Asymmetrical Was So Last Decade

DSL is the most popular broadband Internet access method in the UK as it is one of the few methods available across the majority of the country. Cable services are largely restricted to the cities, and high speed wireless is often a disappointment in reality.

While symmetric DSL is available in some areas, the sensible decision was taken during the late nineties/early “noughties” to use asymmetric DSL as the default (and often only) option. ADSL results in a small portion of the available bandwidth being used for upload capacity, and the remaining bandwidth being used for download capacity. There are technical reasons supporting the asymmetry, and also practical reasons that were beneficial for the user experience.

At the time it was fair to say that users downloaded a lot more data than they uploaded. Few people ran home servers, the usage of cloud services was limited, and the ISPs wanted to discourage peer-to-peer file sharing - what better way than by limiting upload speeds.

Times change and nowadays home broadband users want to be able to run personal home servers (e.g. for accessing media from outside the home), they want to host online games, they want to use cloud storage for their personal files.

ISPs have acknowledged this to some extent, and most “super-fast” broadband services come with a generous upload bandwidth. This is great, but as usual brings no benefit to those of us out of range of these services.

Maybe it’s time for ISPs to start getting a bit more symmetrical with their offerings for the second-class citizens. I rarely need the full 5.5Mbps download speed I can achieve with my broadband service, but am constantly maxing out the 440kbps upload speed I am limited to. I’m not asking to run a popular web-site from home, but I do want to be able to reliably “live in the cloud”. Like the first-class citizens who were blessed with the “super-fast” broadband.