Google thinks ISPs will keep up with data demands of services like Stadia


TechSpot Staff
Staff member

In an interview with GameSpot, Google's vice president and general manager, Phil Harrison, addressed challenges that Stadia is likely to face, particularly data caps which he terms are "not a universal challenge." Given the streaming services' big appetite for data in the current scheme of things, users are understandably worried about how their wallets might fare after already agreeing to pay full price for games on top of their subscription.

Google says that the answer to the data cap problem lies with ISPs who "have a strong history of staying ahead of consumer trend and if you look at the history of data caps in those small number of markets--and it’s actually a relatively small number of markets that have [data caps]--the trend over time, when music streaming and download became popular, especially in the early days when it was not necessarily legitimate, data caps moved up. Then with the evolution of TV and film streaming, data caps moved up, and we expect that will continue to be the case."

Phil also notes that ISPs are "smart" and understand that they're in the business of keeping customers happy, and for a long time. Even though ground realities are far from ideal for most people, given the lack of ISP choice and consequential data plans that they must agree to, Google is optimistic that streaming game services like Stadia would be enough to turn the tide.

5G may also be a solution to this problem according to Phil. "There’s a very interesting additional dynamic happening in the internet market, which is the evolution of 5G, particularly in what’s called fixed wireless, which is not necessarily running 5G on your phone but as a way of bringing 5G into your home. All of the 5G fixed wireless businesses that are up now that I’m aware of have no data caps and are very very high performance, so that’s introducing a competitive dynamic. $50 a month. That’s what Verizon fixed wireless costs is for minimum 300mb/s and up to a gigabit. It’s pretty good value to me."

He also spoke about the incorrectness of calculations done to illustrate data usage in game streaming scenarios. "I’ve seen the math calculations that people have done. If you take 35mb/s, it’s not always 35mb/s because we use compression. There will be sometimes when actually it’s using significantly less data than that, so it’s not correct to multiply 35 mbp/s by the number of seconds that you play." says Phil, though he does acknowledge that Stadia is ultimately going to be a demanding service.

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TS Rookie
Fixed wireless is not exclusively a thing on 5G -- its been there since 3G AND 4G WiMax and is still there for 4G LTE.

And ISPs will keep up all right, by charging me more and throttling users more! No thanks. If I'll be paying for the full game and eventually spend more on data than if I bought a gaming rig that can do much more, then I'll go for the latter.

Toju Mikie

TS Addict
I am glad that I don't have data caps. There are some months that I've used almost 2TB. Companies like Comcast won't easily budge due to something like this, unfortunately. They prioritize trying to cash in on internet-only users, rather than providing them a better experience. With data usage and streaming on the rise, this problem will only get worse.


TS Evangelist
Unbelievable. Google is talking about how ISPs have increased data caps to adapt to the market. Less than 10 years ago there WERE no data caps in most areas. Now you get to pay a premium for unlimited service in the places where its actually been re-introduced. This is the one of the saddest sales pitches ever and Stadia makes less sense the more we hear about it.


TS Evangelist
With up to 16GB per hour sucked up from game-streaming, I can quite easily see ISP's responding to that with "Premium Cloud Gamer" packages that charge more, whilst quietly degrading the latency stability on normal packages (that won't be noticed by downloads, normal web browsing or buffered video streaming). That + the inevitable market fragmentation = we'll finally see the real post marketing hype "TCO" cost of 'cloud gaming'.


TS Maniac
What kind of latency do you get at 4k when playing a competitive online shooter. Latency and desync issues are still prevalent as is. And what happens where this isn't an available server near your location? How do online games work when connecting to a game lobby, do you connect to the game stream, then connect to a match from there? so many questions...