Welcome to the Uplink Bottleneck

Once upon a time, not too long ago,
actually, perhaps 12 years ago or so, I got my first 1 Mbit/s ADSL
line at home. 1 Mbit/s in the downlink direction, mind you, and a
few hundred kilobit/s in the uplink direction. But it was fast,
really fast, compared to my previous modem and ISDN connections and
besides email, accessing information on the web designed for modem
speeds was the main use.

Fast forward to today and I argue that
especially for a family that same speed of 1 Mbit/s I had then in the
downlink direction is by far insufficient in the uplink direction
today. A single Skype video connection already saturates a 1 Mbit/s
uplink easily leaving little room for uplink communication of other
family members without compromsing video quality. Accessing files
stored at home remotely is also very limited with such an uplink. In
other words, I am quite happy that I have a VDSL line at home with a
5 Mbit/s uplink that I could easily upgrade to 10 Mbit/s if I wanted
to. However, I am still amazed that in some places, people get 20
Mbit/s ADSL lines with just 1 Mbit/s in the uplink direction.

At first I thought this was network
operator policy driven (yes, always assume the worst) but the ADSL
entry in Wikipedia
reveals that even for ADSL2+ (without the Annex M
published in 2008), only 1 MBit/s uplink speeds were defined. And
even with Annex M, uplink speeds only reach 3.3 Mbit/s at best. In
other words, many will feel the consequences in the next couple of
years as their offspring uses the network ever more. Welcome to the
uplink bottleneck!

2 thoughts on “Welcome to the Uplink Bottleneck”

  1. You think that’s bad. In Belgium I have a 16Mb/s downlink and… wait for it…. literally, a 384kb/s uplink! Skype video is so jerky we often switch it off.
    It really is A-dsl and geared up for distribution of TV progamming. Terrestrial TV transmission by radio is quite limited here, so it’s satellite, cable (not bad but expensive) or Adsl. Apart from Skype, for the net stuff I do, the actual 6-8Mb/s download is usually sufficient.

  2. In other words, many will finally find out what the “A” in “ADSL” actually stands for. Luckily in Germany Annex J is becoming more and more available these days.
    If I recall correctly when I got my first “T-DSL” connection (that’s how Deutsche Telekom originally branded its ADSL service) in 2000 it initially even provided “only” 768 KBit/s on the downlink and 128 KBit/s on the uplink.

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