As technology increases, the options for choosing an ISP grow year by year. Dial-Up used to be the main choice, but now customers can select from Cable, Satellite, DSL and fiber optics, offered from a variety of companies.
While most people shopping for an ISP will consider a variety of factors like customer service, cost and availability, online gamers are primarily concerned with speed and downtime; the two critical factors for a good gaming experience whether you're using Xbox Wii, or PlayStation. Let’s take a look at the different choices to see which ISP is the best for online gaming.
The single most important element for a good gaming experience is download speed. Upload speed only matters when you are hosting a game. This means you don’t want to stream Netflix, Hulu or other data heavy programs while playing, or share the connection with anyone else that might interfere by sucking up bandwidth.
As any experienced player knows, the major frustration in an online game is lag. Every experience gamer has played someone with a bad connection and heard cries of “LAG!” or witnessed a competitor continually walking into a wall, because the frame rate has slowed or stalled. Most games will show your connection status to let you know how good the connection to the server is.
Since speed is the biggest factor, you can rule out Dial-Up providers. As the slowest connection around, you won’t be able to do any serious gaming.
The next option is DSL, but it’s only good if you are physically close to the provider and have purchased a decent package. The signal for DSL is sent through the copper phone line, and quality decreases over distance. So if you happen to be too far from the signal’s source, you could experience intermittent dropouts.
Next up is Cable, which is faster than DSL. Unfortunately, the signal is generally shared with other people in your area, which means the speed can decrease or be throttled by the provider during peak use. Overall though, Cable is the second best option because it provides better speed than DSL or Dial-Up.
The best solution is a fiber optics connection, and the current frontrunner for optical network technology is Verizon FiOS. This network consistently wins PC Magazine‘s Readers’ Choice Awards, speed tests among ISPs and is always reliable. FiOS can get up to 20 Mbps in download speed and 5 Mbps in upload speed.
To see how fast your current ISP is, you can test it at websites like this one. Cox and Comcast are also a good choice for Cable if a fiber optics connection is not available in your area, as they can reach fast download speeds.