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Is 5G home internet good for gaming?

Gamer frustrated with their Wifi

While 5G home internet typically can deliver speeds of 40 Mbps to 300 Mbps, which may support some gaming requirements, it comes at a trade-off.

A good gaming experience is contingent on low latency and consistent speeds. However, 5G home internet offers latency fluctuations, inconsistent speeds at peak times and low data caps, negatively impacting online gaming performance.

This article will explore the reality of gaming on 5G home internet and its limitations. We will also compare it to fiber and cable internet to determine whether it is ideal for gaming.

The FWA technology gap

You deserve better internet

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) uses radio waves which are impacted by obstacles like buildings and trees, resulting in reduced reliability.

The FWA technology gap - You deserve better internet - fixed wireless icon

The reality of gaming on 5G internet

5G home internet promises to improve the gaming experience with higher download speeds and lower latency. However, during peak usage times, 5G home internet and mobile users compete for cell tower capacity, negatively impacting your overall experience.

Before choosing 5G home internet for your gaming needs, let’s look at some of its limitations and how they impact your gaming experience.

Inconsistent connection during peak times

There is usually a surge in internet usage during peak hours, especially in the evenings when people are home from work or school. At this time, many users simultaneously stream and play online games or engage in other high-bandwidth activities that strain 5G networks.

Gaming during peak hours could lead to negative experiences, especially when streaming your gameplay on Twitch or watching HD streams on YouTube. Network congestion strains the available bandwidth, which can reduce upload speeds and increase latency, which resulting in low-quality streams and lags in gameplay.

Too much latency fluctuation

Latency is the time it takes for a packet of information to travel over a network, and it’s critical in online gaming. While 5G offers lower latency than the older 4G and 3G technologies, fluctuations and spikes occur frequently. The factors causing these spikes include:

  • Network congestion caused by a surge in users.
  • Increased physical distance between devices and 5G cell towers.
  • Signal interference from physical barriers.
  • Adverse weather conditions.

Learn more: 5G vs. 4G: What’s the difference?

Latency fluctuation disrupts real-time interaction in multiplayer first-person shooter games like Call of Duty or esports competitions.

The latency spikes generate lag, which is detrimental when a player’s actions are quickly reflected in the game. This lag disrupts the seamless flow of the game and leads to a frustrating experience for the players.

Lower priority than cell users

5G network providers prioritize cell phone service users over home internet users during peak usage hours when network demand is high. As active users increase, some Reddit users report that network providers throttle 5G internet to ensure mobile phone users maintain faster and more reliable connections.

The deprioritization of home internet services leads to slower and inconsistent speeds that impact gaming and streaming during busy times. T-Mobile warns users that “during congestion, Home Internet customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization”.

Learn more: Astound vs T-Mobile home internet

Slower internet speeds result in slower game downloads and delays that cause lag in fast-paced, competitive games.

5G home internet deprioritization is part of network management to ensure an even allocation of network resources. However, it can come at a price for gamers relying on a stable internet connection.

Fiber-powered internet

Why Fiber Internet works better

Astound’s fiber-powered internet provides consistent speeds throughout the day versus 5G Home Internet which is prone to intermittency.

Data caps on 5G plans

Aside from a stable connection and low latency, online gaming also requires large amounts of data to handle game downloads and frequent updates. For example, Call of Duty requires 172 to 240 GB of data for download. The data caps that some 5G plans may be depleted by massive game downloads, updates and HD or 4K game content streaming.

Learn more: How to reduce your mobile data usage

Once users exceed the data limits, some 5G home internet providers throttle speeds, as these Reddit users experienced. Throttled speeds provide a frustrating gaming experience as they slow down game downloads and increase latency issues, which disrupt gameplay.

Furthermore, exceeding data caps results in additional data charges, increasing internet costs for avid gamers who need to download large games or updates frequently.

On the other hand, fiber and cable internet plans generally offer higher data allowances than 5G plans, including unlimited options. Gamers can easily download large game files and updates quickly without worrying about exceeding data limits.

NAT issues prevent open connections for multiplayer games

Network Address Translation (NAT) is the method by which multiple devices on a local network share a single public IP address.

Most 5G providers use Carrier Grade NAT (CGNAT), which restricts the NAT type for their users and limits the ability to connect to other players with different NAT types. NAT issues can cause connectivity difficulties, resulting in disconnections and making various games unplayable.

Some users experience double NAT when using 5G home internet with their own routers. Double NAT prevents devices connected to the 5G home internet from communicating with those connected to the other router.

When you have double NAT on your home network, P2P connections utilized by games may not work correctly. Furthermore, features such as voice chat may not function properly with double NAT.

Limited coverage

The continued deployment of 5G networks results in uneven coverage across regions, unfavorably affecting gamers in areas lacking 5G services.

Gamers in regions that lack 5G coverage have to depend on 4G and 3G networks, which fall short on faster speeds and lower latency, leading to a suboptimal gaming experience.

Furthermore, disparities exist in competitive online multiplayer gaming, with players in areas with 5G coverage having an unfair advantage over those with limited coverage.

