Why most ISPs don't deliver the speed they advertise

Understanding the difference between advertised and actual download speeds

Here at Exa Networks, we frequently hear from businesses who have found out that the internet speeds they’ve getting are significantly lower than those they were advertised. Underperforming internet is a real problem for businesses - every slow-loading page costs time and money, so we’ve put together an explanation for why some ISPs are able to get away with advertising speeds significantly higher than they actually deliver.

We definitely recommend that you use an internet speed test to determine how your company’s internet is performing. Plenty of utilities let you measure download and upload speeds and compare them to national or local averages, so that you can check actual performance against the advertised one.

As with a lot of underperforming technology (hard drive vendors defining gigabytes as 1000 megabytes rather than 1024, for instance), it’s all in the fine print. When most ISPs advertise specific speeds, they’re talking about potential speeds - your connection is unlikely to reach the advertised speed at any point.

How contention ratios affect your company’s internet speeds

Most ISPs place multiple businesses or households on the same central bandwidth pipe, so you can only get the advertised speed if very few others are using the connection. The number of customers using the same bandwidth is known as a contention ratio, and typically ranges between 5:1 and 50:1 (that’s between 5 and 50 people using the same bandwidth).

If very few customers are using that bandwidth at one time, you can get the advertised speeds, but that’s almost certainly not happening. With multiple companies using the same line simultaneously, the bandwidth will quickly get split up, resulting in your company getting internet speeds far lower than advertised.

We at Exa realise how important it is to get internet which works as fast as possible, and feel that businesses deserve to get exactly what they pay for. We provide high-quality internet connections with an uncongested network - that means that your business always gets the bandwidth and speeds that you pay for.

With our new DarkLight internet service, we’re ready to take our speeds and service a step further. DarkLight speeds start at 100 Mbps, and can be upgraded at any time with no extra construction, also, DarkLight connections operate on a 1:1 contention ratio, meaning you don’t share the bandwidth with anyone else.

In the modern world of business, having a fast and trustworthy internet connection is more important than ever. Contact us on 0345 145 1234 to start out with a connection which achieves exactly what you want for your business.