• What did contention ratio mean?
  • How was it dealt with?
  • Why contention ratio is no longer an issue with the NBN

What is contention ratio?

The contention ratio shows how many people share the same Internet connection. For example, if the ratio is 20:1, it means that up to 20 people might share the connection.

A lower ratio usually means faster and more reliable Internet because fewer people share the connection.

How was contention ratio dealt with?

To address contention ratio issues, Internet service providers (ISPs) took several steps:

  • Upgrading the network capacity: By increasing the overall capacity of the network, ISPs reduced the likelihood of contention during peak usage times.
  • Implementing traffic management: ISPs used traffic management techniques to prioritise certain types of traffic, ensuring that essential services (like VoIP or video conferencing) received adequate bandwidth even during busy periods.
  • Offering higher speed plans: ISPs offered higher speed plans with lower contention ratios, providing users with a more consistent and reliable connection, albeit at a higher cost.
  • Optimising network configuration: By optimising the network configuration, ISPs reduced contention, such as by balancing traffic across different nodes or upgrading equipment in high-traffic areas.
  • Education and communication: Users were educated about managing their bandwidth usage. ISPs communicated about peak times to help spread out usage.

By employing these strategies, ISPs mitigated the effects of contention ratio and improved the overall quality of service for their customers.

Why it's no longer an issue with the NBN

Contention ratio is less of an issue with the NBN due to several reasons:

  • Fibre technology: The NBN predominantly uses fibre optic technology, which offers much higher bandwidth compared to traditional copper cables. This increased bandwidth reduced the likelihood of contention during peak times.
  • Individual connections: Unlike traditional ADSL connections, which are shared among multiple users in the same area, the NBN typically provides individual connections to each premises. This reduced contention as each connection is dedicated to a single user or household.
  • Higher speed plans: The NBN offers higher speed plans, which typically have lower contention ratios. This means that users on these plans are less likely to experience congestion even during busy periods.
  • Quality of Service Guarantees: NBN Co provides Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees, which ensure that users receive a certain level of service regardless of network congestion. This helps to minimise the impact of contention on the user experience.

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