Symmetric versus asymmetric: What’s best for you?

Choosing the best internet connection for your business

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

If you’re considering purchasing new business internet or are in the process of upgrading your business internet, you’ve probably been subject to a litany of technical terms that only add confusion to your decision. Heading the list? Asymmetric and symmetric internet connectivity.

So, what does each term mean? What are the benefits and pitfalls of each connection type? Which type of connection should you choose based on your unique business requirements and budget?

Here are some answers.

What is an asymmetric internet connection?

An asymmetric internet connection means that the data speed and file transfer rate on your network is different in each direction.

One example is traditional home DSL. With this type of connection, you may achieve high download speeds, but upload speeds will be slower.

This option may not be suitable for many businesses, especially when they need to consistently upload large files, share video, do video conferencing, or simply get their daily work done efficiently without worrying about internet connection and speeds.

However, asymmetric internet connection products do have the advantage of typically having a lower monthly cost than symmetrical.

What is a symmetric internet connection?

A symmetric internet connection means that the data speed and file transfer rate is the same in both directions. That is, the connection provides the same download and upload speeds, at the same time.

A symmetrical connection enables fast data speeds in both directions, making it ideal for large or small offices where multiple people connect and transfer data simultaneously to the internet.

Compared to asymmetrical connections, symmetrical connections simply perform better, are highly reliable, and allow you to experience a fuller, more robust internet experience. This is especially true when uploading large files, sharing high-definition video presentations, or hosting data for your customers that they need to quickly access. For a minimal price difference, symmetrical connections provide a much better internet experience than that of asymmetrical connections.

Consider a symmetrical internet connection product if:

  • You perform high-definition video file sharing, video conferencing, or large file sharing or transfers
  • You need a reliable (99%+) connection
  • You require fast speeds
  • Your business has multiple VPN users connecting to your business remotely
  • You have cloud-based applications critical to your business

Which should you choose?

It depends on your business needs and requirements. If you’re in the cloud, have a lot of VPN users, or demand consistent reliability, a symmetrical connection may be a better option.

If you’re a business with limited internet needs (that is, you don’t upload a lot of files, you require a lower-cost internet connection, or don’t mind the occasional latency based on time of day), an asymmetrical-type connection may be more suitable.