Ask LH: Can I Dump My ISP For Bad Latency?

Dear Lifehacker, I recently signed up for a 24 month contract with an ISP. I am a big gamer, I love YouTube and I download heavy files from time to time so I got the unlimited plan…

I live in the Perth CBD (just metres from a major exchange) so speed isn’t supposed to be an issue. It’s fluctuating between 12 and 17 mbps with the theoretical maximum being 24 mbps. I can live with that. My issue arises with gaming. Apparently they push all their traffic to Melbourne (which is 3000+ km away) and that makes the games I play on console impossible to enjoy because of the delayed latency. I went back to my contract and tried to find a mention of this somewhere. No luck.

My question is the following: if it isn’t mentioned anywhere, do I have a case for termination? It wouldn’t matter for most people but that is the number one reason I got unlimited broadband in the first place. Thanks, Game Over

Snail picture from Shutterstock

Dear GO,

Unfortunately, “unlimited” in a broadband context only refers to the volume of data you can download and upload, not the latency — if the plan in question doesn’t promote low latency as a key selling point, there may not be much you can do.

That said, it’s always worth seeing if there are any settings adjustments or nearby servers you can use instead. If you’re gaming over a Wi-Fi connection, switching to wired/Ethernet solution could also help to alleviate some of the lag you’re experiencing, albeit for unrelated reasons. You can read additional tips on speeding up your internet connection here.

The big lesson here? If something like latency matters, ring up and get a commitment from the provider before signing up. That gives you grounds for asking to get out of the contract if the service doesn’t measure up. You may then have a case for the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) if the ISP refuses to honor its agreement.

If any readers have their own latency or ISP contract tips, let GO know in the comments section below.


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