Whether your games machine of choice is the Xbox 360 in your living room or the high-end PC in your home office, you need a fast broadband connection to bring the world of multiplayer gaming to life. First-person shooters such as the Call of Duty franchise and sports games such as the annual FIFA releases require a quick connection in order to give you the edge over your opponents.
Without adequate broadband you could find your scores slipping and your overall experience suffering as a result. To help you navigate the minefield of the modern broadband market and get the gaming-friendly service you need, here are some tips…
Broadband Type and Connection Speed
Gamers can pick between ADSL broadband, supplied over a copper landline connection, or fibre-optic broadband, which arrives via underground cabling.
ADSL is affordable and widely available, although the advertised maximum download speeds are often misleading as real-world performance will be dependent on the location of your home in relation to the local telephone exchange. You can find ADSL connections with download speeds of up to 24Mbps, which is important if you want to purchase and download games via digital distributions services.
Fibre-optic broadband is faster, more consistent and unfortunately available in fewer areas than ADSL. But from a gamer’s point of view it should really be the broadband service of choice if you live within a cabled location. The fibre-optic broadband speeds which are available depend on how much you are willing to spend, but you can get in excess of 100Mbps download speeds with certain packages.
Providers believe that this can eventually be pushed to 1Gbps, making a fibre-optic broadband service the most future-proof option for gamers.
A third and less common broadband option for gamers is FTTC (fibre to the cabinet), which involves a combination of fibre-optic and copper landline technology. Maximum speeds of 80Mbps can be achieved, making it a good choice if you cannot yet get full FTTP (fibre to the premises) in your region.
Gamers need to look not only at the speed of the connection, but also at the latency levels which it provides. Latency dictates the time it takes for information to be sent from a server to which you are connected back to your PC and will have a major impact on your online gaming experience.
Poor latency will result in lag and could cost you kills and points in your favorite games, so check up on the reputation of particular providers and connections before you commit. Latency will also be affected by other factors, such as the equipment you are using at home, so make sure you game over a wired Ethernet connection where possible, as WI-Fi networks introduce added issues.
A typical broadband connection may come with a number of limiting factors, including things such as a monthly download cap. Gamers will really want to seek out broadband bundles which have no download limit because they will generally be carrying out more data-intensive tasks over their connection than the average user.
Downloading a modern game will usually require that you use 10 to 20 gigabytes of data or more, which means you could end up reaching your limit on a capped connection quite quickly. Unlimited services will have caveats, though, such as requiring that you do not go overboard with downloads during peak periods. However, the fair-use policies outlined by providers should help you make the most out of a gaming broadband service, so reading the small print is essential.
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