Service Providers Hide Their Internet Upload Speed – When most folks choose a home internet provider, they usually focus on download speeds. After all, most of what people do online involves bringing data into their devices.
But in an era when we’re increasingly sharing things with others, working online from home or backing up files to the cloud, upload speeds are important, too. There’s just one problem: the two major broadband providers serving Houston don’t even tell you what the upload speeds are for their various tiers.
Go to either AT&T’s or Comcast’s sales websites and try to find a mention of upload speeds. You’ll come up empty-handed. Neither provider shows them, either on the primary page where they list the attributes of various plans, or on the “click here for details” link. Upload speeds are the one detail you won’t get.
This wasn’t always the case, but most home broadband providers have been hiding this info since at least 2016, when Rob Pegoraro laid it all out for USA Today.
So why don’t internet providers show upload speeds? It could be because, in many cases, they are embarrassingly lame. For example, I’ve got a 275 Mbps download connection with Comcast, but upload is a measly 10 Mbps. My upload speed is less than 4 percent of my download speed.
It could be worse. If I had the next-slowest tier at 175 Mbps, I’d only have an upload speed of 5 Mpbs – less than 3 percent of the download speed.
I asked Comcast and AT&T why upload speeds are MIA on their websites. Comcast responded with this statement:
“We redesigned the offer details page to be more consumer friendly and better explain all of the features of our products.”
Of course, it’s not all the features, because upload speeds definitely aren’t “better explained.” But the Comcast spokesperson offered one glimmer of hope, saying the company is “working on technical trials that could allow for symmetrical speeds for customers that would come as early as next year”.
“Symmetrical speeds” would be upload speeds that are equal to download speeds. That would be very good news. Comcast’s tests may be part of the next cable modem standard, DOCSIS 4.0, which allows for faster uploads, and the cable industry’s 10G initiative to get speeds up to 10 Gbps. (A Comcast spokesperson didn’t respond when I asked for more information.)
In the 2016 USA Today piece, a Comcast spokesman vouched for a page at DSLReports.com that details the cable company’s upload speeds. It appears to be current and accurate, but it’s a shame that Comcast doesn’t provide that information itself, somewhere.
An AT&T spokesperson also provided a statement:
“Upload and download speeds have been and still are available at https://www.att.net/speedtiers. Since customers are accustomed to shopping for internet based on download speeds, we structured our sales experience to align with that expectation.”
That page is on AT&T’s tech support site and there’s no link to it from the page where internet access is actually sold. While upload speeds may be available somewhere, it’s not where people would to go make a decision about buying service.
The AT&T spokesperson pointed out that, on some of its tiers, AT&T offers significantly faster upload speeds than Comcast. For example, its fiber-based products have the symmetrical upload speeds Comcast is just now testing.
But AT&T’s fiber isn’t available everywhere in Houston yet, and if you are stuck with its traditional service, upload speeds range from as low as 1 Mbps to 20 Mbps.
I’d pay a little extra each month for respectable upload speeds, and I’m surprised that internet providers haven’t snapped to the fact that it could be a value-added offering.
Then again, the better approach is what AT&T’s doing with its fiber and what Comcast is testing – the same speed for uploads and downloads. Then, when they only provide one number, they’re not hiding anything from their customers.