Ask the right questions when you sign up to a broadband service

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What is an uncontended internet connection?

Posted on 9 May 2014 by Beaming Support

When it comes to the internet and network connections contention is widely disregarded. This is mainly due to the focus on maximum speed and not on continuous throughput. However it is important to understand what an uncontended internet connection is and whether a connection is uncontended or not when purchasing your connectivity, particularly if you are operating a business.

The contention and contention ratio is actually very important when considering what type of internet service is required. A completely uncontended internet connection is one that offers a contention ratio of 1:1.

Therefore it is probably a better question to ask ‘what is the contention ratio?’

Contention ratio is the ratio of potential maximum demand (usually at the local exchange) to the actual available bandwidth. The higher the ratio the lower the maximum bandwidth will be, or the slower your connection will be. You may notice this slowdown at ‘peak times’ when more users are using the internet in the organisation or local area.

Contended services are normally sold quoting the highest maximum speed but usually only guarantee a minimum data throughput speed. The highest maximum speed is usually only achieved at low usage times, for example during the night.


The lower the contention ratio the higher the quality of service. For instance a 50:1 contention ratio would mean that up to 50 broadband users could be sharing the same bandwidth or ‘pipe’ to the local exchange at any one time. An uncontended internet connection with a 1:1 ratio is essentially a service where the provider can guarantee a fixed connection speed regardless of the time of day that it’s being used, or regardless of how many people share the pipe to the local exchange.

More about what to look for in a business broadband connection

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