Can more than one person play online games on an installed mobile broadband connection?

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There’s no limit to the number of devices you can use on your installed mobile broadband connection and, also, no limit to the online games you can play at the same time on your connection. It’s totally possible, then, to use your installed connection to play Minecraft on your Xbox while your roommate uses the same connection to play PUBG on his laptop.

There are, however, some practical barriers that limit the number of online games you can have going on your installed mobile broadband connection at one time. Let’s take a look at how online gaming on multiple devices will affect the capacity and speed of your internet connection.


Theoretically, your installed connection could support hundreds of games at once

Because mobile broadband providers don’t limit the number of devices you can connect to your local network, your installed connection could theoretically support as many devices as your wireless router can handle. Most routers can connect to up to 250 devices through Wi-Fi, plus up to four devices through Ethernet. Theoretically, then, a single local network could support 254 devices playing games at the same time. The reality, of course, is a little different.


Practically, your network has limited bandwidth

While mobile broadband providers don’t arbitrarily limit the number of devices on your local network, they do limit your bandwidth by regulating your data cap and your internet speeds. If your data plan has a data cap then, obviously, you won’t be able to play games on any device once you reach that monthly limit. Also, if your data plan has slow speeds, then it’ll be harder to simultaneously play games on multiple devices than it would be if you had faster speeds.

Despite what some people think, online gaming doesn’t use as much bandwidth as other online activities like video streaming. Battlefield V, for example, uses about 150 MB per hour on a full, 64-player server. At minimum, though, you’ll need a download speed of at least 3 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbps to game without lags. If your network is congested with devices, it’ll be difficult for your internet connection to reach these speeds.

To see why, let’s take a look at the way your network divides limited bandwidth.


How your network divides bandwidth

Your network divides bandwidth between all the devices that are connected to your network at any given time. If you’re using a router with load-balancing software, your router will divide this bandwidth unevenly (based on the priority of each data packet). If you’re using a router without load-balancing software, the router will divide the bandwidth evenly between all the devices.

Say, for example, that your internet connection has a download speed of 40 Mbps and an upload speed of 8.5 Mbps, which is standard for installed 4G LTE. If you’re gaming on a single console, that console will exchange data with other players at these speeds. If you have two consoles going at once, your router will split these speeds in half so that it can support both games

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. Each console will now exchange data with other players at a download speed of 20 Mbps and an upload speed of 4.25 Mbps.

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So how many online games can my internet speeds support?

While an internet connection with a download speed of 40 Mbps and an upload speed of 8.5 Mbps (standard for installed 4G LTE) can support gaming on up to eight devices, more than eight devices will push your upload speed below 1 Mbps (too slow for gaming). Your installed mobile broadband connection can theoretically support hundreds of devices at one time, but most connections simply don’t have the bandwidth to provide internet to all these devices.