Updated 11th September 2019
If you’re one of the millions of Australians that regularly play video games, you’ll already know that no matter what the type of game or the platform you’re playing it on, your broadband connection can make a massive difference to how good a time you have.
What are the best Broadband Plans for Online Gaming?
In a distant past, you’d pick up the latest games on DVD or Blu-ray at a store, and the game would play directly from that disc. Sure, maybe you’d have to download the occasional patch to add new features or fix bugs, but you didn’t need to. You could quite comfortably game away without an internet connection and never be any worse off.
Of course, if you wanted to play online – whether it be a solid session of Call of Duty or hours spent exploring the virtual world of an MMO like Final Fantasy XIV – you quickly would have started to spot the limitations of your broadband connection, especially if you were on a slow ADSL service. With many console games depending on direct connections between players, the quality of your connection could become a real issue.
How Does Online Gaming Affect your Internet Needs?
We’re in a better place these days, thanks to the NBN – which, despite the occasional negative press, has generally improved broadband connections for those with access to it. It’s also enabled access to truly fast broadband download and upload speeds for the first time, opening up even more possibilities for gamers.
For example, streaming your gameplay to an audience on popular sites like Twitch and YouTube is now a very real possibility for a huge amount of people – as long as the upload speed of the connection is fast enough. The NBN gives you some real choice, as well as vastly increasing download speeds, essential in this era of gaming where the size of games is measured in tens of gigabytes, and hefty required updates are commonplace. There’s going to be a lot of data coming down and, if you press that “Share” button to stream your gameplay to the world, there’s going to be a lot of data going the other way as well.
Why is speed important for gaming?
As a gamer, you will want to pay special attention to the broadband provider you go with and the plan you choose. Depending on the NBN rollout in your area, you may have many options or just a few. However, the most important thing is simple: don’t skimp on your broadband to save money – unless you really have to. Of all the things you can do online – yes, even streaming 4K video – gaming is likely to be the thing that benefits the most from the best broadband connection you can afford. This is the case no matter whether you’re using consoles like the PS4, Xbox One and Switch, or leveraging the raw power of your desktop or laptop PC to take things a step further.
Luckily, a high-quality broadband connection that’s perfect for gaming doesn’t have to be as expensive as you’d think. Yes, you’ll have to expect to spend more than 30 bucks a month on it if you want to avoid frustration down the track but trust us – once you’ve gotten a taste of genuinely fast broadband, you won’t ever want to go back!
How to Choose the best gaming Broadband Plan?
From ensuring your network quality to deciding between Wi-Fi or ethernet, we have collated a list of the things you need to know to improve your online gaming experience. Here are a few things you should be looking at when it comes to any broadband internet plans for gaming.
This is important. Really important. The sheer size of modern video games cannot be understated, with many popular games pushing their way towards 100 GB in size (or even exceeding it – Red Dead Redemption 2 clocks in at nearly 120GB on Xbox One). If you buy your games on disc, that’ll ease some pain when first installing them, but there’s likely to be hefty updates on the way. And if you opted to buy the game on a digital storefront like the PS4 and Microsoft stores or on Steam, even the most generous-sounding data limit can be crushed within days if it’s a busy game download week, so you want a plan that gives you unlimited downloads. Fortunately, they’re increasingly common!
High Download and Upload Speed
The NBN is set up in several “speed tiers” which, as you’d expect, cost more the faster you go. If you’re going to be downloading and playing games, you want the fastest possible speed. Games take less time to download and install, updates are faster and, if you’re streaming video of your gameplay, the faster the upload speed the better your streams will look to everyone watching. A good balance of price and speed is usually the 50/20 tier (50 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up) which almost all providers offer. Depending on your NBN connection, though, you can go even faster, up to 100/40 and beyond.
It’s hard to get an idea of the quality of a provider’s network until you try it for yourself, but it can be a crucial thing for gaming, especially if you’re going to be playing with or against people from interstate and overseas. Ideally, your broadband provider of choice will also have the most direct possible connections to the data centres where many gaming servers are hosted. The more direct the connection between you and the game servers, the lower the latency – and that means the game responds tto your actions much faster.
Wi-Fi vs Ethernet
It’s a wireless world these days, and most of us make good use of Wi-Fi at home on our phones, tablets and laptops. But when it comes to gaming, it’s worth thinking about using an Ethernet connection instead.
For many people, it can seem an annoyance to have to run a cable between the modem/router and the PC or game console that you’re going to be doing multiplayer gaming on. After all, the internet works perfectly for you over Wi-Fi, right? Well, yes – but it’s when you venture into online multiplayer gaming that a wired Ethernet connection comes into its own. Ethernet is a very clever invention – it can carry data at high speed across very long cable lengths, and the cable itself is cheap as chips. What you get in return are a few advantages that are key to online gaming.
A Wi-Fi connection suffers from a sometimes substantial delay between your PC or console sending data out and the data getting to its destination. Wired connections all but eliminate that delay, and that’s vital if you’re playing games where every millisecond counts. A wired connection is also completely immune to congestion – all the wireless “noise” from other peoples’ modems and devices that your connection has to deal with can seriously slow things down.
