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BT is First UK ISP Partner for Google’s Stadia Cloud Gaming

Friday, Jan 17th, 2020 (9:14 am) - Score 3,305

Broadband ISP BT has today become the first UK and European distribution partner for Google’s new cloud-based online video gaming platform, Stadia, which enables gamers to remote play video / computer games  – on almost any device – by streaming them live to you from a huge data centre.

The idea of a cloud based video gaming service is of course nothing new and indeed BT was one of the first UK ISP’s to support a previous attempt in 2011/12 via the failed OnLive service. Back then one of the biggest obstacles was the lack of good superfast broadband coverage (today 96% of premises are within reach of 24Mbps+ and 60% can order 100Mbps+), although there were also issues with video quality, latency and a limited library of games.

Meanwhile 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, although it can also function down to a “recommended minimum” of 10Mbps (i.e. the UK Government’s new Universal Service Obligation) but you’ll end up playing at the lower 720p resolution (launch details).

Despite this we’ve seen plenty of gripes since Stadia’s early launch last year, many of which highlight familiar issues with image quality, latency and a limited library of games (but this is improving). Meanwhile quite a few people simply don’t seem to be all that interested in this type of streaming service or would rather own their own games.

Nevertheless Stadia is still finding its feet and BT has today signed a “strategic collaboration” with Google to support it. As part of that they’re launching a range of new BT Superfast Fibre Stadia Gaming Plans, which they claim will “push the limits of cloud gaming and allow customers to take full advantage of [Stadia].” If this is anything like OnLive then BT will optimise their network to ensure Stadia works as smoothly as possible.

The two companies will also work together on initiatives designed to build awareness, access and availability of Stadia in the UK.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said:

“We continually look to provide our customers with the most exciting products and experiences, and by partnering with Google on Stadia, we’re able to help them push the limits of gaming. We’re also investing in the UK’s fastest 4G, 5G and fibre networks, so our superfast home broadband service is the perfect accompaniment for those wanting to make the most from this innovative streaming gaming platform.”

In terms of those packages. Customers taking out either BT’s Superfast Fibre 2, Ultrafast Fibre 100 or Ultrafast Fibre 250 (FTTC, G.fast or FTTP), with prices starting from £39.99 per month, can choose to receive a free Google Stadia Premiere Edition. The Stadia Premiere Edition includes a Stadia controller, Chromecast Ultra and three months access to Stadia Pro, which offers the ability to play in up to 4K/60FPS with HDR and 5.1 surround sound, as well as claim games, and discounts on a la carte purchases.

NOTE: A subscription to Stadia usually costs £8.99 per month, although you can pay £119 for the Premiere Edition bundle and get 3 months of this for free. A subscription-free version will launch in 2020 but you’ll have to buy the games for this.

The offer is available from today until 30th January. Then from the 7th February, BT will offer a range of Superfast Stadia gaming plans with Superfast fibre 2, Ultrafast Fibre 100 or Ultrafast Fibre 250 which will come with a free Stadia Premiere Edition when they sign-up.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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26 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jonathan Hoag says:

    I have BT and Stadia Founders Edition and so far, I am sold on this being a new way to game. At home the connection is rock solid and it is crazy that I now can pick up games on my lunch break at work, without installing anything. Overall the plans don’t look super competitive, but glad BT is at least going to work with Google to make the quality of Stadia even better. Don’t listen to all the negative reviews, it really is something you need to play to believe.

    1. Avatar photo Jay powell says:

      You wasted your money on that get a ps5 and Xbox series x or a gaming pc

      I wouldn’t touch google stadia with a bargepoll especially Phil Harrison is boss of it used to work with Microsoft and Sony

    2. Avatar photo Jonathan Hoag says:

      I wouldn’t say wasted. I wanted a Chromecast Ultra for my 4K TV, and the founders edition only cost an extra £60. A lot cheaper than a £400 xbox or playstation. As I am not always at home, I don’t care about having a console as much as just being able to play games when I have the time. For me, a service like Stadia really hits the mark. At the end of the day, I just want to play games and not have to worry about updates and my box going out of date 2 years after I bought it.

    3. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      I would be mightily impressed if Jonathan could get a PS5 or XBox Series X this side of the ‘holiday season’ 2020, Jay.

      I actually purchased it for a similar reason, wanted the Chromecast Ultra and it was a minimal increment on top, but am yet to open the box.

      Actually kinda irritating BT are doing this deal – would’ve been happier with their standard reward card.

    4. Avatar photo 125us says:

      You seem confused Jay. You advise us not to buy it because the boss used to work for MS and Sony, then recommend we do buy boxes made by MS and Sony.

  2. Avatar photo Nils Krumrey says:

    I’ve been using Shadow and it’s been rock solid without any special support. You get your own PC in the cloud for 15-40 £/month depending on spec. Given that Stadia’s performance is actually quite poor, I’d rather pay that. Best thing is that you just install your own Steam, Epic Games Store, XBox Live etc. and continue as normal. Cloud Gaming is a really nice, practical option, but people dismiss it because Stadia has such an unfriendly model for consumers.

  3. Avatar photo JmJohnson says:

    35Mbps down ?
    Where’s ‘he that shall not be named’ saying no-one needed that bandwidth.
    Remember that’s just for the Stadia… best make sure none of your family use the internet and that any devices/systems that background downloads updates are turned off whilst you play.

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      They seemed to have moved on to telling us 1Gbps isn’t needed.

  4. Avatar photo CarlT says:

    I have been watching the reviews of Stadia.

    it seems disappointing given the alleged raw power each instance has.

    Suspect the cloud compute model isn’t translating too well to gaming.

