Good news for Verizon customers: the company is rolling out symmetrical broadband speeds for its FiOS subscribers. That means your upload speeds and download speeds will now be equal. Getting the same speeds in both directions will help you put larger files into your cloud storage locker, for example, or upload high-quality videos on YouTube more quickly.
If you previously were getting 15 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up, you'll be automatically upgraded for no extra cost to 15/15. Same goes if you were on their 50/25 plan: You'll now be upgraded to 50/50. And if you had 75/35? You guessed it: Now it'll be 75 down, and 75 up.
This is a huge step; Internet providers that offer symmetrical speeds are relatively rare in the United States. As competitors like Google Fiber have started advertising equal upload and download rates, it's put the onus on incumbent ISPs to adapt. In Chattanooga, Tenn., subscribers of the local government's fiber optic Internet service can get symmetrical speeds of 1 Gbps — two times what Verizon's top-level FiOS tier offers and 100 times the national average — for $70 a month. The emergence of other cities and towns building their own broadband, not to mention the potential threat posed by Comcast as it seeks to acquire Time Warner Cable, adds even more pressure on Verizon to differentiate its services.
Better upload speeds means smoother video chats as your computer sends images of you over the Web, better online gaming performance and, in the future, added capacity to handle the Internet of Things; Verizon expects upload activity on its network to double in the next two years. With the new symmetrical speeds, the fastest FiOS subscribers (at 500 Mbps) will be able to send a 5-minute HD-quality video in as little as four seconds. For the rest of us, a 25 Mbps connection will let you do the same thing in a little over a minute.
That more ISPs are beginning to recognize symmetrical speeds might be a sign that they realize there's a large group of Internet users whose relationship to the Web isn't simply about downloading and consumption, though that's rising, too; it's about creation and sharing and producing things. The way ISPs have historically sold broadband doesn't really reflect that.
The rollout begins today and it'll continue over the next few months, according to Verizon. People who want to hop on early can do so through Verizon's customer loyalty program, Verizon+.