You're in the midst of a heated battle. You have the enemy in your sights, when suddenly everything freezes and one of the players whizzes past as though he was on roller skates. A second later, a message appears, saying that you're disconnected from the server because your Internet connection timed out. According to Online Gaming 2013, the latest report from global information company, The NPD Group, 72 percent of U.S. gamers report gaming online. Chances are you're among this group, and you understand the need for high speed Internet options to avoid lag and frustration.
The Need for Speed
In many metropolitan areas in the U.S., the choices you're looking at are FIOS versus cable. According to Netindex, the top average speeds are from Verizon FIOS and Optimum Online at approximately 37 mbps. Comcast cable comes in next at 28 mbps, so if you're looking for the fastest speeds possible, look into FIOS providers. Otherwise, consider the packages and pricing available for the Internet service. The 10 mbps difference won't make or break you if you aren't playing twitchy games, so if the price is significantly lower on the cable option, go that route. Each Internet service provider may also offer different speed tiers of service, so don't assume that the base tier is the fastest option. For example, Time Warner Cable has a 15 mbps basic service, but provides a 20 mbps higher speed Internet service for an additional cost.
If you're lucky enough to live in Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; or Provo, Utah, you have access to the highest speed residential fiber optic Internet provider: Google Fiber. Their paid service goes up to 1000 mbps, allowing multi-gig games and updates to download within a few minutes, and giving you the bandwidth you need for even the most information heavy games. Imagine downloading Battlefield 4 on Origin in the time it takes you to get a drink refill. Some Internet service providers are planning on increasing their speeds to play catch up with Google, but it takes some time to build up the network infrastructure necessary to provide higher speed Internet.
Internet Options to Avoid
Dial-up is an obvious no-go when it comes to online gaming, nor is DSL a competitive option. If you live in a remote area that only has access to dial-up and 3G networks, you may be tempted to use satellite Internet options. A 3G mobile data connection will work well enough for basic online games, but you don't want to attempt playing a MMO, FPS, or another type of game that sends and receives a lot of data between the server and yourself. However, while Ars Technica reports that 15 mbps satellite Internet is available throughout the US, the latency with the signal makes it difficult to successfully play online games. It would be good for downloading your games, however, since the latency won't have a profound impact on your experience.