Broadband: Do Upload Speeds Really Matter?

A major Australian internet provider cutting the upload speed on one of its plans raises the question – do upload speeds matter?

At a time when many Australians are still working from home, a decision by Telstra to cut upload speeds on one of its plans has drawn criticism. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday Telstra will downgrade its “Premium Speed” 100/40Mbps internet plan; halving the upload speed to 20Mbps, while continuing to charge some customers the same price.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network’s (ACCAN) Andrew Williams described the move as “disappointing” and said consumers shouldn’t be paying the same amount and getting a lesser service.

The Difference Between Upload And Download Speeds

In a nutshell, download speed refers to how fast you can receive files, stream video or whatever, whereas upload speed is the rate at which you can transfer information to another server or internet connected device.

So, does how fast you can upload something really matter?

For some, definitely.

Most Australians on NBN internet plans have what’s known as an “asymmetrical service”. This means the upload speed is usually significantly slower than download as illustrated in the example above. Some internet providers (including Lightning Broadband) offer symmetrical speeds as standard – i.e. the upload speed is pegged at the same rate as download – so, for example, 100/100 Mbps.

If a customer is a “passive” internet user and only engaged in online activities such as watching videos, a slow upload speed may be fine. But in the case of work-from-home and home business users,  they might regularly engage in activities that are bandwidth intensive on the upload side of things; such as video conferencing and transfer of large files.

Add to that the online activities of other employees doing the same on that connection or family members who may be gaming, video calling, or backing up a bunch of images to cloud storage at the same time and the impact can become quite noticeable.

In other words, it’s not a great situation for work or business where a dependable connection is required, and can be annoying for other activities.

But the upload rate isn’t just important for home workers and business owners. Hell hath no fury like that of a gamer constrained by slow download or upload speeds – it’s a reason symmetrical services are popular with the online gaming community; particularly where multiple gamers may be sharing the same connection.

Another group that really benefits from reliable fast upload speeds is live streamers, again, particularly if they are sharing a connection with other employees, family members or colleagues.

If you’re curious about how fast the download and upload rate is on your connection, use this broadband speed test to quickly find out and determine if you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Posted: 9 Sep 2021

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