For years, the broadband wars have been largely fought over download speeds, but Verizon has just thrown down the gauntlet and declared that it's going to fight over upstream speeds too, and in a big way. How does 20Mbps sound?
Some residents of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey who live inside the boundaries of Verizon's FiOS network will be the first to be able to take advantage of Verizon's new 20/20 FiOS service. As the name implies, 20/20 FiOS is a symmetrical 20Mbps connection (same speed in both directions), and it's one of the first symmetrical services to target the consumer market.
Available today, 20/20 will cost $64.99 per month and will include Verizon's Internet Security Suite and 1GB of online backup (up to 50GB can be purchased at "competitive rates").
Susan Retta, the company's VP of Broadband Solutions, was quick to compare the new plan to cable. "For more than a decade, the Internet has been defined by how quickly you can download content," Retta said."Our 20/20 FiOS service changes everything by creating an entirely new category of US broadband where 'fast' means fast in both directions."
It's a category of broadband that cable companies have yet to embrace. Although Comcast, Charter, Cox, and other cable ISPs have bumped download speeds in areas where they are facing direct competition from Verizon, they haven't shown much love for upload speeds. Those typically remain stuck in the 256Kbps to 1.5Mbps range even as downloads soar above 10Mbps. If Verizon is able to effectively sell the advantages of symmetrical service to Joe Sixpack, cable companies may be forced to widen the upload pipe.
20Mbps upload speeds will enable a whole host of new services, many of them actually legal (symmetrical connections can also be a boon to P2P networks). Uploading high-def video to friends and family, for instance, suddenly becomes a possibility instead of a nightmare. Online backup systems like Mozy have been gaining in popularity, but it currently takes days to back up a media collection or large photo set. Verizon, of course, also touts the standard example that's always trotted out when speed claims are made: medical imaging.
FiOS now has more than half a million subscribers. How many of them actually need a 20Mbps upstream connection remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that the cool factor here is off the charts; we're confident1 that "Hey baby, want to head back to my place to see to me stream high-def video from my Mac?" will soon be the hot new pickup line at NYC nightclubs.
1Note: we are not sure of this at all. Use line at your own risk.