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If you’re an online gamer, you may well relate to the following scenario: You’re spending some time in the loopy world of Plants vs. Zombies protecting your team and turf from zombie hordes. You’re playing as a Peashooter, and you’ve got a pesky Conehead Zombie in your sites. Just before you press the controller’s fire button, the game glitches and jumps past your moment for the kill. The next thing you know, your Peashooter’s been terminated by another player, and you’re forced to respawn. It’s an infuriating, unofficial twist in the flow of a game that can leave players pounding their fists in frustration.

The Problem May Not Be Bandwidth

At first glance, it might seem obvious that such glitches are caused by an inadequate connection speed. However, this might not be the case. More often, problems like the one described are caused by insufficient latency.

What is Latency?

Many ISPs don’t put much effort into marketing the average latency speeds of their plans, making the concept unfamiliar to many. Latency is the amount of time required for a single “packet” of data to travel from one computer to another. Also known as “ping rate,” latency is measured in milliseconds, and the lower the number, the better.

In regard to online gaming, data packets travel back and forth between player computers and the online servers hosting the game. The longer it takes the packets to travel between sender and receiver, the more likely data is to degrade and be lost. This is what happens when insufficient latency causes online gameplay to bog down.

What’s a Good Latency Number for Gaming?

We’re by no means suggesting that bandwidth doesn’t matter—of course it does. For online gaming, a single connection should have a minimum of 3 Mbps of available bandwidth per player coupled with a minimum latency of 150 ms. These bare minimums should allow for a decent online gaming experience. Keep in mind, though, that each extra device using the network while you play also uses bandwidth, leaving less for gaming.

Latency Isn’t Created Equal Across All Technologies

Latency numbers tend to be inconsistent for most internet delivery technologies. This means that a latency of 15 ms (a very good number) during one time of day may slow to a latency of 175 ms when traffic across the network is high. Additionally, different internet delivery technologies are better than others for latency. Satellite internet connections, for example, are notorious for unsatisfactory latencies, while copper-based systems can be greatly impacted by overall network usage.

Never Miss a Gaming Beat with GVEC Fiber

When it comes to latency, no internet technology beats fiber-optics, and GVEC Fiber uses 100% fiber technology along every mile of our network, including right into your home. With Fiber, data travels at the speed of light, delivering bandwidth of up to 1 Gbps, and latencies good enough for the most demanding games and gamers. No matter how many gamers live in your home, Fiber will keep everybody playing along without missing a beat. Find out if Fiber’s available in your neighborhood or sign up by calling 800.699.4832. You can also visit our Signup page or our Internet Availability page.

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