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.