What Is Symmetrical Internet?

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.

Let’s check out Frontier’s Simply FiOS 500/500 plan to see that symmetrical speed in action:

Frontier Simply FiOS 500/500
PlanDownload speedUpload speed
Simply FiOS 500/500500 Mbps500 Mbps

Data effective 3/4/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

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 like the FiOS plan above. 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.

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
PlanDownload speedUpload speed
Performance100 Mbps5 Mbps

Data effective 3/4/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

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?

Well, 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 speedFile sizeTime to upload
10 Mbps1 GB15 minutes
100 Mbps1 GB1 minute 30 seconds
300 Mbps1 GB30 seconds

Data effective 3/4/2020.

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.

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
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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.

“Businesses need fast upload speeds to make sure all of their employees can do what their day-to-day jobs require.”

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
PlanPriceDownload speedUpload speedDetails
CenturyLink Fiber Internet$65/mo.*940 Mbps940 MbpsView Plan
Frontier Simply FiOS 50/50$29.99/mo.**50 Mbps50 MbpsView Plan
Frontier Simply FiOS 500/500$39.99/mo.**500 Mbps500 MbpsView Plan
Frontier Simply FiOS Gig Service$74.99/mo.**1,000 Mbps1,000 MbpsView Plan

Data effective 3/4/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply. Speeds may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection.
**for 24 months with 2-year agreement. Actual speeds may vary. Installation, equipment fees, Internet Infrastructure Surcharge, early term, taxes & other fees apply. Services subject to availability and all applicable terms and conditions.

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Curious what your upload speed is right now?
Take an internet speed test to find out. You might be surprised!

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Find an internet plan with the right upload speed for you.

Take a look at our favorite internet providers.

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