My primary ISP is HughesNet which has horrible ping times that are not conducive at all with online gaming and usually won't even connect.

I'm thinking of getting a mobile broadband card (Verizon) for online gaming with the XBOX-360, mostly because I have no other options besides dial-up.

Does anyone here have experience with XBOX-Live and online gaming using an EVDO (3G) to connect to the internet?

Any caveats?

  • It's "EVDO", btw. It stands for EVolution-Data Optimized. [/nazi]
    – VxJasonxV
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 21:18
  • I tried hughes net and wild blue and both of them suck! I have the highest package available and just watching a you tube video kills my usage! I have been looking for a better source and came across this. It expensive but I think i will give it a try. google search Broadband Q Wireless. Hopefully I can get this.
    – user12440
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 8:41

7 Answers 7


For FPS games your ping will be far too high.

However the bigger issue is the traffic shaping they perform when you try to play. Having played with a mobile broadband connection (Three - a UK company) for 4 weeks, I've discovered that regardless of how little bandwidth your game uses - say 3k/second, the network will cut you off if you exceed even 2k/second after about 1 minute.

Presumbly they have some form of neural network or learning software in place that blocks your UDP packets after a set period. It may not be the same on HughesNet but I'd be wary.

It's crazy that you can download files, browse 500k per page websites like Flickr but they won't let you stream far less bandwidth for games.

The solution I use is to host an adhoc wifi network on Windows 7. Then once the game is blocked, I kill all the connections to that game using Netlimiter. The number of disconnects I get generally drops after peek hours, but they're very aggressive with the "learning" and blocking of the gaming traffic during peak hours.

It's ugly and extremely cumbersome but does work slightly better than a reconnect via the modem.

You might also want to get an antenna for the 3G USB modem, either a clip one or an outdoor one.


Depends on what you are playing. If you are playing FPS where ping is an issue then mobile broadband will not help you much. Edit (except in your case where it seems you are replacing a satellite isp. in that case it probably will help )

My suggestion is a decent Cable (comcast) or Fiber optic connection (like Verizon Fios) if you can get it. A direct connection is always better than mobile/wireless for ping issues.

I personally have Fios and my XBox is directly connected to the router and the only complaint I have is that the Fios router/gateway does not clear out it's connection cache and sometimes you have to restart it after a while otherwise you will get some ping issues as it thinks it has more connections to it than it does.

If you do get cable I would also suggest using a normal cable modem (not a gateway, modem/router in one) and a separate router. The Xbox is pretty sensitive as to how it handles port forwarding and NAT settings. A lot of gateways don't handle these settings well and can cause some issues as well.

  • As i cannot leave comments on other people's answers yet i will put it here. You mention that you are seeing 105-300ms with the mobile broadband. And haven't seen anything under 100ms. This is where the difference between mobile and wired comes in. Most games (MW2, Gears...) put their recommended maximum limit at 200 - 250 ms. I am pretty sure MW2 starts is searching at less than 75ms. I switched from Comcast to Fios and with both of these from east to west coast in the US I have not seen OVER 100 ms ping.
    – Jack
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 16:45
  • Trust me. If I had any choice whatsoever at almost any cost I would have something other than cellular or satellite broadband. You have to make do when you live in a rural area like I do. I'm just trying to find the least horrible solution right now.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 22:53
  • In that case, I would say mobile is better than satellite.
    – Jack
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 13:24

I feel your pain as I am stuck with Hughes Net crappy service. Online Games are horrible on satellite internet. And the sad thing is that is what they generally base their games around now and days when they come out with one. I have a PS3 with Battlefield Bad Company 2 and tried to play it on Hughes Net; wasn't happening lol. So I decided to try out my fathers version mobile broadband card, and surprisingly it runs really nice. I get very little to no lag during off peak hours, even on on peak hours at times. There are times where lag is horrible where you can't play. But I was able to play 5-6 hours online with no problems what so ever. And out of those 5-6hours + the 2 or so I played earlier that day I only used up 100mb of data.

So in short, yes you can use mobile broadband to play fps games. I am actually thinking about dropping Hughes Net and just going straight Mobile. The only downside is the 5g cap a month. Least with Hughes Net I can download as much as I want between 1-6am. But I think it would be worth it for online gaming :)

  • You should check out millenicom (3g Internet). You can get 10GB caps, or even unlimited if you negotiate well enough and find the right equipment off eBay. So far it is working fairly well for me as an alternative to Hughes.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 16:16
  • I'm also stuck with crappy Hughes net and I have to tell you, verizon services are 10 times better. My dad, who lives right down the street, has it and his Internet isn't bad at all. I'm going to try Xbox live there in a couple weeks, but from why I have seen so far, itll go great!
    – user8548
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 2:25

Ping times could still be an issue. The ping times you have will vary a lot. Are the ping times satisfactory to you?

