I’ve read some recent mailing list comments that were complaining about the huge differences in upload and download speeds in residential Internet service pacakges from cable companies and phone (DSL) companies.
The writers always point to the ISP’s commercial package offerings as proof that "they could give us highspeed uploads, too, if they chose."
Unfortunately, though, the writers aren’t considering that there are technological forces at work, not just the marketing plans of the Internet service providers.
Many times, the complainers wish to host their own web servers on their residential ISP service, or they want to be able to upload data (video, audio) to others via some type of server (peer-to-peer or other) or even to upload large quantities of data to online backup services.
Of course, they want to do this on their cheap residential service.
The problem is that the pipe is only so big — the line’s capacity is only so much. In the case of residential services, download speeds have become amazing.
At home, I get up to 7 Mbps (7,000,000 bits per second) download speed, more than doubling the speed of service, for barely $2 more than I paid in 1996. My upload speed caps at 512 Kbps (512,000 bps).
This is not just a marketing impact — it is also a function of the system design and line capacity. Typical residential use (excluding peer-to-peer music sharing and game servers — both of which may work but are typically prohibited under the "you can not run a server" limits of the ISP’s Acceptable Use Policy) involves TCP/IP communcations and requires limited upload capability for TCP/IP ACK packets.
Occasional uploads for email put little incremental load on the system. But, if you want to use your cable or DSL connection for uploading files to an online backup service, you’ll find that you’re uploading for long time…
Business services are usually a closer ratio on download to upload, even 1 to 1, but are MUCH higher priced for much slower download speeds than those available to residential customers.