Internet service providers are beginning to focus on upstream speeds as subscribers change their online behavior from consuming web content to producing it. I’ve written how upstream demand is on the rise thanks to online storage services, video uploads and file sharing, but for people to truly pay attention to their upstream speeds, someone needs to build products that get everyday consumers to experience true pipe envy.
When it came to accessing the web, email and basic browsers paved the way for people to sign up for dial-up. Broadband adoption followed the introduction of better online content and services. Less than two years after Apple launched its iTunes service in April 2003, broadband adoption surpassed dial-up. Several ISPs have told me that movies and music downloads from iTunes have significantly increased the data traveling over the networks. Video streaming is now driving consumers to sign up for even faster broadband services. Video is also boosting upstream data, which is why Cisco is so pumped about its purchase of the Flip camera maker Pure Digital. (More demand for bandwidth on the upload and download side means Cisco can sell more gear.)
In an article I wrote over at GigaOM Pro (subscription required), I explain how various networks can handle upstream traffic, and list services that may get consumers to both demand (and pay for) fatter upstream pipes. Uploading video is just the beginning. Broadband burglar alarms, home telepresence, and medical monitoring are all ideas, but readers, what else is out there? These aren’t the dot-com bubble years. Operators won’t invest in upstream capacity unless users want to pay for it. What will make you upgrade?