Everything you need to know about Contention Ratio

The Contention Ratio can have a huge impact on the speed and quality of your broadband
June 28, 2021
When choosing a new broadband deal, it’s important to think about a number of different factors. One of these is contention. We’ll give you the contention low down so you know what to look out for when snatching up the next broadband deal that’s perfect for your home.

What does contention mean?

The speed and reliability of your broadband can be affected by a variety of factors. Such as the broadband availability in your area, your router location and even the way your house is built. Contention is another factor that will affect your internet speeds and reliability.

What is contention ratio?

Contention ratio refers to how many people are sharing the same cable as you. Having lots of people connected at the same time can cause your contention to be really slow. The best way to understand contention ratio is thinking of it as traffic on a road. When driving, the motorway can handle numerous cars as long as they are spaced out throughout the day. However, during peak times, the roads become busier and create traffic.

Contention is very similar to road traffic. When lots of people are using the internet at peak times, it creates strain and can cause your speeds to decrease or drop out. Some providers take control of this and use web traffic management. This is where different web tasks take priority as they need certain speeds to perform. Almost like adding an extra lane to allow certain vehicles to avoid traffic. Generally, actions such as gaming or online streaming will take priority over posting a picture on social media or online shopping. This is because activities such as gaming and streaming use more data and using web traffic management means that everyone will have a stable connection with less risk of drop outs.

How does contention affect you?

Whatever you’re doing when using the internet such as gaming, streaming or uploading files, contention could impact your day. The last thing you want is to be mid game, about to win and your connection cuts out. This is where reliable, ultrafast broadband is essential.

Contention vs broadband

  • Broadband is a fast internet connection that links to your property and allows you to access the internet.
  • Contention refers to the number of people who may also be using the same broadband connection as you.
What is a good contention ratio?

Most residential broadband customers would normally be hovering at around a 50:1 contention ratio. This means that there’s around 50 people who may be sharing the same bandwidth as you. On evenings and weekends your contention ratio may increase as more people will be at home using their broadband. The less properties sharing the same bandwidth as you, the better your speed and reliability will be.

Truespeed offers a contention ratio of 1:1 meaning that only you will be using the broadband you’re paying for. It won’t be shared with your neighbours. A dedicated connection gives you guaranteed speeds 24/7 so you know you won’t be let down. Having a dedicated connection also means that you’re getting the best value for money broadband.

How to check your broadband contention ratio?

As frustrating as it sounds, there is no way to find out the exact contention ratio that your broadband provider might have unless they choose to advertise it. Contention ratio is not something that most providers would advertise. The average contention could be anything from 50:1 to 10:1. Unless you are on a FTTP contention you will be sharing your port with someone else. This can affect your speeds depending on the usage of your neighbours or other people you are sharing your port with.

Contention ratio and fibre broadband

Newer broadband services such as FTTC and FTTP are not as affected by contention ratio compared to Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband. This is due to their faster speeds and larger capabilities to support more users at once.

Broadband traffic management has also been introduced to help keep everything running smoothly. Traffic management prioritises certain activities such as streaming or gaming over uploading a file, as streaming or gaming would require higher broadband speeds.

How to improve contention ratio

The best way to improve your contention ratio is to switch to a provider that advertises their contention ratio so you know you are getting the full fibre broadband you’re paying for.