What is symmetrical bandwidth?

    Fiber-optic connections generally offer symmetrical bandwidth, meaning the upload speeds are exactly the same as the download speeds.

    Most ISPs emphasize speed as the primary selling point of their service. But what are they really advertising? How does that number translate in a day-to-day user experience?

    Speed can refer to download or upload performance on your connection—essentially, how fast the internet is sending and receiving data from servers to your device.

    Download speeds are really important, and tend to get more focus since most online activity (loading web pages, streaming videos, etc.) relies on download capacity.  But, especially for business connections, upload speeds are equally important. If you're uploading files to the internet using DropBox, Google Drive, or any other cloud-based storage platform, you're going to need just as much bandwidth as you do to download files.

    That’s where things can get a little confusing.

    For example, it’s extremely common for ISPs to provide a higher download speed than upload speed—something that’s known as asymmetrical bandwidth. When an ISP offers you download speeds of 300 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps, that's asymmetrical bandwidth - the speeds are different, and it can have a big impact on the overall connection performance. But they might still choose to advertise their connections as 300 Mbps, since the download speed gets more attention.

    Asymmetrical bandwidth is more common among older copper providers. Fiber-optic connections generally offer symmetrical bandwidth, meaning (you guessed it) the upload speeds are exactly the same as the download speeds.

    Imagine your daily commute. What if you were allowed to drive to work going 60 MPH, but on the way home you were only allowed to do 5 MPH? If you think that sounds like a special circle of hell, we agree! Which is why Pilot’s connections are all symmetrical.

    If you can download files and browse the internet at quick, responsive speeds, why wouldn't you want to upload files and send attachments just as fast?

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