The Beauty of Symmetry

Ever since my interest in photography has started, I have viewed the concept of symmetry in a different light, so to speak. In photography, symmetry can be beutiful, but it is not always to be favored. In telecoms, symmetry is a tougher concept to express, and many of the people I talk to in my day job, especially amongst telecom operators do not understand the need or use of symmetry.

– "Why would users want or need symmetry since their usage is strongly asymmetrical?" they ask me.

– "What if their use is asymmetrical because the network dictates the use", I answer.

Looks like a classic chicken and egg. No one asked these questions back when DSL was specified. People decided that – since a tradeoff had to be made – download was more important than upload. Probably the result of years of thinking in terms of broadcasting.

As symmetrical networks emerge, it's going to be interesting to see what users actually do with (comparatively) unconstrained symmetrical bandwidth. After having examined the history of asymmetrical internet a few weeks back, today Herman Wagter posts a really interesting graph on dadamotive that looks into usage: what's the aggregared up- and down- load of 10.000 fiber users in the Netherlands. Interestingly enough, it's roughly symmetrical.

So it looks like users at least have found out what to do with symmetry. Most likely not things that service providers are monetising, but that wasn't the original question!