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NBN plans for gaming in 2022

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(Image credit: Mediatonic)

The PS5 and Xbox Series X|S both come equipped with blisteringly fast SSD drives. In theory, that should get you into most games a lot quicker than ever before, but it's not the full story. Given how many games—even singleplayer games—require an account login in 2022, faster loading times are somewhat negated in Australia unless you've got a decent internet connection.

And that's not to mention downloading games, which can be a real headache if you're dealing with something like Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War's ~160GB size. Unfortunately, the speed of downloads on an NBN plan is pretty much commensurate with what you'll pay: slow is cheap, fast is pricey.

How about latency in multiplayer games, though? That's a bit more complex. It depends what kind of NBN connection you have. Fibre to the premises (FTTP) is inarguably the best, while the more ubiquitous fibre to the node (FTTN) is a little more unreliable in this regard, due to its reliance on ye olde cooper wire from a nearby "node" to your house.

On this page, we've taken a quick look at the broadband factors affecting gaming and what the situation with each is in Australia, and included comparisons of various plans at different speeds.

Best NBN 50 plans: The option for basic gaming

Ping speed

If you play a lot of online games and fancy yourself ultra-competitive (or just don't like lag), you're probably going to care about ping time. This is also known as latency and is measured in milliseconds: the larger the ping time, the worse it is. 

Ping affects how responsive an online game is, so you need a low ping time to ensure there's no delay between your actions and what's happening with other players and elements in the game. You ping can be partially influenced by your connection type, as well as the speed of your connection and (perhaps most importantly) the location of a game's servers: many of the biggest online games have Oceania / Australian servers, which is handy, because playing on servers based in the US or Europe can cause lag. Your choice of ISP can also influence your ping speed, but there are some things it can't control, such as your connection type. If you're on a FTTN or HFC connection, they can't magically fix that.

Some ISPs offer services that claim to alleviate ping times with some clever tricks. Some gaming routers offer similar functionality built in. Check out the Game friendly ISPs section below for more details on this.

Best NBN 100 plans: For multi-gamer households

Download speeds

Download speed and its importance is all about patience (or lack thereof). If you don't mind waiting overnight for a new game to download, or an hour or two for one to update, you don't need to pay extra. The download speed you go with doesn't influence ping.

Wired NBN plans range from NBN 12 through to NBN 1000, though not every ISP offers every available tier. Those numbers correspond to a connection's top speed capability in megabits per second; so NBN 12 means you should expect 12Mbps at best, while NBN 1000 can deliver up to 1Gbps. You won't always be able to achieve that speed, especially during peak evening times, hence why most providers advertise "typical evening speeds". 

So, if you fork out for an NBN 250 plan (250Mbps at best), you'll find that most plans on this tier advertise a typical evening speed of around 150-200Mbps. You might sometimes get better than this: providers tend to understate their top speeds to stay on the safe side, particularly with these premium high-speed plans.

Best NBN 250 plans: For speedy downloads and households with several gamers

Connection types

There are four main kinds of connection type available on the wired NBN.

FTTP (fibre to the premises): This is a fibre optic connection straight to your home and is definitely the best you can get, however it's also the rarest connection type in Australia. This supports speeds of up to 1Gbps.

HFC (hybrid fibre-coax): This is a bit of a hybrid between FTTP and FTTN. It supports speeds of up to 250Mbps.

FTTC/B (fibre to the curb / basement): This is a variation of FTTN, though its use of fibre connect

FTTN (fibre to the node): This is the most ubiquitous type of connection, and the one you most likely have available. It uses old phone infrastructure to connect to a neighbourhood fibre-connected node. This can offer speeds of up to 100Mbps, but because copper can be unreliable due to degradation, some providers won't sell NBN 100 plans on FTTN connections.

Best NBN 1000 plans: The no-compromise option for gamers who want the best

Data caps

Basically, if you're a predominantly digital gamer in 2022 you probably shouldn't choose a plan with a data cap. 3 terabytes (a common cap) sounds like a lot, but that's only three times the size of the PS5's SSD, and we all know how quickly that thing fills up. If you've got games downloading updates automatically, it can also cause a hassle. Just don't.

Gaming friendly ISPs

Some ISPs offer special services geared towards gamers, specifically to mitigate lag. Two examples include Aussie Broadband and MyRepublic—both claim to have optimised their infrastructure in order to curb lag. Meanwhile, Telstra charges an extra AU$10 a month for its Game Optimisation service, which uses the same kind of technology found in some gaming modems. It prioritises traffic to consoles or a gaming PC, but you'll need Telstra's Smart Modem to get it. If you have a gaming router with DumaOS technology, you don't need Telstra's service.

Here are some plans currently on offer from Aussie Broadband, MyRepublic and Telstra: click 'View full' at the bottom for more options.

Fast NBN plans from gaming-friendly ISPs