Gaming-centric ADSL: service providers weigh in

The internet landscape in South Africa has changed drastically over the last couple of years, with prices plummeting and speeds rising in both the mobile and fixed line markets. As a result, gamers are finding they have better access to the internet than in years past.

We caught up with some South Africa’s large ISPs to find out if there is a business case in the SA market for gaming-centric ADSL accounts.

Keoma Wright, OpenWeb CEO, said “There most definitely is. On our Silver, Gold, and Platinum Uncapped, and Gold and Platinum Capped accounts, we prioritise gaming traffic. It also helps that our upstream provider has a node in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and soon Durban, allowing for intelligent routing to take place dependant on a clients location. In English, this means lower latency.”

Brand Manager at Afrihost, Tyler Theron, said that they tweak and prioritise traffic between their ADSL clients and their AfriGamer servers. He added that there is a case for gamer-centric ADSL products, and that in future they may add features such as free game content downloads from mirrors.

Web Africa Games Master, Robert Tait, said that “while we don’t offer specialised ADSL products for gaming, per se, it is safe to say that our home and business products are optimised for gaming and that a decent gaming experience will in no doubt result from using our accounts even though they may not be branded for gaming specifically.”

“Low latency, packet loss and jitter are important factors for gamers; being in a intense battle on Caspian Border only to end up dead without reason due to lag problems, is not fun. We address this issue by prioritizing all gaming traffic on our network.”

“Gaming traffic is identified and matched correctly generally. However, with newer titles, traffic may not be matched correctly immediately after the launch of the game title. Gaming traffic is tricky to identify, with various ports, protocols and dynamic IP addresses from end-users involved, it’s difficult to provide clear statistics about gamers,” said Tait.

Nathier Kasu, general manager at MWEB Digital said: “MWEB gives gaming traffic priority, ensuring online gamers of low latency, without the need for a specific gaming product. Zero-rating of content makes sense in a capped world, but with an affordable unthrottled uncapped ADSL account it is no longer relevant.”

“As gaming becomes more mainstream, a gamer-centric ADSL account becomes the norm and we have taken the view that our efforts around ensuring interactive services like gaming work well across our range of products is a more robust approach anticipating future customer needs. Bundling an ADSL product and a gaming-specific value-added service is entirely another topic and there is potential for this kind of service to exist in the future,” said Kasu.

“We don’t believe there is value in a specialised [gaming] ADSL product on the access side, unless such a product consistently and comprehensively outperforms a ‘standard’ ADSL product,” said Kasu.

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