    Still, as mentioned above, my driver was that I wanted the Chromecast anyway so not a massive loss. Will take the three months, give it a go, then consign to the tech curiosities section.

  5. Avatar photo salek says:

    Cloud gaming is like mobile gaming on a touch screen, too much latency and not responsive enough, video is too compressed with artefacts, i like the native console experience

    1. Avatar photo Dom says:

      Couldn’t agree more.
      Although I’m a PC gamer mostly aiming for high fps and as low of an input lag as possible I am still playing PlayStation exclusives on my PS4 PRO.
      Cloud gaming just breaks two making things I care about and that is image quality (compression artefacts) and controls latency…

  6. Avatar photo Conor says:

    “NOTE: A subscription to Stadia usually costs £8.99 per month, although you can pay £119 for the Premiere Edition bundle and get 3 months of this for free. A subscription-free version will launch in 2020 but you’ll have to buy the games for this.”

    Just a heads up that you still have to pay for the games when on a “pro” subscription. There are some monthly games you will get free (in a similar way to ps plus) but the pro service doesnt give you all games (it’s not the same as netflix for example). Hope that makes sense 🙂

    1. Avatar photo Stephen Wakeman says:

      Further to this. You still have to pay to buy the game, in some cases the game costs more than on PC digitally distribution sites like Steam, Epic etc AND you do not own the game. That is, if Stadia does not work out and Google decide to end support – for which they have a NOTORIOUS reputation – all your purchases are defunct.

      Not only that but if you lose your net connection for whatever reason, you can’t play. If their servers have an issue, you can’t play.

      All in all, it’s more expensive, there’s less choice, it currently is not feature complete, they lied about games being in 4K, you have no purchase security and unless your connection is perfect (and even then) you can get stutter and lag.

      As an offering that absolutely had no appeal to me whatsoever and I’m not tempted to even try it out on my 300 meg home connection. Needs to mature a lot.

  7. Avatar photo CarlT says:

    I must admit I’m curious as to how the network will handle this.

    I’m sure BT Consumer don’t pay list price to Wholesale, however how far below is interesting to ponder.

    Before anyone pops up other operators can and do get discounts through volume also.

  8. Avatar photo PJ says:

    I’m a Stadia Founder. And I also think it’s great. For me it just works. It will get much better when more features are added. It’s a good service.

  9. Avatar photo Mike says:

    Steam Link is better imo.

  10. Avatar photo FullFibre says:

    Could this explain the latency issues we have been experiencing for over a year in online gaming whenever a video is streaming at the same time?

    One of many threads over there with the same issue since Dec 2018:

    Are they prioritising video over normal gaming traffic so that their new clound gaming product doesn’t get any lag??

  11. Avatar photo Mark says:

    Been using since day 1 and been rock solid

  12. Avatar photo Marty says:

    Stadia is a waste of time and money catering to a market of mobile gamers. Better to have your own hardware with near enough no latency such as PS5 or Xbox series X with these companies you get what you have paid for.

    1. Avatar photo 125us says:

      Someone else suggesting people buy a console that hasn’t been released. Are you sure you’re not the same person as Jay?

    2. Avatar photo Marty says:

      No I’m not Jay. In the end to pretty safe to assume that the major players wouldn’t engineer a obvious car crash that is Google Stadia

  13. Avatar photo VR says:

    just try Loudplay cloudgaming service

  14. Avatar photo salek says:

    The way is see it – cloud gaming should serve as complementary or backup service to PC or consoles, in its current form Stadia is a lost cause, Xcloud is much better pitch, buy game once play on mulitple devices and is positioned as an add on service for a small or little cost, depending on package,

    for true gamers – gaming needs be to be local and native with minimum latency and uncompressed video quality, the upcoming specs of HDMI- HDR will be needing 48 Gigabits of data bandwidth to feed TV screens with all the bells and whistles,

    when you compress that down mere megabits even with the latest codecs H265 or the upcoming AV1, quality loss is inevitable

    if you are at home you may as well have a device for gaming, if you are away from home, business, holiday or travelling, do you really want be cloud gaming in these situations? with unpredictable connection quality ?

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      For the vast majority that aren’t ‘true gamers’, though, such a service with its low cost of admission, convenience and ease of use may be attractive.

      Much the same reasons why, despite not being too attractive to ‘true gamers’ in terms of eye candy, etc, the Nintendo Wii and Switch have done well.

      The original Switch, not Lite, is out of stock on Amazon UK right now. I imagine the £280 a pop for hardware based on a 5 year old APU that’s outselling the PS4 and XBox One is working out fine for Nintendo even if it can’t run anything other than relatively basic games at 1080p.

  15. Avatar photo Archie says:

    I’d love to try this out! I’ve been fascinated with cloud gaming for years and I even used to subscribe to OnLive back in the day! Considering I only had a 7mbps ADSL connection I was able to enjoy it! There was the tiniest bit of lag and because of my bandwidth limitations I used to see quite a bit of artifacting. However, it was still enjoyable.

    I would like to see if they’ve genuinely been able to improve on what OnLive tried to achieve. If they’re able to provide a service on which I didn’t feel the latency then I’d definitely consider purchasing it.

    I keep seeing mention of a free version of Stadia online but haven’t 1) found out how to play it using Google Chrome and 2) found the supposed free version that’s out there. If anyone knows, please contact me!

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      You will need to buy games. There is no free lunch here. Inclusive games with the subscription, alongside buying games on top, or buying games alone and no subscription.

      This isn’t an OnLive or Netflix. There is no free trial of the Pro version.

      The exception being that those who bought the Founder edition have a 3 month Pro trial code they can give to people. A bunch seem more interested in selling them on eBay.

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