Hello fellow PS4 fanatics. This is a very long post, but it’s full of details that every PS4 owner should know about what’s really going on behind the scenes with the PSN-PS4 connection. There’s a two-fold answer explaining why our favorite console struggles with connection speeds, and it can easily be fixed by Sony/PSN/whomever is in charge of doing updates for the PS4. Also, I would like to preface this explanation that this isn’t a hypothesis or a good guess, these are facts that came from testing and research done by network professionals (2 engineers, a network admin, and a multiplayer game developer), and an admission by a PS4 call center guy that tried to backtrack once I repeated what he had said to me.
My ISP (Comcast) offers up 100 MBps DL/50 MBps UL network speed and my roomies and I have two Nighthawk routers-each router has two WiFi bands: 1. The new high speed 5 Ghz that connects with 802.11 ac, and 2. The normal 2.3 Ghz that connects with 802.11 b/g/n-at home. One on router we have 2 laptops, 2 smartphones (Galaxy S4 and S5), a WiiU and an XBox 360 connected. On that particular router, the two phones use the 5Ghz band, and everything else uses the slower 2.3 Ghz. On the other router is a hardwired Xbox One & PS4. Only the XB1 connects to the 5Ghz band, as M$ put the new 802.11 ac tech in the console, while Sony used last gen 802.11 b/g/n for their WiFi connection. Even the Galaxy S4 (which is two years old) uses 802.11 ac, so Sony kind of skimped on their WiFi connecting hardware. That absolutely would affect your connection speeds if you’re using WiFi, but for this test we had both the XB1 and the PS4 hardwired to the router. And after those tests, we directly connected both consoles to the modem.
We did extensive testing on the network, and almost all of the devices recorded 100 MBps DL speeds and around 40 MBps UL. The XB1 actually went OVER the 100, (it hit 112 MBps DL one one test), and the X360, when hardwired, hit the 100 DL speed as well. No matter what combination we tried, whether it be wired, wireless, or direct to modem, the PS4 never recorded speeds over 40 MBps DL and 5 MBps UL. I suspected that it had something to do with the old network tech, but my engineer buddies said that old WiFi hardware doesn’t matter when hardwired to the 100 BASE-T, especially since the last gen X360 records 100 MBps speeds when hardwired.
After quadruple checking the numbers and trying every possible scenario, the top of the heap was around 40 MBps DL and 7 MBps UL with the PS4, while the XB1 hit 112 MBps DL and 50 MBPs UL on the same router and same port, and then direct connect to the modem. We called the PSN help line and the gentleman on the phone blamed it on too many things on the router and all kinds of other stuff (even though we explained that there was nothing else on the router and we directly connected to the modem), and then he said that those numbers were just estimates. Considering while doing our tests, the PS4 numbers hit 37.4 DL, then 38.1 DL, and other numbers with tenths of a point at the end, saying it was a flat estimate just wasn’t true, and an obvious lip service to stop people from asking questions.
After explaining that all of the answers he was giving were not possible in this situation, I asked if he had any other ideas, he said he would do some more research into the hardware. A few minutes later, he came back on the line and said that it appears that there’s a software filter (for those of you who are Bit Torrenters, it’s the same as the uTorrent client where you can enter a cap speed on the upload bandwidth. It’s insanely simple) on the PS4 to keep the speeds capped at a certain level to “ensure stability.” WOW. I repeat his statement back, and say “OK, so you’re telling me that the PS4 slows end user speeds for stability and have never explained this fact to the userbase? Even though no other company does that, especially the competition? Do you realize that this is a constant topic of frustration on almost every support messageboard for the PS4 and no one from the Playstation team has ever chimed in with this pertinent information?” He then quickly tried to backtrack and explain that I misunderstood what he had said. But it makes absolute sense why all of us are having so many network speed issues, and the Sony/PS4 team need to unlock our connection caps.
So, the question then, is, why Sony would do this? Well, think about it. When the PS3 launched and the PSN was free, it makes sense to cap the speeds and keep bandwidth consistent so they knew just how much they had to spend to upgrade their servers and handle the network load. But, since they started charging us for the right to play multiplayer games online, it seems pretty shady to continue the practice. It’s also why M$ constantly uses marketing speak to tout their massive investment in millions of new servers, making Xbox Live the fastest and most reliable gaming network, as well as their “Cloud Computing to offload CPU strain” bullsh*t. Sony also never discusses their online infrastructure. By filtering speeds, they never have to worry about spikes in network traffic load, which would expose their underdeveloped server farm, which would require them to spend a fortune on a whole new gaggle of servers.
Considering we now pay almost the same amount for Plus as Xboxers do for Live, it’s time for them to send an update that unlocks our consoles and admit that they have been capping our speeds. And, not for nothing, what are they planning on doing when Playstation NOW rolls out? It’ll never work if they’re bottlenecking the PS4 network connections.
Sony, if you’re reading this, please do the right thing. Level with your user base. Tell us you’ve been capping our speeds-and don’t make up silly excuses why it was necessary-and then send an update to lift the cap, and no one will ask anymore questions. This console war has been the most contentious since the days of Genesis vs. SNES, and people are taking their loyalties to whole new levels this time around. So, it’s probably a good idea to level with your fans who have shown intense support since launch day, seeing as they’re going to be the army that helps you win this war in the end. They deserve to know the truth. And to get the very best from Sony and the PS4.
P.S. There’s a good chance that this post will be flagged and taken down and my account banned for speaking out, so please take screenshots and link this out on Twitter etc. or it might disappear.