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What is a Contention Ratio and Why does it Matter?

A “Contention Ratio” in our industry means “The number of other customers that are share  the same pipe to and from the satellite.

For instance, imagine having a typical garden hose sized pipe in your hand.

Now image stuffing one toothpick into the end of it.  It will go in just fine, quickly and easily right?

The toothpick represents one customer and the hose represents the “pipe” that they have available to them to pass information too and from the satellite.

In this example, you now you have a (1:1 Contention) 1 user in the pipe)

Now try to stick a bundle of 10 toothpicks into that hose.  It will work, however each toothpick has less space to itself and is much more restricted, and moving through that hose is more difficult.

Needless to say, if there is only one customer sharing that pipe (1:1 Contention),  they are  nice and fast and have much more space to do more things at once.

So, for example, we do not know, but it was estimated that with the HughesNet Ku-band platform, that the average “contention” rate was somewhere around 700:1, meaning 700 other customers were sharing the same pipe to and from the satellite.  700 others were sharing another pipe, etc.  That’s what makes it vary as much as it does in speeds and performance depending on what others sharing that “pope” are doing online or if they are not doing anything.  It’s why HughesNet service is faster at 3am than it is at 9am.

With such a high contention ratio, this is why Hughes has failed at properly supporting things like VPN, VoIP, more than 3- 5 concurrent users, and more.

A service such as iDirect however, may use a 60:1 or even 10:1 contention ratio with that same size of pipe which means only 59 other customers will ever share that “pipe” with you.  So, you have room for more people to use your connection, you have the bandwidth available to do things like VPN, VoIP, RDP, and much more.

We do not know, but we can only assume that the HughesNet Business Internet Platform and our own ISPSAT HughesNet Gen5 Platform use a lower Contention Ratio than the standard HughesNet Consumer Plans simply because our platform tends to work better and be more stable than the HughesNet Consumer plans.  We do not hear complaints about speed variations and other issues on our platform nearly as much as we hear about them with people on the HughesNet Consumer Plans.  HughesNet won’t tell us, but we can only assume so from our experiences on both platforms.

I will talk about speeds in another post and link to it soon, however as a brief example,  we sell 1mb x 200k service plans on the iDirect platform.  They cost anywhere from $100 a month to $1500 a day, because the “contention ratio” matters so much more than speeds do, determines what you can and can’t do over that connection and is different on each one.

So, Joe and his wife at the cabin on the lake can get by with a 60:1 contention, but Mel who uses his Internet for VPN will probably need a 15:1 or 10:1 connection because VPN requires more bandwidth.  Mel could sign up for a much faster plan, but unless he chooses a “contention ratio” small enough, then his VPN is going to be horribly slow and unreliable anyway as what he needs to make it work better, is actually more bandwidth, i.e. more of the “pipe” to use for it.

Contact Us to see what “Contention Ratio” is best for your needs and application or if you have any questions.

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