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The 5 largest US ISPs actually believe that they are ready for streaming games

Screenshot: Google

In many ways, game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud could be great solutions for casual gamers. Instead of buying new consoles or updating their computers every few years, users can run games on servers in the cloud hosted by Google or Microsoft and play them on virtually any modern device with a single screen: phone, TV, laptop, tablet, etc. Microsoft While it has not yet released much data on the price structure of xCloud, Google has announced that Stadia will be available as a subscription for $ 10 with access to a collection of curated games or for those who prefer to buy games completely free individually.

But only because Microsoft and Google have found a way to take hardware considerations out of the equation does not mean that there are no other restrictions, namely your internet connection. Your game streaming quality not only depends on the speed of your data connection, but if you play a lot depending on your ISP (ISP), data restrictions may also occur.

At Stadia's highest graphics setting, gaming streaming at 4K and 60 fps consumes 1 TB of data in approximately 65 hours. This corresponds to a weekly playing time of just over 15 hours. If you play frequently, this is not really difficult. If you downshift to 1080p at 60 fps, you'll get more out of your data as it takes about 115 hours to reach the same 1 TB.

This puts a lot of pressure on your ISP A connection that pays to streaming games. Microsoft has released a report claiming that more than 160 million Americans (about half of the country) do not have access to broadband Internet, which is defined as a minimum 25 Mbps Internet. Previously, the number of US residents without broadband Internet access had risen to 25 million.

Akamai's similar numbers also underscore this concern, as the latest report on the speed of US broadband calculates the nationwide Internet speed at just under 19 Mbps. However, Akamai's report may be outdated as its numbers date back to 2017. According to Speedtest.net of Ookla, the average speed of fixed broadband in the US currently stands at a whopping 120.3 Mbps. If you access the broadband Internet (which is a separate problem), it should be game streaming services support.

Since the success of game streaming is so heavily dependent on your ISP, we've decided to reach the top five ISPs in Germany the US to see what they say about the introduction of game streaming services to have. The good news is that each provider has at least one service option that should be able to reach the 35Mbps limit for Stadia's 4K settings (which is location dependent). However, home broadband data restriction rules are not the same for all providers. Therefore, you should know the following:

Comcast Xfinity

When it comes to the largest broadband provider in the US, this is difficult. This is because Xfinity subscribers in the South, West, and Midwest regions have a monthly cap of 1TB, while subscribers in northeast Maine to Delaware and the east to Ohio have unlimited broadband data.

If you're in one of the limited regions on Xfinity and plan to cast your best bet, you may need to pay an additional $ 50 per month to remove the 1TB limit. Otherwise, overcharges may apply. Xfinity will not charge you for the first two consecutive months. You then pay $ 10 for each 50GB block over 1TB – up to $ 200 more per month.

Phew, that's complicated!

When I contacted a Comcast representative to learn more, I was told by phone that less than five percent of users were approaching this 1TB limit. With the increase in game streaming, which is certainly affecting average data usage, the Comcast representative also noted that Comcast is always evaluating its data limits and is willing to adjust those limits as needed.

Charts Spectrum

In order to obtain a Charter Spectrum representative for an official statement, Charter Spectrum is not permitted to set data caps or plans with additional costs by 2023 under the terms of the Time Warner Cable acquisition in 2016 Selling. Easy.

AT & T U-verse

AT & T typically limits data to 1TB per month and requires you to pay an additional $ 30 per month to remove the cap. As mentioned in an e-mailed statement to Gizmodo, there is at least one plan that allows unlimited data without additional charges. (The bold emphasis is on us.)

"AT & T broadband Internet 1000 customers are already getting unlimited data, and customers on other plans are getting a monthly data allowance of 1TB. Those who use low-speed plans always have the option to add unlimited data for $ 30 a month or to take advantage of this, if they are for AT & T broadband as well sign up for a premium video service. This unrestricted permission applies to any type of data streaming, including online gaming. "

Verizon Fios

Verizon's statement on game streaming is also relatively simple, since his fiber optic network has no data caps. In a statement to Gizmodo, the company nevertheless managed to bring forward an indication of the potential of game streaming on its 5G mobile network and in addition to the home broadband network.

"The Verizon Fios fiber-optic network is a great solution for gamers and cloud-based gaming services. Our non-data-constrained fiber optic network naturally provides our customers with low latency and symmetric download and upload speeds for the Internet that are critical to our gaming community. In addition, our new 5G network offers lower latency and faster performance for on the go gaming.

As far as the use of 5G for on-the-go gaming is concerned, this will be particularly difficult in 2019. Verizon's wireless 5G network is currently limited to only two cities: Chicago and Minneapolis. However, Verizon has promised to extend 5G coverage to more cities by the end of the year.

PC Mag's latest report on wireless networks found that Verizon's 4G network has an average 59.4 Mbps mobile broadband speed. This should be fast enough for you to be able to use game streaming services on your phone. The same is true for all major carriers, as even the lowest average nationwide data rate (T-Mobile) is theoretically still more than fast enough to handle 4K game streaming with an average wireless speed of 52.5 Mbps. s to support. The biggest problem with wirelessly streaming games to your phone is data caps, because although many of the top tier mobile plans claim that you have unlimited data, this is not the case. In reality, users are usually limited to 25 to 55 GB of data per month before their speed is throttled. Verizon will need to re-examine this policy if users are to mitigate games over 5 GB.


Finally, there is Cox, which has similar restrictions to Comcast and limits home broadband data to 1TB per month, and for which additional data is available, $ 10 in increments of 50GB. In a statement to Gizmodo, Cox says:

"Cox supports a variety of streaming apps with our broadband service, and cloud-based apps are no different. With gigabit speeds available to more than 90% of our customers (and all homes by the end of this year), we provide the experience our customers need. In addition, Cox includes a generous 1 terabyte per month in all our plans. As everyone gets more out of their Internet connection, more than 95 percent of Cox High Speed ​​Internet customers are not nearly exceeding the data set in their plan. "

This means that this also applies to players with access to fast broadband Internet, it is still important to consider how many streaming services could be used for data games, especially as the above figures do not require any other data usage streaming video, downloading apps, or other operations on the Internet.

Unfortunately, there is no super-simple formula to figure out what the best or least expensive plan for your home is, as data speeds and limits can vary widely depending on location, neighborhood, and ISP.

As exciting as game streaming services are, the realities of the current state of broadband access could dampen things. When platforms such as Stadia and xCloud prevail, they will hopefully encourage ISPs to increase their data limits or even eliminate them altogether. Would not that be nice?

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