EE UK Launch 1.6Gbps FTTP Broadband Package for Gamers

Broadband ISP and mobile operator EE (BT) has today launched a second 1.6Gbps speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) package on Openreach’s network, which is called the ‘Broadband Made for Gamers‘ bundle and claims to offer online gamers “lower latency, game server geofencing and in-home network prioritisation,” among other things.

In case anybody has forgotten, EE already launched a 1.6Gbps (120Mbps upload) package for £69.99 per month last year (here), which came alongside their new Wi-Fi 6 capable Smart Hub Plus router and other kit. This was based on Openreach’s latest 1.8Gbps tier (requires a new 2.5Gbps port ONT to be installed in your home) and was also promoted for use by gamers.

NOTE: Openreach’s full fibre network currently covers almost 14.5 million UK premises and aims to reach 25 million by December 2026 (80%+), before aiming for up to 30m by 2030.

The fact is that an FTTP connection, at any speed, should deliver excellent latency times for gaming and thus the key question we have to ask today is – what does that that extra £10 per month get you with this new bundle (the new bundle is £79.99 per month)? Followed by, is it worth the extra money?

According to EE, the Smart Hub Plus router that comes with this package includes ‘Game Mode‘, which is something that previously came as part of their WiFi Enhancer Boost. This feature is powered by Netduma and adds geo-filtering, as well as ping-optimise. On top of that, the bundle also includes 24-months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (worth almost £200 in total), giving players access to hundreds of games, which is good if you like Microsoft’s platform.

What is Game Mode?

➤ Geo Filter – chooses the highest quality servers and blocks any that have increased lag for best in game play.

➤ Ping Optimiser – allowing customers to enjoy a fine-tuned connection with less buffering when gaming, with reducing server ping by up to 24% according to tests carried out by developers Netduma.

However, whether or not you really need Game Mode is debatable, as a good vanilla FTTP line should already be delivering excellent latency and stability, unless your ISP is being particularly crap with their routing/peering/capacity arrangements. Not to mention that humans are usually pretty good at ‘Geo Filtering’ from a server list themselves.

Sam Kemp, Director of Gaming at EE, said:

By introducing Broadband Made for Gamers, we believe we’re making a huge step in our ambition to become the number one destination for gaming in the UK, by creating a broadband package that has been truly tailored for gamers to enhance their in-game experiences. Features such as Game Mode as well as 1.6Gbps Full Fibre will give gamers the extra edge when they’re playing, and customers will never be short on the latest and most exciting titles with our inclusive 24-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.”

EE adds that tests conducted on their Full Fibre network using Cisco’s ThousandEyes (formerly SamKnows) performance monitoring technology “reveals it offers a latency reduction of over a third compared to standard broadband“, although they don’t provide any specific details or define what “standard broadband” means. A more interesting test would to see how the new package compares with their entry-level 100Mbps+ FTTP plans for latency.

Admittedly, we’re always a little bit sceptical when an ISP claims to offer a multiplayer optimised service for online video games because there’s a limit to how much you can tweak FTTP connections in order to extract improvements in latency. In addition, the netcode that multiplayer games use has to be optimised for slower connections too, which means that there’s an element of diminishing returns for those with the lowest latencies.

Not to forget that your latency (ping times) will also depend on aspects of your own local network setup too, such as whether your device is connecting via WiFi (what standard?) or wired etc. Overall, it seems like the main cost difference with this bundle is the addition of that Xbox Game Pass.

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