Home > Differences Between Upload and Download Speed

Differences Between Upload and Download Speed

If you’ve got any amount of experience with setting up internet access and choosing an internet provider, you know that the differences between upload and download speed are often massive.

In many cases, your internet connection’s average upload speed will be no higher than 1/10th of the advertised download speed. While this is fine for media consumption, it may pose a major issue for content creation and sharing.

With this article, we aim to explain what is a normal internet speed, what is a fast upload speed, and what your expectations should be in general, if you’re new to networking and internet setup.

What Are the Differences Between Upload and Download Speed?

Download speed is the rate at which your internet connection can retrieve data, while upload speed is the rate at which your internet connection can send data online. 

What Do You Need Fast Upload Speed For?

Upload speed is of utmost importance for content creators and those who need to share lots of data very often. If any of the activities mentioned below are important to you, you’ll need fast upload:

  • Sharing content online (pictures, videos, etc.)
  • Video conferencing
  • Working via cloud services

Getting stuck with a low upload speed will mean that your device will only be able to very slowly send data online. If it’s just documents and schoolwork that you need to upload, most internet connections should work fine.

However, modern media is getting larger all the time. Raw pictures and video will easily bring connections with slow upload speeds down to their knees. Having a slow upload speed will also make video conferencing a real pain: something that’s very important in the current economy.

What Do You Need Fast Download Speed For?

Fast download is far more common than fast upload. It is also more useful for the vast majority of users since they mostly consume others’ content rather than creating and sharing their own. You’ll need fast download speeds for the following activities:

  • Opening non-basic websites with many interactive elements
  • Watching any sort of video content (YouTube, Netflix, etc.)
  • Playing video games online
  • Generally surfing the web
  • Downloading files and updates

Though you would ideally have no practical differences between upload and download speed on your local internet connection, it’s clear that download is technically more useful of the two. For most people, at least.

What Is the Average Upload Speed?

Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps), and the average upload speed will vary greatly from one country to another. The current global average, according to Speedtest.net, is 12.49 Mbps, which is decent enough.

Having said that, this global average upload speed pales compared to the global average download speed, which sits at a far more comfortable 46.74 Mbps.

Chances are, then, that the differences between upload and download speed on your end will amount to download being significantly faster across the board.

What Is a Fast Upload Speed?

Again, this will differ depending on where you live, but fast upload speeds are generally those that exceed whatever needs you might have.

With the world average being a decent-but-unimpressive 12.49 Mbps, anything above that should be considered decently fast for everyday use.

Naturally, if you want to be able to quickly upload large files such as raw pictures and video, nothing short of a fiber optics connection will be fast enough.

Why Is Upload Speed So Slow?

Without going into too much technical detail, the majority of regular users’ internet connections (DSL) are asymmetric: designed to carry more download throughput than that of upload. Providers have simply designed their network infrastructure with a bias for downloading.

This has historically made perfect sense, of course, since the vast majority of people merely consumed content, rather than uploading and making their own.

If you’re lucky enough to have a fiber connection, this is a total non-issue, mind. On fiber, your upload will be every bit as fast as your download is, with the only real problem being the availability of fiber-optics infrastructure where you live. So you don’t get to notice any problems with your wifi signal on your laptop.

Is There an Internet Upload Speed Test?

If you’re unsure what the differences between upload and download speed on your home network are, you can always use one of the internet speed test utilities to test it out.

There’s a wide variety of web tools to choose from, with some of the most prolific and useful being fast.com and the Ookla Speedtest. ATT also offers a comprehensive web testing utility, as well as SpeedSmart.net.

None of these tools require any sort of download or installation process. Just run them via your web browser and they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Normal Internet Speed: Are You Getting What You Paid For?

It’s important to note that the internet speed you get won’t necessarily be what was advertised to you. It’s perfectly normal to only be getting 80 to 90% of the marketed maximum because providers pitch speeds up to a certain number.

WiFi Signal Booster vs Extender vs Repeater: Will They Help?

Signal boosting devices will only maybe help in case you’re dealing with a localized issue that’s causing your upload speed to drop from the advertised values. If you’re paying for a package with a maximum upload speed of 10 Mbps, nothing will help you go over that limit.

Signal boosters, Wifi extenders, and repeaters like RangeXTD Wifi repeater can come in handy if you have WiFi coverage issues, however. Compare your WiFi connectivity throughput with that of a metered connection, and if the values you get are significantly different, investing in one of these devices could help.

Whether you’re hoping to establish a solid internet connection at your residence, or if you’re simply hoping to switch from an ISP you’re very unhappy with, remember that it’s absolutely crucial for you to shop around. 

Become well-informed on what the advertised upload and download speeds are, and what sort of connections you might have at your disposal. Who knows, maybe you even qualify for fiber!

March 2, 2021


There are no comments available.