So what is Traffic Shaping/Prioritisation?

It's a contentious subject that can bring out the fire in the quietest of people - or it can make people go "uh?"

So what is traffic shaping or prioritisation - and what does it mean for the average user?

The Basics
Traffic Prioritisation (which we'll just call shaping from now on 'cos it's easier to type looks at what type of information is going through the network and then ranks it according to how PlusNet have configured it. It looks at each packet of information and if it sees that the data is for someones PlusTalk telephone call, it will give it the highest priority so that there are no delays in your phone conversation. On the flip-side, if you are downloading a huge file using Peer 2 Peer (P2P such as BitTorrent), the network will see this and then put it at a lower priority as it isn't a time-sensitive piece of data (you won't really notice if it takes a little bit longer for that data to arrive - but you'd certainly notice it if your phone calls broke up waiting for the voice to travel the network)

The principles of Plusnet's network management policies

  • To make sure that time-critical applications like VoIP and gaming are always prioritised.
  • To protect interactive applications like web-browsing and VPN from non-time sensitive download traffic.
  • To flex the network under demand to cope with normal peaks and troughs from day to day and month to month.
  • To flex the network more gracefully than other ISPs in the event of unusual demands in traffic or disaster situations such as a network failure.
  • To provide a service relative to the amount each customer pays in terms of usage and experience.
  • Provides a 'quality of service' effect, meaning multiple applications running on the same line interact with each other effectively, and use of high demand protocols like Peer-to-Peer doesn't swamp time-sensitive traffic such as online gaming or a VoIP call.

Use of traffic prioritisation will have an overall effect on the speeds you can expect to receive at different times of the day.

So what is shaped, when and by how much?

There are now 7 levels of priorities in use on the PlusNet network - Platinum, titanium, Gold, gold Plated, Silver  Bronze and Best Effort.

The table below gives a rough guide of what priority the main applications are given.

 
Network Traffic Priority Level
Activities and Traffic
Platinum
Paid for priority services, e.g. video-on-demand content.
Titanium
Time critical traffic: e.g. VoIP and gaming.
Gold
Priority non-time critical traffic: e.g. surfing, email and streaming media.
Gold Plated
Non-Plusnet FTP and download sites/servers traffic. Rate limited to prevent impact on interactive/Gold traffic at busy times.
Silver
Non-time critical traffic: e.g. file downloads, Peer-to-Peer, Binary USENET and FTP traffic for Plusnet Value and Plusnet Unlimited customers.
Bronze
Non-time critical traffic: e.g. file downloads, Peer-to-Peer, Binary USENET and FTP traffic for Plusnet Unlimited customers.
Best Effort
Non-time critical traffic: e.g. file downloads, Peer-to-Peer, Binary USENET and FTP traffic for Plusnet Value customers.

 

See the Traffic Prioritisation page on the Plusnet Portal for additional information

 


Article last edited on Tuesday, 09-Mar-2010 13:05 PM