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David Anders is a senior writer covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining, David gained industry experience writing for AllConnect, a broadband marketplace. In his 5-plus years of broadband work, David has been cited by a variety of sources, including ArcGIS and DIRECTV. David lives in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
How To Get My Upload Speed Faster
This story is part of Home Tips, a collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
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The information highway is not a one-way street. Upload and download speeds play a role in our home internet usage, but most ISPs promote download speeds as per plan, while upload speeds are treated as an afterthought.
There is a reason for this. Downloads dominate most of what we use the Internet for, from streaming TV and music to browsing that web page, and download speed determines how quickly and easily we can perform these activities.
So what’s the deal with download speed? Are they as irrelevant as some proponents suggest, or do they play a bigger role in our connected lives than they deserve? I’ll explain the difference between upload and download speed, why your download speed is important, reasons why yours might be slow, and how to improve it.
Let’s start with the basics of how your internet connection works. If you have a fiber optic connection, all internet activity involves data transmission through your modem or ONT. When you’re getting data – watching TV, browsing the web, scrolling through your social media feed, etc. – you download from the Internet. When you send data — like your face and voice over a video call — you’re uploading it to the Internet.
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Download and upload speeds determine how fast you can perform such tasks and how many devices can reasonably use the Internet at the same time.
Download speed refers to your ability to download data, and download speed is similar to data download speed. Both speeds are usually advertised and tested in Mbps or megabytes per second. The higher your Mbps, the faster your connection.
About everything. Streaming TV, browsing social media, connecting to Wi-Fi security cameras, and reading the news online are just a few examples of downloading data over the Internet. Even if you are streaming a TV program or music, you are not saving any files to your hard drive, but you are downloading any files as if you are downloading a song versus streaming.
Any data you send or upload to the Internet. This includes typing something into the search bar and pressing “Enter” or uploading files such as homework or images and videos to social networks. Download speed is also important for live streaming, video conferencing, VOIP calls and online gaming.
The Difference Between Download And Upload Internet Speeds
Just as download speed affects the quality of the picture and sound when you’re streaming a show on your TV, download speed affects how others see and hear you on the other end of a live stream, video conference, or online game. A slow or unstable download speed is often the cause of screen freezes and broken audio when using programs like Skype or Zoom.
For typical home Internet use over a Wi-Fi connection and four to five devices, I recommend a download speed of at least 5 Mbps. It will comfortably support most data-intensive tasks, including high-quality video calls and online gaming. Of course, as with download speed, the higher the speed, the better the experience.
Any download speed of 3 Mbps or higher is considered “broadband” by the FCC. However, the FCC set that speed threshold (along with a broadband download speed of 25 Mbps) in 2015 and has since been under bipartisan pressure from Congress to raise the bar for what officially counts as broadband.
However, the FCC standard of 3 Mbps is sufficient on paper to meet the minimum requirements for applications such as Skype and Zoom. Skype recommends at least 100 kbps for calls and 512 kbps for group video chats with seven or more people. Zoom is a bit more demanding, requiring at least 600kbps for a 1:1 video call and 3.8Mbps for a 1080p HD video call.
How To Increase Upload Speed
Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements and you may benefit from a higher speed, so it’s good to know what your speed is and what will affect it.
A good speed test will give you an idea of what your download speed is. Of course, if you’re experiencing excessive lag and hangs during video calls, you don’t need to run a speed test to know that your download speed isn’t meeting your needs.
If your download speed is below your needs and expectations, there are several factors that could be contributing to the slow speed. As a bonus, some of these tips may also improve your download speed in the process.
The main culprit of slow download speed, especially compared to your download speed, is the internet tariff itself. Most ISP plans, with the exception of fiber internet, usually provide a maximum download speed of one-tenth or less of the advertised speed. If you subscribe to an internet plan with a maximum download speed of 50 Mbps, you can expect a maximum download speed of 5 Mbps or less.
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Most cable Internet providers, including Cox, Spectrum, and Xfinity, have download speeds between 30 and 35 Mbps, although gigabit download speeds are often available. This applies to most DSL and satellite Internet services; Download speed is much lower than advertised.
How to fix it: The best thing you can do is find out what the maximum download speed is available with a particular provider or plan before you sign up. Most providers list download speeds on their website, but you’ll need to check the fine print or plan details to find out.
If you already have Internet service, you may want to consider upgrading to a faster plan. Chances are, you’ll not only get a fast download speed, you’ll also get a nice boost in download speed. Switching providers is another option, especially if you have fiber service from providers like AT&T, CenturyLink, Google Fiber, or Verizon Fios. Fiber technology supports the bandwidth required for symmetric or nearly symmetric upload and download speeds. So if you subscribe to a 300Mbps data plan, you can expect download and upload speeds of around 300Mbps over a wired connection.
Wi-Fi is an alternative to a wired connection, not its own dedicated Internet service. If you’re using a Wi-Fi connection, expect download and upload speeds to be slower than what your ISP sends to your home.
Slow Download Speed Fast Upload
When using Wi-Fi, there may be issues with range and signal dropouts. The further you move away from your router, or if you move to another room or floor, your download speed will likely slow down.
How to fix it: Using a wired Ethernet connection always provides a faster and more reliable connection. If you need fast and stable download speeds for an important meeting or school project, try using a wired connection.
A wired connection isn’t always practical, and Wi-Fi is more convenient, so sometimes Wi-Fi may be your only option. There are many ways to improve your Wi-Fi connection, such as elevating your router or rearranging your antennas.
Upgrading your device is also an effective way to increase your Wi-Fi speed. If you’re not sure where to start shopping for a new router, check out our list of the best Wi-Fi routers. For a better home Wi-Fi connection, consider upgrading to a dual-band mesh router.
Why Are My Upload Speeds At Home So Terrible?
Very high bandwidth available. If you have multiple video conferences going on at the same time, they can all compete with each other, reducing the available download speed for everyone. While simultaneous meetings or classes cannot be avoided, try to stagger meetings and limit the number of connected devices whenever possible.
How to fix it: In addition to strategically scheduling meetings to accommodate everyone in your family, make sure your router is set to broadcast on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Your 5 GHz band will likely have less interference, which will improve connection quality and increase download speeds.
Also, upgrading your data plan or ISP to one with the fastest download speeds can help ensure you have enough to work with.
Believe it or not, downloading files and participating in video calls contribute to your monthly data usage just as much as downloading files or streaming TV shows. Depending on your provider, going over your data limit may speed up the rest of your billing cycle.
Why Upload Speeds Are Important
This is only a problem if you have satellite internet. Both Huesnet and Viaset will significantly reduce speeds if a customer exceeds their monthly data allowance.
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