The Complete Guide to Broadband Upload Speed

We all know how important speed is when it comes to broadband. Whilst download speeds often take the limelight, the importance of upload speeds for your connectivity experience should not be overlooked.

Here is our full guide that explains everything you need to know about broadband upload speeds.

 

What is internet speed and how does it work?

Your internet speed is actually determined primarily by your internet bandwidth – that is, the capacity of data that can be sent through your router and internet network.

 

What is broadband upload speed?

Upload speed is the rate at which data moves from your device to the network. 

It’s often overlooked in favour of download speeds, which is the rate at which data is transferred from the internet to your device. 

Whilst internet download speeds are involved in the majority of online activity you are likely to carry out, such as opening webpages and video streaming. Upload speeds are important to consider too.

 

How is broadband upload speed measured?

Broadband speed is measured in bits per second (bps).

Home broadband speeds are mostly measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or kilobits per second (Kbps). The most important thing to remember here is that Mbps is faster than Kbps.

Generally, Kbps is only used to measure upload speeds and not internet download speeds. Although, in some rural areas where only very slow broadband speeds are achievable, you might find download speeds being measured in Kbps too. 

 

What do I need a good broadband upload speed for?

Upload speeds come into play when you need to (you guessed it) upload large amounts of data.

They determine how quickly you’ll be able to do things such as send emails, video call colleagues or friends or share photos on social media. These activities only require small amounts of data, so only a low upload of just a few Mbps is needed.

However, once you start backing up large files, using cloud services or uploading HD video footage a higher upload speed is necessary to avoid frustration. Anything above 10-15 Mbps will go a long way in providing you with a smoother online experience.

 

What is a normal broadband upload speed?

For standard broadband,  upload speeds are normally much lower than the download speeds available. 

Broadband that offers average speeds of around 10-11Mbps download usually provides upload speeds of around 1Mbps. For fibre broadband with average download speeds of 36Mbps download, upload speeds are generally around 9Mb, and can get up to the 18Mbps mark on a high-end fibre deal.

 

What upload speeds does 4G broadband offer?

Mobile broadband is a great alternative to fibre broadband for those who cannot access it.

4G LTE broadband services can theoretically offer up to 150Mbps download speeds and up to 50Mbps upload speeds. 

However, you won’t necessarily always see this optimum speed. The actual speed you can achieve will depend on a few factors such as where you are located, what 4G network you are on (e.g. EE, O2, Vodafone etc) and your proximity to a cell mast. 

 

What upload speeds does 5G broadband offer?

5G is the fastest mobile technology available to date. 

Theoretical network speeds for 5G broadband are up to 10Gbps download and 1Gpbs upload. 

Top theoretical speed is dependent on what hardware you are using. Want to know more about SimRush 5G broadband? Click here.

Just like with 4G broadband services, observed speeds on 5G will depend on your environment. 5G coverage is currently still limited to major cities and towns, so it’s a good idea to check the coverage for your postcode to see if you’re in a 5G area.

 

Should my broadband upload speed be lower than my download speed?

Yes, it’s totally normal for your upload speeds to be lower than your download speeds. The majority of broadband plans, such as ADSL and FTTC offer an asymmetric service which favours download speeds over upload.

There are symmetric services available with identical upload and download speeds for those businesses and users who have heavier upload traffic and need excellent speeds. 

 

Why is my upload speed higher than download?

If you are seeing a higher broadband upload speed than download speed and you don’t have a symmetrical connection, you likely have a problem with your broadband.

There a number of things that could be contributing to your lower download speeds:

  • Issues with your provider – Your ISP might be making a mistake in the way they are delivering service to your household. They could be connecting too many people to the network at once, exceeding the network capacity and causing congestion and slow speeds. This is particularly likely if you notice that the problem occurs during peak times.
  • Issues with your cabling – It might be as simple as in issue with your cable which is an easy fix. Try a different ethernet cable and see if this impacts your speeds. 
  • Issues with your router or PC – Resetting your router and devices is always a good starting point when trying to fix connection issues. You can also try connecting different devices to see if the problem is persistent across all devices or just isolated to one. This will narrow down the root cause of the issue.

 

Why are upload speeds so low compared to download speeds?

The reason behind lower upload speeds compared to download speeds is based on typical internet experiences. As the majority of people typically do far more downloading than uploading on the internet, download speeds are given priority by ISPs.

A 50/50 split between the two just isn’t practical. Why waste 50% of the connection’s capacity on upload speeds if only 20% will actually be used for uploading?

Download speeds are emphasised over upload speeds, sometimes to the point where upload speeds are not even advertised. This can sometimes lead to confusion over what upload speed you are actually getting.

 

What is a good upload speed on a speed test?

As already said, determining what a ‘good’ broadband upload speed is very much depends on what internet activity you need it for. 

A good upload speed for someone who uses the internet mainly to shop online and keep up with their friends on social media will be very different to someone who creates and uploads online content for a living.

