Understanding Upload vs. Download Internet Speeds

Another meaningful measurement of internet connection quality is the difference between upload and download speeds. Due to technical limitations and engineering choices, most internet connections offer a faster download speed than upload speed – or to put it in terms we’ve already used, offer greater bandwidth for downloading than for uploading.

This situation suits most internet users quite well – think about the amount of time you spend watching a movie on Netflix and browsing the web versus the amount of time you spend uploading files to Google Drive.

In the simplest of terms:

  • If you’re receiving it, you are downloading it.
  • If you are sending it, you are uploading it.

If you plan to spend a lot of time conferencing or broadcasting live video, frequently upload large files, or need to serve content to many web visitors at once, checking the upload speed of your internet connection may be just as important as ensuring you have an adequate download speed.

Internet service providers typically advertise download and upload speeds in the format download speed/upload speed.

For example, Verizon FiOS indicates a 940/880 Mbps fiber optic internet connection; this format indicates that the download speeds are 940 megabits per second, and upload speeds are 880 megabits per second.

As a result, your ability to download or stream Netflix will be faster than your ability to upload a file to Google Drive, or work.