This morning, the news is that Verizon is boosting FIOS upload speeds to match download speeds. The media is initially talking about how this is about Verizon taking on the cable giants since cable’s technology infrastructure can’t match such a thing. But I think part of the it could be another side effect of the Netflix traffic war of words.
By going symmetric, Verizon may be making a defensive move against one of the main arguments against its traffic interconnection approach. Verizon’s main public reason for not upgrading its peering connections has been that the traffic ratios are out of balance, i.e. that the other side is sending too much traffic relative to what it’s getting back. The counter argument by Netflix and by transit networks has been that there can be no such thing as balanced traffic when the only bandwidth sold to the home is asymmetric in the first place. In a world of streaming video, balanced traffic is or soon will be a myth.
But Verizon’s move is very shrewd, I think. By making its upload pipes symmetric, they take away a piece of that argument. They know perfectly well that few applications are out there that will really take advantage of the upload bandwidth. Making the upload pipe smaller was an artificial restriction anyway once they had fiber into the home, it’s not as if most users are chafing over slow upload speeds. But now Verizon will be selling symmetric bandwidth to the home, and hence can’t be blamed for the asymmetric bandwidth generated by OTT operators and sent over peering connections.
That might give them enough cover with both consumers and regulators to forestall interference in the peering/transit world. They give in on something that boosts services to customers and shift the ‘blame’ for the unbalanced traffic ratios at interconnection points all the way back to the other side.
On the other hand, someone might actually find a way to start using all that upload capacity. That could be interesting.