The Nintendo Switch relies on peer-to-peer (P2P) technology for a variety of functions. Normally P2P communications work best when both devices that need to communicate have their own public IP address. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of available IPv4 addresses.
Some internet service providers (ISPs) use carrier-grade network address translation (CGNAT) to allow multiple customers to share the same public IP address. This is not an issue for web browsing, streaming videos, downloading files, etc. Online gaming is one of several things that are negatively affected by CGNAT.
CGNAT tends to negatively impact P2P connections like those used by the Nintendo Switch. If your ISP uses CGNAT, your gaming experience will generally be impacted. However, there are a few ways to minimize the impacts of CGNAT on gaming.
How to Bypass CGNAT on Switch
There are a few options for bypassing CGNAT, and there is also the option (in most cases) of getting your ISP to provide you with a public IP address. This is sometimes free and, other times will incur a small monthly cost.
- Switch Internet Service Providers.
- Ask Your ISP about Getting a Publicly Routable IP Address.
- Use a VPN Service.
- Use Port Forwarding.
- Use the DMZ Function of Your Router.
Switch Internet Service Providers
A good option for many people is to look at getting a different internet service provider that does not use CGNAT. Most of the larger well, established providers do not use CGNAT. This includes providers such as Spectrum, Comcast (Xfinity), Verizon Fios, and AT&T Fiber.
If you want to avoid CGNAT, stay away from Starlink as well as any of the 5G home internet services. These all use CGNAT.
This option may be the most extreme, but perhaps it is also a chance to see if you can get a better deal with a different ISP. Often times they will offer incentives to switch over to them. This could include free streaming services, a prepaid debit gift card, or something else.
Ask Your ISP about Getting a Publicly Routable IP Address
Many but not all ISPs will be able to offer you a public IP address in place of using CGNAT. This is oftentimes just a matter of calling and asking. It also can usually be done without needing a visit from a service tech.
Many ISPs will offer this free of charge, but some will charge a small fee of a few dollars per month for having a public IP address. You may hear this referred to as a static IP address. However, a publicly routable IP address, by definition, doesn’t have to be static. What you care about here is that your IP address is publicly routable. Whether it is static or not doesn’t matter here.
Use a VPN Service
A VPN service is the best way to change your NAT type if you must use an internet service provider (ISP) that uses CGNAT. Using a VPN bypasses CGNAT by virtually connecting you to a public IP address that is tunneled directly to a VPN server.
Using a VPN is the surest way of changing your Nintendo Switch’s NAT type. It will bypass any CGNAT limitations imposed by your ISP.
Use DMZ Function of Your Router
Technically this will not bypass CGNAT. However, it can improve gaming performance on Switch by allowing easier NAT traversal. This method doesn’t address the root cause of the problem (CGNAT) but rather slaps a bandage on the wound.
By placing your Nintendo Switch into the DMZ of your router, you are effectively forwarding all ports to your switch. This can help to change your NAT type from F to D or from D to C, etc. Just keep in mind that you are still limited by CGNAT, even with your switch in the DMZ of your router.
NAT Types on Switch Explained
Nintendo uses the letters A, B, C, D, and F to indicate how well your Switch is able to traverse NAT. NAT is always a challenge for gaming. However, double NAT is almost always going to severely impact gaming performance.
Type A on Nintendo Switch
NAT type A on Nintendo Switch is roughly the equivalent of open NAT on other platforms. With a NAT type A on Switch, you are not restricted in any way. All features will work properly, and you will often be selected as the host for peer-to-peer (P2P) multiplayer matches. NAT Type A is ideal for hardcore Switch gamers. It also likely requires the most effort to obtain. It may require having a dedicated public IP address for your console.
NAT types B and C on Nintendo Switch
NAT type B and NAT type C is roughly equivalent to moderate NAT on other platforms. Generally, a NAT type B will not cause any issues. A NAT type C is slightly more restrictive but will still generally not cause any major issues. Most people will get either a NAT type B or C, assuming their ISP does not use CGNAT.
NAT Types D and F on Nintendo Switch
A NAT type D or F on Nintendo Switch is roughly equivalent to a strict NAT on other platforms. You are likely to have significant issues connecting to online matches that use P2P technology. You will also never be chosen as the host for multiplayer matches. Additionally, some features may not work properly. This is likely what you will get if your ISP uses CGNAT.
What is Carrier Grade NAT (CGNAT)
Carrier-grade NAT (CGNAT) is a technology used by some internet service providers to allow many customers to share the same public IP address. This is most commonly seen with satellite internet service providers and wireless internet service providers. However, in recent years, CGNAT is becoming more widespread across the board, especially in developing countries.
CGNAT effectively breaks the techniques that game developers use to get through NAT. This is because, with CGNAT, there are effectively 2 layers of NAT running on your network. The first layer is on your internet service provider’s side, and the second layer is on your home router. This is referred to as double NAT. You can also experience double NAT issues if you have more than one router on your network.
If you are using a mobile hotspot, you are also using CGNAT technology. Keep in mind that hotspots are not particularly good for gaming for a number of reasons, CGNAT being one of them.
The Nintendo Switch uses peer-to-peer (P2P) technology for online gaming. Normally P2P applications expect devices to have their own public IP address. Game developers work hard to make games resilient to NAT-type issues.
CGNAT is a form of double NAT and can lead to a whole host of issues for online gaming. A VPN is the only way to eliminate CGNAT apart from finding an ISP that offers a publicly routable IP address.