Is AT&T the Best Internet for Gaming? New 2019 Review & Prices
You just scored another win for the “Cog” in Gears of War 4 and as you’re about to line up the perfect sniper shot to take out another “Locust” from the opposing team – bam!
You just got taken out by one of the opposing team’s players, as you hear the insults and taunts fly back and worth over the headset. Congratulations, you just got hit by lag! And by the time your game catches up, half your team is KIA
There’s not much you can do for now except wait to respawn, while you see the enemy team dancing around you, rejoicing over their victory.
For a fact, seasoned multiplayer gamers will be the first ones to declare that not every ISP is created equal, no matter how impressive their stats look – and this is especially true when we talk about MP gaming aspects like latency, responsiveness and packet loss.
Fact #2: when we talk about instinct-driven games like Battlefield, Call of Duty or Gears of War where every millisecond counts, your internet service provider is the only hurdle that might get in the way of establishing complete multiplayer domination.
In this article you will find out...
- Multiplayer Gaming: Why it’s Important to Understand Latency and Packet Loss
- So What is the Absolute Best Internet Service for Gaming?
- How Does AT&T Stack up Against Other Top ISPs?
- Why Choose AT&T Internet for Online Gaming
- Internet for Gaming – FAQ
Multiplayer Gaming: Why it’s Important to Understand Latency and Packet Loss
Perhaps you just got a shiny new gaming PC or Xbox One-X and are not exactly familiar with some of the terms associated with online gaming – and that’s totally fine.
First up: latency. This is the time it takes for sets of 1s and 0s (data in layman terms) to travel back and forth. In other words, you might visualize latency as the time it takes for your action – such as the press of a button on your mouse – to register on the screen.
If your internet connection has high latency, you will indefinitely notice a delay or lag between your action and the corresponding action on the screen. This is particularly noticeable if your frames per second or fluidity of motion is 60 fps or higher.
The unit of latency is milliseconds, which at first doesn’t seem like a big deal because if your latency is under 1 second or so, you’re all set, right? Wrong!
The lower the latency, the better. In fact, the best internet connections have latency that’s typically in the 4-8ms range. High latency even in milliseconds can pretty much mean the difference between ‘missing a kill’ and landing that perfect game-winning shot.
Now let’s shift our attention toward packet loss. This is something that happens when the travelling data does not reach its intended destination in time – and unsurprisingly can lead to major frustration for any gamer.
You’ve probably heard people talk about “drifting” or “rubberbanding”, or the action on their screen suddenly “hiccupping” and then resuming – during which the positions of other players on the screen tend to jump around like a bunch of chess pieces. Those are some of the effects of packet loss.
So What is the Absolute Best Internet Service for Gaming?
More aptly, the question you should be asking yourself is this: am I ready to ditch my current ISP that’s full of annoying lagging and packet loss issues?
If you’re ready to embrace lightning-fast internet for gaming, then truth be told: there is no better alternative than AT&T internet for gaming. In fact, on a whole, when we collectively bring in other elements like features and pricing, there really is no better alternative, period!
Let’s go right ahead and dig into some of the superb plans offered by AT&T’s fiber and DSL internet services:
- The entry-level or start-up plan is the Internet Basic 5, which gives you a download speed of 5mbps for $40 a month. Click here to view plans.
- The Internet 10-100 package can be had for $50 a month, which offers up to 100mbps – an impressive number which will more than suffice for majority of gamers.
- Move it up a notch to the Internet 300 package and you’re getting a cool 300mbps for $70 a month.
- And finally, the Internet 1000 is geared toward the most serious and dedicated of gamers – a whopping 1000mbps, or 1 gigabyte to be precise for $90 a month.
AT&T Internet Prices and Plans Detailed
So, at the end of the day, the only thing you’re really concerned with is “what’s in it for me as a gamer?”
