The Symmetry non-issue rears its head again

The Washington Post has been mislead into making some silly remarks about Internet symmetry:

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. Users are increasingly becoming contributors and not just consumers, sharing photos, video and in Glatfelter’s case, podcasts. In a nod to the trend of user-generated content, Time magazine recently named “You” _ everyone who has contributed _ as its Person of the Year.


DSL has limited bandwidth, so one has to choose how much to dedicate to upload and how much go download. Given that the normal distribution of download to upload is around 100:1, it’s already more symmetrical than it needs to be in the typical home user case. Cable access – DOCSIS – is always going to be extremely asymmetrical because of the contention problem on a shared cable, not because of any imaginary confinement to bands below channel 2. What is that dude smoking?

The uber-neuts have been complaining about this for years, which is why I wrote a blog post on Symmetry, Control, and Progress in 2003. The bottom line is that the typical human doesn’t have the skills or the inclination to manage a web server in his home, so the upload thing for voluminous content will always be done by specialist sites like You Tube. If the upload is slow, that’s fine because you don’t have to babysit it.

So symmetry is a non-problem, always has been and always will be.

H/T Tech Lib

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