What is a contended internet connection?
Often overlooked, but when it comes to business internet access 'contention' is hugely important. But what does it mean when a connection is contended?
Simply put, contention is when your internet speed is adversely affected by other users. This could be people nearby who connect to the same on-street cabinet, or it could be people connecting to the internet using the same service provider (ISP) as you.
To put that a different way...
Have you ever experienced slower browsing or download speeds at certain points in the day? These are often referred to as the 'peak times'; when more people are using the internet. You experience slower speeds because of what's known as your contention ratio - that's the number of other people sharing your internet. For consumer broadband that could be upwards of 100:1, so you're sharing with 99 other households!
And whilst most business broadband services have a lower contention ratio, the connection's still being shared, so you'll still be affected by peak times. So if your business needs reliable connectivity at all times of the day, you're best choosing an uncontended connection.
So which internet connections are contended?
Let's briefly outline which types of internet connections are affected by contention. All broadband connections, whether it's a household or business connection, or whether it's standard or fibre (FTTC), are contended. That means you'll experience peak times on all these connections, and a huge variation in download and upload speeds at different times of the day.
Types of contended connections:
- Standard broadband (ADSL)
- Fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband (FTTC)
- Fibre-to-the-premises broadband (FTTP)
And which connections are uncontended?
That's in direct contrast to all Ethernet-based connections, which are completely uncontended (basically a 1:1 contention ratio!); only your business uses this connection so you're not sharing with anyone else!
They've been designed with business in mind, so they're completely secure, private and dedicated, guaranteeing the promised speeds at all times. They also come with service level agreements (SLA), to make sure your connection is up and running again if anything unexpected happened.
Types of uncontended connections:
- Ethernet first mile (EFM)
- Ethernet over fibre-to-the-cabinet (EoFTTC)
- Ethernet over fibre (leased lines/EoF/DEA/DIA)
Contention; (much) more important than maximum speed!
We've long held the belief that when it comes to business internet, contention ratio is much more important than speed, yet it's often overlooked. Internet speeds are an indication of what you could expect on a really good day, but for day-to-day work and guaranteed connectivity, contention's what you should be looking at. And the contention ratio in particular!
Although broadband is perfect for small businesses and homeworkers, it's basically a consumer product by design. So for business-dependent systems (such as e-commerce or hosted telephony) that rely on being constantly connected, an uncontended Ethernet connection is the most sensible choice!
Read more about business internet...
If you're looking for more information about the world of business internet connectivity, explore the product pages on our website, or download our simple PDF guide. To get to know the differences between broadband and Ethernet, read our blog post FTTC vs. EoFTTC.