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Broadband Requirements for Xbox’s New Console Streaming

Monday, January 20th, 2020 (9:09 am) - Score 35,245

Microsoft has just made their new Xbox Console Streaming feature more widely available, which means that anyone with an Xbox account (and on the Xbox Insider program) in the UK can now try their new remote play video gaming service (streamed from your console to a remote device). But you’ll need a reasonable broadband ISP speed.

The service is still in beta (preview) development and as such you can presently only access it on Android (v6 or higher) based Smartphones or Tablets (must also have Bluetooth v4+ support), which means that Apple iOS users will have to wait a bit longer. On top of that you’ll of course need one of Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles.

The service itself is a clever idea. Essentially it enables your Xbox One console (becomes a local server) to stream any games you have loaded to a mobile device, although you’ll still have to play them using a compatible Xbox Wireless Controller with Bluetooth (you can buy phone mounts for these). This might seem silly but in today’s crowded family living rooms it may help to reduce conflict over TV viewing and usage.

The other clever thing about this service is that it seems to work over both your local home network (Wi-Fi or Wired Ethernet LAN) or your broadband connection for remote play. In both cases the minimum listed speed requirements are 10Mbps download and 4.75Mbps upload, although the “preferred” upload speed is 9Mbps. By the sounds of it the video quality may only be in HD since you can’t get 4K from 9Mbps.. yet.

NOTE: Your network NAT type must be set to Open or Moderate and network latency needs to be 125ms (milliseconds) or less, with 60ms being preferred (modern WiFi/LAN networks should do this just fine). 5GHz WiFi recommended instead of 2.4GHz.

We can’t see any problems on the local network front, although if you decide to move away from your home then the service will obviously put more strain on your broadband ISP connection and increase the latency. As such some fast paced games may feel a bit less responsive, depending upon on how good your existing connection latency is.

Many people today also have, or are within reach of, broadband lines with an upload speed of 10Mbps (most entry-level FTTC or Virgin Media cable plans offer 9-10Mbps uploads), although nearly maxing that out would reduce the performance for others who may still be using your home network. In that sense if you can get better upload speeds then it never hurts to have a bit more overhead.

Luckily the vast majority of people today should have an “unlimited” usage plan on their home broadband service and so won’t need to worry about drumming up any excess data charges. However the issues of excess data charges, latency and service speed may become more of a problem on the Mobile Broadband (3G, 4G or 5G) or public WiFi connectivity side of the fence.

You’re home broadband service is of course uploading the Xbox streaming data to the internet, while your remote mobile or WiFi link will need to download that video data in order to display it on your device when away from home (note: only a little mobile upload is needed at this point to send back your responses for the game controller).

Luckily a lot of mobile operators now offer “unlimited” data plans and we’d definitely recommend one of those for this sort of service. Otherwise if you’re downloading at around 10Mbps then you’d easily gobble 10GB (GigaBytes) of data in the space of just 2 hours and 23 minutes. So bare that in mind if you’re on a capped data plan and wish to avoid running out of data or excess charges.

The other thing to consider here is that mobile networks tend to suffer from slower and more variable latency times than fixed broadband links (times vary but something in the range of 35-75ms is not uncommon), although this should be less of an issue as the newer 5G networks roll-out (once fully evolved 5G should deliver latency close to that of full fibre links). Until then you might find that remote play works better in some areas than others.

Busy public WiFi networks are probably a big no-no for this sort of service, unless they happen to be quite well provisioned but many tend to be fairly slow on all fronts. Stricter traffic management often also applies to public WiFi, which may prevent this sort of service from working at all.

NOTE: Microsoft is also developing Project xCloud, which like Google Stadia enables you to play Xbox games by streaming them from Microsoft directly – no console required.

Leave a Comment
16 Responses
  1. Avatar Bob

    > This might seem silly but in today’s crowded family living rooms it may help to
    > reduce conflict over TV viewing and usage.

    Worth noting for those using the Xbox’s HDMI-in port to relay their PVR signal to the TV: you will not be able to stream and watch TV simultaneously, as the XBox needs to be running the game locally in order to mirror it to the client device.

    • Avatar Scott

      Sorry Bob, but this is incorrect. You’re confusing the ability to stream games rendered on the console, to games which are rendered on the cloud (which is what this article is about). The Xbox console isn’t required in this setup.

    • Avatar Scott

      Sorry Bob, I’ve misread. I thought this was their Project XCloud – apologies.

  2. Avatar Samuel

    Playstation has had this feature for a while have they not?

  3. Avatar DR

    5ghz broadband is recommended for this, discovered by being invited to the tests. Swircjed setting up to 5, no lag at all.

    • Avatar 125us

      You’re confusing WiFi which is your LAN connection with broadband which is your WAN connection. There’s no such thing as 5Ghz broadband.

  4. Avatar Sean

    Xbox has had local streaming capabilities at least since I got mine some circa 3 years ago. Also, 5ghz WiFi has 0 latency improvements over 2.4 in perfect conditions, the only reason it may be “recommended” is due to the high use of 2.4ghz in the wild and therefore the high collision risk with other networks, which in turn causes speed, latency and reliability issues. Someone playing in a house with no other WiFi networks around would see no improvements using 5ghz over 2.4

  5. Avatar Yankee in the Pond

    Can confirm this service will work with other Bluetooth controllers. I have a Moga controller I keep in my bag that works just fine. My system is 400 miles away and I get decent streaming. However Minecraft is utterly impossible to stream, major screen tearing and lag. Overall though it shows promise!

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