if everything has to stream and people the other end are trying to do it at the highest selectable resolution when they may only have 10Mb connections i can not imagine this being fun to play at all. I imagine a horrid experience much like Onlive was, hopefully im wrong but unless things have been significantly optimized then unless its just run and gun game trash i can not see this being much cop.

    Maybe im just old and use to playing games as a developer intended and less forgiving to the odd lag here or there as the younger generation seem to be.

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      For me definitely its got worse as the years pass, our connections the same speed technically, but the Pings higher, tracert hops do seem to have increased and spurious latency/lag feels worse.

      I think it very much depends where you are and who you route through, and that’s always been the way, There doesn’t seem to be much concern generally over lag latency in the industry, its all about headline speed.

    • Avatar Mike

      Are you both playing over WiFi?

      What ISPs?

    • Avatar useless

      @Mike No Wifi use for me for any desktops or laptops or anything that has an Ethernet port in the house. About the only thing i use wifi for will be on my mobile phone.

      ALL gaming examples i gave were of 2 known good connections wired. I actually hate wifi even using AC i can tell the difference just in regular internet use and page load times.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Hop count via traceroute is meaningless. Today’s younger generation are most certainly not more forgiving of network issues: broadband is all they know and they expect a similar experience online to their local one.

  9. Avatar Gary HILTON

    I’m with BT internet, wired on the PC, occasionally wireless if ive got the laptop out, but not a noticeable difference between the two honestly.

    • Avatar Mike

      BT… there’s your problem

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      Yeah but , is it ?

      My choices are Talk talk and Sky if I look at LLU providers, or basically PlusNet, which gets good comments but in essence does that really change anything.

      I’ve no loyalty to BT Internet but have doubts if another provider who basically uses the same kit is really going to be better.

    • Avatar Mike

      The kit isn’t the problem it’s the backhaul network which is generally pretty bad with the likes of BT/TT etc.

      I recommend Sky/NowTV, you can switch between the two to keep getting new customer offers despite both being owned by Sky, routers are almost identical as well.

  10. Avatar Jesus G Rees

    I own a ton of games digitally and on disc and I barley okay any of them. Having them in a digit sub with the option to buy is the future.

    • Avatar Gary Hilton

      Digital sub is the future, option to buy not so much. We’re shifting to a business model that shuns one off sales in favour of a subscription providing a longer term revenue stream for the developer/publisher.

      look at Office 365 vs buying a copy of Office, much better in the long term for Microsoft vs the spike profit.

      personally I’m not a fan of subscription to use a product but then I’m old and I resent paying for old stuff forever.

  11. Avatar Enki

    Be interesting to see how Stadia performs in a connected world with multi devices connected to same router.

  12. Avatar Michael

    The £120 cost is a way limit it’s 2019 launch to the hardcore players with its real launch in 2020.
    The Destiny base game will likely be the service’s 1st free to play game at 1080p when the free service starts in 2020.
    Hopefully, Google will push to get CDN link’s into most if not all exchanges in the UK.
    Ultimately if it’s good enough for the casual majority then Sony is going to play catch up as both Sony and Microsoft are locked till 2023 they can update their next-gen consoles but Stadia just buys new parts as they need same every server farm has.

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