What is contention ratio?


Dear Dominic, What is contention ratio?

Ernest, via email

Our expert Dominic says...

Hi Ernest, the concept of Contention Ratio can be a bit confusing. You're not the only one who doesn't know what this means.

What is Contention Ratio?

Contention ratio refers to how much of ISP bandwidth is shared between users.

For instance, a 20:1 contention ratio means if there are 20 users on the network at once, they will each have about a 1m/bit connection. When I say 'network' I'm referring to the internet space ISPs assign to the users. This system usually works without problems but relies on users making reasonable traffic demands on the network. If a user is a heavy downloader, he will eat into the other users' bandwidth.

So what does this mean for you? When it comes to the contention ratio, keep in mind your service will be better if the rate is lower. With a low contention ratio, more bandwidth will be available to individual users on the network at any time. A contention rate of 8:1 is excellent. Anything under 10 seems impressive from ISPs. Most services offer something in the range of 20:1 to 50:1.

Business users should be looking for something with a 5:1 contention ratio or lower. This rate is of course more expensive but will be worth the good service.

Be wary of ISPs which do not advertise a contention ratio on its website. Look for an ISP provider with a lower contention ratio. You will not necessarily get faster service but it will be more stable.

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