How Well Do You Know Your Internet Provider?

There is a plethora of internet terms that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) make use of without real explanation to their clients.

Some ISPs appear to offer a good service for a good price, but, upon closer inspection, if you the client know what to ask, you can make informed decisions when it comes to which ISP you choose to go with.

KnysnaON has always adopted a policy of transparency and, as such, here is a detailed breakdown of the terms that we use and what that means to you, the client.

What is Contention?

Internet connects us to the rest of the world, with wireless devices all around us, it's easy to forget that at the end of the day, your connection is what is referred to as the "last mile" and this is just a small part of the bigger picture.

Typically, your connection, be it fibre or wireless will travel back to a local data centre before traversing a fibre line that will connect to a data centre in another city, that, in turn is where the local providers "meet" each other to connect to local websites and services, and, it is where the undersea cables connecting us to the rest of the world meet as well.

All of these lines and connections cost money which is paid for by the ISPs to the data centres and undersea cable providers, there are, at present, 5 undersea cables that connect South Africa to the rest of the world.

Users typically don't use the full extent of the internet service 24/7, for example, when you connect to your e-mail provider, your e-mail downloads, you then reply to your e-mails, while replying, you are not downloading anymore, but, another client will be, the natural flow of internet traffic works in these ebbs and flows.

This is where contention comes in. At KnysnaON, our home and business connections work on a contention ratio of 4:1, what this means is that for every 400Mbps of internet clients, we purchase 100Mbps of internet. Due to the nature of internet use, most clients don't notice the contention, but, may notice this during peak periods when most clients are making use of the internet, at this point, the worst speed that a 20Mbps client may experience, for example, is 5Mbps.

KnysnaON proudly has one of the lowest contention ratios of any ISP in South Africa, the "norm" for most ISPs is a minimum of 8:1, translating to the worst speed for a 20Mbps client being 2.5Mbps. Some ISPs contend as much as 20:1.

KnysnaON does offer what we call Enterprise connectivity, this is when a client is on a 1:1 connection, meaning that a portion of the internet that we provide is committed entirely to that one client.

Business users pay a premium to have priority in contention, meaning that home connections are contended before business connections.

Capping, Fair Usage Policies and Throttling Explained

An industry standard practiced by the majority of ISPs in South Africa is something called a "soft-cap" others call it "throttling" and some call it a "fair usage policy" This is what ISPs deploy to give all users a fair opportunity to make use of the full speed available to them through penalising heavy users by slowing them down after a certain amount of data has been utilised.

KnysnaON does not employ any of these methods because we purchase enough capacity to provide our clients with their full speed most of the time making this method unnecessary. If our contention ratio was higher, it would be necessary, we will never do this.

So, when we say "Uncapped" we mean truly uncapped, no throttling, no fair use policy and no soft-caps.


Synchronicity is your upload speed vs your download speed. Your internet provider will either provide an asynchronous connection or a synchronous connection. KnysnaON provides synchronous connectivity as standard on all wireless products. At present, the fibre network in Knysna is asynchronous at 50%, which we can't control.

Asynchronous vs Synchronous

Asynchronous is when your upload speed is a portion of your download speed, this can be anything from 10% of your download speed to 50% of your download speed.

For example, your download speed can be up to 10Mbps, but, your upload speed will only be 1Mbps.

This is a very old method of providing internet because, when internet was first designed, upload speed wasn't really necessary because services like cloud backups, online gaming, video conferencing, VoIP and WhatsApp calls didn't exist.

Nowadays, however, it is a very important part of your connectivity solution, without which you will find it frustrating to enjoy a Skype call or backup pictures and documents to the cloud.

KnysnaON is one of the very few ISPs to offer equality of line speeds both up and down.

Before you make your next internet decision, be sure to consider the above factors and, be sure to understand which features are important to you before making your final purchasing decision.

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