Working From Home? Symmetry Is Key

By October 16, 2017The Latest
Working From Home? Symmetry Is Key

Once upon a time, there was a strong assumption among internet providers that home internet users would need more bandwidth for downloading than for uploading. And once upon a time, this was true: the most a home connection would upload is messages for an online board or a direct messaging service, or they might create a personal website to post photos or advertise a home business. In the first case, text messages don’t take up much space, and in the second case a personal website doesn’t need to go up instantly and it doesn’t change several times per day.

As a result, most internet providers offered asymmetrical connection plans. That means most of the connection was devoted to making downloads faster while just a fraction would be available for uploading. For instance, a connection plan might advertise itself as 120/10, meaning you get 120 megabits per second when you download but only 10 for uploads. And for a long time, that stronger download speed worked out just fine.

But everything started to change when connections started to speed up enough to stream videos live and video hosting sites like YouTube appeared. Videos are much bigger than text, image, or even audio files, and so uploading one on an asymmetrical connection takes a really long time. And if you’re just uploading your random thoughts or your friends fooling around, upload speed isn’t that big of an issue, but what if your business relies on uploads?

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly common thanks to the way it helps you access your information from any computer or device you happen to have, and because it lets you backup your information in case something should happen to one of those computers. And as good as the cloud is for personal use, businesses love it because it helps employees share their work as quickly as possible and it makes things easier and more secure when it comes to employees working at home.

But between needing to upload work to the cloud and the need to upload videos and other big files when you’re self-employed with an online profession, home workers quickly run into the asymmetrical bottleneck set up by internet providers. While the asymmetrical connection used to be acceptable, the nature of the internet has changed.

More than that, modern fiber connections are powerful enough to allow for good speeds even with symmetrical connections, which is what you call it when upload and download speeds are equal. So if you work from home and you need to upload files regularly, don’t accept an unequal connection if there are internet providers in your area that allow for upload symmetry.