Downstream is what your computer downloads
Upstream is what your computer uploads to other PC's.
Up stream is only really important when running a webserver for example.
242Kbps is perfectly normal, and the reason ISP's leave this low is to prevent the running of a webserver from home connections.
I think you should check for viruses & spyware if your speed is slow, also ensure that all the drivers are updated and set-up correctly.
Otherwise, its maybe just the ISP's bandwidth is running short because of the amount of users.