Volume IconWhy are download speeds higher than upload speeds?

Have you noticed the difference between download and upload speeds of internet in your device? A speed test will tell you that the upload speed is usually lower than the download. Let us find out why

ImageKhalid Anzar New Delhi
IT, technology, internet, computer, telecom, data, employees, jobs, staff

Internet speed has two components: download and upload. They both are part of the data package, but data plans offered by most internet service providers refer to download speeds only. Let us find out why 

The Ookla test

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The Speedtest Global Index released by network intelligence and connectivity insights provider Ookla showed that the global median download and upload speeds on mobile networks in August hovered at 30.79 Mbps and 8.62 Mbps, respectively.

India’s median download and upload speeds in the same period stood at 13.52 Mbps and 3.28 Mbps, respectively.

Fixed broadband connection
The disparity between download and upload speeds extends to fixed broadband connections. According to Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, the global median download and upload speeds on fixed broadband in August stood at 69.14 Mbps and 29.02 Mbps, respectively.

Surprisingly, the gap between the download and upload speeds in India is not as glaring. The download and upload speeds on fixed wireless broadband in India stood at 48.29 Mbps and 47.52 Mbps, respectively.

Why is your upload speed slower than download?   
One of the factors responsible for the difference in download and upload speeds is the network interface. By design, most of the network interfaces support higher download speeds than uploads. Therefore, irrespective of the device you use for internet services, there is always a gap in the download and upload speeds. This is because download speed makes up the internet experience for most users. In any internet activity, downloading consumes much more data than the uploads.

Why does upload speed matter?
Upload establishes the connection to access web services and download is the after result. To access any service available on the web, you first send the query to the web. This process involves uploading information.

For instance, you are opening the Business Standard’s website. You enter the domain name in the browser and press ‘Enter'. At this stage, the internet uses upstream to establish a connection with the website host on the web. Once the connection is established, the host sends back data to show the website and its content on the user screen. This downstream of information is called download.

From watching movies available on over-the-top (OTT) platforms to scrolling pictures and videos posted on social media, the size of information downloaded is always on the higher side compared to uploads. Therefore, it is the download speeds that make up for the internet experience for most users. But this does not mean upload speeds are inconsequential, especially today.

The new-age web services such as internet calling, video conferencing, online gaming, cloud data storage, and remote access require healthy upload speeds to deliver an optimal experience. The lack of it results in a choppy video during video conferences, broken audio during internet calls, and slow picture uploads on Instagram, etc.

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First Published: Sep 23 2022 | 7:00 AM IST

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