I try not to watch TV for obvious reasons, but while flipping around yesterday I couldn’t help but notice the Verizon’s new attention-grabbing FiOS commercial. Normally, I wouldn’t care so much about FiOS because Verizon still refuses to run their costly fibre optic cables to Lacey. But their new commercial is just plain misleading. (embedded below)
Claim: “Shouldn’t Up Be As Fast As Down?”
This, here is a finely loaded question. When presented in such a fashion via the “smoke and mirrors” of prime time TV marketing, it’s hard for someone to disagree. But in this situation, the telecommunications giant is clearly misrepresenting the facts and realities of the American broadband market. By drawing a comparison in the advertisement to having somebody’s socks match, having eyeballs match and other things, to having the same upload and download speed on a home internet connection, they are twisting reality even further.
Your internet connection, typically, is measured in two different speeds. Your download speed is how fast you can receive data, such as a Netflix movie, pictures or whatever else from the wider internet at large (such as this website). Your upload speed, however, is the speed at which you can send data out to the internet, such as your pictures from your European vacation or that latest company report.
Their primary marketing claim is that competing internet service providers are inferior because they do not provide the same upload speed as they do download speed. But is this really important?
You see, the typical user of today’s broadband internet typically does a lot more downloading than they do uploading. Upload speed only really becomes a major issue and a point of contention if you are running a server- such as a business email server, file server or anything else accessible from the web.
What they fail to mention is that not only is doing so typically against the terms of service of America’s largest internet service providers- the average consumer will not be making enough use of the upload side of things to even notice the difference in speed between upload / download. But also, there’s really no perceived benefit to having such as high upload capacity. When you load up a website, play an online game or other online activities, as long as you have a “good enough” upload speed to send a request to your respective web service, you’re set. I’m not defending “Big Cable” but allocating more network capacity to download speed makes much more sense for the majority of internet users.
99% of these folks will undoubtedly see much more benefit from having a higher capacity for download speed versus upload speed. This approach to broadband given current technology and market penetration is what makes the most sense for the most people. By Verizon claiming that upload speed is, in fact more important than it really is to consumers, they serve only to spread confusion. Everybody likes big numbers to brag about, but downstream capacity has, is and will be more important for consumer broadband for years to come.
Much like Samsung’s “next big thing” commercials that have been almost universally mocked, we can chalk this up as yet another desperate attempt to mislead and misinform an already zombified public.