If you have multiple game consoles or computers to hook up via Ethernet, you can pick up an inexpensive device called an Ethernet Switch – this lets you run a single cable from your modem, and plug seven or more devices in at the other end, all getting the advantage of a fast, reliable wired connection. Setup is completely automatic – you don’t need to be a networking wizard, just plug in the cables and let the switch do the heavy lifting!
One thing you may have noticed, if you’ve spent time with game consoles, is info in settings related to something called a “NAT”. Without getting into the technical nitty-gritty of it, the “type” of NAT that your console sees on your connection can have a huge impact on the pool of players you can play with, and how reliable your connection is.
There are a few things that influence the “NAT type” result – and in many cases, it’s your own modem/router that’s to blame. Game consoles will attempt to open direct connections to servers, and some modem/routers block such connections. Look for a setting on the modem named “UPnP” and if it’s off, switch it on.
Your broadband provider can sometimes help with this issue as well, so if you’re getting frustrated by that NAT type not budging from “strict”, give them a call and ask if they can help out, either with a newer modem or by changing some settings on their end.
You might be surprised to learn that most online multiplayer games use very little data at all, regardless of how complex the action is. You can be in the middle of a 30-player raid in World of Warcraft yet the data that’s sent and received is so small you could use your mobile phone as the modem and not worry about going over your limit. The reason for that is simple – all that’s being sent is a stream of raw numbers letting each end know what’s going on in the game, but all the big data – the player models, the environments, the music and sound effects – is all stored on your PC or console.
However, we’d still recommend an unlimited data plan for just about anyone who regularly buys and plays games. Regardless of whether it’s The Sims or Dark Souls, download sizes for most games and their updates are where you’re going to feel the pain. A good example of this is Fortnite Battle Royale, the hugely popular free-to-play online game that’s constantly being updated with new features and content. The game itself can take between 15GB to over 50GB to download, but then its updates can be huge as well – over 10GB in some cases. Combine that sort of data usage from your games with the data you use for streaming Netflix and other internet stuff and you can easily see why unlimited is the way to go.
What are the Top Five Broadband plans for Online Gaming?
With all this in mind, we’ve picked five major Australian broadband providers that offer fast, reliable NBN broadband bundles that are particularly good for gamers. We’ve aimed for a good balance between cost and performance, and in all cases, the plans offer unlimited downloads and uploads. Many of these bundles and plans are available without a lock-in contract, too – but going for a contract does often have its advantages and often, some nice freebies! Whether you’d prefer MyRepublic’s Gamer Pro model or Telstra’s Unlimited and trusted broadband plans, we rank the top five best broadband plans for online gaming.
MyRepublic Gamer Pro
MyRepublic offers affordable, flexible, and no-fuss plans that are suitable for every user. For gamers who want reliable and uninterrupted speed, we highly recommend the Unlimited Premium Plan, giving you unlimited data on the NBN100 speed tier for $99.95/month on a 12-month contract with a pre-configured modem included for only $1. Best of all for gamers, though, MyRepublic offers specialised plans named Gamer Pro, designed especially for gamers. This includes numerous perks and features that’ll make gaming even more brilliant — static IP address, network optimised for low latency, live latency tracking, and specialist gamer support.
Telstra Unlimited Plan
With their blazingly fast and well-connected global network and decades of experience in providing high-quality broadband to consumers, Telstra’s Unlimited plan at $90 per month hooks you up with one of the fastest networks in Australia and includes the latest Telstra Smart Modem to connect you to it. The modem features automatic 4G backup on Telstra’s fast network – so if your broadband connection has an outage, you can game on regardless! This bundle also gives you access to Telstra Air hotspots around Australia and comes with 1 month completely free of charge.
Southern Phone NBN Turbo
Equally as fast is Southern Phone’s top NBN plan, but for sheer value, the sweet spot at 50/20 (with a typical evening speed quoted at 40 Mbps) is their NBN Turbo offering, which gives you a rock-solid connection with unlimited data and no hassles for a mere $70 per month.
Belong – Premium
Belong’s NBN plans are conveniently affordable and straightforward it’s easy to notice the telco’s penchant for giving what the customers want. The telco’s highest-tier plan delivering 100/40Mbps is clearly the winner here. It’s got speed, it’s got flexibility, and it’s got value while going easy on the price. For an unlimited data plan that offers a typical evening speed of up to 80Mbps, Belong impresses budget-conscious customers setting the plan fee at $95/month with no lock-in contract. All in all, it’s great for gamers whose priority mainly lies in speed and budget.
Tangerine XXL Speed Boost
If there’s one thing that makes Tangerine unique, it’s their unlimited NBN plan configured on the premium evening speed of 100/40Mbps for under $90 per month. Originally priced at $89.90/month with no lock-in contract, customers can enjoy a $10 monthly discount for the first six months, bringing the price down to an unbeatable $79.90/month. Even without the discount, Tangerine’s NBN plans are clearly some of the cheapest in Australia, letting gamers enjoy the best speeds available sans the high costs.
Which Broadband Plan should I choose for Online Gaming?
As you can see, there’s a fairly wide range of pricing across different providers, with the general rule that 100/40 speed plans are almost always at the top of the price chain – but with 50/20 plans often surprisingly discounted. Trust us, you don’t want to be going for anything less than 50/20, especially if there’s more than one of you using the connection.
Thanks to the NBN, there’s plenty of quality providers to choose from – happy hunting!