It’s pretty rare that I council ISPs on how to do their jobs. Okay, fine, I do that about every five minutes on this blog. But, here I’m going to focus on one topic that has popped up recently; OnLive.
As you may know, OnLive promises lag free gaming from your web browser. I’m not going to poke holes here in OnLive (though I did that quite nicely over there). But it’s safe to say that it is a massive bandwidth hog. While the developers claim it doesn’t always demand 5 mbps per second, that really depends on what games you’re playing. Either way, at most you’re going to get 3.8 hours per day on Comcast (or, about 114 hours per month… not factoring in any other data usage). Any more and you hit their 250 GB bandwidth cap.
And don’t even think about AT&T’s pending 150 GB bandwidth cap. You won’t be able to finish one major game per month with that…
My first warning is simple: This is going to cause ISPs to lower their bandwidth caps, or charge for more bandwidth. That’s really not a shocker, if OnLive hadn’t provoked it, I’m sure some other platform would (and really, Mozy and Carbonite likely started that process already).
But my second warning is more specific. OnLive has said that they are looking to score preferential treatment deals with the ISPs. I would advise ISPs to stay as far away as possible from those deals. Even the Bush administration FCC mandated net neutrality (and the Obama FCC is going to be even more net neutral).
Giving preferntial bandwidth allotments to OnLive is just as bad filtering BitTorrent traffic. It’s an anti-competitive business practice that is against the public interest. But, that’s not me talking, that’s the existing mandate of the FCC. And you can rest assured, if any ISP gives OnLive preferntial treatment… we’ll be the first to stand up against it.
now are you really that against onlive????
dude just drop it and let it work itself out
if it fails it fails but if it passes im gonna be the one laughing in your face
and the first console to fall will most likely be the PS3 cause its so expensive
either PS3 falls or they lower the price of the console
We’re not against OnLive… though my first hands-on impressions of it aren’t that good, they certainly have time to improve their product.
There is a greater issue here, that of net neutrality. The OnLive team seems to think that they can cut sweetheart deals instead of deal with the realities of bandwidth constraints.
All we are saying at MechaWorks is, they can’t run afoul of the law in order to make their technology work. The FCC has said that filtering or giving third-parties priority on their network is not being net neutral. All we intend to do, is keep OnLive honest in that regard.
OnLive is a great idea and it’s definitely capable of creating a very large paradigm shift in not just gaming but computer technology is general.
However, as I thought about it more, I came to the same conclusion that you did. Seven years of ‘rogue development’ could easily have been seven years of waiting for net neutrality to fall.
So what if OnLive decides to allocate a portion of their revenue to an ISP for access to a QoS pipeline? How is innovation anti-competitive??
First of all, bandwidth caps aren’t definitely going to happen. Last that I heard was that Comcast was doing testing in certain markets. Yes, in other countries these caps are already in place, but the USA is the largest video game market in the world and is enough sustain OnLive by itself. Second, even if Comcast does decide to implement caps, I personally have two other capless companies, Qwest’s fiber optic internet and Verizon’s FiOS (also fiber optic), both of which would be more than happy to take my $55 per month. Lastly, as was pointed out in the OnLive press conference, the main motivation for bandwidth caps is the large amounts of upstream bandwidth used by P2P programs. OnLive uses mostly downstream bandwidth and, if widely embraced, would cut down on piracy dramatically. If Comcast and other ISP’s really want to limit P2P piracy without alienating law abiding customers, they should only put a cap on upstream bandwidth.
On the subject of ISP’s giving special treatment to certain companies, I agree with Chris completely. Imagine if six years ago Comcast struck a deal with Microsoft so that websites accessed through the big M’s search engine got twice as much bandwidth than if accessed through the up-and-coming Google. Microsoft would of advertised that “Our search engine is twice as fast as theirs” and possibly squashed Google and thus robbed the general public of all the innovations Google has brought.
Why cap anything. What people are doing over the network is truly no concern to the ISP. They should just be providing the access to the internet. Not screwing me on how much I can upload or download. If I am paying 60 bucks a month for access to the network at a specific speed then don’t touch what I’m doing. Now I know that you have to make sure that everyone is getting the quality of service that we all bitch about, but there are other ways to make sure you have the bandwidth. Get the equipment updated to newest and fastest technologies and this wont be an issue. If you are using the same gear from 1998 (which I expect some smaller ISP’s around me are) then expect the quality to slow down. They need to take the lead with making sure that they are keeping up with what the Internet is changing into. We aren’t going to flat web pages anymore. More and more things are streaming and they need to keep up or they should start loosing business.
Steve, Comcast is already capping customers nationwide with a 250 GB cap. AT&T also says they have a cap, but they won’t say what it is (they have tested a firm 150 GB cap in some markets).
Worse, Comcast both has a cap and throttles customers in high demand periods… so they use both capping and throttling simultaneously.
Time Warner has said that they will need to cap customers when DOCSIS 3.0 is deployed. Childishly, they are stalling DOCSIS 3.0 trials claiming that too many consumers are complaining about caps. Why that would stop doing technology trials/testing, I have no idea, but I suspect it is grandstanding on Time Warner’s behalf.