Due to the popularity of gaming systems such as the Xbox One and PS4, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are struggling to meet increased consumer demands and provide, at reasonable prices, homegrown cloud services, content sharing, and — in the case of the PS4 — the ability to play games as they download.
Will ISPs have to reevaluate how to best meet the increased consumer demands place upon them in using the latest generation of gaming systems, and possibly increase their charges; or, will consumers have to shell out more money for the services that they demand?
As Mervyn Kelly of the telecommunications provider Ciena says, average households are now being redefined because of the elevated amount of power and data usage patterns they are now using as “power users.” These households, for the most part, don’t even realize this; but, the latest generation gaming systems like the Xbox One, PS4, and also current generation smartphones are very data hungry devices.
ISPs, according to Kelly, need to make “existing and future networks….smarter than ever before.” They need to provide the “scalability needed to deal with data hungry services like the Xbox One, PS4, and advanced smartphones.”
How can ISPs remain competitive when consumers keep demanding more services?
With consumer demand for increased services from their ISPs rising, whether they’re aware of it or not, it’s getting increasingly difficult for ISPs to remain competitive. Consumers are paying almost the same amount of money for their ISP services as they did a decade ago, yet they’re demanding more for their money. Also, broadband services are becoming increasingly more of a necessity rather than a luxury.
For instance, as an analyst at Ovum says, the entire ISP industry “is struggling to keep up with the rate of change.” Most of the new services ISP networks are offering aren’t “really delivering revenue, they’re all provided by internet-type or device-type players.” He suggests that it won’t be very much longer before ISPs charge higher prices for the services that they’re offering, having the attitude “we’re investing in these networks, we’ve got to make money, we’ve got to charge for it.”
Yet, ISPs who attempt to maintain strict usage limits as an alternative to increasing the rates that they charge risk having their customers go elsewhere to get certain services that they want. Upload speeds are becoming more important to users of gaming systems like PS4 and the Xbox One, because the aim of these systems is to provide an integrated social experience to their users, including the ability to record and upload clips from gaming sessions. That means that upload speeds are becoming more important than ever before.
Axel Pawlik, the managing director of RIPE NCC, which is a Regional Internet Registry, looks at the problem a bit differently, placing the blame on ISPs “dragging their feet over the deployment of IPv6.” IPv6 is a next-generation protocol that aims to make the Internet more usable and efficient. ISPs could utilize the new IPv6 protocol and presumably not have to raise their rates.
Pawlikik argues that it makes “very little sense for ISPs to experiment with short term fixes” like shared addresses. He calls IPv6 “the future of the internet” saying “there’s no other was for the internet to continue expanding.”
How much did traffic increase on the PlayStation website after the launch of the PS4?
According to Blue Coat’s director of market development, Jeff Brainard, when the traffic before November 15 (the date the PS4 was launched) to the 72-hour period afterward, “traffic from the PlayStation website almost quadrupled.”
Brainard suggests that ISPs “look at techniques like caching to optimize their networks.” Doing so would be one way for them to manage their costs and “also provide the best possible user experience.”
What can consumers do?
Consumers can think about using fiber-based products. They cost “premium prices” but they are an upgrade from ADSL and ADSL2+. Excess signal noise can also be cut out if consumers use an Ethernet cable to connect their consoles to routers.
On a related note, PS4 owners in Europe have spent a Friday in gaming limbo, as the PlayStation Network (PSN) has been going down at various times throughout the day. Sony, in response, is investigating the problem and they have temporarily suspended the ability of consumers to redeem voucher codes.These “voucher codes” include product vouchers, money cards, PlayStation Plus vouchers, and PS3-PS4 upgrade vouchers.
Many PS4 consumers have gone on Twitter to complain about not being able to sign in on their PS4s. A moderator in a post on Sony’s forums stated about this issue that Sony is “working to resolve it as quickly as possible.”
There has also been a temporary suspension, in Europe, of certain PSN services like the What’s New service and the Content Information Screen. The What’s New service allows PSN users to communicate with friends and learn about recent activity. The Content Information Screen gives users information about their friends’ activities in relation to specific game titles. The other numerous PSN services, though, such as video sharing, multiplayer support, trophies, and live broadcasting features, are expected to work during the European launch of the PS4.
Both sales of the PS4 and Xbox One topped 1 million units during their initial 24 hours on the market. They both involve more demands on the services consumers expect from their ISPs. There are various possible ways for the ISPs to handle the increased demand for their services, including increasing their prices or going along with the IPv6 protocol that appears to be inevitable if the internet is to continue its current rate of expansion.
Have any of you experienced problems logging into the PSN, or any other problems with your new PS4s or Xbox One systems? What do you think is the best way for ISPs to handle the increased demands that consumers are asking of them? Please leave your comments below!
Written by: Douglas Cobb