If you’re one of the millions of Australians that regularly plays 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.
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.
A Faster Internet
We’re in a better place these days, thanks to the NBN – which, despite 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 video gamers and those who participate in eSports.
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 when it comes to that, 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.
Gaming and eSports
As a gamer, then, you will want to pay special attention to the broadband provider you go with and the plan you choose. Depending on the NBN technology in your area, you may have many options or just a few, but 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, no matter whether you’re using consoles like the PS4, Xbox 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 or eSports 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 properly fast broadband, you won’t ever want to go back!
There are a few things you should be looking at when it comes to broadband internet plans for gaming:
This is important. Really important. The sheer data size of modern video games cannot be understated, with many popular games pushing their way towards 100 GB in size (or even exceeding it). If you buy your games on disc, that’ll ease some pain when first installing them, but there’s likely to be frequent 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, you’re going to be downloading the entire thing. 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.
Seven of the Best
With all this in mind, we’ve picked seven major Australian broadband providers that offer fast, reliable NBN broadband plans 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!
Aussie Broadband – Power User
A firm favourite with tech-savvy internet users as well as gamers, Aussie Broadband is that rarest of things – a 100% Australian company that’s entirely based here. Their network is of a remarkably high quality and their support team is on the ball when it comes to fixing any issues, and they offer some technical advantages for gamers most providers don’t (such as IPv6 connectivity, very desirable for Xbox One users).
Aussie’s Power User bundle lives up to its name by giving gamers raw download and upload speed – 100/40 with a typical evening speed of a whopping 90 Mbps – no peak slowdown here! With unlimited data and a high quality Netcomm modem/router included on a 24-month contract, it’s $99 per month. If you don’t feel you need that much speed, you can go for the 50/20 play for $79 – but if you can get the faster speed at your place, we reckon it’s worth the extra five bucks a week!
Southern Phone NBN Turbo
Similarly 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 46 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.
Telstra Unlimited Bundle
With their blazingly fast and well-connected global network and decades of experience in providing high quality broadband to consumers, Telstra’s Unlimited bundle at $89 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 continue video gaming regardless! This internet bundle also throws in a Google Home Mini for you to talk to, and gives you access to Telstra Air hotspots around Australia.
Belong Standard Plus Plan
Powered by Telstra’s network, Belong likes to keep things nice and simple – and this bundle lives up to that with nothing hidden in the small print. You get an NBN connection at 50/20 Mbps, a quality Wi-Fi modem and even $80 of mobile credit, all for just $65 per month on a 12-month contract. For those that want raw speed, you can opt for the Premium plan which bumps things up to 100/40 for $90, but we think Standard Plus is the sweet spot for most people at this price.
Leveraging the powerful Vocus network and renowned for the quality of their broadband service (as well as fast access to all the key local game servers and data centres), iPrimus will give you 50/20 Mbps unlimited NBN broadband along with a home phone line with unlimited local and national calls, a quality modem and the first month free – all for $80 per month.
Internode NBN Platinum
The provider that’s been looking after gamers longer than just about anyone, Internode offers a $99.99 premium-speed service at 100/40 Mbps with unlimited everything – and the option of including a Fetch TV Mighty box for an extra $10 per month, great for taking a break between gaming sessions.
Unique in the industry, MyRepublic offers a separate tier of service for gamers, with their GamerPro internet plans promising special custom routing for video games to deliver the best possible performance, a static IP address (extremely desirable for those looking to move into serious streaming and content creation) and a wi-fi hub. With unlimited data and unlimited phone calls, these bundles are priced at $79.99 and $94.99 for 50/20 and 100/40 respectively.
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!