As technology becomes cheaper and more available the amount of people wanting to get online is increasing. Consumers, businesses and governments recognize the importance of having a stable and fast connection. With the increase in user pool and programs becoming more advanced, traffic is increasing in both downstream and upstream directions.

Most connections especially the ones that are provided to consumers are an asymmetrical connection type. This means that the download speed is proportionally higher than the upload speed, usually at a ratio of 6:1. For normal users this is perfect as the connection is used mainly for download traffic. On the other hand a symmetrical connection will provide similar - if not the same - speeds for upload and download which means it’s more suitable for today’s modern businesses. for uploading large files or cloud-based backup.

But will the need for a higher upload speed drive demand for symmetrical connections?

To answer this question we will need to have a look at what we are using the internet for. The content we access today has changed greatly in comparison to the content that existed at the early stage of the internet. In the Web 1.0 era a user's connection was primarily used for downloading information to their computer, there was not much interaction between the website and the end user. As technology progressed on and users were encouraged to participate and share information Web 2.0 was born. With this progression the amount of data a typical user was uploading increased and people used more of their upload capability.

One of the main culprits is our need to communicate with each other. Users are regularly uploading photos to a social media site and chatting with friends over a program like Skype has become more common. Businesses have also adopted this method of communication by using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to communicate with clients and holding conference calls with employees.

Our thirst for entertainment at home and on the move has increased the amount of internet traffic we create. Online gaming is in it’s prime at the moment with more and more people logging on everyday to get their fix. With the ability to allow people to watch when you are playing through streaming this greatly increases the amount of data we are uploading. Video sharing platforms like YouTube and Dailymotion allow users to upload their own content for others to view, although the amount of content we consume is massive compared to the amount that is uploaded.

In recent years using cloud services has grown exponentially in both the consumer and business sectors. Consumers use the cloud as an additional storage which they can access from anywhere in the world or to back up their precious photos, videos and files. Businesses are adopting the cloud for running all of their applications and holding data. Smaller companies can grow and focus on their product and service as they do not need to buy data and mail servers.

The main reason that asymmetrical connections are so in use is because initially copper cabling used to provide non business grade connections was designed to carry more traffic in the downstream than the upstream. This was due to the end users needs and the cost of installing and maintaining the equipment. With advances in technology like optical fibre and fixed point wireless, it allows ISP’s to offer a symmetrical connection to everyone. For more information on connection types see my other blog post here!

Although your typical end user will still consume more content than they upload and will not benefit from having a symmetrical connection, as the backbone of the internet's infrastructure becomes more developed these types of connections will become the new standard helping facilitate the amount of data we can upload.

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About the author:
Customer Happiness Officer, Master of Spreadsheet
The customer whisperer, a people person at heart. Achieved Level 99 in customer service after working in the field for 9 years. Avid spreadsheet and technology enthusiast bringing my expertise to the diverse Telcom team.