With speeds reaching north of 900 Mbps, Gigabit internet makes it easy to do all the things you love to do online. But before you sign up for just any Gigabit internet service, there’s something you ought to know.
The scoop …
Most internet providers offering Gigabit fiber only live up to half of their promise. They’ll give you enough speed to meet the threshold on downloads, and then hope you won’t ask about upload speeds. The techie term for this lop-sided deal is asymmetrical internet. But upload speeds are just as important. When they roughly even out, we call it symmetrical internet.
Here’s how they work and why it is important to have a symmetrical internet connection.
How downloads work
Your download speed dictates how quickly your computer, tablet or mobile device receives data over the internet through your router. This is important for virtually all online activities, such as downloading apps and programs, files for work, and pictures and videos. It also plays a role in streaming music and movies. It goes without saying that the higher your download speed, the faster this data should reach your fingertips.
How uploads work
Upload speed is the exact opposite of download speed. This is the amount of time it takes to send data from your computer or device to another device. For example, when you upload documents, images and videos to a cloud service like Google Drive, your upload speed determines how quickly they transfer. A strong upload speed is also crucial to maintaining realism with videoconferencing and gaming. Two-way communications rely on symmetrical speeds to keep you in real time.
… and a short talk on buffering
While streaming entertainment has become more popular than purchasing and downloading music and movie files to a device—we have high-speed internet to thank for that one—buffering is a side issue. Buffering is actually fine when you don’t know it’s happening; it’s the reason why we’re able to stream without delays. (Buffering is when your computer or device pre-loads data so your experience is seamless.) But when your stream snags and you get the spinning wheel, that is a sign your device is experiencing issues with buffering. Slow download speeds can add to the time it takes to buffer.