If you’re a gamer, chances are that online play is a big part of your regimen, and nothing is more critical to a good online experience than your internet connection. Choosing a reliable internet service provider (ISP) can be the difference between having a blast with your friends online and playing the solo campaign. For anyone who’s just moved and is looking to establish new service, or for anyone who is just reevaluating their options, there are a few factors to consider in setting up your internet connection. And don’t worry; you don’t need to be a broadband expert to figure it all out.
The most important factor by far in choosing an ISP should be speed. The problem in choosing a fast provider, though, is that all of them seem to market on how fast their service is. Worse yet, the claims made by ISPs about their connection speeds tend to be grossly overstated. Speak with the company prior to establishing service and try to find out what real-life speeds you can expect to have with their connection. If possible, demo the service at a neighbor’s, or at least ask around.
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Since you’re going to be using the connection for gaming, find out what the upstream speeds are like as well. Upstream speeds dictate how fast your connection can send data to other players during matches. This can be critical, because a limited upstream speed will cause actions that are time-sensitive – for example, firing bullets at an enemy – to occur out of sync with what you’re seeing on your screen.
Uptime commitment is another major factor to consider. Depending on your perspective, it may actually be more important than speed. After all, what good is a service that offers 20Mbps if the service is only up and running 10% of the time? A solid ISP will offer fast speeds and combine that with a high uptime to make for the most hassle-free experience.
At the same time, you should also find out how the customer service and technical support is rated for the provider you’re considering. Some companies have horrible reputations for tech support, and having a field technician sent to your place can take days or even weeks. For gaming purposes, there’s nothing more agonizing than having your connection go out and then find out it’s going to be two weeks before anything can be done about it. If you research an ISP and find that their tech support is lacking, that’s a good sign that you should consider another provider.
Pricing is the final element to consider in choosing an ISP. After you’ve weighed all of the previous factors, it’s time to take a look at their pricing and decide what the best deal is. This part is purely up to you. You’ll have to consider whether a slightly faster service is worth an extra $5 a month or not. Be wary of introductory pricing. A number of companies sell you on one price, and then lift it to a much higher rate just a year or several months later.
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Once you’ve established service with an ISP, the biggest decision to make is whether you’ll use a wired or wireless connection. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. For a wired connection, you have a more reliable link between your gaming console or PC and the internet source. This will result in fewer drops in the signal, such as router errors or interference. However, the obvious drawback of a wired connection is that it isn’t mobile. If you’re a PC gamer and you like to play games in more than one area of your house, then a wireless connection will be more suited for you.
Finding the right ISP and setting up your connection properly can be a time-consuming process, but you don’t need to be a broadband expert to figure it all out. Once it’s set up, though, you’ll find that the hassle was worth it. Online gaming is better and faster than ever in 2012, and it’s a joy worth putting in some effort to arrive at.
This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Broadband Expert where you can find internet service providers in your area and compare prices on different deals for your mobile broadband needs.
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