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ISP BT UK to Bundle Streaming OnLive Video Games with Broadband

Posted: 13th May, 2010 By: MarkJ
btISP BT Retail has today given its official support to the controversial OnLive service, which allows you to play the latest PC, PS3 and XBox360 games (Mass Effect2, Borderlands etc.) without even owning them. The service works by using your broadband internet connection to stream a live video feed of the game to your screen where it can be controlled remotely.

onlive_bt_broadband_game_service.jpg

The OnLive service is certainly a revolutionary idea, but can it work? One of the obvious concerns is that, in order to offer a strong experience, such a service would have to stream the video at a very high quality and with low latency to prevent synchronisation problems. That's hard to do on most UK connections.

OnLive would also put a lot of pressure on an ISP's network (bandwidth) and could run into problems with the Fair Usage Policies (FUP) adopted by many broadband providers, especially those offering "unlimited" services. However one solution to this is for the ISP to reach a special content agreement with OnLive, which appears to be a big part of BT's plan.

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail, said:

"Entertainment is going to be at the heart of what we offer customers in the future. The partnership with OnLive complements our existing BT Vision service. It’s great for our customers - they’ll have access to a huge catalogue of games, available instantly on their TV or PC without expensive hardware. And it’s great for BT - it will enhance our premium broadband position and we’ll be entering into a market that’s worth more than £2billion."

So far as we understand it, customers would need an internet connection speed of 1.5Mbps for Standard Definition (SD) quality gaming; that's probably going to look quite unattractive to gamers who are by now use to High Definition (HD) quality. You can of course get HD too, but for that you'll need 5Mbps (the UK average is between 4-5Mbps). However UK speeds are often also extremely variable.

BT's commercial partnership with OnLive will give the operator exclusive rights to bundle the OnLive® Game Service with broadband in the UK. In conjunction with the commercial partnership, BT has taken a 2.6% shareholding in OnLive Inc. The service itself will launch in the US this summer, following a successful beta trial. BT will announce further details about its own UK launch plans later this year.
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