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Choosing the best broadband package for gaming

Having the right kind of broadband package is especially important to online gamers. Many spend huge amounts of money on their computer systems and the latest graphics cards but these are next to useless if their internet connection is not up to the job.

For this reason, it’s important to do some research to find the best broadband deals available for gamers. There are five main considerations to take into account.

Download Speeds
The download speed required for gaming varies depending on the type of game being played. Most online role playing games only require an actual download speed of around 2 Mb but some first-person shooters ideally need double that.

As well as improving the gaming experience, having a good download speed also gives a more robust connection to the gaming server as well as minimising latency and ping times.

For ADSL broadband users, the actual download speed achievable is entirely dependent on geographical location and distance from the nearest telephone exchange, as well as the quality of the BT wiring between those points. The fastest download speeds available are via a fibre-optic connection, but this is not yet available everywhere in the UK.

Download Limits
As with speed, games vary in the amount of data they use during play. In addition, some will require the downloading of updates and additional play features as the game progresses. Some of the very detailed maps available for popular first-person shooters can consist of up to 1GB of data.

Download allowances do vary a good deal between broadband providers. Even those who offer packages with ‘unlimited downloads’ sometimes operate a fair-usage policy so it is important to read their terms and conditions carefully.

Contention Ratio
Each ADSL user will have a contention ratio applied to their connection. The usual ratio for the average home ADSL broadband connection is 50:1. Theoretically, this means that 50 people could be using that connection at any one time and that only 1/50th of the bandwidth could be available, which is not a good scenario for gamers.

In reality, this hardly ever happens but it should still be a consideration when choosing a provider as some do offer contention ratios much lower than 50:1, which reduces the possibility of a poor connection at peak usage times during the day.

It is no good having a super-fast connection if it is not reliable. A drop-out at a critical moment in a game is not just annoying because if it is a persistent problem it can also mean being excluded from the game server for being too slow.

Most modern PCs and gaming consoles have wireless connectivity but a wireless network is less reliable than one which uses an Ethernet cable. Most serious gamers invest in the best quality Ethernet cable available as this offers the smoothest and least interruptive gaming experience.

In Summary
Serious gamers need to take their choice of broadband package very seriously if all of their needs and wants are to be fulfilled. The many options and packages on offer should, therefore, be investigated very carefully.

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