Is your Internet ready for the new consoles? Probably not. (Chris Beck) 02:23 PM EST - Nov,06 2013
It's November! New consoles are coming out this month! Ready to stream games to your Vita with the Playstation 4? Want to play a game and chat on Skype with your Xbox One? Great. Just one question before you start: how's your Internet speed?
There's an elephant in the room
Neither Microsoft nor Sony have addressed the fact that on average, American Internet speeds are woefully slow. About 15 million lucky Americans can get Verizon FiOS, maybe another million or so can get Google Fiber, then you've got a few pockets of fiber from smaller local providers. But most of us are stuck with speeds far slower than what fiber can afford.
According to a Pando Networks study, the U.S. ranks 26th in Internet speed with an average of 616 Kpbs. That's not great. Google says the average American experiences speeds between 5 Mbps and 8 Mbps, better than the Pando Networks study, but still not the best for gaming. Hell, Google even uses that fact to illustrate how much faster their service is. It's enough to make you absurdly envious of those in fiber cities, right?
Game streaming and network multitasking is going to require more bandwidth. If you can't get your Netflix to stream in the highest quality without constant buffering, you might have trouble with many of the new console features.
In an FAQ released earlier this week, Sony did sorta address the network speed issue by recommending plugging your PS4 into the router for better game streaming performance.
Remote Play will work best when the PS Vita system is located within the same WiFi network where PS4 is connected. We also recommend that PS4 be connected to the local area network via an Ethernet cable, that a router suitable for gaming be used and that the PS Vita system be within close proximity of the WiFi access point so that the connection is free of interference.
Right, plug your wireless system into a router for better performance.
What can you do?
Aside from moving to a fiber city? Not much. If you can upgrade speeds, I'd recommend bumping up to at least 12 to 15 Mbps. That's nowhere near fiber, but it should offer better performance without breaking your budget.
You'll also want to cut down on interference. Turn off extra wireless devices when you're streaming a game on PS4 or multitasking on your Xbox One. That includes smartphones, tablets, and for all you parents out there, baby monitors (only do that last one when you don't need it on, I'm not advocating you choose video games over your kid's safety-those things tend to cause all kinds of interference though).
Finally, you can also upgrade your router to a dual band wireless N router. With the extra frequencies, you should experience less bandwidth clogging and slightly faster and smoother service.
Internet speeds in America are a bummer. But there are a couple of things you can do for a better gaming experience after you download that day one patch.
This article was written by Chris Beck is a well published freelance writer in the insurance and tech space. Originally from Asheville, NC and a University of South Carolina Alum, he graduated with a degree in Journalism. He is also an avid Gamecock sports follower with a family of four, six if you include our Fox Hound and German Shepard.