Broadband asymmetry's gonna getcha

I'm overdue in getting to this, but thought it worth pointing to this AP report picked up by the Globe & Mail's Personal Tech section back in December.

The writer, Anick Jesdanun, does a good job of explaining why asymmetric home broadband packages continue to be such a pain in the neck for anyone doing much more than casual web surfing:

"The information superhighway isn't truly equal in both directions. Cable and phone companies typically sell asymmetrical Internet services to households, reserving the bulk of the lanes for downloading movies and other files and leaving the shoulders at most for people to share, or upload, files with others.

The imbalance makes less sense as the Internet becomes truly interactive ... Yet the ability to upload still lags — in some cases, downloads are 10 to 15 times faster."

This is something I've ranted and moaned about at length in the past and it continues to bug me. I'll accept that I'm not a typical broadband user, in some respects. As the article notes:

"Cable and phone providers insist they are keeping up with demand, in many cases increasing both upload and download speeds, but they say they haven't had a huge clamouring for symmetry."

Understandable. But as the wave of user generated rich media continues, the problem is going to become more apparent, and more irksome to many, many more users.

Renowned tech columnist, Robert X. Cringely, in his predictions for 2007, even goes so far as to suggest that this year will prove to be "The year the net crashed (in the USA)," as "Video overwhelms the net and we all learn that the broadband ISPs have been selling us something they can't really deliver."

Ouch. I really hope he's overstating that one, for dramatic effect, but I can't help feeling there's a bone of possible truth under the flesh of his hyperbole.

Note: Bob doesn't specifically say that asymmetry is the problem here - that's my inference, not his.