Wave Broadband November 9, 2021

Symmetrical vs Asymmetrical Internet: What’s The Difference?

Choosing the right internet speed for your home can already be a confusing task. Determining whether you require a symmetric internet connection for your needs can be an even more complex decision.

In this article, we explain the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical internet speeds, and when a symmetric or asymmetric internet connection might be right for you.

Before we address symmetric vs asymmetric internet connections, let’s first define the differences between upload and download speeds.


The Difference Between Upload And Download Speeds

  • Upload speed is the speed at which your internet connection will allow data to be sent from your devices to the internet.
  • Download speed is the speed at which your internet connection is able to retrieve data from the internet.

Why Is Upload Speed Important?

Upload speed has an effect on uploading files, video conferencing, VOIP calling and online gaming. An inadequate upload speed can make you appear to freeze or cause your audio to break up on a Zoom conference call.

It also can make a huge difference in how long it takes to upload a video. If you are, for example, uploading a 1 GB video file for a school project, it will take 3 minutes and 45 seconds to upload on a 40Mbps connection and 1 to 2 seconds on a 940 Mbps connection.

Estimated Time To Upload A 1 GB Video To YouTube

Upload Speed File Size Time To Upload
10 Mbps 1 GB 15 Minutes
20 Mbps 1 GB 7 Minutes 30 Seconds
30 Mbps 1 GB 5 Minutes
40 Mbps 1 GB 3 Minutes 45 Seconds
100 Mbps 1 GB 1 Minute 30 Seconds
200 Mbps 1 GB 1 Minute
300 Mbps 1 GB 30 Seconds
400 Mbps 1 GB 15 Seconds
500 Mbps 1 GB 7-8 Seconds
940 Mbps 1 GB 1-2 Seconds

What Upload Speeds Do I Need?

The upload speed you need depends on how your household uses the internet, how many devices you have connected, and how many users are online at the same time.

Evaluating the upload speeds you need depend on how you use your internet:

  • Live Streaming – The upload speed necessary for Live Streaming varies by platform and video file size. In general, the recommended upload speed is 3 Mbps for 480p, 6Mps for 720p and 13 Mbps for 1080p.
  • Video Uploads – For uploading videos, the minimum upload speed is 2Mbps. However, unless your videos are just a few seconds long, that’s probably too slow. You’ll see much better results with an upload speed of 20Mbps.
  • Video Calls – For group calls, 1.5Mbps upload speed is enough for clear sound and video.

Not sure if you’re getting the speeds you need? Test your internet connection.

What Is Symmetric Internet?

A symmetrical internet connection provides users with upload and download speeds that are the same. For example, with Symmetric Gig Internet, your download speed is 940 Mbps and your upload speed will also be 940Mbps.

Example Of Symmetrical Internet Speed

Plan Details

Download Speed

Upload Speed

Order Now

Symmetric Gig Internet

940 Mbps

940 Mbps

Check For Service

When Should You Consider A Symmetric Internet Connection?

Many internet connections these days are asymmetric, meaning you typically receive 40-50 Mbps upload speeds.

Since the advent of the internet, this was sufficient for most online activities such as streaming TV shows, browsing the internet, or connecting a few smart home devices.

However, as the uses of the internet have evolved, including the 18% increase of IoT devices in the home, so have the requirements on upload speeds.

A symmetric internet connection might be right if you:

  • Are a Business Owner – A fast upload speed is imperative for businesses to ensure employees can share files, post to social media, upload videos, and do everything that their daily routine requires with no slowdowns. Wave for Business offers Business Class Internet featuring a symmetric fiber internet connection to keep you and your company connected.
  • Are a Content Creator – When your livelihood is dependent on getting content to viewers, excellent upload speeds are a must to make sure images, videos and livestreams are delivered to your audience efficiently.
  • Are a Livestreamer – You need solid, swift upload speeds to power a high quality livestream that keeps viewers tuned in and ensures smooth, high-quality game play.
  • Are a Remote Worker – When you work from home, the internet is what connects you to coworkers, clients and more. Nimble upload speeds to make sure large files like PDFs and graphics can be uploaded quickly, as well as to make video calls run smoothly, are a job requirement.
  • Are a Student – Even if you aren’t learning remotely, accelerated upload speeds mean you can send that massive project to your professor quickly and confidently.

Do I Need A Specific Modem To Support Symmetrical Internet Speeds?

While you do not need a specific modem to support symmetrical internet speeds, you do need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem or greater to support gig speed internet. Find out if your modem will support symmetric internet speeds with our Bring Your Own Modem guide

What Is Asymmetric Internet?

An asymmetric internet connection means that download and upload speeds aren’t equal. Generally, download speeds are faster than upload speeds. For example, with a download speed of 100 Mbps, your upload speed will only be 5 Mbps.

Examples Of Asymmetrical Internet Speeds

Download Speed

Upload Speed

100 Mbps

5 Mbps

250 Mbps

10 Mbps

500 Mbps

10 Mbps

When Should You Consider An Asymmetric Internet Connection?

While symmetric internet is useful for certain tasks, it may not be the best option for you if you don’t upload a lot of files or won’t be hampered by an occasional slowdown in the speed of your network.

An asymmetric internet connection might be right if you:

  • Are looking to save money. Asymmetric internet connections can sometimes be less expensive than symmetric connections.
  • Only need fast download speeds. Even though uploading will take longer, you’ll still get fast download speeds with an asymmetrical connection. If uploading isn’t a high priority for you, you’ll likely be happy with an asymmetrical connection.
  • You mostly use the internet for web surfing. You can be perfectly content with an asymmetrical connection if you primarily use the internet to search the web or post on social media.
  • You only have one user on your network. If you live alone or usually only have one person online at a time, symmetric internet is likely overkill.
  • Have an older modem. If your modem is older than DOCSIS 3.1, it isn’t compatible with symmetric internet.

Symmetrical Vs Asymmetrical Internet: What Should You Choose?

Like many things, choosing a symmetric vs asymmetric internet connection depends on what you use your internet for.

If you are looking to save money, only use the internet for surfing the web, or don’t upload videos or other media often, then asymmetric internet might be the right choice for you.

However, if you own a business, create content, work remotely or livestream, then a symmetric internet connection will give you everything you need.

Ready to get started? Get connected today with Wave G symmetric internet services.

*Internet download speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. Observed speeds may vary based on device, connection, and other factors outside of Wave’s control. Offers available on residential services listed and to new Wave residential customers only. Gig Internet offers speeds up to 940 Mbps. Certain equipment may be required to receive Gigabit speeds up to 940 Mbps. Internet speeds up to 940 Mbps may vary due to conditions outside of network control, including customer location and equipment. Offers available on residential services listed and to new Wave residential customers only. Offers expire 11/30/2021. Equipment, Universal Service Fund, E911, Internet Infrastructure Surcharge, taxes and other fees apply.

†Unlimited Data Plan available on top two speed tiers only. After 2 TB of usage, Wave G may slow data speeds for network management. Usage beyond total allotment subject to additional charges; allotment upgrades available.