So for the best experience gamers need a low latency ping time, which most good quality land-line broadband ISPs deliver variably at anything from 20 to 60ms (milliseconds). However many games will still work fine with up to 90ms and some slower titles, such as World of Warcraft (WoW), can get by with an even higher value. To help illustrate all this we ran a Traceroute from our land-line ISP to this website:Article Index:
The output clearly shows that our request to view the ISPreview.co.uk site had to HOP through 13 different servers before it was acknowledged. Overall this appeared to be a relatively quick process, although server no.8 stuck out as being the slowest to respond, taking 97ms to reply.
Compare that with what happens when you retry the same Traceroute from Vodafone’s Mobile Broadband connection, both via their slower 3G (on the left) and the faster 3.5G HSPA (on the right) links:
It’s instantly possible to see that the older 3G UMTS based side of Vodafone’s network (rough average of 300ms+) is a heck of a lot slower than the faster and more modern HSPA side (rough average of 120ms). This is not unique to Vodafone and has more to do with the different mobile standards at work.
Latency would also spike when the network switched itself between 3G and 3.5G connectivity types. Ideally we wouldn’t want to play a multiplayer game on an HSPA connection but it’s definitely improving. Future mobile WiMAX and LTE (4G) technologies promise even lower levels of latency, which can only be a good thing.
What can’t it do?
So far we’ve talked a lot about what Mobile Broadband does do and not a lot about what it doesn’t. Nearly every connection is just about access, thus extras such as email, webspace and newsgroup servers are not included. Some operators are also known to use aggressive compression on web images, which saves bandwidth but can make some websites look very ugly.