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Why you need to start paying attention to your Internet's upload speed

By Hawaiian Telcom on Aug 17, 2021 3:30:39 PM

Tags: Fiber, Fiber Internet

If you work from home, livestream on social media, or game a lot, then you should find upload speeds important. And the more people you have in your home doing these types of things, the more important it becomes. Your Internet's upload speed determines how fast you can send content to the Internet, and you'd be surprised how quickly it adds up.

What's the difference between download and upload speeds?

Until recently, upload speeds have largely been overshadowed by download speeds. If the difference between the two seems a little confusing, think of it this way: download speed is how quickly you can get something out of the Internet, like scrolling your social media feeds or streaming a show on Netflix, and upload speed is how quickly you can put something on the Internet, like posting a TikTok or streaming a video of yourself to an audience during a teleconference meeting.

Why should I care about upload speeds now?

The pandemic acted as a catalyst for the increased importance of upload speeds. In March of 2020, there was a large initial spike in the growth of upstream bandwidth. According to OpenVault’s Broadband Insights Report, average upstream bandwidth usage by December 2020 was 31 GB, representing 63% growth over 2019 - shown in the graph below.


The increase in at-home videoconferencing due to the pandemic made the biggest case for the importance of higher upload speeds. A 2020 Gartner study found that 82% of business leaders said their organizations plan to let employees continue to work from home at least some of the time, while 47% planned to allow employees to do so permanently. Midway through 2021, we are now seeing these practices put into place. In fact, a recent study found that 40% of workers would consider quitting if they had to return to the office full time (Business Insider). Many companies have realized that employees can be just as productive at home, and are more willing to be flexible with where their employees work. It's safe to say that remote working and schooling options are here to stay.


In addition to videoconferencing, remote workers and students benefit from faster upload speeds when submitting large files. Plus, faster upload speeds are critical when uploading video content and streaming via apps like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. This is helpful because social media usage continues to quickly grow and put an additional strain on home Internet upload bandwidth. 

Alone these activities may not seem like such a burden on your home network; however, the need for faster upload speed adds up when multiple people engage in similar activities at the same time on the same network. Gaming on Twitch may only require about 6Mbps alone, but if your livestreaming a 1080p video to Twitch and a 4K video to YouTube at the same time, about 36 Mbps is needed to ensure both streams remain stable (HighSpeedInternet). Add on a parent who is remotely working and a sibling or roommate who is on Google Classroom, and you will soon need closer to at least 50 Mbps of upload bandwidth. 

Cable Internet connections, which do not use fiber all the way to the home, typically offer upload speeds from about 10 Mbps to 35 Mbps. Fiber networks currently offer upload speeds from 100 to 1000 Mbps, more than ten times faster than cable Fiber also provides a much more stable connection. As our reliance on our home Internet's bandwidth grows, consumers are going to soon realize that Internet providers who haven't invested in fiber won't be able to meet their needs. 

March 2020 was just the beginning to a trend that will continue for years to come: Internet usage and bandwidth consumption is growing exponentially. Higher resolution and 4K will become more standard, and the need for fast Internet will only go up from here. To stay on top of this trend, consider fiber when purchasing Internet. With Hawaiian Telcom Fiber Internet, you won't experience lagging during an important meeting or while streaming to Facebook. If you have a house or apartment full of remote workers, learners, gamers, or TikTokers- we recommend our plan with 1 Gig download and 300Mbps upload.

Learn more about why you should switch to Fiber Internet.

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