If you attended last year’s  TelcoTV conference, you might recall my references to a variety of new consumer devices during the “Dumb Pipe Strategy: Does it Have Merit?” panel. The panel discussion centered on OTT and discussions around placeshifting of a home entertainment experience and how broadband providers will have to respond.

One of the devices I mentioned during the panel is the Spawn HD-720 from Spawn Labs of Austin, Texas. The quick summary of Spawn Labs has been “Slingbox for gaming”.

Essentially, by connecting a Spawn appliance to a gaming console on a broadband network, you can then play that gaming console from anywhere else on the Internet. So, how does it work? View the demo below, which was offered at a recent Game Developers Conference:

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Of course, any OTT or placeshifting device will have bandwidth requirements. According to the Spawn Labs website, your subscribers will have to be in a broadband tier that supports the following:

  • 500kbps per remote player (minimum)
  • 1Mbps per remote player (recommended)

To take advantage of a high definition experience?

  • 3Mbps per remote player (minimum)
  • 5Mbps per remote player (recommended)

The Spawn Labs support site goes on to say:

“in our experience, you will need Internet service that is marketed by your service provider of 1.5Mbps to really get sustained bandwidth of 1Mbps”

From the TelcoTV panel, the consensus was that placeshifting consumer devices puts the crosshairs on ISP uplink bandwidth. I went so far as to say the notion of highly asymmetric broadband will fall out of favor over time.

I’m very curious about how Telecompetitor readers view this type of consumer device.

Is your network engineering and marketing team thinking about how placeshifting will bandwidth demands?

Do you have plans to offer these placeshifting devices as part of a larger strategy to guide consumer purchasing to compliment broadband offerings?

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4 thoughts on “Slingbox Meets XBox – Placeshifting for Video Games?

  1. Not sure if this is available yet, but we definitely see an impact from gamers on upstream bandwidth. We've gotten a few calls about performance on upstream. We're currently doing a FTTH build and are considering a "gaming tier' with higher upstream bandwidth.

    1. I don't know about you Bill but my gaming days peaked with Donkey Kong and PacMan. 🙂

      The upstream take is where I see the greatest impact. The secondary impact will be on calls to help desks at the ISP. The third impact will be from any future development around peer to peer playback between subscriber sites i.e. playing the game on the other side of town but within the service provider network where there is lower latency than in crossing peer transits for upstream to another ISP.

      As for availability, it is available and already generating questions from the ISP side in markets both metro and rural. Presently, Spawn Labs devices are only selling via their own website at http://www.spawnlabs.com/buy/

      I'd assume Spawn Labs are looking for distribution partners based on the discussions at TechCrunch50 where they provided demos last year. Best Buy was in the audience so it would make sense if eventually these types of placeshifting devices were selling alongside or near the gaming consoles.

      One of the comments I received from a peer with a large ISP background wondered if the AUP/ToS for the smaller rural ISP markets would match up to something being "hosted" out of the house. It seems like the genie is out of the bottle on that discussion since Slingbox is already out there in full force. I'd lump this kind of thing in with remote video monitoring like baby cams etc… it's not like someone is broadcasting to the world (yet) from their home connections.

  2. Wouldn't it make more sense for Spawn to try to license this technology to the consoles. Adding yet another box to the already cluttered entertainment center limits this impact to ISPs I believe. Now if that technolgy were to somehow become native in the console, we're talking an entirely different impact.

    1. Sandeep,

      That's a great question. One would expect this to be a part of a strategy for Spawn but I've not confirmed this with anyone from their team. Let's hope they stop by here and tell us! 😉

      On the other hand, if you consider the console market and the explosion of controllers there are already more dongles, boxes, and peripherals being added per console as it is — with very few being compatible across consoles and patent activity to potentially stifle this practice:

      http://gorumors.com/playstation-universal-game-co

      -Jay

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