A post to the official forums
by the indefatigable Mikael Kalms at DICE offers a "first look" at some of the key details of the Battlefield 3 Ranked Server system. As with previous Battlefield titles, they'll be using a "Ranked Server Provider" process, meaning a pool of companies and organisations dedicated to running servers will be able to do so if they're approved by DICE and EA.
There are no huge surprises in the rest of the announcement, although one change from previous Battlefield titles is that there will be no
publicly released unranked server software - meaning some poor lonely countries without a big game service provider on hand might be playing outside of their borders:
Since we prefer to work with larger hosting companies, and we focus on countries where we have a larger player base, there will not be game servers available in every country on the planet.
They also reveal that - from their perspective - the balance has shifted and they expect the majority of servers to actually be managed and paid for by gamers who are renting the servers from GSPs:
While the RSPs run the physical machines, most if not all will be paid for and administered by the players themselves – individuals, groups of friends, or clans.
This has historically not been the case in Australia, where the high cost of hosting has meant server rental prices are often a little bit on the high side, and the bulk of the server hosting has been handled by ISPs/GPSs like GameArena and Internode.
PunkBuster support has been confirmed, which is good news, and there's a few other interesting tidbits. Unfortunately there are no answers for some of the more pro/competitive features like spectator mode and Battlerecorder - which to me, bodes poorly for the game as a truly viable option for e-sports - but hopefully we'll see more information about this soon.