When is a console a home entertainment gateway?

Posted: 10.07.03

In the future, all game console may be a gateway. Sony is adding to the confusion already stirred up by Microsoft with the hard drive equipped/Internet connected X-Box. Sony is introducing broadband network service for the PlayStation2 called PlayStation BB service and it will become available in April. The option is not for the faint of heart, would be users will have to sign up with ADSL or CATV Internet providers affiliated with Sony and they’ll have to rent buy the Broadband Navigator, a special adapter for the Playstation from the ISP. The Broadband Navigator is equipped with a LAN interface and 40 Gbytes of HDD allowing users to download games and also music, videos, e-mail, instant messaging, etc. Sony President Ken Kutaragi said the pricing model for Playstation BB has been inspired by the i-mode which let’s content providers develop the fee-charging system. The fee for content can be less than a dollar in some cases.

The cost of a brand new PlayStation2 and the Broadband Navigator is about 50,000 yet or around $379. There will also be a monthly fee and a fee for some content. The ISP will collect 20% from the fee that users pay. The affiliated ISPs for PS BB include NTT Communications Corp. (OCN), NEC Corp. (Biglobe), Nifty Corp. (@nifty), Yahoo Japan Corp. (Yahoo BB), Plala Networks Inc. (Plala), NTT Broadband Initiative Inc. (Broba), and others. The CATV partner is Aii Communications. Sony says they cover about 70% of the broadband users in Japan with those ISPs.

Sony says they will also offer optional services with the Broadband Navigator that lets users use it as a HDD recorder or home server.