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Old 09-08-2011, 12:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Why is my upload speed so slow?

We have Roadrunner, which is beautifully fast for downloading stuff, streaming video, all that downstream sort of activity which is all I do on it. Now my boyfriend is telecommuting and needs to upload lots of stuff, though, and our upload speed is literally dial-up slow. I was shocked, so he called Time Warner and they told him that that's normal AND that if he wanted he could upgrade to the next tier, which would be a marginal increase in upload speed!

We tried running a cable to the modem instead of doing it wirelessly, but that didn't improve speed at all.

Why is the upload speed so slow? Is that really normal, or did we get the runaround from a call center guy? Is there anything we can do to make it better? Would another ISP (DSL, maybe) improve it?
Old 09-08-2011, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 1,530
Well, which tier are you on? You can go to their website and see what upload speed you are supposed to be getting. It should be in the range of 256 kbps to 1 Mbps. In general, the upload speed is much less than the download speed, whether you are on cable or DSL. The exception is if you get "business class" service which will generally give you equivalent upload and download speeds. You will pay a nice premium for that however.
Old 09-08-2011, 12:29 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 8,419
Yes, it's normal. The upload speed is usually 1/8 or less of the download speed. It's not uncommon to have 8 Mbps down, less than 1 Mbps up. Not sure where you are, but in some parts of America, anything higher than 256Kbps up is considered fast.

Pay for more bandwidth or leech it off a friend or nearby university/library, which can sometimes have better connections (but not always). Shop by speed tier and user ratings (,, etc.), not necessarily by ISP. Ask for specific speeds and compare that way, not just by brand name.

ETA: However, it also might depend on what, specifically, he's uploading and to where. Could traffic shaping and router issues be a part of it? (Common with BitTorrent, for example)

Last edited by Reply; 09-08-2011 at 12:32 PM.
Old 09-08-2011, 12:34 PM
Just Lovely and Delicious
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 24,488
I've got Time Warner and my upload speed has always capped at around 80kbps. I think I have the lowest plan, $49.95/mo.

Yes, kbps.
Old 09-08-2011, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
That's honestly about what we're getting and we spend almost $70 a month!

ETA - he's uploading various things, I think mostly InDesign pages?

Last edited by Zsofia; 09-08-2011 at 01:15 PM.
Old 09-08-2011, 01:26 PM
Just Lovely and Delicious
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 24,488
Are you spending $70/mo just on Internet?

If you are, FYI I find the down speeds on the $50/mo version to be absolutely plenty. I keep torrents running up and down (20kbps up, 280kbps down (very low on purpose, but still overhead)) all the time and have never had a problem with Netflix or downloading via FTP.

Of course I guess the $70/mo version could be the same where you are as the $50 version here.
Old 09-08-2011, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Yeah, it used to be less when I had cable and all bundled, but I cancelled cable.
Old 09-09-2011, 03:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NRW, Germany
Posts: 2,306
You can test your download/upload speed on this site. Just close all windows and tabs except one, make sure there are no pending downloads, and start the test. If the results are significantly slower than those you pay for, you should contact your ISP.

ETA: if there are other machines connected through the same router, make sure that there is no internet traffic going on those computers before starting the test.

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 09-09-2011 at 03:45 AM.
Old 09-09-2011, 04:15 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Where the wild roses grow
Posts: 24,022
Americans tend to call it "DSL" instead of "ADSL" but the "A" part is important. It means "asymmetric" i.e. it's faster at downloading than it is at uploading.
Old 09-12-2011, 07:39 AM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Nowhere, South Carolina
Posts: 706
My home ADSL is 6Mb/sec down, and 1Mb/sec up, at about $40/month. The business plans offer higher speed ADSL, as well as high speed S(ynchronous)DSL, which is the same up and down, for additional costs.

The reasoning is that typically, users spend more time downloading things then uploading them, and to discourage people from running high-traffic web sites from their home.
Old 09-12-2011, 09:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 4,875
Something that is worth pointing out about the asymmetry of ADSL is that it is there for a technical, not just marketing or pricing reason. If you want fast upload on a (A)DSL line you trade off a lot of download speed for a small gain in upload speed. This is because the data rate you can achieve is dependant upon the signal to noise ratio seen by the receiver. When you are downloading, the receiver is the one in your modem, when you are uploading, the receiver is the one in the exchange (or wherever your ISP's DSLAM is.) As the signal travels down the wire it is reduced in amplitude quite drastically - which is why there is a length limit, and why the further you are from the DSLAM the lower your data rate is. This leads to the asymmetry in operation. When you download, the signal is at its lowest level when it reaches your modem. This is lucky because the lines to, and in, your house are no longer bound up in a huge cable with hundreds of other madly chattering ADSL lines, and so the amount of local noise picked up is low, and the noise that was picked up at the sending end has been attenuated by the same amount as your signal. So your signal to noise is pretty good- and you get a good data rate. But when you upload, you send data to the DSLAM, and by the time your signal reaches there, it has been significantly attenuated (by the same amount as the download was), but now finds itself in the midst of a huge cacophony of noise from all the other ADSL user's lines, and worst of all, interference from your own download signal, which is at full strength just leaving the DSLAM. So the signal to noise is much worse. And thus your data rate is much lower. You can improve the signal to noise of your upload by reducing the interference from your downloads by trading off use of bandwidth between up and down. But you pay a significant cost in download for a small gain in upload. Most people find that the existing balance upload to download speeds is about right. If you look a the different plans for various mixes of upload and download rates, they don't add up to the same total.
Old 09-12-2011, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: NE Ohio, USA
Posts: 885
We just recently upgraded to "wideband" with Time Warner and that now gives us 30mb down and 5 mb up. I believe this is the highest upload speed Time Warner offers. They do offer another tier above that with 50mb down, but it's still 5 mb up.

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