Wisconsin Independent Network (WIN), an upper midwest regional fiber network owned by independent telcos, announced a move into hosted gaming services with the launch of WASD Game Servers. WASD offers game server capacity, integrated with VoIP services, for the provisioning of multi-player PC based game services to end customers. WIN launched the new service last week.
WIN is hoping to leverage the growing demand for multi-player gaming, which uses broadband for video gamers to play with and against each other over the Internet. This new offering allows gamers (either individually or as a clan) to rent high capacity low latency game server space with 10 Gbps+ throughput. The idea is to give serious gamers a much better multi-player gaming experience than they can get at home. WASD currently offers several gaming titles, including the popular Call of Duty –Modern Warfare series. WASD plans to continually update titles.
“You don’t have to look very far to figure out that video gaming is a growing industry, based on the popularity of and increased advertising for newer, more complex and amazingly realistic games,” states WIN CEO Scott Hoffmann in a press release. “We don’t sell the games to the consumers; what we provide are the servers that support customizable playing fields or arenas that multiple online gamers and gaming clans use for practice, fun, and competition.”
While this type of service is highly competitive, WIN sees it as an opportunity to expand their product portfolio nationally, and maybe even internationally. “When we launched one of our game servers, we had someone in India using it,” Hoffman tells me. Latency is key though, so to offer an acceptable experience nationally, WIN already intends to place additional gaming servers on the East and West coasts of the U.S.
It’s an interesting move by WIN, illustrating one strategy for the independent telco industry to diversify their product portfolio beyond access and transport services. The individual telcos who own WIN may not be in a position to launch this type of service alone. But WIN, and the many regional consortiums like them (as represented by INDATELGroup) are. These types of services, which include both residential and enterprise/cloud application opportunities, require scale, specialized technical expertise, and a data center approach in many cases. Capabilities that are not readily present in many small independent telcos.
WASD is a great example of what Hoffman says is one of the main objectives of WIN — maximize their network infrastructure to launch these types of services and let their owners/members leverage them as a result. “We will market this service nationally, but we will also provide wholesale access to WIN members, giving them an opportunity to sell it to their end customers,” Hoffman says.
I suspect we’ll see more of this type of approach, where the consortiums owned by individual small telcos can better leverage scale to take advantage of emerging applications in the broadband/IP economy. In fact, we already are. It’s the classic ‘strength in numbers’ advantage.