Also, 3G doesn't have a lot of throughput. The download speeds wouldn't be considered "broadband", as many games require.

  • I don't know about the ping times, I don't have the service yet, I'm still considering buying it. As for bandwidth, the vendor claims it can do 1-2 Mbps on average, that isn't exactly going to break any speed records, but should be more than adequate I'd think.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 20:38

This question cannot be answered simply, but here's what I have to say:

If you think HughesNet's latency is terrible, chances are high that a mobile broadband card will not be any better. Cellular based connections suffer from a lot of latency, especially in the upload rate (transmit) side of it, which is equally as important (if not more so in some games) as the download rate (receive) is.

Your connection will be on the better end of the spectrum if you're close to a Cell Tower. Like, mere miles. Your connection will be worse if you're far from reliable high speed towers, have sufficient physical interference for the cellular signal, etc.

Mobile broadband cards are great when you're in a pinch/away from home and have to get something done, but for a near-realtime experience such as gaming, you're likely to be unimpressed.

Do I have experience with it in gaming? No. I've used cellular cards for other applications, and if it can't even smoothly hold a low-latency SSH connection, I would not even dream of using it for gaming.

Now, using a wireless broadband account for Xbox Live is fine on it's own (Netflix, online apps, communication, downloads, other videos, etc.), but again, I simply cannot suggest it for gaming. There are to many limitations to the capabilities of wide-area wireless to really make it an enjoyable experience in gaming.

  • I think you are wrong on the latency. I've done some quick testing on a borrowed Verizon mobile broadband card and while the Ping times aren't outstanding, they are reasonable (105-300ms in my testing so far) and that is with only 1 bar of service. That might not be stellar, but compared to Hughesnet (750ms-1.3ms) it is a massive improvement. In any case, thanks for responding.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 23:05
  • Hughesnet, if I recall correctly, is a Satellite ISP, so ping times are absolutely ridiculous. As John clarified, while the ping times on mobile broadband aren't ideal, they can still be doable. I have a friend who lived for a year and a half on mobile broadband (here in the Netherlands though, so very close to an access point) and he had reasonable enough ping times to be able to play MMO's and speak on Ventrilo.
    – FAE
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 23:12
  • While pings are a great initial measurement tool, note that my point went beyond that. Not only ping, but also jitter, packet loss, and more. Now, I'm not speaking specifically to your situation here, but to make my point: It's great if your service responds within 150 ms, but if it fails to send/receive 4 out of 10 times, what exactly have you gained?
    – VxJasonxV
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 19:44
  • Satellite is miserable for Gaming. Cellular connections less so. Wireless local broadband less so. And Wired should almost always be the most optimal gaming setup. Assuming no compelling physical hurdles exist. Regardless, glad to hear it's working out for you.
    – VxJasonxV
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 19:46
  • @VxJasonV I think I am going to concede the point. I've done some more testing and the ping times, while MUCH better than Hughes, are extremely variable (100ms-1600ms). Also, I haven't been able to get a ping yet under 100. I'm going to do some more testing after I get my booster antenna and will comment on the results when I have them.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 6:28

Not the fastest ping but I've played COD4 on it with only slight hiccup near IB, which says a lot since IB has two down cell towers. Your mileage may very on bandwidth and throughput, but usually >100KBPS no problem and often between 1-3MB given your not surrounded by a thick basement or brick walls, which dampen the signal to nothing in some places. The rate is acceptable but I do not know how much data actually goes through and most plans have a 5GB limit unless you are on Cricket or the new one in NYC (both have green logo -- Cricket does not support Windows 7, so be aware!)

You NAT route the connection to get it to work over ethernet (to the box) can do same over wifi but its a lot of headache. I prefer hard lines myself.


I have a Verizon Samsung 4G LTE device. But it is currently running on 3G, as I am waiting on 4G for this area as I have no other alternative to high speed internet. It works almost flawlessly at night past 10PM but between the hours of about 6am until around 10pm it lags a lot. They say when 4G comes we will be able to game flawlessly. As far as usage, I have the 5GB plan and have not went over it yet. I play games every other night and use my laptop every day for several hours. The closest I've came to running out over my 5GB usage was this month and I still had 25% left and if you go over with Verizon it's only $10/GB so not a huge scare if you do go over like with AT&T.

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