A Guide To Broadband Upload Speeds

While most consumers focus primarily on download speeds, upload speeds can have a significant impact on your overall internet experience. To understand why this is the case, we first need to understand what an upload is and how it pertains to internet use.
Broadband Upload Speeds Explained

Upload speeds refer to the pace at which a user can send information to the internet. As most consumers tend to download far more data than they upload, most internet service providers, or ISPs, do not bother to advertise these numbers when making their pitch. In addition, many ISPs offer significantly lower upload speeds in order to compensate for increased download activity on the network. For instance, download speeds can be as fast as 50 Mbps in some areas that have fibre optic cabling installed.

Even ADSL providers can generate speeds of up to 24 Mbps. On the other hand, upload speeds range between 1 and 2.5 Mbps, roughly 4 to 5 percent of the available download speeds. Although a significant number of individuals are fine with this arrangement, those in need a fast upload connection may want to shop around for a service that takes both into account.

Like download speeds, upload speeds can also be affected by external factors, such as the distance between your home and local telephone exchange and the amount of congestion on the network.

The Most Common Upload Usages

Online Gaming – When you play a high resolution, multi-player game online, the information regarding the game is transmitted to you and your competitors over the internet. As these games become more and more graphically intensive, users will require higher upload speeds in order to play without loss of frames or latency.

File Sharing – File sharing depends largely on uploaders willing to seed files to the rest of the community. For many of these private communities, users are required to upload as much data as they download or risk being banned. Having a strong upload connection will help ensure these ratios are maintained.

Video Chat – The most obvious need for decent upload speeds come from streaming video, primarily video chat. Unlike online gaming which is a relatively niche market, video chat is an application which in the near future will be used by heavy and casual users alike. Being able to stream live, high quality video between users will depend solely on the upload speed of each person. While video chat is still a relatively nascent service, it will likely be the driving force of higher upload speeds in the years to come.

ISPs with Fast Upload Speeds

Given the lack of demand, there are only a few internet service providers amenable to providing fast upload speeds, each with varying prices.

BE currently has 1.3 Mbps upload speeds on both its Unlimited and Value packages, and 2.5 Mbps on its Pro plan.

TalkTalk has a starter package which offers 1 Mbps upload speeds, making up for its slower speeds with generally more affordable pricing than its competitors.

If price is no object, Virgin provides one of the better combinations of download and upload speeds, offering 50 Mbps downloads with 2 Mbps uploads. Its more affordable pricing plan promises a 20 Mbps download speed with a 768Kb upstream.