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What are internet contention ratios?

If you have recently bought yourself a new broadband plan promising high speeds, it might be held back by other households using the same provider as you during peak hours. Internet contention ratios could be the reason your internet isn’t reaching an optimum speed.

If you’ve moved to an NBN connection and have chosen a particular speed tier, you can expect speeds close to your provider’s reported typical evening speed – but you’re not guaranteed this at all times. Say, for example, you’re on an NBN 25/5 plan, your ISP might guarantee typical evening speeds of 22Mbps, but when you do a speed test, you get a speed of 18Mbps.

This may come down to how many people are using the same provider as you. This summarises the basics of internet contention ratios.

NBN Plans & Prices

Thinking of switching NBN providers or plans? Check out some options below. The table below contains affiliate links.

The following table shows a selection of sponsored unlimited data Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost (excluding discounts), from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) Plans

The table below shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

What is an internet contention ratio?

An internet contention ratio refers to how many households are using the same provider as you. The higher ratio means a greater number of users are trying to use the internet at the same time as you, and due to this, your internet might be a bit slower.

It’s like having a busy road – everybody is trying to drive down it, but with limited lanes, there’s lots of traffic. Everybody gets an equally divided experience of the road, with the speed of the traffic depending on how many cars there are, which is then further brought down by the customer’s speed cap (such as NBN 25, NBN 50 and NBN 100).

If there’s not a lot of people using the internet at a given time, the road is clear and you’re not sharing much of the space. If you’re using the road during peak hours (which is between 7pm and 11pm on the NBN), you’ll be putting up with the traffic of other households with the same provider as you, meaning its contention ratio will be higher – and if we’re talking about broadband, that means your speeds are likely to be slower.

How can I get a good contention ratio?

One thing you can do is sign up for a higher-speed NBN plan, to make sure you’re getting the best NBN speed possible, while still getting an equally divided experience through your ISP. Make sure you’re checking typical evening speeds before signing up to a new NBN plan, as a typical evening speed will be indicative of a good contention ratio.

Check out the NBN plans in the table below, and find the right plan for you. Alternatively, you can use our free comparison tool to find the perfect plan.

Unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Is a low contention ratio good?

A low contention ratio is great! It means your NBN speed is consistently fast, and the provider you’re with is catering to lots of customers on its network. If you’re not satisfied with your internet experience, it might be time to shop around for an NBN provider with a higher typical evening speed.

However, it’s rare that ISPs will advertise contention rations, even if they’re amazing. What is more common is for providers to advertise typical evening speeds on each NBN tier offered, which list the average download speed achieved by most customers during that busy 7-11pm period.

Finding a plan with a fast typical evening speed is a good indicator of a low contention ratio. It’s important to be happy with your NBN speed, but make sure you find the right plan for your budget and your needs!

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