Contention is the ratio of the potential maximum demand of bandwidth to the actual bandwidth available.
Broadband networks share bandwidth between multiple customers from a local exchange/point of presence (POP) to the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) network. No matter which ISP you use, every broadband network will be contended from the exchange/POP to the ISP’s network.
Whereas leased line services have dedicated bandwidth from the customer’s premise all the way to the ISP’s network.
This partly explains why leased lines are more expensive than broadband services as bandwidth has to be dedicated rather than shared as broadband services do.
Giganet’s contention policy
Giganet operate a policy of ‘not being the bottleneck’.
What we mean by this is that we will ‘dimension’ our network capacity that’s in our control, to ensure that congestion never arises within our network. This means that we ensure that we have plenty of capacity both downstream to our broadband and leased line carriers as well as upstream to the Internet exchanges and Tier 1 transit networks. This is why we’re never going to be the cheapest provider in the UK, but we’re proud that we’re not cheap and massively overselling/contending our network like some may be happy to do.
Fundamentally though, the Internet as well as your own local network is contended, and there’s little-to-nothing that you or we can do to improve this (without incurring some major costs).
Should I care about contention/ratios?
If you are a larger organisation (50 or more staff), or highly rely on the Internet for your work (hosting servers/transferring large files), then we usually recommend that a leased line service is chosen which provides dedicated & uncontended bandwidth from your premise to our ISP core. The larger organisation piece is really because you are highly contending the service within your own organisation, and therefore you need, and we need, to be able to dedicate and allocate specific quantities of bandwidth against your requirements.
If you are a smaller organisation, then a broadband connection usually suffices as leased line connections are often overkill. The only time a leased line connection would be applicable for a smaller organisation is if there is no suitable broadband service available at your location, as leased lines are available nationally, whereas broadband services’ speeds and access (ADSL vs FTTC vs FTTP) technology vary widely across the country.
I’m nervous about contention and don’t want to make a mistake
We totally understand this, and before we ran a residential Internet Service Provider (Wessex Internet) with over 2,200 customers, we also didn’t know what contention really looked like at mass scale. At peak times (8pm-11pm), we typically saw a maximum of 2.8Gb/s (2,800Mb/s) against these 2,200 customers. This means that on average each customer was using the service at 1.27Mb/s even though a substantial amount of customers had access to over 100Mb/s, 30% had access to 50Mb/s and the remaining 65% had access to 30Mb/s access speeds.
If you have any questions, our Technical Director would be more than happy to explain and provide analogies.