Let’s talk about symmetrical internet and why you may want it (or not).
Symmetrical internet has upload speeds that are the same as its download speeds. And if you need a refresher on what the difference between upload and download speeds is, here’s a quick one:
- Download speed: How quickly you can access things on the internet. The faster your download speed, the faster you can browse social media or rewatch The Witcher on Netflix.
- Upload speed: How quickly you can put things on the internet. Faster upload speeds let you share that gorgeous pic you took on Instagram or post a YouTube video so you can become the next Craig. (We can all dream, right?)
So let’s say your download speed is 100 Mbps. If your internet is symmetrical, your upload speed will also be 100 Mbps.
Which internet plans have symmetrical speeds?
Sometimes it’s hard to find out what your internet service provider (ISP) offers as far as upload speeds go. Some providers just like to keep their cards close to their chest, we guess.
Here’s a cheat sheet with a few different internet providers and plans that offer symmetrical download and upload speeds.
|CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit||$75/mo.*||Up to 940 Mbps||Up to 940 Mbps||View Plan|
|Fiber 500||$39.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill†||500 Mbps||500 Mbps||View Plans|
|Fiber 1 Gig||$59.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill‡||1000 Mbps||1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|1 Gig||$70/mo.^||1000 Mbps||1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|5 Gig||$125/mo.°||5000 Mbps||5000 Mbps|
|8 Gig||$150/mo.°||8000 Mbps||8000 Mbps|
|Internet 300/300||$49.99/mo.**||300 Mbps||10 Mbps||View Plans|
|Internet 500/500||$69.99/mo.**||500 Mbps||500 Mbps||View Plans|
|Fiber 100/100||$20/mo.††||100 Mbps||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Fiber 300/300||$30/mo.††||300 Mbps||300 Mbps||View Plans|
|Fiber Internet Gig||$50/mo.††||1000 Mbps||1000 Mbps||View Plans|
Most often, you’ll find symmetrical internet speeds like these featured in fiber internet plans. Sometimes it’s easy to identify these symmetrical internet plans because they’re named with a simple slash. If a plan is named “100/100,” “300/300,” “500/500,” or something similar, that means you get the same upload speed and download speed.
Let’s check out CenturyLink’s Fiber Gigabit plan to see that symmetrical speed in action.
CenturyLink keeps things simple with one symmetrical fiber plan for one gigabit at $75 a month. It also doesn’t do price hikes, so once you’ve signed on with a rate, it won’t change.
|CenturyLink Internet||CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit||Up to 940 Mbps||Up to 940 Mbps||View Plan|
Frontier has two different symmetrical plans: Fiber 500 and Fiber 1 Gig. These plans have no data caps and no contracts, making them extra appealing.
One-time charges apply. Maximum speeds are wired speeds. Wi-Fi, actual and average speeds vary. Service performance details at frontier.com/internetdisclosures.
The exclusive Google Fiber offers three symmetrical internet fiber plans, which reach an utterly fantastical speed of 8 gigabits.
|Google Fiber||1 Gig||1000 Mbps||1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Google Fiber||5 Gig||5000 Mbps||5000 Mbps|
|Google Fiber||8 Gig||8000 Mbps||8000 Mbps|
Like Frontier, Verizon offers two symmetrical plans on a fiber-optic network. Sadly, symmetrical speeds aren’t a part of its fastest fiber plan.
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||Internet 300/300||300 Mbps||10 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||Internet 500/500||500 Mbps||500 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||1 Gig without mobile plan||Up to 940 Mbps||10 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||Internet 2 Gig||Up to 2300 Mbps||Up to 2300 Mbps||View Plans|
Ziply Fiber is a smaller provider, but it offers three different symmetrical fiber plans at very attractive prices.
|Ziply Fiber||Fiber 100/100||100 Mbps||100 Mbps|
|Ziply Fiber||Fiber 300/300||300 Mbps||300 Mbps|
|Ziply Fiber||Fiber Internet Gig||1000 Mbps||1000 Mbps||View Plans|
Curious what your upload speed is right now? Take an internet speed test to find out. You might be surprised!