For most people an upload speed of around 5Mbps will be good enough to support their online activity.

So, if you’re wondering if your upload speed is good, the answer really is dependent on you and what you need the internet for.

 

How do I know if I need better speeds?

If you are experiencing long loading times, persistent pausing, and crashed programs when using the internet, it’s probably a sign that you need some more speed.

All of us have had to suffer through buffering when watching our favourite film or TV series. It’s the worst, right? This common problem is generally a sign of poor download speeds.

But what indicates slow upload speeds? 

Generally, when your upload speed is not up to scratch, you might see unusually long wait times to upload to social media or send emails and your video calls will likely be disturbed by numerous drop outs.

It’s worth pointing out that experiencing these issues doesn’t always indicate that you need to upgrade your service. It could be a sign that there is a temporary problem with your connection, particularly if the issues are not a common occurrence.

Top tip:

  • Check your average speeds on different connected devices. If one is significantly slower, you might have a hardware or software issue with your device rather than poor broadband services.

 

What can affect my broadband upload speed?

There are several factors that can impact the strength of your service performance.

They include:

  • Network congestion – Your local network has a limit on how much data it can handle easily. If too many users are sending and requesting data through the same network, you’ll have to wait longer for it to arrive or reach the ISP. This is especially common during peak internet hours, when everyone gets home from work and school.
  • Routine Maintenance – Any work carried out by your provider to fix network issues might cause your speeds to drop temporarily.
  • Number of users – Similar to your local network, your own router also has a limit on how much data it can handle. The more users and connected devices you have in your business or household, the higher the likelihood you might have congestion issues.
  • Virus and Malware – If your device is infected by malware, this can drain it’s resources and cause a drop in performance.
  • Your internet plan – Some plans come with a maximum and minimum upload speed. Check what your plan should offer you. Ensure that you select a plan capable of reaching your desired speed.
  • Device limitations – Some devices simply can’t support higher speeds.

 

How can I increase my broadband upload speed?

Slow speeds driving you crazy?

Here are a few things you can try to help increase your broadband upload speed.

1) Reboot your device – It’s common practice. Often just this simple trick is enough to sort out your issues.

2) Switch to a wired connection – WiFi connections are slower compared to wired connections. Plugging your connected devices straight into your router might see an improvement in speeds.

3) Have a clear out! Delete any unnecessary files or programs you have stored on your computer. All that useless data may well be be dragging your upload speed down.
 
4) Check you haven’t exceeded your broadband usage policy – there may be caps on the amount of data usage per month you are allowed, which when exceeded may affect your service performance.
 
Check out a full guide on how to improve your WiFi speed here

 

How do I find out what my upload speed is?

To find out how your upload speed is performing you need to carry out a quick speed test.

Broadband speed tests are available from many different sites.

We recommend using Speedtest.net by Ookla for a free and reliable internet speed test. You simply need to navigate to https://www.speedtest.net/  on your device and click go! 

This will generate results almost instantly showing both your download and upload speed. 

 

What upload speed do I need for gaming?

Upload speeds are more important for online gamers than for the average internet user. This is because gamers are constantly sending data to the server during gameplay. Slow upload speeds will likely cause major lagging and a whole lot of frustration.

However, you still don’t need brilliantly fast upload speeds to have a good gaming experience. In fact, it’s estimated that average speeds of 1Mbps is sufficient for most online gaming sessions. 

If you are looking to take gaming to the next level and stream your content to an audience, you will need a faster upload speed. The streaming platform, Twitch, recommends at least 5Mbps for good quality streaming. 

It’s also worth keeping in mind that these figures are in relation to only one person. If you have several people using the same connection to get online at once, you might want a few more Mbps to ensure it can cope with the bandwidth usage.

 

What upload speed do I need for video conferencing?

You’ll be pleased to know, video calling doesn’t require the fastest speeds available. Even with a slow internet connection, you can video call with relative ease. 

Watching someone else on Zoom uses internet download speed while sharing your own video and screen on Zoom uses upload speed.

The minimum upload speed required for group calls is around 1.5Mbps. If you want your calls to be high resolution, an upload of speed of more like 2.5Mbps is needed.

It’s also good to bear in mind that if you are video conferencing with only the minimum upload speeds required available, you might need to close other applications that you have open so they don’t use up the upload bandwidth. Informing others in your household to minimise their internet use during your calls might also help provide a smoother calling experience. The fewer connected devices the better!

 

Which broadband type offers the fastest upload speeds?

Fibre broadband offers the fastest internet speed. There are several gigabit broadband packages available from several internet service providers that have whopping symmetrical download and upload speeds. 

Their availability however, is still not particularly wide, confined mainly to larger cities such as Manchester and York. 

For those who are in areas where fibre broadband is not an option, 5G mobile broadband is the quickest alternative, followed by 4G LTE for those without 5G coverage. Unfortunately, the digital divide between rural and urban areas is still very prominent.