Chances are that if you’re playing games these days, you’ll need a decent internet connection. This is true even if you are not engaged in multi-player events – as most modern gaming platforms now support direct downloads.
Then you’re going to need broadband
Here’s why broadband is a must-have for modern gaming:
You like to download games directly. You don’t even have to leave the house. Just press the button and the download begins.
For this, you might need a lot of data. Modern games can be massive! For example, the Mass Effect Andromeda install files are 55GB on Windows PC, 42.9GB on PS4, and 42.19 on Xbox One – and that’s not including the day one patch. If you have 200GB a month, that’s around 1/4 of your quota gone for just one game. You will also want decent download speed – no one wants to wait ages for their game to arrive. You may as well line up and wait outside the store! But latency doesn’t matter too much. So basic ADSL is okay!
You’re fine with having physical copies of your games. But you want to play with or against others online. For this you need not just a reliable connection – you need great latency (a tech term for responsiveness). And preferably, you need a plan with decent data. Because – depending on the games you play and the platforms you play on – this can be as much as 100MB per hour. If you play for five hours, that’s 0.5GB right there. So you also want to check out the terms and conditions around bandwidth shaping or excess data charges.
So what do you need from your broadband plan?
Important mainly for downloads but also for online games, the speed is the rate at which data comes down from the internet to your gaming platform.
Latency is the speed at which your gaming platform can communicate with the server. Think of it as the time it takes between asking a question and receiving a response. Unfortunately, a lot of factors involved in latency are beyond your control. These include the physical distance from your modem to the local exchange, and how your internet service provider routes traffic globally. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking at getting ADSL2+, you need to be within five kilometres of an exchange to enjoy the benefits. So it’s always a good idea to check how far away you are from your chosen provider’s exchange before you sign up.
No matter if you’re downloading games or enjoying an online session, you want to know that your connection isn’t going to seize up halfway through. It’s more important for the gaming part, but waiting for downloads to arrive can be frustrating when the connection keeps dropping out.
Your broadband deal should include enough data to safely download and play the games you want. Going over can result in shaping, where the provider reduces available bandwidth to 256 KB/s or less. They can also charge excess fees (which just suck regardless) or may offer special ‘“top-up packs” to increase your data allowance.
Of course, you don’t want your broadband plan to eat into your discretionary spending. So it helps if you can pick a plan that meets your needs and matches your budget.
ADSL in all its flavours works reasonably well. But it’s based on copper wire technology designed for carrying voice calls.
Cable is fast, but the coaxial cables present a physical limit on how much upload data can flow.
The NBN features fibre technology, and is designed to handle increasing traffic volumes in the future.
Depending on availability in your area, the preference for gaming purposes goes like this:
1) NBN 2) cable 3) ADSL
So for the purposes of this review, we’ll be looking at NBN deals, with a mix of ADSL and cable for good measure. And we’re not even gonna pretend that dial up exists.
The Top Five Broadband Deals For Gamers
We’re working on the assumption that you are already happy with your phone and tv options, and are only including bundles if they make sense for gaming purposes.
#5 Unlimited data from iPrimus
The iPrimus unlimited data plan comes with a “Supercharged” speed tier. This means it’s recommended for families and households with multiple devices, uploading and downloading large files, working from home and live gaming.
#4 Telstra Entertainment Bundle (Unlimited data for $99/month)
Telstra has been a mainstay of Australia’s Internet services since the days of dial-up. They make the list because of their extensive coverage, and the ability to upgrade from an ADSL connection to an NBN plan with no difference in the monthly rate. You also get the Telstra TV box thrown in free of charge for those times between gaming sessions when you want to chill out with some Netflix or the two years of free Foxtel Now they throw in.
#3 Unlimited data from Belong
Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to Belong Broadband plans. For gamers who almost never want to take a break, you can get a hold of Belong’s unlimited NBN data from $60/month. It already comes with a free wi-fi and doesn’t have any setup or activation fees whatsoever.
#2 #soulmates Plan from MATE
Unlimited data at the best speed available on the NBN? Yes, please! There are also no contracts or setup fees. If you’re unhappy with the service, you can simply ditch it and try something else. After a month of MATE, however, it’s unlikely you’ll want to look elsewhere.
#1 Barefoot Broadband NBN 100Mbps (Unlimited data for $89/month)
Why does a relative newcomer get the top spot here? Let’s take a look. 100/40 speeds on the NBN. Yep. Professional outlook with dedicated staff? Check. Unlimited data? Yes. Month-to-month contracts with no penalties? Check. Connection fee? Nope. do you have to buy a router? Nope – but they give you the option. It’s no-nonsense approach to giving you good Internet – that’s what puts Barefoot broadband above the rest.
It’s a close call. But in the end, Barefoot wins out because of their no-nonsense attitude towards serious internet. While their focus isn’t solely on delivering a great gaming experience (which is why Internode is here), their fuss-free, month-to-month offer and lack of connection fees make them a clear choice over Internode’s ADSL bundle. Note: you can always use the NBN rollout checker to see if the NBN is available in your location.
Please keep in mind that each of these deals also includes specific fees and charges for service set-up, installation and early cancellation. Not to mention the cost of modems and routers – if you choose to add them.