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Why do you need symmetrical internet speeds?
Most of us have survived with upload speeds stuck below 50 Mbps. Yup, 1980s and 1990s kids, you know exactly what we mean.
So if we’ve managed to get along just fine without fast upload speeds so far, is symmetrical internet even worth it?
Pros of symmetrical internet:
- Faster upload speeds
Cons of symmetrical internet:
- More expensive
- Unnecessary for most
If you’re mostly browsing Facebook, forwarding emails to your nieces and nephews, or checking Google for the latest sports scores, then you probably don’t need symmetrical internet.
But we think symmetrical internet is a huge plus if you’re one of these types of people:
- Content creators
- And maybe gamers (we’ll get to them in a minute)
That’s because these people often upload PDFs, large graphic files, and videos to the internet so that they can share them with clients, coworkers, teachers, and students.
These types of files tend to be a lot larger. For example, the video we posted with this article is about one gigabyte (GB) in size. Here’s how long it would take to post that one GB file on YouTube using different upload speeds:
Time to upload
1 minute 30 seconds
Data effective 2/16/2022.
Do gamers need fast upload speeds to livestream?
But wait, what about gamers who livestream on Twitch, Mixer, or YouTube? Do they need fast upload speeds?
Yes, you’ll need a solid, fast upload speed to make livestreaming work. Otherwise, you can bet your viewers will be frustrated with the quality of your stream. Or you’ll get frustrated whenever you lag during an Overwatch or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare match.
Why would you get asymmetrical internet speeds?
Most DSL and cable internet plans don’t offer symmetrical speeds—with these types of internet, your download speed is typically 10, 20, or even 30 times faster than your upload speed. This is called asymmetrical internet.
Here’s a cable internet plan from Xfinity as an example of what asymmetrical internet speed looks like.
|Xfinity Internet - West||Xfinity Internet - West||Up to 75 Mbps||10 Mbps||View Plans|
Data effective 10/23/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Pros of asymmetrical internet:
- Usually less expensive
- Suits most needs
Cons of symmetrical internet:
- Slower upload speeds
How much upload speed do you need?
Sounds like faster upload speeds are best, right? Well, we hate to break it to you, but the answer isn’t so simple.
Just paying for the fastest upload speeds out there could result in you overpaying for your internet plan each month. And no one wants that.
Honestly, we think most everyone will be just fine with upload speeds under 25 Mbps. Why? Well, let’s say you want to join a video conference. To make sure your face doesn’t show up as a pixelated mish-mash of colors, you’ll need 1.3 Mbps upload speeds.
And what about streaming on Twitch in HD? You’ll need a surprisingly slow speed of 3.6 Mbps to do that comfortably.
Here are the upload speeds we recommend for different types of internet users:
- Average users: 5-10 Mbps
- Gamers: 5–10 Mbps minimum (and a connection with low latency, packet loss, and jitter)
- Content creators and video conference attendees: 10 Mbps minimum
Curious about how fast your download speed should be? Take a look at our guide to how many Mbps you need, including our recommendations for streaming, gaming, and more.
So who needs 100, 300, or even 500 and faster upload speeds? Businesses.
A business needs fast upload speeds to make sure all of its employees can share files, post to social media (for work, of course), upload videos, and do what their day-to-day jobs require.
Sure, one person doesn’t need fast upload speeds to do all those things, but when you’re talking 30, 100, or even thousands of employees working out of one building, you’re going to need a lot more upload speed to keep up.
How did we choose which symmetrical internet plans to include in this piece? We picked symmetrical plans from some of our favorite, most trusted internet providers. Unfortunately, not all of our top providers offer symmetrical plans, so we don’t include providers like Spectrum, AT&T, and Xfinity.
To see more about why we rank those providers so high, check out Best Internet Service Providers.