Asymmetric Internet In The West

While I was online reading about DSL, I came across a lot of articles and they seemed to indicate internet speeds in the west are asymmetric. In other words the upload and download speeds (the maximums) are not the same. Usually the upload speed is 1/3 or less of the download speed.

Now this makes sense to me, 'cause I have some websites, and I rarely upload much or if I do it’s all at once than that’s pretty much it.

Anyway as I was reading, I read that in Asia, especially Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore that the internet lines are symmetrical. There the upload and download speeds are similar if not exact.

Now I’ll assume this is so, but if it is indeed so, then how did this come to be? I realize that things like Cell Phones and PDA are much more popular in Asia, because cells don’t require as much hardware, (as in running telephone lines for landlines) than cell phones.

Is there a reason why the Asians would have symmetrical up and download speeds while the Western nations don’t?

Yes it is all true.

The reasons are political as much as technical.

Some of the technical reasons have to do with what technologies are available for license or other use on the network, betting on what is coming down the pike, capabilities of alternatives, capacity of the underlying physical network (copper wires e.g.) etc.

The politics has to do with betting that the average person would rather be spoken to than speak. This is based on a longstanding US model of broadcasting that has survived many media technology obsolescence cycles, and risks to the industries that provide the content and distribution of material for broadcast.

Most people download far more than they upload so the internet providers build their business model around that. It is basically as simple as that although you can buy almost symmetrical download/upload speeds for additional cost but that applies mainly to businesses. The other big factor is that the early adopters (and inventors) of the interwebs was in the West and the U.S. in particular but also Switzerland. Early adopters build on the technology over time while the newcomers simply grab the latest and greatest technology and run with it.

I think it is a chicken and egg issue about upload/download ratio. At the beginning, say 1994 or so, and arguably even today, it does not have to have been that way. Lawrence Lessig’s books discuss this. Code, one of the earlier ones, is a good place to start. I believe his books are available online under CC license for free.

I can see your point, but then it leads me to ask, why is the business model different in Asia than in the West?

Is it like a cell phone thing?. It’s easier to build a cell phone tower, than string the lines for miles to build landlines.

Close -

  • denser populations
  • newer existing telecom equipment
  • less regulation
  • national economic focus on the development internet and related technolgies as a comparative advantage

It is all about the $$$$$
They can charge more for it and we put up with it and so they keep doing it…

Advertisers want to sell you stuff so down is good, you being able to upload stuff does not make near as much $$$$

Guess why the business model stays the same…

That might be related to how it is now, but that is not the reason it is the way it is.

Earlier, there were no business models - some would say there still aren’t - that are sure things. There was no reason why, from a tech or business model point of view it HAD to go that way.

I gave some answers up thread that discuss why it is currently different in different places.