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What Does Contention Mean?

What Does Contention Mean?

If you have broadband at home, you might have noticed that it slows down at certain times. This is most common in the evenings when people are streaming movies or playing online games. Similarly businesses encounter a slower broadband connection at busier times of the day. But why does this happen? It’s down to broadband contention, but what is broadband contention? What does contention mean? And what can you do about it?

What is Broadband Contention?

When an internet connection leaves a house or business, the connection from there to the street cabinet is unique to you. After that, the connection from the street cabinet back to the main exchange is shared, similar to water pipes from premises to the main supply. As its shared there’s more traffic during busy times and, therefore, the bandwidth is being split between multiple users which can often mean slower speeds.

In the UK, broadband contention ratio can be anything between 20:1 and 50:1 which means you could be sharing your connection with 20-50 other homes or businesses.

Alternatives to Broadband

For businesses that rely heavily on cloud services for their day-to-day operation, broadband contention can pose a problem as it affects how smoothly their systems operate. So what’s the alternative?

Contention is a problem inherent in broadband. However, an Ethernet leased line is an exclusive connection to you, leased line contention ratio is 1:1. Unlike broadband, you have exclusive use of the connection at all points with an Ethernet line. Not only does this eliminate broadband contention; Ethernet has security benefits as well.

With a leased line, there may still be issues with internal traffic at peak times. A Leased line is a personal connection, with its own traffic management. Traffic management ensures that essential systems such as cloud and VoIP get prioritised over other traffic, for smooth business running.

Other Ethernet Benefits

Ethernet leased lines have other advantages too! Broadband connections are asynchronous, which means download speeds are faster than upload speeds. For domestic use, this isn’t a big issue but for business purposes an asynchronous connection can be a problem. When using ‘as-a-service’ applications, or VoIP telecoms, a lot of data flows in both directions. If uploads are slower than downloads, this can hamper the smooth operation of the business. Ethernet leased lines eliminate this, the synchronous connection allows equal bandwidth available in both directions. A leased line connection is exclusive to you so there’s less chance of data traffic being intercepted.

Another benefit is greater reliability as Ethernet leased lines are generally monitored by the provider. This ensures a consistent level of service spotting any issues like the broadband contention ratio. This is backed by a service level agreement (SLA) to ensure that expected speeds are delivered and any faults are fixed in a timely manner.

In areas where you can’t get full fibre, you can still benefit from alternative dedicated connections. View our range of leased line products and latest offers.

The Business Case

Businesses are increasingly using the cloud and online software for key business functions including office suites, ERP or CRM. Often businesses adopt IP-based communications to control their calling costs. Some use video conferencing to keep in touch with teams in different parts of the world.

Problems with broadband contention or restricted bandwidth can harm the smooth running of day-to-day tasks and ultimately cost the business money. While switching to an Ethernet line to eliminate contention comes at a cost, you’d have to consider this against the benefits to be gained.

If you want to improve your internet, or you aren’t sure which service would be right for you, get in touch online today so our team can help find the best solution for you and your business.