Many businesses opt for consumer-grade fibre broadband services over enterprise business services, believing that the higher line speeds at a lower price represent better value for money. However, dedicated enterprise services bring with them a range of performance, security and reliability benefits that make them a better choice for environments where productivity is essential.

That’s according to Hettie Botha, business unit manager: connectivity and voice at Nashua Kopano. She says that line speed is only one of many factors that businesses should consider when choosing a broadband service. One of the factors that companies often overlook is the contention ratio, which can have an enormous impact on the end-user experience.

Contention ratio refers to how many broadband users share the same bandwidth on the line. The more users that are connected at any one time, the slower the connection will be for everyone. Because of the contention ratio, it is rare for home users to achieve the full advertised 100Mbps or 200Mbps that their fibre provider offers to them.

For home broadband services, the contention ratio may be as much as 25 or even 50 to one. The result is that users experience severe deterioration of their service during peak traffic times. “This can translate into a severe loss of productivity if your end-users are struggling to download their emails or large files,” says Botha.

“If you’re using voice-over-IP for phone calls on the same fibre line, you can also experience degradation in voice quality should you not have a dedicated VPN on your connection. This could mean that customers will experience frustration when they’re trying to discuss a query with your team over the phone, or that your employees will need to make the same call several times because of poor voice quality.”

Botha says that many enterprises will find that they get a superior service when they opt for a business fibre or wireless line that offers lower speeds but also a lower contention ratio. While it might appear that they are paying more to get the same speed, they will benefit from lower contention ratios that could range from 10 to one down to one to one.

“In addition to a superior contention ratio, an enterprise connection may support features such as static IP addresses, advanced security measures and complex routing of your data. It will also generally offer more stringent service level agreements (SLAs), which mean that the service provider will guarantee higher levels of uptime, faster repair times, and higher quality of service.

“In this time of hybrid work and digital customer experiences, reliable broadband is key to productivity. Robust broadband enables businesses to leverage cloud-based applications, videoconferencing, and real-time collaboration tools, so that their employees can perform to their potential. With increasing demand on all broadband connections, an uncontended or low-contended line has become a business essential.”