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ISPs’ controversial headline speed adverts pretty much exclusively focus on broadband download speeds. After all, that’s what the customers are really interested in, isn’t it?! Not according to ISPReview.co.uk, who recently ran a poll of their readers that found that almost 25% rated upload speed as ‘very important’. So, should ISPs be providing this information more readily?

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

In fairness, ISPreview.co.uk’s readers are probably a bit more tech savvy than many broadband users and therefore are more aware of the increasingly important role upload speeds play in their day to day Internet usage habits. So, are customers really concerned with (or even aware of) the importance of their upload speed?

Changing Internet usage habits

That depends on how they use their Internet connection. If they are using it to support an application that is reliant on two-way data transfer such as VoIP or video conferencing or predominantly upload based such as FTP, then they are likely to be more aware of the importance of a good upload speed. Even in the residential broadband market, where customers are uploading more and more information (e.g. photos) to social media sites or online gaming for example, they will be significantly aware of the impact a faster upload speed can have. Alternatively, if they are predominantly downloading information it may be a less important factor to them.

However, with market trends showing an increasing adoption of hosted services and analysts predicting significant growth in things like the IoT and connected devices, surely upload speed is set to become increasingly important to everyone’s day to day Internet usage.

What about Annex M?

Where customers are particularly concerned with their upload speed they can use Annex M to trade some of their download speed for an increased upload speed. This option is usually available as an additional service and incurs an additional cost.

Are we just adding to the confusion?

There’s no doubt many customers are already confused by download speed information shared and promoted by ISPs, so adding upload speed information to the mix could arguably increase their confusion further. It’s a delicate balancing act of providing the necessary information in a clear and concise way.

The ASA guidelines affect all speed information; if ISPs start adding upload speeds into their advertising, it’s likely to cause even more of a headache for ISPs and their resellers. Especially if they have to prove 10% of customers can achieve the quoted speeds.

So, what’s the best way forward?

Detailing upload speeds across all websites and to all customers may be a little overkill and simply succeed in confusing many users. However, where a customer enquires about upload speed, ISPs should have the information readily available and provide estimates via availability checkers where appropriate. That’s our view anyway!

Have your say!

You’ve heard our opinion, but what’s yours? Do you get asked regularly about upload speeds? Do you proactively promote them for your products? Or do you think most customers are unconcerned and providing this additional information would simply confuse them? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving us a comment below.

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One Response to “Is the upload speed REALLY important?”

  1. Once upon a time it was download speed that mattered most to an end-user, but upload mattered most to anyone providing a server. Now, I’d suggest, they are nearing equivalence for many users because of the growth in the use of remote storage — “the Cloud” — as it may be great to receive the document to work on (or the software to edit it) in tens of second but is not acceptable to have to wait multiple minutes to upload it after each edit.

    Then add in the use of online image store services alongside the ever-increasing size of images themselves and, again, upload speed matters more than it probably did in the past.

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