Well, one of the first things you really should think about is whether you want to get DSL or fiber internet – moreover, if fiber internet even available in your area? Unless you’re living in a fairly large metro area, you’ll probably be able to get DSL only.
However, if fiber is an option, we’d say go with it because not only is it faster but it also offers better value for money in the long run.
With all this said, the internet 10-100mbps plan will provide the fastest speed that’s available in your respective area. The closer you can get to 100mbps, the more value for money is in it for you, compared to other service providers.
We’re still leaning towards AT&T fiber internet for gaming though, because once you run all the numbers, it offers significantly better value than AT&T DSL or DSL packages by other providers, for that matter
Now, of course, if your area mostly has Verizon Fios users, where the 970/880mbps plan is the norm, you may save a few dollars here and there. However, VF charges $10 each month for the fiber router, whereas AT&T’s router is already included in the deals.
All things considered, to satisfy our gaming needs, complete with “lagless”, near-zero packet loss and low ping multiplayer gameplay – AT&T by far offers the best long term value.
AT&T Internet Bundles
A major perk you can immediately enjoy as an AT&T customer is that the internet bundles will save you even more money. You can bundle your choice of DSL/fiber package with either AT&T’s own TV service or DIRECTV.
The bundles can include a phone service, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ rounded up some of our personal favourite internet +TV bundles in order to provide you with a clear picture:
- Internet 10-100 + U-Family – $75/mo, 10-100mbps download speed on DSL, 180+ TV channels
- Internet 10-100 + DIRECTV CHOICE – $85/mo, 10-100mbps download speed on DSL, 185+ TV channels
- Internet 100 + DIRECTV XTRA – $95/mo, 100mbps download speed on fiber, 235+ TV channels
- Internet 100 + U300 – $100/mo, 100mbps download speed on fiber, 470+ TV channels
- Internet 300 + DIRECTV PREMIER – $170/mo, 300mbps download speed on fiber, 330+ TV channels
- Internet 300 + U450 – $170/mo, 300mbps download speed on fiber, 550+ TV channels
For further details on these juicy packages, click here.
But I’m Just a Gamer – What Plan is Best for ME?
Well, that’s a fair question.
For internet gaming, it’s hard to dispute over the Internet 300 plan, and here’s why:
Most online gaming aficionados don’t even need 300mbps, unless they plan to download 50-80gb within a few short hours. However, what makes this plan in particular really good value for money is that when you have multiple devices connected to your fiber internet (which is the case in most homes), your bandwidth availability might get bogged down – which will almost never happen in this case.
This fiber plan simply delivers and it is fairly priced compared to other providers offering similar fiber internet packages.
In fact, if you do a quick Google search, you’ll discover that you’ll be paying about $30 more for very similar speeds on a fiber connection with providers like Verizon Fios or Frontier, for instance.
Still, if you feel that 300mbps is well beyond what you need or the extra bandwidth is something that you may not really need to utilize, then you might settle for the 100mbps fiber package. If you want to save more, then go with the 10-100mbps DSL plan, where you can go with either 10, 25, 50, 75 or 100 mbps download speed – whatever floats your boat, as they say.
There is a caveat though – the DSL plan can be risky in the sense that you’ll be paying the exact same price whether your area supports speeds no greater than 10mbps or goes all the up to 100mbps. So take-home: if you do have DSL speeds supported up to or closer to the 100mbps range, then you’ll get the most bang for the buck from AT&T’s 100mbps DSL package.
This brings us back to fiber internet for gaming – if you can get fiber, go for it! The thing about fiber internet is that it has symmetrical download/upload speeds. So if your download bandwidth is an unrestricted (not shared, which is the case with DSL) 100mbps, then you’re also getting a dedicated bandwidth of 100mbps on upload! Lag you say? Packet loss? We don’t even know if such terms exist in “fiberland”!
Generally speaking, fiber is not only considerably faster but also more reliable – as in, there’s virtually no downtime and your connection is “on” all the time, 24/7, 365 days a year – and with dedicated, full bandwidth availability on download and upload.
