Many veterans of online gaming will certainly be familiar with the frustration that comes with high latency and disconnects. Indeed, dropping a match in games like Apex Legends and Fortnite due to a poor internet connection can be infuriating, and Cox Communications – a US-based ISP – is now looking to cash in on this phenomenon by way of a premium service.
Specifically, Cox has just begun a limited trial, currently focused on Phoenix, Arizona, of an “Elite Gamer” service. This service purports to “reduce your latency, reduce disconnects, and reduce lag spikes” for the price of $15 per month. For clarity, this cost is additional to standard internet fees, and it is only available to those that have a Cox connection of 100 Mbps or more.
Cox’s website further elaborates on its Elite Gamer service, stating that it finds “the fastest path to your game service across the internet” by using “an intelligent sever network to route your game connection.” Simply, the service looks to optimize a connection by avoiding “hops” and determining the most direct path to the server a player is connected to.
While this offering may sound enticing to some, even with the additional cost attached, others are already expressing concerns with the service. On Reddit, for example, some are suggesting that there is no way for Cox to control traffic once it has left its network, making it challenging to guarantee consistent improvements to a player’s latency.
Furthermore, some players are wary that ISPs will begin to degrade standard services in order to push customers towards these type of premium, performance enhancing services. This concern comes in the wake of the repeal of net neutrality, and the idea of service providers charging for prioritized, “fast lane” connections certainly rings problematic for many.
That said, in a conversation with Motherboard, Cox insisted that “no customer’s experience is degraded as a result of any customers purchasing Cox Elite Gamer service.” As such, players may still hold skepticism about the effectiveness of the service, but the current intention is not to make the Elite Gamer service necessary in establishing a suitable internet connection for gaming.
As indicated to Motherboard, Cox’s plan is to evaluate the results of the ongoing preliminary trial and precede based on its findings. If the trial proves to be successful, it would not be surprising to see Cox introduce the Elite Gamer service into other markets, and other ISPs may follow suit soon after as well.