Whether you’re playing massive multiplayer online games on your PC or downloading gaming content to your console, you’re going to need a good internet connection. But how do you know a good Internet Service Provider (ISP) for gaming when you see one? We’ll go over the key characteristics you should look for when choosing your broadband provider, with specific considerations for gamers.
ADSL vs. Fibre
When choosing your broadband for gaming, you have two options: fibre or copper. ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) uses copper phone lines to deliver internet connection. Most areas in the UK have ADSL internet connections available, usually for a moderate price. But ADSL is much slower than fibre, and the copper wires are prone to damage.
Fibre broadband comes as either FTTH (Fibre to the Home) or FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet). FTTH sends fibre optic wires directly to your home, FTTC includes fibre and copper cables. Fibre has faster upload and download speeds than ADSL and will almost always be a better choice for gamers. The only limitation to fibre is that it might not be available in your area.
When choosing your broadband for gaming, one of the first things you should look into is location. Ask your neighbours which ISP they use and if they’re happy with it. Check which companies provide service to your area, as that could help you limit your choices.
Factors to Consider
In addition to location, you have seven other factors to consider when picking out a broadband service for gaming. Nobody wants slow, unreliable internet. But gamers who spend a great deal of time online or who stream their gaming sessions have particular considerations when it comes to internet service.
Speed – Contrary to popular belief, speed isn’t the most important factor when choosing internet service for gaming. Speed determines how quickly your content will be delivered and can be impacted if more than one person is on the network at one time. For streaming online games on your PC or downloading games to your console, you should go for at least 50Mbps.
Download Limits – When shopping for ISPs, check their policies on download limits. Some companies will only allow so much data per month and throttle your connection if you reach your limit. Others will start charging you per MB. Your internet won’t shut off, but it could make for a slow connection or a large bill at the end of the month.
Latency and Ping – Latency is the delay between the input of data (like clicking your mouse) and when the data arrives at the server. Ping is how latency is measured, in milliseconds. Gamers want a low ping rate, resulting in low latency – under 20ms is preferable. Lower ping and latency mean less lag and smoother gameplay which, for some games, is the difference between winning and losing.
Dropping Packets – Packet loss happens when data is sent across a network and some packets of data drop along the way. When you’re gaming, the data doesn’t transfer as smoothly, and the result is a jittery effect. Some providers deal better with packet loss than others.
Traffic Management – Most ISPs will manage internet connections during peak hours of the day, ensuring everyone has similar speeds. If you’re only able to game during peak hours, you might have a slightly slower connection so that your neighbour streaming a film can have more or less the same level of service as you. Check if your ISP has a top-range package that exempts you from traffic management. Vision Fibre Media does not throttle its service.
Downtime – Downtimes are unavoidable, but a company’s customer service response to downtime can be a determining factor. Get an idea of your ISP’s business reputation by reading online reviews, asking neighbours, or checking the annual report from Ofcom.
Contention Ratio – Contention ratio is the number of people using the same broadband connection at the same time. The more people connected to the same cabinet, the slower the connection. For gaming, you want a broadband provider that isn’t already servicing a bunch of people in your area. Vision Fibre Media builds bespoke networks for individual areas so avoids this issue.
Choose the Best Internet for Gaming
Whether a professional or casual gamer, you want broadband service you can rely on. By going through this quick checklist as you search for your ISP, you can be sure you’ll find the best one for you. At Vision Media Fibre, we offer full-fibre internet with symmetrical upload and download speeds. Our fibre-optic broadband is perfectly suited for gamers, and our reliable customer service means you spend less time fretting over your connection and more time doing what you love.