What Is Symmetrical Internet?

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Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
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February 22, 2022
3 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.

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

Frontier Fiber Internet 500/500 Mbps Internet
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
Frontier Fiber Internet 500500 Mbps500 Mbps

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

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 Frontier Fiber internet 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
Plan
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
ConnectUp to 50 Mbps5 Mbps

Data effective 2/16/2022. 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 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.

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?
Pin

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
Plan
Price
Download speed
Upload speed
Details
CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit$70.00/mo.*Up to 940 MbpsUp to 940 Mbps
Frontier Fiber Internet 500$49.99/mo.500 Mbps500 Mbps
Frontier Fiber Gig$74.99/mo.940 Mbps880 Mbps
Internet 200/200$49.99/mo.^200 Mbps200 Mbps
Internet 300/300$49.99/mo.^300 Mbps300 Mbps
Internet 500/500$69.99/mo.^500 Mbps500 Mbps
Fiber Internet 50/50$20.00/mo.°50 Mbps50 Mbps
Fiber Internet 200/200$40.00/mo.**200 Mbps200 Mbps
Fiber Internet Gig$60.00/mo.°1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* 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 Online ONLY: Free Modem Free Install
w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Per month for 12 mos. One-year agreement, early termination fee, and one-time charge apply. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary.
w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill. Per month for 36 mos. One-year agreement, early termination fee, and one-time charge apply. Max wired speed 940/880 Mbps. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary.
^ 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. One-time introductory price for first 12 months. Afterwards, standard pricing applies.
** For 12 months
Curious what your upload speed is right now?
Light Bulb

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.

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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