H2 Debut Quadruples Live TrafficThe much-hyped and long-expected broadband gaming boom, where hordes of players from around the globe do battle online, may finally be underway thanks to the popularity of the Halo 2 live-play video game. According to an analysis conducted in November by broadband traffic measurement firm Sandvine, Microsoft Xbox Live traffic on ISP networks quadrupled after the 9 November launch of Halo 2, a trend that continues to this day. Sandvines report claims that this jump in online gaming traffic raises quality of service concerns for ISPs eager to keep hold of gamers, who are among the internets most avid and demanding users. It noted that online games including Halo 2 require low latency from the ISPs that host them. In order to avoid network disruptions or jitters that degrade the pace and flow of virtual competition, network managers must be capable of identifying game traffic and setting quality of service policies that protect it from interference, the analysis stated. "The explosion in Xbox Live traffic attributed to Halo 2 should be seen as a clarion call," said Marc Morin, co-founder and chief technology officer at Sandvine. "ISPs need to enhance the broadband experience for these high-end users by prioritising or reserving bandwidth for games and other kinds of latency-sensitive and feature-rich applications." Lindsay Schroth, senior analyst for broadband access technologies at Yankee Group, added: "In the competitive broadband environment, operators need to differentiate the way they offer access to services like live-play gaming. "We expect ISPs to look increasingly to intelligent bandwidth management products as a means of analysing and distinguishing applications on a per-subscriber basis, creating a way to prioritise or even guarantee their performance."