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 Inside the Connection: Intelligence

Inside the Connection - Intelligence

By: Chris Marsh, Director of Operations -- Our network technology allows us to offer an exceptional solution, as we outsmart the competition to offer the best product possible. We take a look into our back-end network and the technology that drives Outfox and is one of our core pillars - Intelligence.

As gamers, we relate to the desire to be in control and acheive the best performance when playing online. You can have the greatest gaming PC with overclocked graphics and killer FPS. You can buy high-speed Internet with high upload and download speeds. But in truth, once the data leaves your computer and hits the Internet the control is in your Internet service provider's hands. That's why we made Outfox – to give you the ability to optimize your network performance when gaming and always provide the best route to the game servers. 

How Does Game Traffic Work?

To understand how Outfox works to provide you with the fastest connection while gaming, it's important to start at the beginning with how your game traffic is handled in the long, strange trip between your PC and the game servers. When you fire up a game and click "connect," the packets of data from your PC begin their journey, starting at the router in your home network. From there they will go to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) at their router will take over and route the traffic to the game server. Each ISP network that your traffic has to pass through has an Autonomous System Number (ASN). BGP uses the number of ASNs your traffic has to pass through to determine which route to take.

Network Traffic

When the router decides which path to take, it chooses the one with the fewest ASNs required to get your data to the game server. In the example above, the router would choose the bottom connection despite the higher latency, simply because it has fewer hops. Once the data arrives at the game server, the process begins again in the opposite direction as the game sends packets back to your computer.

So what's missing from this picture? The decision making process doesn't take into account many factors that will affect the speed of the connection such as congestion, server outages or link speed between ASNs. This limited data often leads to bad routing decisions (meaning the quickest route to the server is not taken) and poor performance. 

It's helpful to think of Internet traffic in the same way you think of street traffic. When you use a map to get driving directions, it provides a path from point A to point B. But making a route decision without taking into account current traffic (or other factors, like a road closure) will not lead to the fastest trip. Your standard Internet connection is like being stuck using an old fashioned paper map, whereas Outfox is like using Google Maps with more detailed and up to the minute traffic information.

How Does Outfox Improve The Process?

We own our own routers and networks, which means we have our own ASNs, much like the mainstream ISPs such as Suddenlink, Cogent or Comcast. We've been in the Internet business for 20 years and have our own peering agreements with top tier ISPs. This means we can skip some of the unnecessary hops and provide a direct connection. Unlike other services that use solutions such as Amazon Web Services, we provide a truly unique and fully optimized choice to our users. 

Data can only go so fast, but the path it takes is important to increasing speed. What Outfox provides that your router doesn't is an informed decision about which route to take based upon network congestion, latency and packet loss. Choosing an optimal route based upon multiple factors, rather than one metric (the number of ASNs), is a smarter way to handle traffic. We also have the ability to make data-driven choices that directly impact our users  - including choices about where we should improve service and expand by adding servers. 

It's exciting to bring Outfox to the gaming community, and provide players with more choice and control over their game performance. To learn more about Outfox and share your thoughts, head over to our Forums. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask and we'll address them in future posts for the blog!