Every internet connection offers two speeds – download and upload. These speeds may be different or the same depending on the type of internet connection.
Broadband services like cable and DSL have different download than upload speed, while dedicated access circuits like T1 and Metro Ethernet offer the same speed in both directions.
Understanding the Difference
When seeking to understand the difference between upload and download speeds, a simple trick is to think of downloading as pulling and upload as pushing.
When we surf the web, we’re pulling/downloading information to our network and device.
When we send an email, we’re upload/pushing data to the internet.
Generally speaking, the majority of users on the internet download more than they upload, but as more and more services which used to live locally are being hosted in the cloud, the need for greater upload speed is increasing.
What Requires Higher Upload Speed?
There are several internet-based applications which require higher upload speed:
- Voice over IP (requires up to 100k per call)
- Real-time applications like live video streaming
- Online gaming
- Unified Communication applications
- Video calling/chatting (Skype, Facetime, etc.)
When using any of the applications above, higher upload speeds are required because we’re pushing and pulling equally. As is the case with broadband, we can pull much faster than we can push. When upload speeds are limited, it will mean choppy calls and broken/pixelated video streams.
Measure Twice, Cut Once!
Measure twice, cut once works in carpentry, but it can also be applied to many other applications including your internet connection.
It’s not uncommon to be a little short-sighted when examining abstract things like internet speed. We tend to focus on what’s in front of us and often don’t consider other ramifications.
A common example is the client who wants to add VoIP to an existing broadband connection. They’ll advise they have a 10MB by 1.5MB connection, so we know they’re able to download up to 10MB and upload 3MB.
One of the many inherent problems with broadband is that the speeds aren’t guaranteed, hence the “up to,” before the advertised speeds. Speed may be faster at 10AM than 12PM when everyone starts cruising the internet on their lunch break.
If we know a VoIP call requires 100k of dedicated speed in both directions and the client is pretty regularly receiving 7-8MB of download and 800k upload, simple math would dictate that we’d be able to support 8 calls happening at once because we’re only as fast as our slowest speed. If the client regularly has 6-8 calls happening at once, he may think he’s good to go, but he’d be wrong.
What clients often fail to consider is the fact that, in addition to those voice calls now traversing the data line, the regular data the line was supporting prior to adding voice still needs to get where it’s going.
Partner with Voice and Data Experts
As a full service voice and data provider, N2Net specializes in helping clients measure twice and cut once as it pertains to voice and data services. Ensure your calls or video conferences run smoothly by correctly and appropriately sizing your internet connection from the start.