Here’s a quick recap to help you easily decide between DSL and fiber:
DSL plans by AT&T are, for the most part, widely available, offering customer speeds as high as 100mbps. The closer you are to 100mbps, the more value for money you can enjoy. The only downside, if it can be actually called that, is the 1tb data cap, which is only the case if you buy DSL alone. With the internet + TV bundles, there’s no data cap at all.
To be completely frank, even if you do go with a package where there’s a 1tb limit on downloads, you’d literally have to download a ton of content each month to even hit that limit.
As for AT&T’s fiber internet, it’s limited to certain areas, but if you can get it, there’s lots of money saving to be had. Three speeds are available, and the fastest fiber package has no data cap, even if you skimp out on the TV bundles.
Go to AT&T’s website to find out if your area supports high-speed fiber internet.
How Does AT&T Stack up Against Other Top ISPs?
Here’s a look at how AT&T stacks up against other well-known ISPs like Xfinity, Spectrum and Cox.
AT&T Vs. Xfinity
While Xfinity offers plans between $49.99 and $154.99/mo, 140-260 channels, speeds of 25-1000mbps, and 60 hours of X1 DVR service – AT&T comes with DIRECTV, offering plans between $65 and $190/mo, speeds of 5-1000mbps, 155-330 channels and 200 hours of their Genie DVR service.
However, on the subject of sheer ubiquity, AT&T takes the cake, with a massive coverage blanket which covers almost the entire US.
As for plans, higher-end fiber plans by AT&T like the 300mbps fiber one offers a lot more value since it is the equivalent of a 250mbps non-fiber plan offered by Xfinity.
As far as ‘public opinion’ goes on the two, there is room for improvement for both ISPs. Earlier this year, customers cited the highest costs and somewhat lacklustre customer service with Xfinity as the main grievance factors while AT&T customers said that they could do with fewer service outages.
However, a 2018 study offers a different insight – awarding AT&T 4 “power circles” in all categories in the western US region, as well as 5 in the southern and north central US regions. Whereas, Xfinity earned 3-4 power circles across the board.
AT&T Vs. Spectrum
With a monthly price of $44.99, Spectrum’s DSL 200mbps offers unlimited data downloads, while AT&T’s DSL 5-100mbps package can be had for $40-50 with a 1tb data cap. However, the $50-90 fiber package which offers between 100 and 1000mbps offers a data cap of 1tb only on the 100mbps package, and no data cap on the 1000mbps package.
Now, Spectrum may slightly edge out AT&T in terms of price, but if you’re a regular gamer who wants to enjoy multiplayer gaming with zero lag, then the extra bandwidth and higher speed internet access with AT&T is always a major plus. Additionally, if you have a big family where several members need to use the internet at once, you still won’t be running into any annoying lag or data packet loss issues while gaming online.
Bottom line – if you have a choice between cable internet plans and AT&T’s fiber internet plans, go with the latter.
On the subject of coverage, AT&T takes the cake again. Even though Spectrum manages to cover 43 states, overall, AT&T blankets almost the entire US.
If you’re a big online review reader, then customers’ main gripe with Spectrum are rising costs and connections which aren’t necessarily as fast as advertised – while AT&T customers at times, have complained about slow speeds on DSL connections.
Frankly, if you ask us to put two of the country’s largest ISPs head to head, we’re giving props to AT&T based purely on availability, speed and bundling.
AT&T Vs. Cox
It’s clear that AT&T is best for those who want the fastest internet connection speeds and not pay through the nose for it, unlike some of the other ISPs including Cox Communications.
AT&T’s fiber 1000mbps plans offers you a full gigabyte of download/upload bandwidth for less than $100 a month – what more could a gamer possibly ask for? And to top it all off, its customer service is nothing short of legendary, something AT&T is known for all over the nation.
