Thursday, April 02, 2009

The pipe giveth, and the pipe taketh away

My last rant consciously avoided the symmetrical/asymmetrical connection issue, mainly because it raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels. But the tireless Om has written a nice piece on the issue, and I would like to share the pain. 

I'm on a Virgin Media 10Mbps package, with which I'm very happy on the whole. It is very reliable, and I often get my nominal download speed, and quizzically sometimes higher. I guess it doesn't hurt that if I scan the neighborhood for Wi-Fi routers, I get a lot of BT and Sky SSIDs, suggesting that the contention levels on my node may be low because DSL seems to have won battle for the block. 

In any event, the nominal upload speed on my package is 512kbps, making for a 20:1 asymmetry between download and upload. I have a JungleDisk account, and it's a great service, but my quick and dirty calculation is that my music collection, as it stands now, would take 22 days to back up to the cloud. 

That's painful enough to convince me not to even try, but perhaps I should, because this situation will only worsen as the asymmetry gap widens. Virgin's new 50Mbps package has an upload of 1.5Mbps, or an asymmetry of 33:1. So the consumer has a vastly enhanced capacity to acquire content, but backing it up via the wonder of cloud storage becomes disproportionately more painful, because the rate at which content can be acquired expands faster and in greater increments than the upload. 

1 comment:

Ignition said...

I did give a go on another blog though for health reasons let it lie.

Virgin's network is so asymmetrical because they are lazy, cheap and never cared about upstream beyond supplying the bare minimum to make the downstream work.

We can only hope that this changes however given that my own area can barely support the paltry upstream bandwidth that's allocated to it at present they've a lot of work to do.