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Game developers speak with FCC about bandwidth concerns


Last month, a group of online game developers (from companies like Turbine and Vivox, and even a board candidate for the Independent Game Developers Association) met with the FCC to argue for Internet neutrality, and against Internet Service Providers offering premium access and bandwidth to paying game publishers (here's the PDF of the meeting notes). The argument here, brought up again by a think tank called Digital Society, is about differentiating certain network connections from others -- if you allow ISPs to charge for accounts with better quality of service (QoS), then it's possible, argue these game developers, that companies or customers who don't pay will end up suffering from lag and other game-breaking problems.

It's a tough issue. As the game devs told the FCC, bandwidth is already tough to program around (especially in games like FPSes where nanoseconds count), and with the advent of bandwidth-intensive services like OnLive and "peering" rather than dedicated servers, these developers argue that ISPs charging companies for QoS would edge out entrepreneurs and actually discourage innovation in gaming. ISPs answer that a premium service doesn't mean the non-premium service is bad, just that they want to offer premium products to customers (and of course rake in the ensuing fees). Unfortunately, it's going to take more than just an FCC workshop to solve this ongoing concern.

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