A major ISP is testing a new service to lower lag in online games, for a price

Cox, the 4th largest provider of cable internet service in the US, has been testing a new 'Elite Gamer' service in select areas, which gives customers access to a dedicated gaming network designed to smooth out connections to multiplayer games—for an extra $14.99 a month. 

According to Variety, the service is a repackaging of WTFast, a "gaming private network" that isolates and prioritizes game packets, optimizing the path they take traveling to and from the game's servers. WTFast can also be purchased on its own for the same price, and comes as a free perk bundled with some of the best gaming routers.

Like WTFast, Elite Gamer only isolates game packets. Cox says customers won't have faster access to websites and other streaming services like Netflix, for example.

Upon checking the Cox website, it informed me that its Elite Gamer package was not yet available in my area. But an image provided by imgur user KGBatemybread allows you to see what purchasing the service could look like if Cox decides to role out its Elite Gamer service on a mass scale.

On the final checkout page, Cox states that its Elite Gamer service is "made to help you compete at your highest level, reducing annoying lag, jitter, and ping spikes that cost you points and victories. It seeks out the fastest route for your game data letting your games run faster, smoother and more stable." The company goes on to say that its service will reduce lag by 34 percent, ping spikes by 55 percent, and jitter by 45 percent. 

There are come caveats that come with using GPN services like WTFast. Basically, the greater number of "hops" your computer needs to make to a game server, lag, packet loss, etc. will increase. Services like WTFast use their own private routes to provide customers with a faster/shorter route to the game server. But it can only offer a better connection to the server if they can offer something better than what your ISP offers. 

So, if Cox Elite Gamer is just a repackaging of WTFast, then it's questionable how the add-on service will improve upon its base internet connection—an ISP improving on itself. If you are a Cox customer in Maricopa, Arizona, you might see better performance playing Overwatch, for instance, if Cox is able to route a better path to the servers in Los Angeles. But for a customer in San Diego, California, there might not even be a better path to route.

There's also the issue of these GPN services detecting your ping to their own servers instead of the game server itself, which misrepresents the actual amount of lag, latency, etc. these services actually eliminate. In fact, depending in where you are located, your ping might actually increase.

Thanks, Tom's Hardware.

Joanna Nelius
When Joanna's not writing about gaming desktops, cloud gaming, or other hardware-related things, she's doing terrible stuff in The Sims 4, roleplaying as a Malkavian, or playing horror games that would give normal people nightmares. She also likes narrative adventures.