Gamers are far choosier that most about the type of broadband service they receive in their home and for good reason. Being a gamer means that you will want to have fast web access at all times, whether you are involved in a multiplayer match-up with friends or you want to stream the latest gameplay clips and trailers from YouTube.
It can be tough to work out which broadband option will be the best for a gamer, but with these top-five tips you should be able to find the most appropriate broadband package to support your favourite pastime.
The key concern for any gamer will be the speed with which they can get online. This will dictate how fast you can download patches and updates and how quickly you can find matches to join in multiplayer scenarios.
While standard ADSL broadband connections which use a fixed landline telephone connection are affordable and common, most gamers will want to opt for a fibre-optic service if it is available in their area. Fibre-optic download and upload speeds can exceed 100Mbps on the best packages, which should give you an excellent gaming experience.
Latency and Connection Ratio
The quality of a broadband connection is not determined simply by its theoretical download and upload speeds. Gamers also need to find out what kind of latency they can expect when playing online and whether the connection ratio at their local exchange is high or low, depending on each provider.
Latency dictates the speed with which information is sent to and from the server that is hosting an online game and your PC. A lower latency means your ability to respond to real-time events, such as confronting an enemy around a corner and squeezing off a few rounds from your weapon, will be improved. This could give you the edge in important matches and will generally reduce the chances of lag spoiling your evening.
The connection ratio indicates the number of users who will be sharing the bandwidth allocated to your provider locally. Fewer users sharing it is better for gamers, particularly during peak periods when traffic can otherwise adversely affect connection speed and consistency.
As a rule, it is sensible to invest in a broadband service which has no monthly download limit if you are a gamer. Things such as playing online, downloading large files and streaming HD trailers can quickly eat into any set allowance. Eliminating these restrictions will enhance your ability to enjoy your broadband connection.
It is sensible to check if there is a fair-use policy in place with your provider of choice, because often a so-called unlimited service will have certain conditions which affect just how much data you can actually download. More specifically, the provider might segment the day and indicate that you can use your service without limits during certain periods and not during others. Careful consideration of any such policy is vital.
This is related to the download limit debate, because many providers will actively clamp down on broadband speeds for all users from around 6pm-12am so that there is a more consistent, albeit slower, level of service for everyone.
However, you can find a growing number of providers who will promise to never throttle your connection speed, regardless of the time of day. These deals should be sought by gamers who want improved freedom to use the internet as they see fit.
The final thing which gamers should think about when choosing a broadband package is the type of equipment which is offered free by the provider. It is almost impossible to find a deal which does not come with a free wireless router today, which is good news if you have a Wi-Fi ready games console and you want to avoid trailing wires all over the floor of your living room.
The best tool available to gamers is online broadband price comparison, which will let you see the specific details of each offer side by side so you can make an informed decision.
About the Author: Written by Rachael from the MoneySupermarket.com Broadband team.