The launches of the Xbox One and PS4 are going to dominate the tech headlines in the run up to Christmas as its six years since the biggest consoles of the current generation launched. In this frenzy to gain some competitive advantage both by the console manufacturers and other parties looking to benefit many more partnerships are to be expected in addition to the news that Virgin Media is to the UK ISP partner for its launch.
Many may question the decision to go with Virgin Media as its reputation is variable, but it is the largest superfast broadband provider in the UK, with 64% of its four million customers on a 30 Mbps or faster service. Though for this next generation of console upstream speeds may be more critical and in areas where Virgin Media has completed its network upgrades 30 Mbps customers should have a 3 Mbps upload. This upload is slower than the fibre services sold by BT Infinity and Sky (the Fibre Medium from TalkTalk is capped at 2 Mbps), unless you are unlucky to be one of the few more than a kilometre from your street cabinet.
The content sharing for both the Xbox One and PS4 were key wow factor moments at the launches, but the reality of broadband around the world has perhaps led to the Xbox One choosing to limit clip upload size to 5 minutes of game play, and the PS4 has a 15 minute limit. If the clips are approaching HD quality and using decent codecs we can expect a bit rate of around 1 Mbps, which gives a respective file size of 37MB and 113 MB, the short table below will show how long each would take to upload on various connections. In theory the consoles themselves are powerful enough to continue game playing while uploading, but if the clip was sent at a speed that fills the upstream it would wreck any online game play.
|Times for uploading shared content on PS4 and Xbox One|
|Connections upload speed||Xbox One (5 min clip)||PS4 (15 min clip)|
|IPStream ADSL (448 Kbps)||13 minutes||37 minutes|
|ADSL2+ (~800 Kbps)||7 minutes||19 minutes|
|TalkTalk Fibre Medium (1.8 Mbps)||3 minutes||9 minutes|
|Virgin Media 30 Mbps (3 Mbps)||2 minutes||5 minutes|
|BT Infinity 1, Sky Fibre (9 Mbps)||33 seconds||99 seconds|
|Virgin Media 120 Mbps (12 Mbps)||30 seconds||74 seconds|
|BT Infinity 2, Sky Fibre Pro(18 Mbps)||17 seconds||49 seconds|
|Symmetric Gigabit (1000 Mbps)||0.3 seconds||0.9 seconds|
Precisely what the Virgin Media announcement will mean for PS4 owners is not known yet, other than Virgin Media will have some to play at the Eurogamer Expo in Earls Court connected to a Gigabit connection.
Virgin Media is now just one of many cable providers in the Liberty Global empire and this may have also helped to gain Virgin Media this partnership as Liberty Global is one of the largest cable providers outside the United States.