EghtesadOnline: Iran has made visible progress in enhancing the quality of modern communication services. However, Internet disruptions and high ping rates are still taking a toll on online games.
The Digital Games Research Center (DIREC) conducted an online survey of 790 Iranian gamers and asked about common issues they face while playing online.
According to the results published on the research center’s website (direc.ir), the main issue Iranian gamers face is high ping, which also is referred to as high latency.
Ping is a computer network administration software utility used to test the reachability of a host on an Internet Protocol network. It measures the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer that are echoed back to the source. Ping is calculated in milliseconds, Financial Tribune reported.
High ping and low ping are commonly used terms in online gaming, where high ping refers to a ping that causes a severe amount of lag. While any level of ping may cause lag, severe lag is usually caused by a ping of over 100 ms.
The research center, affiliated to Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation, reports that the average ping in Iran is between 134 and 159 ms. This rate certainly makes playing games online a hassle.
In addition to gamers, the network’s high latency has also taken a toll on other users. Due to this drawback, making online voice and video calls are still not easy in Iran.
There are more than 28 million gamers in the country and an estimated 42% of PC gamers and 41% of console gamers play online.
Worst Time for Online Gaming
Those polled also pointed out that the ping rate is not constant. Data gathered by the research center shows that from midday until midnight, disruptions caused by high ping rates jumped in terms of number and severity. This makes the period the worst time for playing online games.
Seemingly, in those hours the number of active Internet users increases and since the local network cannot handle large scale demand for connectivity properly the service quality deteriorates and users experience higher latency and increased ping.
Furthermore, some of those questioned pointed to the network’s poor reliability. They said due to disruptions in the ISP network they have been disconnected from the Internet on numerous occasions.
The top five ISPs popular with Iranian gamers are Telecommunication Company of Iran, mobile operator MTN-Irancell, Shatel, Pars Online, and AsiaTech.
Local Restrictions and US Sanctions
Another issue gamers struggle with is that from time to time they are barred from accessing servers of foreign game developers, due to locally-imposed bans or US sanctions.
On occasions international game companies have barred Iran-based gamers from accessing their services pointing to the mounting US restrictions. It merits mention that none of the US sanctions call on such firms to ban Iranian gamers.
For instance, visiting the website of popular online video game Fortnite developed by Epic Games, a message is displayed reading: “Due to United States trade restrictions, we are unable to permit account creation with individuals in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or Syria at this time.”
On various occasions, local authorities bar people from accessing online services offered by foreign game companies. Many websites and online services are blocked in Iran, including video sharing platform YouTube, social media websites Facebook and Twitter.
Some games are considered “obscene” by Iranian authorities and access to their developers’ website is blocked in Iran. For instance, people in Iran cannot visit the website of Rockstar Games, developer of Grand Theft Auto series, without using a VPN or proxy service.
While immensely popular with game lovers, GTA is often criticized by authorities for its violent content. Officials have tried to even ban the sale of the game in Iran, albeit without success.
Iran’s communication infrastructure has grown significantly over the past decade. According to the ICT Ministry, in the past five years, 250 trillion rials ($2.17 billion) has been invested in ICT infrastructure.
The investment is largely in the communications sector. According to official data, local operators offer 3G and 4G mobile services in all cities and 66% of rural areas.
Close to 91.8 million mobile subscriptions have been registered and 82.6% of roadways have cellphone coverage, Iran’s Communication Regulatory Authority says on its website.
The CRA notes that 71 million people have access to the Internet in the country of 81 million people -- 86.8% Internet penetration rate.
According to speedtest.net, the average mobile Internet speed in Iran is 30.64 Mbps, while the average speed of fixed broadband services is 12.84 Mbps in the country.