Increasingly, Internet service providers focused on the download aspect of their customer’s bandwidth because most customers use this for downloading or browsing the Web. Typically, they provided a smaller capacity for uploads because of smaller data requirements used for interacting with the Web.
But they are realising that the upload bandwidth is as important especially as we enter the age of cloud computing, IP telecommunications and the Social Web and are highlighting the requirement to give upload speeds as important a footing as download speeds. This is of importance when ISPs are highlighting their offerings’ headline transfer speeds which typically emphasise the download speed only.
A key requirement for decent upload speeds is IP-based telecommunications. These range from households implementing Skype or Apple Facetime to have long-distance free videocalls with relatives and friends through businesses using VoIP setups to save on telephony costs, The videocall is not just confined to being an element of 60s-70s science fiction anymore.
The upload speed is being considered important as technologies come on to the scene to enable high-quality voice and video telephone with AM-radio-grade voice calls or high-resolution videocalls.
Online storage services and cloud computing
An application that is drawing attention to the need to consider upload speeds is the prevalence of online-storage and cloud-computing services. These also include “remote-access / personal-cloud” functionality that is a part of many home and small-business network-attached storage devices.
In a similar vein, the Social Web is encouraging us to tender photo and video content to one or more social-network services or image/video-sharing services.
Here, the ability to use these services without frustration can only be achieved when you have a high-throughput upload bandwidth. This is more so as we transfer files with increasingly-large file sizes like “master-quality” image, audio and video content that is to be shared, stored offsite or “taken further”.
The Web-based cottage industry
Increasingly there are people who are running their own Web site or blog. This cottage industry has become increasingly cost-effective for most with Web hosts that provide an always-alive hosting service either for free in some cases or you renting the space that you need for a modest sum of money.
The content-creation and publishing effort has been simplified thanks to the many content-management systems like Drupal, WordPress, MediaWiki and vBulletin that is hosted on these Web hosts. It also has been simplified through the use of word-processing software that implements XML-RPC functionality
Telecommuting and working from home
An increasing workplace trend is to work from home. This can manifest in the form of a person who works for an employer by doing some or all of the work from home, through a professional who has their home office as their sole workplace to small-organisation operators who have a shopfront or similar public point of contact but use their home as their office.
These users are expected to upload large work files, especially if they are in the creative industries. As well, the concept of cloud computing, including “thin-client” cloud-computing setups, has encouraged small businesses to be able to “think big”.
Communications is also being considered of importance for the professional or small business to maintain a competitive edge. This is more so as business catches on to video conferencing and unified communications technologies which are more data intensive.
How is this being factored in
Some “last-mile” technologies do support symmetrical download-upload speeds such as “fibre-to-the-premises”, Ethernet-based setups and symmetrical DSL setups. But asymmetrical “last-mile” setups can support increased upload capacity when they are adjusted for this, typically with these services being provided for larger businesses.
What can be done
The ISPs can use upload speeds as another way of differentiating their services and expose the services that offer the higher upload speeds to residential and small-business users. One example of someone stepping in the right direction is Gigaclear who are promoting symmetrical bandwidth for their fibre-to-the-premises installations in some Home Counties villages which are attracting the “work-from-home” crowd.
As well, the ISPs who promote decent upload speeds could be ending up courting a lot of usage cases like professionals working from home and expatriates who maintain a strong loop with overseas contacts.
Making sure that the upload speed is highlighted as a feature for an Internet-service package may allow the telecommunications carrier or Internet service provider to maintain a competitive edge and satisfy new Internet usage realities. After all, it’s not just about downloading YouTube videos anymore.