I recently ran an Internet speed test, the results came back and reaffirmed that I am in fact receiving the speeds I’m paying for with my Verizon FiOS connection. I pay for 75Mbps download and 35Mbps upload and as you can see from the image below, that’s essentially what I’m getting.

This is good news. However, I also noticed that my speeds put me in the 1% of Internet users within the US. You can see for yourself right under the Ping of 15ms, there is text that reads “Faster than 99% of US.” At first, that seems awesome, but then, when you realize that most people in the US have much inferior Internet connections it’s upsetting.

Verizon fios speedtest

We need to work towards having ISP’s provide some kind of standard “acceptable” broadband Internet connection. For arguments sake, let’s say the standard was set to 15Mbps download and 3Mbps upload. This standard would be the minimum speed that an ISP could offer to its customers. Not only is this a standard I’m fairly confident could be implemented by most ISP’s, especially those in urban/suburban areas, it’s a standard that would allow most people to continue to take full advantage of the growing number of web services being offered.

When I see certain ISP’s only offering 1Mbps upload or less — it’s upsetting, because these days, upload is becoming just as important as download. It used to be people only cared about download speeds, that isn’t the case anymore. In fact, the more we move towards the cloud and web services, the more important our Internet connection becomes (both download and upload).

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If you think I’m just spewing nonsense here, why do you think Google setup its own fiber initiative to provide affordable 1Gbps fiber Internet to a select location? One reason is to show it could be done, the other reasons include because Google knows in order for it to continue its success, people need access to fast Internet so they can continue to have good experiences with their services. For example, people with slow Internet using services such as Google Drive, which really requires a good upload speed, if you’re uploading a lot of data, will have bad experiences and just not use the product.

We can do so much better for people in the US when it comes to Internet speeds. So I have to ask, why aren’t we moving more quickly to improve them nation wide?

  • I understand the reason and desire for the majority of this nation to have faster internet speeds. However, the reality is that even increasing the national minimum to 15Mbps on the downstream would be a huge undertaking for ISP’s.

    From a technological prospective the internet providers made a decision many years ago to stick with an asymmetrical system. This allowed them to use a single frequency to deliver both the download and upload to the end user. An asymmetrical setup is far more affordable than a symmetrical one. The main drawback is that to use the same frequency for both download and upload you have to divide the time on the frequency.

    So we end up with Time Division Multiplexing. TDM allows for extremely affordable networking solutions but requires the ISP to decide how to balance the load. You can offer the same upload and download speed but it wouldn’t be the most efficient use of all the available bandwidth in the given frequency. So what ends up happening is the ISPs decide to balance the load by offer slower upload rates and higher download rates that match the average load for the two streams of data.

    Sadly this really doesn’t scale well and it ends up with a large number of internet users with less than desired upload speeds because of some abstract average that hinders the more upload hungry users.

    To my knowledge the only widespread Frequency Divided internet solution currently available to consumers is LTE. Basically you give a separate frequency for both the download and upload spectrum. This eliminates the need for balancing upload and download streams but is far more costly to implement and requires a tremendous amount of power on the tower and the mobile device and to be honest is a poor use of resources because the upload frequency is rarely ever going to be near its maximum load.

    I guess we’ll see what happens in the next few years, but I’ll bet pretty big money that LTE will become the broadband solution of the future.

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