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What's a Broadband Contention Ratio and Why Should you Care?

Published on 25 February 13
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Businesses need super-fast broadband connectivity in order survive in the modern market, because a wide variety of services and solutions can only be accessed and exploited if there is a high-speed connection on tap.

When considering which broadband package or service to choose, you will need to look at a number of different factors in order to determine the deal that is most appropriate for your business.

Contention ratio is just one of those factors, but it is more important than most when it comes to determining the speed and consistency of your business broadband connection.

But what is a contention ratio and how does it factor into a business broadband service? Here is a quick guide to clear up the basics.
Points of Contention

Basically, the contention ratio lets you know how many other users will be sharing the same bandwidth as your business. This ratio will typically sit at around 20:1 to 50:1 depending on the type of broadband service you choose.

In theory, a connection with a contention ratio of 50:1 can support up to 50 simultaneous users accessing the same allocation of bandwidth. If everyone uses their broadband to carry out large downloads at the same time, this would effectively result in much slower connection speeds across the board.

However, most services only reach the upper limits of their contention ratios during peak periods, which can still cause problems for businesses that are looking for class-leading speed and consistency.

If your connection becomes compromised then you might find productivity slipping and services upon which you rely, such as cloud-based apps and other remotely hosted solutions, no longer being easily accessible.
Avoiding Issues

So is it actually possible to make sure that the contention ratio of your broadband service does not become a problem?

Of course! The lower the ratio, the fewer users sharing the same allocation of bandwidth and thus the faster, more consistent the connection can become. This means that it makes sense for businesses to choose broadband packages with low contention ratios, particularly if they will be heavily invested in receiving a high quality of internet service.

The best way to seek out low contention ratios is to actually sign up to a broadband package that is specifically designed for use by enterprises.

Domestic broadband deals will usually have higher contention ratios because users will not be as heavily affected should speeds become slower during peak periods. This makes them generally unsuitable for businesses, thus necessitating commercial packages with lower ratios.

Although the contention ratio of a broadband service may seem like a relatively minor concern when you are looking at other features such as advertised line speed and inclusive data allowance, its impact should not be underestimated.

It is best to confirm the contention ratio of a package before you sign up for a lengthy contract, because if it turns out to be disappointing then you might find it hard to switch to a more appropriate solution.

It is also worth remembering that contention ratios are not necessarily set in stone and may represent guidelines used by an ISP, perhaps describing a set of circumstances at the local exchange which may not be immediately obvious.

Broadband has evolved to the point that certain providers may even have retired the use of the contention ratio phraseology.

Whatever the situation, it is necessary for a business to stay on top of what it can expect to receive from its broadband package. This should mean that there are no nasty surprises lurking after you have signed on the dotted line.

This article is supplied by Jamie Garner who works for Daisy Group - a leading independent provider of business broadband and telecoms services.

Businesses need super-fast broadband connectivity in order survive in the modern market, because a wide variety of services and solutions can only be accessed and exploited if there is a high-speed connection on tap.

When considering which broadband package or service to choose, you will need to look at a number of different factors in order to determine the deal that is most appropriate for your business.

Contention ratio is just one of those factors, but it is more important than most when it comes to determining the speed and consistency of your business broadband connection.

But what is a contention ratio and how does it factor into a business broadband service? Here is a quick guide to clear up the basics.

Points of Contention

Basically, the contention ratio lets you know how many other users will be sharing the same bandwidth as your business. This ratio will typically sit at around 20:1 to 50:1 depending on the type of broadband service you choose.

In theory, a connection with a contention ratio of 50:1 can support up to 50 simultaneous users accessing the same allocation of bandwidth. If everyone uses their broadband to carry out large downloads at the same time, this would effectively result in much slower connection speeds across the board.

However, most services only reach the upper limits of their contention ratios during peak periods, which can still cause problems for businesses that are looking for class-leading speed and consistency.

If your connection becomes compromised then you might find productivity slipping and services upon which you rely, such as cloud-based apps and other remotely hosted solutions, no longer being easily accessible.

Avoiding Issues

So is it actually possible to make sure that the contention ratio of your broadband service does not become a problem?

Of course! The lower the ratio, the fewer users sharing the same allocation of bandwidth and thus the faster, more consistent the connection can become. This means that it makes sense for businesses to choose broadband packages with low contention ratios, particularly if they will be heavily invested in receiving a high quality of internet service.

The best way to seek out low contention ratios is to actually sign up to a broadband package that is specifically designed for use by enterprises.

Domestic broadband deals will usually have higher contention ratios because users will not be as heavily affected should speeds become slower during peak periods. This makes them generally unsuitable for businesses, thus necessitating commercial packages with lower ratios.

Although the contention ratio of a broadband service may seem like a relatively minor concern when you are looking at other features such as advertised line speed and inclusive data allowance, its impact should not be underestimated.

It is best to confirm the contention ratio of a package before you sign up for a lengthy contract, because if it turns out to be disappointing then you might find it hard to switch to a more appropriate solution.

It is also worth remembering that contention ratios are not necessarily set in stone and may represent guidelines used by an ISP, perhaps describing a set of circumstances at the local exchange which may not be immediately obvious.

Broadband has evolved to the point that certain providers may even have retired the use of the contention ratio phraseology.

Whatever the situation, it is necessary for a business to stay on top of what it can expect to receive from its broadband package. This should mean that there are no nasty surprises lurking after you have signed on the dotted line.

This article is supplied by Jamie Garner who works for Daisy Group - a leading independent provider of business broadband and telecoms services.

This blog is listed under Telecommunications Community

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