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Explained: Does Faster Internet Lower Your Ping?

Yes, faster internet can help lower your ping — but it’s a little more complicated than that. In this article, we’ll help you understand how ping and latency can massively impact online video games and other activities. We’ll also show you how to lower (improve) your ping for more enjoyable online experiences, starting with the basics.

What is ping or latency?

If you've ever spent time around online gamers, you've probably heard them talk — or yell — about "ping" and "latency." These very closely related terms are often used interchangeably. However, technically speaking, they each tell us something a little different about how well our internet is working.

Behind the scenes, our online activities are like conversations between people, devices, networks and servers. We tell our devices what we want to do by clicking, tapping, scrolling, typing and speaking voice commands.

Low latency gives VR gamers a more immersive, enjoyable experience.

Our devices listen to our instructions and put them in a neat little packet that only computers and other devices can understand. The packet is then sent to devices on other networks. After the other devices receive our packet, they send new ones back to us.

  • Your "ping" is the signal your device sends to a device on another network (and the signal that's sent back to you).
  • Your "latency" is a measurement of time. It tells you how many milliseconds (ms) it takes for your signal or "ping" to travel to devices on other networks and back to you again.

Ever played “Marco Polo” in a swimming pool? This article from HP uses Marco Polo to explain these terms a little better. You can think of ping as the interaction between you and your friend when you shout, "Marco!" and they reply, "Polo!" and latency as the amount of time this interaction takes.

What does "ping" mean to gamers?

Higher latency — or higher ping — leads to frustrating deaths, losses and an unfair disadvantage while gaming. In the online gaming world, ping and latency are commonly used to mean the same thing: how long it takes for other players to see and become affected by your actions (or button mashing). Because this usage is so common, ping will refer to latency for the remainder of the article to prevent confusion.

In multiplayer games, "ping" often takes the blame for a negative turn of events — and many times, it really is at fault. Ping directly affects lag time, and lagging in a game is an easy way to lose matches unfairly.

For competitive gamers, ping can make the difference between winning and losing.

Here's a ping-related event you might experience in a video game: say you press O to cast a spell that turns an enemy player into a tiny frog. On your screen, they were running toward you, and you pressed O just in time to turn them into a frog before they shot at you.

However, on your enemy's screen, they shot at you as soon as they saw you, knocking you down before you had a chance to turn them into a frog. If both of you aimed correctly, the player with better ping will successfully complete their action first — regardless of who pressed the button faster.

This discrepancy can be highly frustrating in competitive games, especially for players with bad ping. And worse, many internet service providers (ISPs) don't talk about ping or latency, so you may not know what to expect from your connection until it's too late.

How to measure lower and higher ping rate?

From the information above, you know that ping is measured in milliseconds (ms), but what makes your ping good or bad? Since ping measures how long it takes for the game to "register" your actions, a lower ping is better. It means you'll be more likely to win close battles between you and players of the same skill level, since your actions take effect before the actions of players with higher ping.

For many online activities, such as checking your email or scrolling through social media, any ping under 100 ms will work fine, according to highspeedinternet.com.

Low latency leads to exciting VR gameplay.

However, for gamers, a maximum ping of 50 ms is considered acceptable. Many players aim for their ping to be under 30 ms — and professional gamers, who need every advantage they can get to win matches and tournaments, prefer 20 ms.

A ping of 150 ms or more is considered "unplayable" by most gamers, especially if the game is fast-paced or competitive, because when you press a button, there's a noticeable delay before your action takes effect.

Does faster internet lower your ping?

Yes, but while faster internet speed can help lower your ping, other factors also come into play. Higher bandwidth means more data can travel to other networks at faster speeds, but ping measures the time it takes for the data to travel from its original source to its destination, so the consistency and reliability of your connection matters just as much as its speed.

Unfortunately, many ISPs (internet service providers) place so much emphasis on bandwidth without mentioning ping, it's easy to get the impression that speed is everything you need for a flawless online experience, but this assumption is false.

The way you're connected to the internet has a major impact on your ping. For example, satellite internet and cable networks providers may offer excellent download speeds and tempting discounts on triple bundles (TV, internet and phone), but still have unreliable ping. True fiber optic internet is the way to go for a lower, more consistent ping rate — especially if your device is connected with Ethernet cables.

Before you sign a contract with internet carriers or subscribe to a new internet service, ask for information about the ping rate you can expect for your online activities. If you live in Chattanooga, EPB Fiber Optics offers the area's only true, 100% fiber optic low-latency internet with equal download speed and upload speed from 300 Mbps up to 25 Gigs.

Other reasons for lower ping rate

If you're experiencing a high ping rate that's negatively impacting your online gaming and other activities, one of these factors may be to blame:

  • Your geographical location. Building a fiber optic network is a major investment. If you live in a rural, remote or low-population area, you may not have fiber optic internet access. If you have dial-up (phone internet), satellite, cable internet or internet access on phone (cell service), your geographical location could be to blame for your high ping. Additionally, if you're gaming online, the distance between your home and a game’s servers can also impact your connection, especially if the game is based in a country other than your own.
Fiber optic internet delivers lower ping than satellite or cable.

Tip: If a game allows you to pick a "server" or "realm," choose the closest available option. EPB and other Chattanooga gamers will likely have the best results from "North America: East" servers.

  • Where you put your Wi-Fi router. It's important to put careful consideration into where you set up your wireless internet router. This can massively impact the strength of your Wi-Fi signal and lead to a higher ping and weak internet. Choose a central area of your home, up high, away from thick walls, furniture or any large electronics that can block or interfere with your signal. If you need help, check out our guide on how to find the best place to put your router.
  • Not enough bandwidth. It's possible that you don't have enough bandwidth to keep up with your online activities and devices. Our daily lives are continuing to demand more and more bandwidth, from wireless devices to smart appliances to binge-watching Netflix series to video conferencing for work or live-streaming massively multiplayer games with ultra-high graphics settings for thousands of viewers at once. For avid gamers, internet service that delivers Gig-speed uploads and downloads without data caps (or a high data limit) is a must if you want to stay competitive. Check out this article from NordVPN to learn about the importance of bandwidth.

If you're tired of frustrating losses and long for fast, reliable internet with lower ping (and you live in EPB's service territory here in Chattanooga, Tennessee), it may be time to consider switching to EPB’s world-famous Gig internet service. For just $67.99/month, you'll experience flawless gaming and other online activities powered by limitless fiber optic Gig-speed uploads and downloads backed by 24/7/365 local EPB Tech ProsSM support. Switch today and start enjoying lag-free, low-ping games powered by the Gig.

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