As normal there are three levels of contacts.
Base – Contact (5,000$)
Mid – Buddy (20,000$)
Best – Friend for Life (100,000$)
Every character starts with two Base Contacts. These can be whatever you want just use them for back story. Try to keep in mind these guys will be what helps your char get around in the shadows.
You can buy extra contacts for the price listed above.
Any contact over the base level if bought at character creation can help your character attain gear or something that he normally wouldn't be able to get.
For instance a Buddy might be able to get you a better price on goods/gear in his field of expertiese while a Friend for Life might be able to get you things you wouldn't normally be able to get. Such as Beta ware or other gear that is out of your starting range because of availability or price.
As a GM I am open to suggestions from players so be creative and make your character/contacts your own.
The base contact does not give you any starting bonus to equipment.