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77% of UK Homes with Online Gamers Complain of Broadband Woes

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 1,006
video games and multiplayer internet networks

A new uSwitch survey of 2,000 UK adults, which has been weighted to reflect a nationally representative criteria, claims that 77% of households with people who play online multiplayer video games have experienced problems with their broadband ISP connections (e.g. disconnections, buffering and slowdowns).

The biggest issues experienced by those in that 77% group were internet disconnections (37%), video buffering (35%) and the slow loading of web pages (34%). Interestingly it’s noted that the 77% figure drops to 64% when examining households that have NO gamers present, which might be partly because multiplayer fans are more likely to notice connectivity problems due to the real-time and low-latency nature of that environment.

One rather key catch above, which uSwitch seems to overlook, is that it would be wrong to merely assume that such problems should only be attributed to the broadband ISP side of your connection. Instead related problems can sometimes also be caused by issues such as incorrect LAN configuration, local network congestion, firewalls or weak WiFi performance etc.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the study also found that 7% of households say playing online video games had created arguments about the “internet slowing down,” although it’s worth noting that multiplayer gameplay itself is actually much more latency (ping time) dependent (i.e. it requires very little downstream and upstream speed, except for when updating via software patches or downloading a new digital game purchase etc.).

The exception here could be if the gamer is video streaming their activity (live) over Twitch, or a similar service, at the same time. This sort of activity will suck a lot of upload speed and that can indeed make the connection for other users on the same home network feel sluggish (i.e. most active broadband connections are asymmetric with much lower upstream performance than downstream).

The good news is that only 16% of respondents were on a sub-30Mbps speed broadband package and the average gaming household received speeds of 58Mbps. However, given that some digital games can be between 50-200GB in size, there’s still something to be said for going for the fastest connection possible (either that or trust your router is good at balancing traffic load between users – many aren’t).

Meanwhile 61% of UK households that contain people who play online games report that they spend almost 2 hours playing every day. The idea that only children play games online is also a thing of the past, with 52% of adult-only houses indicating that they team up with their friends online too. Well it beats sitting down to 24/7 Brexit coverage on the daily news.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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11 Responses
  1. Avatar Marty

    I wonder how many of these people are on FTTP? They wouldn’t have this issue.

    • Avatar Mike

      Most problems are between the computer and the chair.

    • Avatar Rahul

      Of-course it’s going to be a very small percentage.

      Only 7% of the UK has FTTP so this survey is perfectly applicable for the majority of UK households.

      Plus online gaming will definitely cause problems if you suffer internet disconnections. For example I play online chess on lichess.org that allows you to return back within 2 minutes should you suffer loss of connection. If within 120 seconds you manage to return back to your game you don’t lose. But if after 2 minutes you cannot return back to your game your opponent can click to claim victory on disconnection.

      2 years ago I suffered this loss due to drop-out. I deleted my account from frustration and started again with a new one. Now I take extra precaution & keep my mobile phone next to my computer desk using the mobile network data I can quickly return to my game in case my internet connection betrays me I can always return back and avoid loss.

      I also check for noise margins in my router stats. If I see noise margins of 7+dB I usually play online knowing that a drop-out is less likely to occur. But if I see 2-3dB I hesitate to play ranked multiplayer matches in case of stat loss.

      I don’t have FTTC yet. But I am assuming that FTTC is much more reliable than ADSL because of less copper cabling and less noise margin interference. I badly need FTTP especially as a PC Gamer with so many games in my Steam library including FIFA that takes 50+GB. I don’t want to have to leave my PC on all night to be able to download these games with my 13Mbps connection.

      Sadly entertainment purpose will never be regarded as a priority and I know that if I were to theoretically raise this as an issue with my management team they won’t accept that as a reasonable justification to agree wayleave for FTTP/H.

      To get FTTP we need a more reasonable excuse, such as economical benefits, house prices, increased rental income, or economical business affections due to unreliable connectivity.

      Drop-outs don’t really affect the non-gamers even when they do notice them. If you’re reading news articles or emails and your connection drops it doesn’t affect you or you may not even notice because by the time you finish reading your emails or articles the connection will return back.

    • Avatar CarlT

      They easily could. Many gamers you could install 10Gb point to point, dedicated fibre to their arse and they wouldn’t be happy.

    • Avatar Leex

      Very likely if your on FTTP you won’t be having problem (unless the router or fibre to ethernet device is faulty) latency on FTTP is typically under consistent very low (I guess under 10ms,but your mileage will vary depending on the server) with no jitter

      FTTC on normal clean line ( no interlacing) is typically stable ping and no jitter

      Virgin is horrible for ping and jitter especially around peak time due to the shared lile WiFi network setup on coxal cable (docsis) 3.1 docsis may change that once it becomes available as it has far more bandwidth available but due to its shared nature it never be as good as dedicated FTTP or FTTC connection (or even ADSL at times)

    • Avatar CarlT

      Most of the UK’s FTTP has no dedicated bandwidth and a shared physical infrastructure.

      It’s nothing to do with the amount of bandwidth available, more how the bandwidth is requested.

  2. Avatar Gary

    Not a shock to read this, Our ISDN and then early ADSL was more reliable in terms of latency and ping than it is now.

    You cant give millions of people fast access and expect the lag and latency not to suffer when the providers and most subscribers only care about headline Speed numbers. Try complaining about lag and jitter to a provider or supplier, Openreach still operate with the opinion that your’re lucky to have a connection regardless of quality.

    As the average connection speeds have risen so has the use of streaming movies and TV services, and that’s what the bulk of users care about, sad for us gamers but not big enough an issue for those responsible for the service provision.

  3. Avatar Moses

    I’m lucky my connection is fttp, so my connection to the internet is constant and always fast (my isp is: VirginMedia).

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