Can I use mobile broadband for gaming?

As mobile broadband networks improve, they’re becoming a more viable option for gaming online. You don’t always need fast internet speed for online gaming, but you do need a stable, high-quality connection.

How to use mobile broadband at home

USB dongles

You can plug a dongle supplied by a mobile service provider into the USB drive of a computer or console to provide an internet connection exclusively for that device.

Mobile router hub

Specialised routers can receive a 4G signal, which is then redistributed throughout a building in a similar manner to a fibre home network. Some mobile ISPs offer their own routers, but network-agnostic models are available.

Mobile tethering

A third option is to connect a smartphone directly to a single device via USB, or multiple devices wirelessly. Most phones with 4G capability will offer this option within the handset’s settings.

Smartphone with mobile broadband

Reasons to use mobile broadband

Mobile broadband can be easier, faster and cheaper to set up, when compared to standard home fibre. Some services can be faster than those offered by ADSL home broadband connections.

The portable nature of mobile broadband can make it an appealing alternative for underserved areas with poor fibre coverage, such as some rural communities.

Mobile internet contracts can be more flexible in duration. Installation costs will also be negated, being a plug-and-play solution.

Drawbacks of mobile broadband

While some unlimited data contracts are available, mobile ISPs are more likely to impose data caps. Some mobile networks and hardware manufacturers may also block or restrict tethering.

Compared with home broadband, mobile broadband is not always as well optimised for heavier, shared usage. Connections can also be less reliable, in terms of network stability and performance.

Mobile signal reception will also be subject to external interference. Even weather conditions can affect signal strength. A poor-quality connection will lead to dropouts, lag, and stuttering.

Connection speed

While 3Mbps is technically all you need for basic online gaming, performance for intensive multiplayer games at low speeds will likely be below par.

Although 4G wireless broadband can offer speeds that may compare with fibre services, performance is never likely to match that of a premium FTTC or FTTP connection.

Smartphone tethered to laptop

Latency and bandwidth

Ping rates on a fixed broadband connection are likely to be lower and more stable than those experienced via mobile broadband. Not only could this make a difference in terms for in-game performance, high or fluctuating latency can result in a player being booted from an online game server.

Online gaming generally requires more network bandwidth than other usage. Broadband designed specifically for gaming can better cater to this need: the network capacity will be in place, and network traffic will be managed rationally, so that packets sent to and from gaming servers are not deprioritised.

What about 5G?

5G may be more reliable and serviceable as a longer-term alternative to fixed broadband. However, at the time of writing (Summer 2021) the network is not expansive enough yet. While speeds and throughput may be much better than 4G, the capabilities of 5G are yet to be fully realised.

Bad weather that may interfere with mobile signal

Mobile or fixed broadband?

In a pinch, it’s possible to game on mobile broadband, particularly if you’ve created a wi-fi network using a 4G hub. However, competitive online games will test the limitations of a mobile broadband connection, and may leave you a step behind.

High-quality connectivity and low latency are key to providing optimal service for gaming. With Ghost you receive exactly that: a responsibly managed network, no throttling, no data caps. Just a rock-solid, reliable connection with minimal jitter and no drop-outs.

Our focus on network performance means you’re not fighting lag or a stuttering connection, only other players.

For more information on why Ghost is the ISP for professional gamers, check out what our engineers have to say about our specialist network. Alternatively, get in touch today to speak to a member of our friendly and experienced team.

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