The Best Internet for Gaming
by Chris Henderson
While Microsoft recently rolled back its decision to require an Internet connection for their next console, the Xbox One, that doesn’t mean you won’t miss out on some cool features if your box isn’t connected. Same goes for the Playstation 4, or a top-of-the-line gaming PC.
If you’re going to stay connected and play online, you might as well do it right. When looking for the best Internet for gaming you need to consider two factors: consistency and speed.
Sure, speed is important (we’ll get to that in a second), but speed won’t mean much if your connection is inconsistent. Nothing is more frustrating than wondering what your connection will be like match-to-match. So who has the most consistent Internet?
According to a 2013 study by the FCC, fiber Internet delivers the most consistent speeds–over cable, DSL and other services. See, look at this super boring chart:
Now that’s consistent! (Also, if you have Cablevision…I’m sorry)
If fiber Internet is available in your area, you should get it. Now for the bad news: fiber isn’t as widely available as other services, not even close. Verizon Internet service is available in about 15 million homes. True, tens of millions is a lot, but compared to other technologies, it’s not great (yet). Other than Big Red and Google, you’ll find a few local providers offering fiber Internet in and around large cities, or totally random medium-sized cities.
While you’re waiting for fiber to come to your area, you can always go with cable Internet if it’s available. The higher (read: more expensive) tiers will likely deliver more consistency. According to the super boring FCC chart above, Comcast delivers some decent consistency compared to other cable providers. Unfortunately, as it goes with most cable providers, you’ll likely only have one option in your area.
So what does high consistency do for you as a gamer? Think lower latency, less lag and faster connections. Ever played a shooter and one of the players were bouncing around, magically dodging bullets? That’s because of a laggy inconsistent connection. It’s super annoying.
After about 15 or 20 Mbps, your speed while in a game won’t matter too much (as long as it’s consistent). That means you can go with high-speed DSL or cable Internet and get by. Of course, once again, if you can get fiber, you should.
Speed really becomes a factor when it comes to downloading games and streaming media–two things the upcoming consoles from Microsoft and Sony seem to be promoting. For example, with your average fiber speed, you can download a 5GB game in about 15 minutes. No more setting a game to download in the morning so it will be ready to play that evening. A higher speed will also give you clearer media streaming on services like Netflix, with less buffering and compression.
So, yes, fiber is really as good as you’ve heard. The FCC confirmed it. If you’re serious about online gaming, and you live in a place where a fiber service is available (you lucky dog you), then you should get it. Otherwise, cable Internet or the highest of high-speed DSL will work too.