Broadband upload speed is just as important

by Lee Hopkins on September 7, 2010 · 7 comments

in politics,tools

Sign on the outskirts of Yankalilla, South Australia

In all the hoo-haa about broadband in Australia at the moment, there is an important element that seems to be missing from discussions.

We all want to download material from the internet faster, of course. Movies on demand, video material, pdfs, ebooks… being able to download these much faster would be a boon to productivity. Especially for we here at BetterComms Towers – we only have ADSL1 and cannot get ADSL2.

But as Genevieve Bell pointed out in her ‘Thinker in Residence’ report from 2009, ‘Getting Connected, Staying Connected: Exploring South Australia’s Digital Futures’ [pdf], there is equally the issue of upload speed.

Arguably, Australia is increasingly a productivity economy reliant on the flow of information and knowledge – the faster the information flows, the faster knowledge can be created and the faster, hopefully, the benefit flows.

But for us to be players in the world game, we must not only consume but also produce – we must produce content that others around the world are willing to download, and content compelling enough that others are willing to pay to do so.

Which means we must have upload speeds equivalent to our download speeds (or as near as possible). Already we are slipping further and further behind in our broadband speeds compared to the global stage; according to Akamai, the world’s net traffic reporters, Australia is now down at 50th spot of global broadband speeds.

It is going to be up to us, the public, to keep the pressure on politicians and broadband providers to ensure that upload speeds are closer to download speeds in the future than they currently are (and I can’t think of a reason why the gap is so big at the moment).


Hat tip to @KristinAlford for reminding me of Genevieve’s report

  • Sallie Goetsch

    For those of us who are content creators, upload speed may be more important. I was working on a job for a podcast client yesterday, uploading bundles of MP3 files, and it took forever.

  • Anonymous

    I’m hoping that a fibre optic based NBN will go through with our new Government.

    Current ADSL technology doesn’t leave much for upload speed without sacrificing your download speed (i.e., Annex M), we’ve simply reached the limit of what copper-based networking can do.

  • Lee Hopkins

    I’m with Sallie on this one — I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of download speed in exchange for a far more equitable upload speed. Loading videos onto sites like Dailymotion can be a real drag of a time waster.

  • Anonymous

    ADSL2+ Annex M can increase your upstream capacity to up to 3Mbit/s (dependent upon quality of lines, distance from the exchange, etc), because it shifts the upstream/downstream frequency split. Any gain in upstream capacity comes with a corresponding decrease in downstream capacity.

    Unfortunately for this to work, you need to be able to have an ADSL2+ connection, have an Annex M compatible modem, AND be connected to equipment which supports Annex M (such as Internode or iiNet’s equipment). Annex M is also more susceptible to “cross-talk” (interference), which means that in Australia your ISP must assess your line for suitability before applying an Annex M profile: a legal requirement of using that technology.

    This means it suffers much the same problems that ADSL2+ does as far as availability, reliability, and performance of service.

    I’m hoping our country goes ahead with a fiber optic broadband network as this will level the playing field: everyone will be able to get the same services, the same speeds, no more funning around with line attenuation, and yes, we’ll all get much higher upload capacity too.

  • Anonymous

    Or the TL;DR version:

    Do want also, but copper networking sucks! 😉

  • Sallie Goetsch

    And to add insult to injury, AT&T (the people who can’t give me a clear connection on my land line phone) just called to try to sell me a DSL connection with a paltry 512K upload speed. As if! My cable connection is slow enough at three or four times that.

  • Nick

    I think high speed internet provides people and businesses a faster method to many internet service that why broadband is very important..

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