How Fiber’s Symmetrical Speeds Add Up To Faster Total Performance1 comment
One of fiber’s best features is that it offers symmetrical internet speeds—this means your download speed and upload speed are equally fast. Here’s why fast upload speed can matter.
A tale of two speeds
How fast your overall internet connection is depends on two things: download speed and upload speed.
Download speed is how fast your connection can access everything on the internet. With a fast download speed, websites will open instantly, you won’t have to wait for photos to load on social media and you can stream anything you want on Netflix without stuttering—even in high-quality 4K.
Upload speed is how fast your connection can send things over the internet. With a fast upload speed, you can upload videos to YouTube in a few moments, share files on Dropbox almost as soon as you add them and appear on video calls in crisp high definition.
When you’re shopping for internet service, you’ll find that both download speed and upload speed are normally measured in megabits per second, or Mbps. The faster plans are sometimes measured in gigabits per second, or Gbps. 1 Gbps is equal to 1,000 Mbps.
What is symmetrical internet?
Symmetrical internet connections (sometimes called synchronous internet connections) have symmetrical download and upload speeds. This means they can download files as quickly as upload them. To fully understand what symmetrical internet connections can mean, it’s probably easier to look at things backward.
Almost all cable connections have asymmetrical speeds—their download speeds are normally 5 to 10 times faster than their upload speeds. According to Speedtest.net, the median connection in the U.S. in December 2022 had a download speed of around 193 Mbps and an upload speed of just 22.5 Mbps. This means it takes more than eight times as long for a file to upload as it does for a file to download.
With a symmetrical internet plan, download and upload speeds are the same. With a fiber 500/500 plan, for example, your download speed would be 500 Mbps and your upload speed would also be 500 Mbps. Whether you’re downloading a video from the internet or uploading one to share with a friend, your connection would be just as fast. (And it would be twice as fast on the Gig fiber plan.)
How to tell if you have a symmetrical internet connection
If you aren’t sure how fast your internet connection is, or whether you have symmetrical speed, the simplest thing to do is run a speed test (here’s how). If your download speed and upload speed are within a few Mbps of each other, congratulations, you have a symmetrical connection! If not, you most likely have an asymmetrical cable connection.
If you’re shopping for a new plan, check the marketing materials and notice how the download speed and upload speed are listed. If you’re looking at a symmetrical fiber plan, you’ll see the downloads and uploads listed clearly as 300/300, 500/500 or 1000/1000, and even higher. The numbers represent the maximum wired download and upload speeds. On marketing materials for a non-symmetrical cable plan, you’ll probably see only the download speed listed. The upload speed is often difficult to find.
Why doesn’t cable have symmetrical speeds?
Cable connections transmit data using electrical signals along copper wire, while fiber connections transmit data using lasers to send beams of light along fiber optic cables. We don’t need to get too deep into the science of it, but the technology of fiber optic internet connections basically means they’re capable of transmitting a lot more data a lot faster than a typical cable connection.
All this bandwidth allows fiber providers to offer often faster connection for downloads—and much faster uploads. Because most people have tended to download more frequently than they upload, cable providers have generally prioritized download speeds. With fiber connections, there is no need for these kinds of limits, so you get symmetrical speeds. A good fit for an emerging shift, as users are tending to upload data—videos, game play, large files—much more frequently and really want faster upload speed.
What’s the advantage of a symmetrical connection?
The big advantage of a symmetrical internet connection is that uploading files is fast.
For example, with that median 22.5 Mbps median upload speed, it would take almost 25 minutes to upload a 2 Gigabyte video to YouTube. With the 500 Mbps you get from a 500/500 connection? It would be done in just over a minute.
If you have to share files for work or school—or even just like to share photos and videos with your friends and family—this kind of speed difference can be noticeable. You almost never have to wait for things to upload so you can send that email.
Also, it’s good to remember your connection is shared with everyone else and every other device in your household. While an upload speed of 10 Mbps can be enough for one person to work from home, it might not be sufficient if there are lots of people trying to do things on the internet at the same time. With a symmetrical connection’s fast upload speed, you never have to worry about your kids’ gaming habit interfering with your video conferences.
Frontier Fiber is built for the way you live today—and tomorrow
If you’re still on the lookout for the right ultrafast internet connection for streaming, gaming, working from home and running your smart home—all with enough bandwidth for everyone—find out about Frontier Fiber. Then check here to see when it’s available at your address.
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