Cox, however, also offers 1gb packages, although where it truly shines is the slower speed packages. While most people don’t need the fastest internet speeds such as students or, for instance, stay-at-home moms who work every now and then – for lag-free multiplayer, you just can’t go wrong with AT&T, even if you initially opt for the DSL packages.
When it comes to customer service, AT&T ranked second in overall customer satisfaction – beating just about every other ISP except for RCN, with Cox landing somewhere in the middle of the rating scale. Even though customers haven’t voiced any glaring complaints about the latter, if great customer service is a selling point for you when choosing your ISP for gaming, then you should go with AT&T.
Why Choose AT&T Internet for Online Gaming
This is something you may not know despite playing online games on a regular basis, but AT&T internet is available to more people in the US than any other non-satellite ISP in the nation. If you think about it, that is a kind of big deal, because its fiber network is something that 11.3 million people access daily.
The DSL service stats are even more impressive with 120 million people across the nation using it – that’s actually 72 million more than the runner-up, CenturyLink.
Impressive Speeds and Bandwidth Availability
To put it in plain words: AT&T’s fiber connection offer mind-blowingly fast internet access speeds, hitting the 1gbps mark in a number of US states. This connection type is not only perfect for heavy-duty, lag-free online gaming but also large households where internet activity is very high, particularly where families are always downloading and streaming something or the other.
With AT&T’s fiber optic internet, you can expect super-responsive, no-lag gaming, no matter how many users in your household are utilizing the available bandwidth.
However, if your area doesn’t accommodate fiber optic connections, then you can still opt for their DSL 100mbps packages – which by far, are the fastest and most cost-effective DSL packages in the country that we know of.
Outstanding Customer Service
Depending on your attributes and preferences as an online gamer, good customer service is something that may or may not be important to you.
Let’s look at it this way – should you have any questions or need help with getting the most out of your connection, or even help with ironing out issues (which is quite rare) – you’d want a person on the other line who’s not only helpful but goes out of their way to meet your needs as a paying customer.
This is what AT&T’s customer service is all about and has, in fact, constantly topped the charts when it comes to how they deal and interact with customers.
In 2016 and 2017 alone, they won the US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study award for the North Central region, and they’ve won multiple customer service awards since.
Impressively, they have been the only ISP to score a full 5/5 rating in all the respective categories; i.e. performance and reliability, billing, customer service, communication, cost of service and overall satisfaction. Now that’s really saying something.
We’re going to quickly reiterate in case you missed it at the beginning of the article: AT&T’s internet is truly, insanely perfect for gaming.
React with split-second responsiveness, hit your target with nearly 100% accuracy no matter how loaded the servers are and game across all your devices with all the necessary routers and Wi-Fi equipment included at no extra cost. Right – we’d like to see another service provider try to beat that.
Internet for Gaming – FAQ
Q: What is the recommended internet speed for gaming?
A: Even though the general rule of thumb states that you should have a connection with a minimum download speed of 3mbps and upload speed of 1mbps – these are merely the ‘bare minimum’ requirements for consoles like PS4 and Xbox.
For PC gaming, which is particularly more demanding, a higher bandwidth is recommended. Since there is practically no price difference whether you choose a 10, 25 or 50 mbps DSL package with AT&T versus a 100mbps DSL package – you might as well opt for the 100mbps one which will not only give you really fast download speeds in case you need to download and install games, but also give you an upload of at least 10 mbps.
Q: What is considered high latency?
A: The farther the game server is from your location, the higher the latency will be. So, the lower the number the better. With that said, keep in mind that anything over 100-120ms is considered high and may cause lag.
Q: How do I choose between DSL or fiber for gaming?
A: Even though DSL generally meets the needs of most multiplayer gamers, if you have fiber connection availability in your area, you should 100% take advantage of it. Not only do you get full bandwidth on download and upload, but you can also continue to enjoy lag-free gaming when several people in your house are using the internet.
Get your AT&T internet connection today and enjoy smooth, seamless online gameplay. Just take our word for it!