Verizon boosts Fios upload speeds to match downloads

The goal is to appeal to customers who need to upload videos, photos, and other bandwidth-consuming content.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read


Verizon Fios customers will now start seeing a hefty boost in their upload speeds.

As of Monday, Fios subscribers will begin receiving "symmetrical" connections, meaning their upload speeds will match their download speeds, at no additional cost, the company has announced.

Typically, upload speeds are much slower than those for downloading based on the old premise that users download more and larger content than they upload. But the online world has changed, and people are increasingly uploading hefty videos, photos, work projects, and other content that require a beefier upload speed. Verizon's move is also aimed to compete against the cable industry, which faces challenges in increasing Internet upload speeds beyond a certain threshold, said The Wall Street Journal.

For example, a current Fios tier that provides 50 megabits per second on the downstream and 25 Mbps on the upstream will double the upstream speed to 50 Mbps. The highest tier, which offers 500 Mbps on the upstream and 100 Mbps on the upstream, will bump the upstream to 500 Mbps.

How will those speed boosts translate into real tasks? According to Verizon, a true 50 Mbps upload will let you transfer a 4-minute video in 4.8 seconds and a 3GB 1-hour HD movie in 8.2 minutes. A 500 Mbps upload will transfer that 4-minute video in half a second and that 3GB movie in 49.2 seconds. Those estimates assume the maximum transfer rate possible. Internet traffic and other conditions typically limit the speed to somewhat less than the maximum.

Verizon shared its reasons for the upload boost in its Monday press release:

Today, we are content creators, gamers, memory-makers and teleworkers. We upload home videos onto YouTube, post image-centric status updates on Facebook, share recipes and bedroom designs on Pinterest and upload family photos to Shutterfly for relatives to download later.

This is the latest version of Internet speeds: We aren't just downloaders, we're uploaders, too. Upload activity on the FiOS network is expected to double by 2016, according to Verizon forecasts. Consider that even today Facebook users are uploading more than 350 million photos per day.

This brave new Internet requires a more complete Internet experience; one that values upload speeds every bit (pun intended) as much as download speeds.

Verizon has also seen slower growth in overall Fios TV and broadband subscriptions, according to the Journal, as the number of customer additions fell to 98,000 during the first quarter of 2014 from 188,000 during the same quarter last year. Verizon's Fios customers number just over 6 million.

The money required to increase the upload speeds was described by Robert Mudge, Verizon's president of consumer and mass business markets, as an "almost insignificant investment" for Fios.

The upgrade to the upload speeds will continue throughout the fall, according to Verizon. Fios customers will receive the speed boost automatically. The initial rollout will reach those who've enrolled in Verizon's customer loyalty My Rewards+ program. Those not enrolled in the program will have to wait longer.

Verizon product manager Fowler Abercrombie told the Associated Press that he expects around 95 percent of Fios subscribers will get the faster upload speeds. The remaining 5 percent may not quality for the new symmetrical speeds due to technical reasons.