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Broadband and Counter-Strike

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Does it really help your Gameplay? And by how much?

1. Introduction

ADSL- Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, probably the most popular of DSL technologies, the upload and downloadspeeds are asynchronous of each other with the signal travelling over a single twisted pair line.

Cable Modem- connection using a single coax line at speeds of about 500-1000Kb download, and 128-500Kb upload.

DSL- Digital Subscriber Line, general term for all types of Internet connections using a single twisted-pair line for a faster connection than that of a dial-up modem.

HDSL- High bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line, type of DSL that offers T1 speeds over one or more twisted-pair lines.

IDSL- ISDN Digital Subscriber Line, a type of DSL with a much greater range than most other types, but at the loss of speed.

ISDN- Integrated Services Digital Network, older connection using completely digital lines with a maximum speed of 128Kb.

ISP- Internet Service Provider, this is the company from which you buy your Internet service.

Kb- Kilobit typically preceded by a number to show the bandwidth rating of some type of connection, note the lower case "b" for bit.

Mb- Megabit, typically preceded by a number to show the bandwidth rating of the faster types of connections, note the lower case "b" for bit.

SDSL- Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line, unlike ADSL, the upload and download speeds are synchronous of each other, many times making for a higher upload but slower download than ADSL.

VDSL- Very high bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line, a type of DSL that offers 12.9 to 52.8Mb of bandwidth.
Thanks to "The DSL Center"(http://www.dslcenter.com/) for most of this information.

2. Back in the day

Back in the days of multiplayer Quake and Quake 2, most people played with a modem. This was perfectly fine for the day, as packets were not all too large, and as such, didn't need quite so much bandwidth. However, over the years, this scene has changed greatly.

3. Hungry for bandwidth

Nowadays, multiplayer games send packets with more data and at a faster pace than the games of a few years ago. Among these, of course, is Counter-Strike. This is where broadband comes in. A few years ago, one would very rarely be able to get anything faster than dual-channel ISDN, which, at the time, was quite expensive. Fast forward to today and you will notice the much greater availability of such broadband technologies as DSL and cable modem. Compared to a normal dial-up modem, such as a 56K modem, even the slowest of broadband connections, known as IDSL, typically have an upload and download speed at least twice that of a 56K modem. (As a side note, 56K modems themselves are actually digital on both ends of the line, but the line in between is still analog.) Also keep in mind that upload bandwidth is just as important as download.

The differences in technologies:

Cable modem is probably the most popular, but certainly not the best. It sends a signal down a single coax line, just like the one for your cable television, thus the name, cable modem. It commonly offers download speeds of 500-1000 Kb, and upload speeds of 128-500 Kb. However, your chances of actually getting that nice figure of 1Mb are quite slim. That is because you must share this line with everyone on your block. Then there is the problem of some areas only able to receive one-way cable modem. This offers similar download speeds as the normal cable modem, but uses a normal dial-up modem for upload. This, in turn, plays havoc on your ping in CS, making it seem almost as if you were playing on a dial-up modem. The up-shot of cable modem, is since you share it with others, the cost is split and so it ends up being rather cheap.

ADSL, the most popular variety of DSL, offers download speeds as high as 1.5Mb and upload speeds as high as 384Kb. This also tends to be rather cheap for the bandwidth. Fortunately, as opposed to cable modem, ADSL is your own dedicated line just for you. This sort of service should be just fine for most people. It's relatively cheap, and quite fast too.

SDSL is not nearly as popular as ADSL. This is mainly because of the cost. Unfortunately for some, this is all you can get. It offers the same upload bandwidth as download, making it perfect for servers, with a maximum of 2Mb upload and download. However, good luck getting this fast of a connection, as it is mainly geared for businesses and is quite expensive. If this is your only option, 256Kb or 384Kb is more like it. This is the type of broadband used by the author at 256Kb both ways.

There are also other types of DSL, such as HDSL and VDSL. These, like the very fast SDSL, are mainly geared toward businesses with tons of money to spare on enormous amounts of bandwidth. Also, your chances of finding an ISP with this kind of service are very slim.

How much of a difference does it really make?

The answer to this is simple. If you consider yourself to be an average player on your dinky 56K modem, always finding yourself in the middle of the ranks after a game, imagine getting a broadband connection and suddenly finding yourself near the top. I say this with absolute certainty.

There are also some side-effects associated with modem play in CS. For example, you are walking along as a counter-terrorist, and when you turn that corner, a terrorist jumps out at you. He just so happens to have a nice broadband connection, so by the time your mouse click has been registered in order to fire, he has already sprayed a bullet or two into you. Next, you try backing out behind the corner, only to get killed because it took too long for the server to register the move. This is one of the greatest annoyances of modem play.

Before I received my broadband connection, I often found myself near the top above players with average pings of around 100. Now, I am almost constantly at the very top of the ranks after every match with my number of kills towering over the guy in second on my team, all the while with a very nice 70 ping due to that nice high upload. As said earlier, the upload is just as important as the download for getting a nice low ping.

Now, one might ask, "Ender, if you were still beating people with a broadband connection, doesn't that mean I'll still be beaten by people no matter what their connection?" The answer is yes; you can still have a good connection and be beaten. It's merely a matter of skill. However, the better connection evens up the scale a bit so the ones with the better connection but lesser skill are about even to those with more skill but a worse connection.

4. Conclusion

As explained before, a better connection does help out your game. As corny as it may sound, there is no substitute for skill. If you find yourself at the very bottom of the list whenever a match ends with maybe a few kills and numerous deaths, chances are, a broadband connection won't help you much. Fortunately for those with the least bit of skill, broadband should help you out a bit, just be prepared for the extra cost of such a connection.



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