What Is Symmetrical Internet?

Let’s talk about symmetrical internet and why you may want it (or not).

Centurylink
CenturyLink Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$50
/mo
No price hikes
Frontier
Frontier Fiber Internet
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Starts at
$44.99
/mo
No data caps
Google Fiber
Google Fiber
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
$70
/mo
Reaches 8 Gig
Verizon
Verizon Fios Home Internet
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
$49.99
/mo
Two symmetrical plan options
Ziply Fiber
Ziply Fiber
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Starts at
$20
/mo
Three symmetrical plan options
Catherine McNally
Dec 06, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read

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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.

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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.

Symmetrical internet plans
Plan
Price
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit$75/mo.*Up to 940 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps
Fiber 500$44.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill500 Mbps500 Mbps
Fiber 1 Gig$69.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
1 Gig$70/mo.^1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
5 Gig$125/mo.°5000 Mbps5000 Mbps
8 Gig$150/mo.°8000 Mbps8000 Mbps
Internet 300/300$49.99/mo.**300 Mbps10 Mbps
Internet 500/500$69.99/mo.**500 Mbps500 Mbps
Fiber 100/100$20/mo.††100 Mbps100 Mbps
Fiber 300/300$30/mo.††300 Mbps300 Mbps
Fiber Internet Gig$50/mo.††1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
* Speed may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection. Paperless billing required. Taxes and fees apply. Offer details. Offer includes professional installation at customer’s eligible location
w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Max wired speed 500/500 Mbps. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. One-time charges apply.
w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Max wired speed 1000/1000 Mbps. Location dependent. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. One-time charges apply.
^ Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
° Available in select markets only. Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
** Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
†† For new residential customers only. No annual contract required. Prices shown are before taxes and fees and require autopay and paperless billing.

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.

CenturyLink

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 Fiber Gigabit Internet plan
Provider
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
CenturyLink InternetCenturyLink Fiber GigabitUp to 940 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps

Frontier

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.

Frontier Fiber Internet plans
Provider
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
Frontier Internet - FiberOpticFiber 500500 Mbps500 Mbps
Frontier Internet - FiberOpticFiber 1 Gig1000 Mbps1000 Mbps

One-time charges apply. Maximum speeds are wired speeds. Wi-Fi, actual and average speeds vary. Service performance details at frontier.com/internetdisclosures.

Google Fiber

The exclusive Google Fiber offers three symmetrical internet fiber plans, which reach an utterly fantastical speed of 8 gigabits.

Google Fiber plans
Provider
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
Google Fiber1 Gig1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Google Fiber5 Gig5000 Mbps5000 Mbps
Google Fiber8 Gig8000 Mbps8000 Mbps

Verizon Fios

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 plans
Provider
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
Verizon Fios Home InternetInternet 300/300300 Mbps10 Mbps
Verizon Fios Home InternetInternet 500/500500 Mbps500 Mbps
Verizon Fios Home Internet1 Gig without mobile planUp to 940 Mbps10 Mbps
Verizon Fios Home InternetInternet 2 GigUp to 2300 MbpsUp to 2300 Mbps

Ziply Fiber

Ziply Fiber is a smaller provider, but it offers three different symmetrical fiber plans at very attractive prices.

Ziply Fiber plans
Provider
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
Ziply FiberFiber 100/100100 Mbps100 Mbps
Ziply FiberFiber 300/300300 Mbps300 Mbps
Ziply FiberFiber Internet Gig1000 Mbps1000 Mbps

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:

  • Students
  • Businesses
  • Telecommuters
  • 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:

Estimated time to upload a one GB video to YouTube
Upload speed
File size
Time to upload

10 Mbps

1 GB

15 minutes

100 Mbps

1 GB

1 minute 30 seconds

300 Mbps

1 GB

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 Performance Internet
Provider
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
Xfinity Internet - WestXfinity Internet - WestUp to 75 Mbps10 Mbps

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.

Recap

Symmetrical internet is when the download and upload speeds match. Most folks don’t need it, but if you’ve got it, you’ll probably like it.

Methodology

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.

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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