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RootMetrics Tests 5G Mobile Speeds for Cloud Gaming in London

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 (11:03 am) - Score 2,496
video gamer playing on computer

RootMetrics has today published a new study of 5G based mobile broadband speeds and latency, which compares the network and coverage from EE (BT), Vodafone, Three UK and O2 in order to determine which operator is likely to deliver the best cloud gaming (remote play video games) performance in London.

Cloud-based video gaming services, such as Google’s Stadia or Microsoft’s xCloud, enable you to remote play games that are streamed (via almost any device with a good display – smartphones, laptops, tablets, TVs, desktop PCs etc.) over the internet from a huge data centre.

NOTE: The recommended median download speed for SD is 10Mbps+ and for HD it’s 35Mbps+.

In order to determine which operators should be able to offer a good gaming experience on any cloud-gaming platform, RootMetric’s looked at whether each network reached or surpassed Google Stadia’s recommended speed results for casual games in SD (oddly defined as 720p, even though that’s technically the starting point for HD resolution) and online games in HD (1080p) on both 4G LTE and 5G networks.

The analyst also compared each operator’s latency to the Microsoft Xbox Game Pass recommend benchmark of 60ms or lower (a lower figure in milliseconds means a faster response time or smoother gaming).

The Results

Overall EE came out on top for 5G availability in central London (77.5%). By comparison both Three UK (20.0%) and Vodafone (39.6%) had much greater 5G availability in central London compared to that of greater London as a whole (5.2% for both networks). Both EE and Vodafone also delivered the fastest 5G speeds, reporting a median download of 135.2Mbps and 178.1Mbps respectively.

Latency was generally low in central London for all operators on both 4G and 5G, although Three UK appeared to lead the way here with the lowest 5G latency among all operators at 17ms. The other three operators all still managed to deliver latency well below the recommended 60ms or less.

The bad news here is that O2 didn’t register enough results to accurately measure their performance on 5G, so O2 customers in both greater and central London will currently have to rely on 4G for mobile cloud gaming. The good news is that O2’s speed, latency, and jitter results on 4G were still strong enough for gaming, although the potentially bad news is that the operator’s packet loss of 10% could cause some issues.

Rootmetrics london 5g benchmark 2020 cloud gaming
The full report can be read here.

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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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8 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike says:

    Difference is that EE is good for gaming on 4G around the country, differs wildly with other providers.

  2. Avatar John says:

    Is there a reason why the latency would be so different between providers in the same location?

    1. Avatar Ben says:

      depends who they use as their backhaul, the technology the use in backhaul, how many routers there are between customer and game server etc, are any of these servers hosted in the same building/data centre/network as the carrier? but also it’s only going to be a sort of average indicator since they’re not tested against the exact same server under the exact same conditions. It is however, more of a real world test.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Different networks, so you can’t expect the same result. I think Ben covers most of this, but also you have to consider other differences in terms of CDN setup, caching and routing/peering arrangements etc. There are lots of areas that can impact latency.

    3. Avatar John says:

      I get that, but the latency difference here is massive, nearly 30ms – routing and equipment alone is not going to cause that much deviation between providers if your test methodology is consistent.

      If they aren’t using the same servers this data is worthless.

  3. Avatar JmJohnson says:

    10% packet loss on most modern games is more than a potential issue (usually you’d be disconnected).
    5% packet loss is a frustrating and game affecting issue.
    UDP is used due to its speed in all titles which are latency sensitive ie FPS’s (ie Warzone), modern MMO’s and others.
    The issue with UDP is that packets aren’t retransmitted.
    So no… not suitable for gaming unless you’re playing browser games like facebook etc.

  4. Avatar Sam says:

    I’ve been using an Unlimited EE 4G service on a TP Link cellular router and have been playing Stadia for several months and it’s been great. It’s set to 1080, The Division and Destiny are all running fine. I’m close to a cell phone mast on Zone 1 if it makes a difference.

    I have the new iPhone 12 with 5G service but I’ve not yet tried tethering my laptop to see if I get any better performance. I’m not bothered about 4K quality to be honest.

  5. Avatar jd says:

    CGNAT seems to be a bigger issue, can’t game if you can’t connect to gaming services or find a match. Only 3 offer a decent NAT in my experience. EE and Voda are unusable in this regard but have much better speeds and latency in my experience. Haven’t been able to get 3’s 5G yet to try but their 4G has degraded so much in the last few years

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