The internet highway is an increasingly busy place. Like any highway, having more cars (customers) on the road means that there’s more congestion, causing traffic to move slower. The internet works in a similar way – the higher the demand, the lower the performance.
In computer networking circles, the ratio of maximum demand (shared between clients) to actual bandwidth is called the contention ratio.
- A contention ratio of 1:100 means that you share the available bandwidth with 100 others
- A contention ratio of 1:1 means that your bandwidth is uncontended.
Here’s how it works:
The higher the contention ratio, the greater the number of users that may be trying to use the bandwidth at any one time. This results in lower bandwidth available to each user.
A low contention ratio means that there’s more bandwidth available to you on the network at any time.
Contention and cost
Generally speaking, the lower the contention, the more expensive the service.
A contended service offers the users of the network a minimum statistically-guaranteed contention ratio based on the number of users on the network.
When it comes to uncapped accounts, service providers will often price their products based on the contention ratio.
- A ‘premium’ service may have a lower contention ratio
- A ‘basic’ service may have a higher contention ratio.
What this means for you
When pricing your internet services, ‘cheaper’ doesn’t always equate with ‘best’, so be sure to ask about the contention ratios on different packages.
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