They experience high-speed and real-time gaming interactions, while their counterparts face gameplay lag and slower download speeds. Limited 5G coverage impacts fair competition and equality in gaming experiences.

Until 5G networks are extensively deployed, gamers in places with limited coverage may experience slower speeds and higher latency than those in well-covered areas.

The total gaming solution

Beyond QoS and speed tests. Nighthawk Pro Gaming® router comes with a suite of features that are designed for gamers, by gamers.

Nighthawk XR1000 gaming router

Will a gaming router improve my latency and reliability on 5G?

A gaming router is designed for low latency and high-speed performance to improve the gaming experience by reducing lag and ensuring smooth gameplay. It provides the following advantages over regular routers:

  • Prioritizes gaming traffic through Quality of Service (QoS) features.
  • Lowers latency and reduces lag by prioritizing gaming data packets.
  • Offers customizable settings to fine-tune the network for specific game needs.
  • Offers enhanced security features such as built-in VPN support and a traffic controller.
  • Provides a graphical user interface for non-technical users to edit the QoS settings.

Learn more: Gaming router vs normal router: Which is better?

Latency in 5G involves multiple “hops,” as the signal must travel from your device to the router, finally to the tower and back. If the 5G home internet service is inconsistent or has issues, a gaming router may not be able to compensate for these limitations fully.

In addition, using a gaming router with a 5G home internet connection may result in both routers handling NAT simultaneously, which leads to double NAT issues. Furthermore, gaming routers offer features like port forwarding and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), which can lead to more connection conflicts if these features are enabled on both routers.

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5G vs. fiber and cable internet for gaming

Choosing the proper internet connection for your gaming needs is crucial, as each connection type affects your overall gameplay experience. Consider the following factors when comparing 5G to fiber and cable internet for your gaming needs:

Consistency of speeds

Fiber and cable internet stand out because a wired connection can provide a more consistent connection with Gigabit speeds, for more seamless gaming sessions.

A wired connection is less vulnerable to signal interference or weather conditions, resulting in more consistent speeds and reliable connections.

On the other hand, 5G’s wireless internet signals are transmitted through 5G cell towers, which may encounter slowdowns during peak times due to network congestion.

Furthermore, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) providers may deprioritize and throttle 5G internet during peak times to accommodate cell service users. Internet deprioritization slows down 5G internet speeds and results in a subpar gaming experience.

Ability to choose internet speeds

Fiber and cable internet plans typically allow users to select from a range of speed options, allowing for customization based on their specific needs.

If you are a casual gamer, you can choose internet plans with speeds as low as 300 Mbps or as high as 1.5 Gigabit speeds for professional gamers.

On the other hand, 5G internet speeds typically range from 40 Mbps to 300 Mbps. These speeds fluctuate and can vary due to network congestion and the distance of the cell tower from your home.

Capacity to connect to more devices

Your internet connection should be able to connect to multiple devices without compromising performance. Fiber and cable internet connections are known for their higher bandwidth, which supports multiple devices simultaneously.

You can host multiplayer gaming sessions with various consoles and connect to other personal and household devices.

While 5G also supports multiple device connections, a surge in device connections can lead to bandwidth strain.

Furthermore, 5G internet providers may impose device limits on their networks, which, when exceeded, can result in slower speeds and high latency due to network congestion.

Improved reliability

Fiber and cable internet are more reliable than 5G home internet for gaming requirements. Because of its wired technology, it has a more consistent connection, reducing lag and jittering while playing.

5G’s latency fluctuates, which can make it less reliable and more unpredictable for gamers due to potential disruptions while playing.

When choosing between 5G and fiber for gaming, it is essential to consider the speeds, reliability and latency.

Fiber and cable are the preferred choice for gaming because of their faster speeds, lower latency, and consistent performance. A wired connection provides advantages such as lower ping and jitter rates and unlimited data, resulting in a better online gaming experience than 5G networks.

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Bottomline: Is 5G internet good for gaming?

If you want an excellent online gaming experience, 5G home internet may not be ideal for your gaming needs. 5G’s latency fluctuations, inconsistent speeds, low data caps and limited coverage can negatively affect your gaming experience.

Given the nature of competitive multiplayer online gaming, where milliseconds define the difference between winning and losing, a stable, fast, and low-latency Internet connection is vital.

A high speed internet service provider, like Astound Broadband, provides a fiber-powered internet connection with faster, more stable Gigabit speeds and lower latency for a smooth gaming experience.

Furthermore, you can save on costs by bundling internet services with cell phone plans to give you flexible and convenient plans at an affordable price

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*Internet speeds may vary & are not guaranteed. Certain equipment may be required to reach advertised speeds. DOCSIS 3.1 modem with 2.5GE physical LAN port is required for 1 Gigabit speeds and higher. See for why speeds may vary. To view Astound’s FCC Network Management Disclosure see Modem required for Internet service. No contract required. Subject to availability. We substantiate that the cable modem equipment provided, and the configuration of such cable modem, meets the broadband speeds advertised when attached to a wired connection based on SamKnows testing procedures.

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